BEAUMONT, Sir Henry II (1581-1605), of Gracedieu, Leics. and Inner Temple, London
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Family and Education
b. 21 Dec. 1581, 1st s. of Francis Beaumont†, of Gracedieu and the Inner Temple and Anne, da. of Sir George Pierrepont† of Holme Pierrepont, Notts., wid. of Thomas Thorold of Marston, Lincs.1 educ. Broadgates Hall, Oxf. 1597, BA (Christ Church) 1600; I. Temple 1597.2 m. 8 Oct. 1604, Barbara, da. and coh. of Anthony Faunt of Foston, Leics., 1da. (posth.). suc. fa. 1598; kntd. 21 Apr. 1603. d. 13 July 1605.3
Descended from a cadet branch of the Beaumont family of Coleorton, Beaumont was distantly related to his namesake, Sir Henry Beaumont I*. His grandfather was treasurer of the Inner Temple, acquired Gracedieu in north Leicestershire on the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, and first sat for Leicester in the same year.6 Beaumont’s father became a Westminster judge under Elizabeth and represented Aldeburgh in 1572. He was notorious for his Catholic sympathies, which he passed on to at least one of his children, but Beaumont himself seems to have favoured puritanism.7 Beaumont was only 16 when his father died in 1598, when his wardship was purchased by (Sir) Henry Beaumont I, one of his father’s executors, for £120.8
In 1597 Beaumont was admitted to his father’s inn, the Inner Temple, but he presumably did not start his legal studies in earnest until after he graduated from Oxford in 1600. He stood for election at Leicester in 1604 after he reminded the mayor (from the Inner Temple) that he had recently been made free of the borough so that he might be eligible to stand for Parliament.9 Nevertheless he faced competition from Sir John Pulteney*, the nominee of the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir John Fortescue*. To safeguard himself against this threat, Beaumont secured a seat at Plympton Erle, probably with the support of the borough’s recorder, Serjeant John Hele†, a former bencher at the Inner Temple. He subsequently plumped for Leicester, thereby leaving the Plympton seat free for Hele’s son John*.10
Beaumont made 15 recorded speeches and was named to 42 committees during the 1604 session. He may have been late in arriving, as he was not mentioned in the surviving records until 18 Apr., when he was one of those who successfully opposed the bill to prevent outlaws from sitting in the House. Eight days later he was among those appointed to consider a replacement for this measure. He was also appointed to consider the bill to prevent secret outlawries on 17 May.11 However, Beaumont’s chief interest was in religion. In the debate on the bill against puritans on 25 Apr. he spoke ‘touching the king’s definition of a puritan in his book’; he was subsequently added to the committee for religion to consider the measure.12 He also contributed to the debate on religion instigated by Sir James Perrot on 5 May, although his words are unrecorded.13 A fortnight later he was named to the committee to consider a bill of grace for preserving episcopal estates. On 22 May the text of the bill and committee list was entrusted to him. He reported the following day that amendments had been proposed in the committee, whose members had been split down the middle over whether to accept or reject them. He consequently proposed that the bill should be recommitted, and that the committee should be strengthened by the addition of extra members. However this suggestion was rejected by the House, which was ‘not willing, that a bill proceeding merely from the king’s grace, should receive any rub in the passage, for some small faults’.14 On 6 June he opposed the bill to prevent the import of Catholic books, arguing that it would ‘set up an inquisition’, but he was nevertheless appointed to the committee.15 A week later he spoke in favour of the petition supporting those puritan ministers who were reluctant to subscribe to all the articles required of them.16 He also participated in the debates on the bills against the residence of wives and families in colleges (21 June) and swearing (3 July), but on neither occasion are his words recorded.17
On 20 Apr. Beaumont was among those appointed to attend the king at Whitehall to hear his defence of the Union.18 On 24 May he proposed that the interpretation of the Union bill should be reserved to the Commons.19 He was clearly angered by the bishop of Bristol’s book attacking the Commons’ proceedings concerning the Union, as on 26 May he cited four exceptions to the work and was named to the committee to draw up a message to the Lords. On 1 June he was also appointed to the committee to prepare for a conference with the Lords about the book.20
Beaumont supported composition for wardship, arguing on 16 May that it was perfectly reasonable to buy out this feudal due as Magna Carta had been secured by a grant of taxation.21 Six days later he was among those named to attend the conference with the Lords on the subject, and on 1 June he and his fellow conference members were instructed to consider the Form of Apology and Satisfaction, which Beaumont supported when it was reported on 20 June.22 On 23 May he seconded Richard Martin’s criticism of the Speaker for passing on a bill to the king without the permission of the House.23 On 30 May he was appointed to consider the Tunnage and Poundage bill, and on 14 June he answered Sir Maurice Berkeley, who queried whether the grant of these customs duties was ‘of necessity, of policy, or merely as a gratuity’. He maintained that they were voted as ‘a mere gratuity’, and argued that it ‘might well quell the rumour of distaste between the king and the Lower House’ if they were to be granted. This suggests that he was alarmed by rising political tensions during the session.24
On 11 May Beaumont was appointed to the committee to investigate William Tipper, who had been paid £100 to secure the passage of a bill establishing a monopoly of making hats. He reported on 15 May that Tipper ‘hath played the knave honestly’, for although the bond promising payment had preceded the preferment of the bill, Tipper had inserted a note in the margin stating his ‘misliking [of] it’. Further proceedings were deferred because of Tipper’s absence.25 On 25 Apr. Beaumont was named to the committee for the bill against hunting with guns, which he unsuccessfully supported at its third reading on 19 May.26 In the debate of 6 June on the free trade bill, he voiced provincial suspicions of the great London companies by calling for ‘free and liberal traffic’ and wondered that any should oppose it.27
The Leicester corporation showed its appreciation of Beaumont’s services by presenting him with wine and sugar on his return to Leicestershire after the end of the session, and a further three quarts of sack and three quarts of claret on his marriage in October.28 Either Beaumont or Sir Henry Beaumont I signed a petition from the Leicestershire gentry to Viscount Cranborne (Robert Cecil†) on behalf of the deprived puritan preachers in January 1605.29 Beaumont died six months later. His will is undated, although its brevity and his reference to his wife’s pregnancy suggests that it was probably drawn up in haste. His only child, a daughter, was born two months after his decease. His widow was suspected of Catholicism, and his brother John, who inherited Gracedieu, was convicted of recusancy in 1607. His other brother was the famous dramatist, Francis Beaumont. No later member of this branch sat in Parliament.30
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Nichols, County of Leicester, iii. 656.
- 2. Al. Ox.; I. Temple Admiss.
- 3. Nichols, iii. 661; Recs. of Bor. of Leicester ed. H. Stock, iv. 45; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 101.
- 4. H. Hartopp, Reg. Freemen of Leicester, i. 99.
- 5. C66/1620.
- 6. Nichols, iii. 661; HP Commons, 1509-1558, i. 405.
- 7. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 414-15; VCH Leics. ii. 56-7.
- 8. WARD 9/159, f. 63v; PROB 11/91, f. 317v.