BINGLEY, John (c.1572-1638), of Chester, Cheshire, St. Stephen's, Westminster and Dublin, Ireland
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Family and Education
b. by 1572,1 2nd s. of John Bingley, shearman, of Chester. educ. G. Inn 1612.2 m. (1) Anne (bur. 17 May 1615), da. of Thomas Henshaw, Merchant Taylor of London;3 (2) c.July 1617, Elizabeth (d. aft. 1648), wid. of Sir John Grey (bur. 7 Oct. 1611) and da. of Edward Neville, 8th Lord Abergavenny.4 kntd. 10 Jan. 1618.5 d.1638.6 sig. Jo[hn] Bingley.
Chief remembrancer (jt.), exch.[I], 1603-10;13 constable, Maryborough Castle, co. Cork, 1604;14 customs farmer, Drogheda 1605-11, Ire. 1613-24; comptroller, musters and cheques [I], 1627-d.;15 commr. plantation of Ulster, 1628, 1631.16
Writer of the tallies, Exch. 1609-20.17
Cttee. Virg. Co. 1609; member, Africa Co. 1618.18
The Bingleys may have originated in west Yorkshire, but they settled at Broughton, in Flintshire, during the sixteenth century.19 Bingley is first mentioned in 1593, when he was made a freeman of Chester. One of his cousins, Sir Ralph Bingley, served in the Irish campaign of 1601-3, and it was probably through him and the patronage of the lord deputy, Charles Blount†, Baron Mountjoy, that he quickly advanced to a position of authority and wealth in Ireland.20 He benefited enormously from the early years of Jacobean largesse. In July 1603 he was appointed joint chief remembrancer of the Irish Exchequer, and in 1605 was granted the farm of the Drogheda customs. He also obtained a coat of arms and substantial Irish lands.21 In 1606 he and Arthur Ingram* acted as middlemen between the reforming vice-treasurer of Ireland, Sir Thomas Ridgeway* on the one hand and lord treasurer Dorset (Thomas Sackville†) and the earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) on the other regarding a scheme to improve the Irish customs. He later claimed that when he informed them of ‘the little custom that Ireland paid to the Crown, they were exceeding glad and strove how to improve them’.22 Bingley surrendered his Drogheda customs grant in 1611 for £600 and two years later became involved with Ingram and Cranfield in the general farm of the Irish customs.23
Bingley had already returned from Ireland by 1608, when he was one of the defendants in ‘Calvin’s case’, which concerned the lease of a house in Bishopsgate.24
In 1609 he was instrumental, as a ruthless creditor, in hastening the departure from office of Sir Vincent Skinner*, writer of the tallies in the Exchequer. Bingley himself succeeded to this post, whose holder was also known as the auditor of the receipt, having held the reversion since 1604.25 He took up residence in a house adjoining St. Stephen’s Cloisters, where he had new offices built in 1611-12.26 After the death in July 1610 of the Chester Member, Hugh Glasier, Bingley solicited the corporation for the seat. Describing Chester as ‘that city wherein I first received life’, he offered to serve without charge and suggested that his ‘near habitation and dwelling to the Parliament house’ made him an ideal candidate.27 He was elected on 10 Sept. but left no trace on the scant records of the fifth session.28 He approached Chester again in 1614 and was chosen for the senior place, probably because he had often assisted the city in Exchequer suits in the intervening years.29 Despite residing close to the Commons, Bingley played only a minor role in its business. As a Westminster inhabitant he was appointed on 18 Apr. to help distribute the money collected at the Members’ communion in St. Margaret’s. On 31 May, probably because of his position as an Exchequer official, he was named to the committee to consider the problem of old debts. The following day he was one of three Members charged with apprehending the recusant, Francis Lovett.30 There is no record of him speaking in the Parliament.
