CAREY (CARY), Sir Henry I (c.1575-1633), of Aldenham, Herts. and Carey House, Smithfield, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1575, 1st s. of Sir Edward Carey† of Aldenham, and Catherine, da. of Sir Henry Knyvet of East Horsley, Surr.; bro. of Adolphus* and Sir Philip*.1 educ. G. Inn 1590; Exeter Coll., Oxf. c.1592.2 m. c.Sept. 1602 (with £2,000), Elizabeth (d.1639), da. and h. of Lawrence Tanfield* of Burford Priory, Oxon., c. bar. Exch. 1607-25, 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da. (1 d.v.p.).3 kntd. 12 July 1599;4 suc. fa. 1618;5 cr. Visct. Falkland [S] 14 Nov. 1620.6 d. 25 Sept. 1633.7

Offices Held

Vol. Ireland 1599,8 Dutch army 1605;9 member, embassy to Brussels 1605.10

J.p. Herts. and St. Albans liberty by 1601-d., Mdx. 1622-9;11 commr. subsidy, Herts. 1608, 1622, 1624, Mdx. 1622,12 oyer and terminer, St Albans liberty 1612-31, Home circ. 1618-d., London, Newgate and Mdx. 1621-32;13 kpr. Marylebone Park, Mdx. by 1614-15;14 collector of Benevolence, Herts. 1614;15 dep. lt. Herts. c.1616-18;16 chairman of St. Albans q. sess. to 1618;17 commr. survey, L. Inn Fields, Mdx. 1618,18 gaol delivery the Verge 1621, Newgate 1621-8,19 sewers, Colne valley 1624-5;20 v. adm. Munster [I] 1624-d.;21 commr. Forced Loan, Mdx. 1626-7,22 swans, Herts. and elsewhere, c. 1629,23 survey of the Thames 1630,24 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1631.25

Gent. of the privy chamber 1603;26 master of the Jewel House (jt.) 1603-18;27 comptroller of the Household 1618-22;28 PC 1618-25, 1629-d.;29 commr. banishment of Jesuits 1618,30 treating with Utd. Provinces 1619,31 wine casks 1619-21;32 member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1620-d.;33 recvr. of subsidy (jt.) 1621;34 ld. dep. [I] 1622-9;35 commr. regulation of starch manufacture 1631-3,36 poor relief 1631,37 transportation of felons 1633.38

Member, Virg. Co. Council 1609; N.W. Passage Co. 1612.39


Carey was descended from a younger son of the family that had provided both knights of the shire for Devon in 1362.40 His great-uncle married Anne Boleyn’s sister, and this connection brought his father office under Elizabeth as groom of the bedchamber, teller in the Exchequer and master of the Jewels, as well as a Crown lease of the west Hertfordshire manor of Berkhamsted. With the purchase of Aldenham in 1589, the family became major landowners in Hertfordshire.41 Carey served under the 2nd earl of Essex in Ireland, where he must be distinguished from a professional soldier of the same name who was also knighted in the field, and was mentioned in dispatches for ‘a very brave charge’ under the command of the 3rd earl of Southampton.42 In the following winter his mother asked Sir Robert Cecil† to recommend him to the queen as a servant already experienced in warfare.43 His namesake took part in Essex’s rising, but Carey was not himself implicated, and together with Cecil he represented Hertfordshire in the last Parliament of the reign. On the accession of James I he joined his father in the Jewels office, and briefly also served in the new king’s privy chamber. In the opening years of his marriage Carey saw little of his wife, whose main attraction for him was her wealth. He purchased the Crown manor of Minster in Thanet, ‘at an easy rate’ in 1604; he and his father were already the sitting tenants, and enjoyed an annual rental of £1,600.44

Re-elected to Parliament in 1604, Carey was among those appointed to manage a conference on wardship and purveyance (26 Mar.), to consider Southampton’s restitution bill (2 Apr.), and to hear the king explain the intended Union with Scotland (20 April). On 16 June he was added to the committee for a bill concerning the tanning of leather.45 With a licence to travel abroad for seven years, he accompanied the 1st earl of Hertford’s mission to the Spanish Netherlands in 1605 and, at its conclusion, joined the Dutch rebels on the other side. Leading a four-man cavalry charge against odds of a hundred to one, he was ‘thrust in the hat’, taken prisoner, and held to ransom.46 He was thus unavoidably absent from the second session. There was some talk of holding a by-election for Hertfordshire; however, on 9 Nov. 1605 the Commons accepted the advice of Sir George More* from the privileges committee that Carey should be allowed to retain his seat.47 An attempt at escape from his captors was followed by stricter confinement; his ransom was reduced by £300 to £2,200 as result of diplomatic pressure emphasizing his status as a royal servant, and he was eventually released.48 On 16 July 1606 the newsmonger John Chamberlain reported that ‘Sir Henry Carey is come out of the Low Countries so Spanish in attire as if he were in love with the nation’.49 The conclusion was doubtless ironical, and Carey’s first committee after resuming his seat was to consider the cruelties inflicted by the Spaniards, ‘and what course were fittest to be taken for satisfaction of the parties interested’ (28 Feb. 1607). His only other appointment in the third session was to consider a bill against pluralism and non-residence (4 March).50 Perhaps in compensation for his ordeal he was granted the benefit of seven recusancies in March 1607, and a licence to supervise the execution of the laws against the conversion of tillage to pasture.51

Carey brought his pregnant wife to town ‘in great pomp’ in the winter of 1608-9; she later recalled that whilst he was always ‘very absolute’ towards her, he was so tenderly careful of their offspring ‘that he could supply both the part of a father and mother’.52 In the fourth session he was named to bill committees concerning subscription (14 Mar. 1610), the repeal of the New River Act (20 June), a Huntingdonshire estate bill (30 June), and the confirmation of titles to contractors for Crown lands (5 July). On 1 June he acted as teller in favour recommitting a bill to reform abuses in logwood, but it was rejected.53 He left no trace on the records of the brief fifth session.

In 1611 Carey surrendered the lease of Berkhamsted to Prince Henry, in return for £4,000.54 Although already burdened with debts, he laid out part of the money in buying the Norfolk manor of Snettisham from Cecil (now 1st earl of Salisbury) for £1,500, and in an investment in the North-West Passage Company.55 He did not stand at the next general election. In December 1617 Carey and his father offered to sell their shared office in the jewel house to Sir Henry Mildmay* for £3,000.56 At the same time, Carey paid £5,000 to Lord Wotton to resign the treasurership of the household to the comptroller Sir Thomas Edmondes*, thereby creating a vacancy for himself among the white staves. Both transactions were protracted, and Carey eventually took up the comptrollership at the end of January 1618.57 He notified the royal favourite, Buckingham, of his aspirations to the mastership of the Wards well ahead of the dismissal of Viscount Wallingford, writing on 14 Oct. 1618 that ‘if without the imputation of irregular ambition to prefer myself ... or seeming to over-press your noble inclination towards me, I might lawfully offer my desires, I would present them to you for it’.58 Buckingham was more than willing to oust the last of the Howard connection from high office, particularly as Carey’s promotion would leave the comptrollership available for Sir Edward Villiers*.59 Nevertheless the prize ultimately went to Sir Lionel Cranfield*, who had offered to effect ‘a high improvement of His Majesty’s revenue’.60

As comptroller, Carey was appointed to the Privy Council in 1618, and given a Scottish viscountcy on 14 Nov. 1620, taking his title from the royal palace of Falkland, since he did not himself possess a foot of land in the country. This did not deter him from standing for Hertfordshire at the general election a few weeks later, and on 7 Dec. he asked the 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*), the county’s lord lieutenant, to ‘afford me your defence and favour for the place, which I am determined to pursue’.61 Joining forces with Sir Charles Morrison*, he was returned unopposed as ‘Sir Henry Carey, knight’. He felt enough concern about opposition to his election to secure a back-up nomination at Chester from William Spencer, 1st earl of Northampton. However, his candidature was highly unpopular among the commonalty there, and even the corporation were delighted to conclude that it need no longer be pressed.62 He was scarcely more welcome in the Commons. The privileges committee were at first misled by the indenture to suppose that his ennoblement had followed his return; but there was no precedent for a Scottish peer in the Commons, and they left it to the House to decide on his eligibility.63 On 7 Feb. Sir Edward Coke declared him ‘a worthy gentleman of excellent qualities’, and several other voices were raised in his favour; however, Sir Edward Montagu turned the tide of the debate against creating ‘a gap, to open a way to all noblemen of Scotland, naturalized, to sit here and thrust us out’.64 For fear of setting a precedent either way, no decision was reached; Carey never took his seat, but neither was a writ sent out to replace him.