Bingley remained in office until he was implicated in the corruption scandal which led to the downfall of lord treasurer Suffolk in July 1618. Suffolk, his wife and Bingley were brought to trial in Star Chamber in the following October, when they were charged with keeping inaccurate accounts, accepting bribes in return for payment, and undervaluing the farm of the Yorkshire alum works. Of their guilt there was little doubt, although both Suffolk and Bingley were in part victims of the countess’s greed. Bingley was described as ‘my lady’s purveyor’ and solicited payments to himself and the countess before issuing money from the Exchequer.31 In this way he even exploited members of his own family, such as his brother-in-law Benjamin Henshaw, who was owed £12,000 by the king but was persuaded by Bingley to accept just £10,000, the remaining £2,000 going instead into the purse of the countess of Suffolk.32 Bingley’s sole concession to kinship was the waiving of his own gratuity. Bingley himself was often inconvenienced by the Suffolks’s habit of using the Exchequer like a private bank account. Whenever money was short and needed to be disbursed, he was forced to borrow large sums from his friend and partner, Sir Arthur Ingram.33 When they were sentenced, Sir Edward Coke*, never one for moderation, suggested imposing a fine of £100,000 on the Suffolks and £5,000 on Bingley. In the event, however, the Suffolks and Bingley were fined £30,000 and £2,000 respectively. All three defendants were subsequently imprisoned at the king’s pleasure.34
Bingley’s incarceration was short, as he was released in about January 1620 after paying off only £1,000 of his fine.35 No doubt aware of the assistance given by George Villiers, marquess of Buckingham to the Suffolks,36 Sir Robert Naunton* and Sir George Goring* informed the favourite that Bingley had a severe eye infection and required better surroundings than the Fleet.37 On his release Bingley faced a host of further legal actions against him.38 Moreover, in 1621 a printed petition was presented to Parliament by Bernard Dakins alleging that Bingley had fraudulently obtained his properties in Bishopsgate, London. Dakins’s father had handed over the deeds but had never received payment. After his father’s death, Dakins had agreed to accept 1,000 acres in Ulster in lieu of payment, but this was never conveyed even though Dakins had agreed to answer a bill in Chancery to discover clear title to the London properties. Instead Bingley had used his Exchequer position to gain a favourable ruling from the chief baron. Dakins’s initial appeal to Parliament seems to have been unsuccessful, but in 1624 the Commons’ petitions committee ordered Bingley to settle the debt.39 It may have been because of Dakins that Bingley approached Chester for a parliamentary seat in 1620, but he was rebuffed by the corporation, which was in the midst of a bitter internal feud.40
Despite his Star Chamber conviction Bingley soon sought preferment again. In 1621 he proposed a scheme to lord treasurer Middlesex (Lionel Cranfield*) for collecting the Irish revenue in which he suggested that the king name him ‘supervisor of all His Majesty’s revenue, compositions, certain and casual as well in the Exchequer of Ireland as also in the Court of Wards’ - a title Bingley himself thought ‘the fittest’.41 Nothing came of this scheme or a similar one proposed on his behalf by Sir Francis Blundell, 1st bt.*, yet by the mid-1620s Bingley appears to have been back in favour.42 He had returned to Dublin by December 1625,43 and in 1627 was appointed the comptroller of musters and cheques in Ireland.44 There he seems to have served the king well as there are no further hints of financial impropriety. Ironically, but with good cause, Bingley complained about the financial administration of Lord Docwra as treasurer-at-war in Ireland, accusing him of ‘manifold injuries and deceits’.45 Indeed, Bingley won extravagant praise for his role in the Ulster plantation commissions of 1628 and 1631, and was recommended to Lord Dorchester (Dudley Carleton*) as a man ‘who knew Ireland well’.46 Although now based permanently in Ireland, Bingley travelled regularly to England and was entrusted with carrying papers and monies for Richard Boyle, earl of Cork.47 He died in Dublin in 1638. His will, proved in Dublin, no longer exists.48
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Chris Kyle
- 1. Birth date calculated from admiss. as freeman.