Out of Parliament, Falkland carried assurances of Buckingham’s love and affection to the disgraced lord chancellor, Sir Francis Bacon*, and during the recess he helped to interrogate the 3rd earl of Southampton over the attack on Villiers and other monopolists.65 He did not attend the Scottish Parliament but gave his proxy to the secretary of state, the earl of Melrose.66 By May 1621 Falkland was tipped to succeed Sir Oliver St. John* as lord deputy of Ireland, but the formal appointment was long delayed.67 On 15 July he wrote to Buckingham that he was ‘in danger to sustain much in my reputation’ unless the king confirmed it soon; but the real difficulty was finding a purchaser for his white stave. Another 12 months elapsed before he agreed terms with Sir John Suckling* and took up his new appointment, leaving debts of over £30,000 behind him.68 To meet the costs of the journey, Lady Falkland agreed to mortgage Aldenham, her jointure, to Edward Wymarke*. It was let to the earl and countess of Somerset, but even so Falkland’s trustees, (Sir) William Pitt* of the Exchequer and John Williams, the king’s goldsmith, found that the annual income from his estate, some £2,000, was insufficient to pay the interest on his debts, though it was many years before he could be brought to acknowledge it.69

A lifelong moderate in religion, lord deputy Falkland was at first constrained by the Spanish marriage negotiations to turn a blind eye to the prevalence of Catholicism in Ireland.70 To his embarrassment, his wife was converted whilst in Dublin, and on her return to England in 1625 she publicly accompanied the new queen, Henrietta Maria, to mass.71 Her intention had ostensibly been to advance Falkland’s affairs at Court, although he tried to discourage her, for he conceived ‘women to be no fit solicitors of state affairs, for though it sometimes happens they have good wits, it then commonly falls out that they have over-busy natures withal’.72 By this time Falkland wished for a separation from her ‘whom now I may say I have long unhappily called wife’.73 With the Privy Council’s acquiescence she was allocated an annual allowance of £500, provided that she lived quietly in the country with only nine servants ‘to avoid scandal’.74 On 20 Feb. 1629 a petition from two Irishmen, Philip and Henry Buskin, was introduced in the English House of Commons accusing Falkland of helping Lord Sarsfield to acquire an estate by a judicial murder.75 The petition was referred to the grand committee for courts of justice, and although there was no further report of it before the dissolution, the episode may have contributed towards Falkland’s recall later in the year.76

Upon his return to England, Falkland was readmitted to the English Privy Council, and brought Coryton and Thomas Cotton* into Star Chamber for their parliamentary activity in the Buskin case.77 His finances remained in disarray. In September 1630 he wrote to the industrious Pitt that ‘my mind hath been meditating on the accounts you are labouring to perfect’, and concluded that the capital value of his estate was £42,000, besides a debt from the Crown and moveables ‘of no contemptible worth’; nevertheless, Pitt eventually convinced him that his income had long been insufficient even to service his debts.78 His eldest son’s love-match with the portionless daughter of Sir Richard Moryson*, so unlike his own marriage, left him ‘much dejected’, and at the mercy of importunate creditors, headed by Williams.79 By 1631 he was virtually a prisoner in the official residence of his brother-in-law Sir Edward Barrett*.80 He entreated the secretary of state, Viscount Dorchester (Dudley Carleton*) ‘not to suffer his catastrophe to be contempt, disgrace and misery’, and grudgingly accepted £10,000 as a settlement of all his claims on the Crown, pressing for immediate payment to the high indignation of the lord treasurer, Sir Richard Weston*.81 On Dorchester’s death in the following year, Falkland was rumoured to be a candidate for his office, but again his debts counted heavily against him.82