- 2. GI Admiss.
- 3. Regs. Westminster Abbey ed. J.L. Chester, 112.
- 4. CP; R. Bingley, ‘Sir John Bingley’, Jnl. of Fam. Hist. Soc. of Cheshire, vii. 7-9.
- 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 167.
- 6. Index Prerogative Wills Ire. ed. A. Vicars, 13.
- 7. Freemen of Chester ed. J.H.E. Bennett (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. li), 72.
- 8. C181/2, ff. 140v, 347.
- 9. C181/3, f. 116.
- 10. C181/2, f. 199v.
- 11. E403/2732, f. 196v.
- 12. C181/2, ff. 331v; 181/3 ff. 7, 98v.
- 13. CSP Ire. 1603-6, pp. 76-7; Bodl. Carte 61, f. 483.
- 14. Bodl. Carte 62, f. 12.
- 15. CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 200.
- 16. Ibid. 303, 636.
- 17. Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 207. The position was sometimes referred to as auditor of the receipt. Ibid. 201.
- 18. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 80, 318; Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 99.
- 19. Bingley, vii. 7.
- 20. STAC 8/268/7; R.J. Hunter, ‘Sir Ralph Bingley’ in Plantation to Partition ed. P. Roebuck, 14-28; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 547, 603.
- 21. Add. 14295, f. 112; V. Treadwell, ‘Irish Farm of the Customs’, EHR, xciii. 586; CSP Ire. 1603-6, pp. 113, 141, 150; CPR Ire. Jas. I, 6b, 8b, 12b, 141, 49a, 125b-6b.
- 22. HMC Var. viii. 50.
- 23. Treadwell, ‘Irish Farm’, 597; W. Yorks AS (Leeds), TN/PO7/III/37. For Bingley’s further involvement in the farm see ibid. TN/PO7/III/11; HMC Var. viii. 29, 190; A.F. Upton, Sir Arthur Ingram, 14, 42, 63-4, 81-3, 86.
- 24. C78/133/4; State Trials ed. T.B. Howell, ii. 661-96.
- 25. C66/1651.
- 26. E403/2730, f. 40; E351/3245, 3246; Harl. 2084, f. 153; Cheshire Archives, ML/2 no. 238.
- 27. Cheshire Archives, ML/2, no. 238.
- 28. Ibid. SIE 8.
- 29. Ibid. 9; ML/2, no. 263; ML/6, nos. 63, 83-4.
- 30. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 93, 391, 411.
- 31. Lismore Pprs. ed. A.B. Grosart (ser. 2), ii. 172; W. Yorks AS (Leeds), TN/C/1/105.
- 32. A.P. Perceval, ‘Star Chamber Procs. against Suffolk and Others’, EHR, xiii. 725.
- 33. W. Yorks. AS (Leeds), TN/PO7/II/1; TN/C/1/101, 105.
- 34. Perceval, 716-29; Add. 12497, ff. 69-74v, 77-92v; S.R. Gardiner, Hist. of Eng. from Accession of Jas. I, iii. 183-9, 208-10.
- 35. HMC Cowper i. 107.
- 36. R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 64-5.
- 37. Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. i), 97, 104; Harl. 1580 f. 411v.
- 38. E112/102/1391-2; C78/295/1; STAC 8/254/3, 79/14.
- 39. GL, ms Broadside 24.26; HLRO, main pprs. 18 May 1624.
- 40. V. Treadwell, Buckingham and Ire. 1616-28, p. 156.
- 41. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/Hi 261
- 42. Treadwell, Buckingham and Ire. 156.
- 43. Flints. RO, D/GW/2112.
- 44. CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 200.
- 45. Ibid. 107; Treadwell, Buckingham and Ire. 54.
- 46. CSP Ire. 1625-32, pp. 559, 636, 647, 659, 663.
- 47. Lismore Pprs. (ser. 1), iii. 139
- 48. Index Prerogative Wills Ire. 13.