While hunting with the king in 1633, Falkland broke his leg ‘with a fall out of a standing within Theobalds Park’. Charles was the first to come to his aid, whereupon Falkland struggled to his feet, sustaining two further fractures, and took the opportunity of begging a captaincy in the Irish army for his second son. His injuries proved serious, and to arrest the spread of gangrene the leg was amputated; but his doctors failed to arrest the bleeding, and he died intestate on 25 Sept. 1633.83 He was buried at Aldenham.84 His son Lucius, the 2nd viscount, inherited the Tanfield property in Oxfordshire, though he had to sell Burford Priory to his cousin William Lenthall*, the better half of Minster to the insatiable Williams (who became a baronet), and Aldenham to a London financier.85 He became the second Scottish peer to win a seat in the Westminster Parliament when he was returned for the Isle of Wight borough of Newport in 1640.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Her. and Gen. iii. 39-40.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 3. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 153, 159; Lady Falkland ed. R. Simpson, 7, 11.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 96.
  • 5. C142/374/109.
  • 6. CP, v. 239.
  • 7. C142/522/30; 142/539/20.
  • 8. HMC Hatfield, ix. 22, 237.
  • 9. HMC 7th Rep. 529.
  • 10. HMC Bath, i. 200.
  • 11. C66/1549; C181/1, f. 9v; 181/4, f. 132; C231/4, f. 44; C66/2527; SP16/212, f. 28v.
  • 12. SP14/31/1; C212/22/21, 23.
  • 13. C181/2, ff. 176, 331; 181/3, ff. 1, 3, 20v, 21v, 31v, 243v, 261, 264; 181/4, ff. 15v, 24v, 90, 105v, 127v.
  • 14. Lansd. 1217, f. 18; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 249.
  • 15. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 15.
  • 16. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 77.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 82.
  • 19. C181/3, ff. 20, 22v, 242v.
  • 20. C181/3, ff. 116, 184.
  • 21. Vice Admirals of the Coast ed. J.C. Sainty and A.D. Thrush (L. and I. Soc. cccxxi), 70.
  • 22. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 435; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 141.
  • 23. C181/3, f. 267v.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 323.
  • 25. Ibid. 1631-3, p. 6.
  • 26. Harl. 6166, f. 68v.
  • 27. C66/1607, 2133; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 15; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 134.
  • 28. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 519; 1619-23, p. 396.
  • 29. APC, 1618-19, p. 30; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 97.
  • 30. Rymer, vii. pt. 3, p. 65.
  • 31. Ibid. p. 115.
  • 32. CD 1621, vii. 417.
  • 33. Rymer, vii. pt. 3, p. 134; R.G. Usher, The Rise and Fall of High Commission, 347, 350.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 247.
  • 35. Ibid. p. 442; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, ii. 43.
  • 36. Rymer, vii. pt. 3, p. 217; Cal. of the Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv), 37.
  • 37. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 474.
  • 38. Ibid. 1631-3, p. 547.
  • 39. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 210; Newfoundland Discovered ed. G.T. Cell (Hakluyt Soc. clx), 36-8; CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 239.
  • 40. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 150, 154.
  • 41. VCH Herts. ii. 151, 167.
  • 42. HMC Hatfield, ix. 22, 237.
  • 43. Ibid. x. 5.
  • 44. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 72; Add. 29974, f. 144.
  • 45. CJ, i. 154b, 162a, 180a, 241a.
  • 46. SO3/3, unfol.; HMC Bath, i. 200; HMC 7th Rep. 529; HMC Rutland, ii. 397.
  • 47. CJ, i. 257a.
  • 48. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 73, 99; Carleton to Chamberlain ed. M. Lee, 81.
  • 49. Chamberlain Letters, i. 231.
  • 50. CJ, i. 344b, 347b.
  • 51. C66/1741; Add. 34765, f. 16.
  • 52. Chamberlain Letters, i. 273-4; Lady Falkland, 11, 14, 24.
  • 53. CJ, i. 410b, 434b, 442a, 444b, 446a.
  • 54. HMC Hatfield, xxi. 326; VCH Herts. ii. 167.
  • 55. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 109; T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 260.
  • 56. HMC Downshire, vi. 352, 357; C66/2133/23.
  • 57. CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 505, 512, 519, 529; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 134.
  • 58. Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. i), 56.
  • 59. HMC Downshire, vi. 599, 614, 626, 627; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 125, 187.
  • 60. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, ii. 122.
  • 61. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 136-7.
  • 62. Harl. 2105, ff. 271, 275.
  • 63. Harl. 6846, f. 125; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 341; CJ, i. 511b.
  • 64. CJ, i. 512b, 513a.
  • 65. Ct. of Jas. I ed. G. Goodman, i. 202, 222; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 385.
  • 66. D. Calderwood, True Hist. Church of Scotland, vii. 497.
  • 67. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 258; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 380.
  • 68. Harl. 1581, f. 242; CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 396, 442; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 450.
  • 69. Add. 29974, ff. 116, 142v, 148; APC, 1621-3, p. 279; CSP Dom. 1638-9, p. 277.
  • 70. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 585; CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 455.
  • 71. Birch, Chas. I, i. 170.
  • 72. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 208; CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 109.
  • 73. CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 178.
  • 74. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 210; APC, 1627-8, pp. 109-10.
  • 75. CJ, i. 931b; CSP Ire. 1633-47, pp. 26-31.
  • 76. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 347.
  • 77. Birch, Chas. I, ii. 43, 84.
  • 78. Add. 29974, ff. 140, 144, 148.
  • 79. HMC Var. v. 133.
  • 80. CSP Dom. 1631-3, pp. 128-9.
  • 81. Ibid. 124; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, ii. 294.
  • 82. Birch, Chas. I, ii. 169.
  • 83. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 220; Strafforde Letters, i. 205; Lady Falkland, 46.
  • 84. Her. and Gen. iii. 45, 143.
  • 85. Hasted, Kent, x. 276; Wood, Ath. Ox. iii. 604; VCH Herts. ii. 151.