CHUBBE, Matthew (-d.1617), of North Street, Dorchester, Dorset

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

2nd s. of John Chubbe (d.1572) of Misterton, Som. and Dorchester, and Agnes, da. of John Corbin, baker, of Dorchester.1 m. Margaret (d.1625), da. of Alexander Buckler of Woolcombe, Dorset, s.p.2 suc. bro. 1597.3 admon. 15 July 1617.4

Offices Held

Bailiff, Dorchester 1580-1, 1588-9, 1595-6, 1598-9, 1602-3, 1605-6,5 town steward 1583-4,6 constable 1589-90, 1593-4, 1599-1600, 1602-3, capital burgess by 1591-d.;7 treas. for maimed soldiers, Dorset 1603-4, collector, subsidy 1604;8 dep. steward of bor. ct., Dorchester by 1609.9


Chubbe’s father acquired by marriage the lease of a house in North Street, Dorchester, and was listed by the heralds in 1565 as the borough council’s junior member.10 Chubbe himself must be distinguished from a namesake who acted as victualler during the Armada campaign.11 A schoolmaster and scrivener in his early career, he subsequently turned to usury, and in 1608 he allegedly boasted that he possessed ‘a cartful of money’. By that date he had also reputedly been ‘the best housekeeper in the town of Dorchester’for some 20 years. With wealth came public office. Chubbe is said to have served as bailiff seven or eight times, though the surviving borough lists indicate only six terms of office. He also sat for Dorchester in the 1601 Parliament, deputized for Sir George Trenchard† senior in the borough court, and acted as ‘collector of subsidy for the whole county twice or thrice’. He was conspicuous for his acts of charity, building ‘at his own charge ... a dwelling house in Dorchester for the stipendiary preachers to dwell in’, and in 1604 founding almshouses at Crewkerne, Somerset, where his family originated.12

Chubbe was reluctant to represent Dorchester in the first Stuart Parliament, begging the borough authorities to spare him, offering £5 towards the wages of any other man chosen in his stead, ‘and alleging ... the disability of his body to endure that service’. When his objections were overruled, he absented himself from the opening stages of the 1604 session, requesting leave of absence from the Speaker on the grounds that ‘he was employed in His Majesty’s special service ... in the country’, as collector of the last Elizabethan subsidy, and treasurer for the maimed soldiers. The Commons rejected his excuses on 23 Mar., and he had presumably taken his seat by 28 Apr., when he was among those named to scrutinize a bill on the leather trade. However, he was evidently missing again by 24 June, when, fearing to ‘seem contemptuous by his absence’, he procured a letter from Dorchester corporation which requested the House to discharge him ‘and to grant a writ for the election of another’.13 This plea was ignored, and he attended the second and third sessions without protest. On 19 May 1606 he contributed to the third reading debate on the bill to regulate cloth manufactures, while on 19 Nov. 1606 he was named to the committee for the bill to assure grants and conveyances made to corporations.14

Meanwhile, trouble was brewing in Dorchester. In 1605 a gifted puritan preacher, John White, had arrived in the town. Chubbe was soon at odds with him, complaining about his Calvinist opinions, and, by 1607, decamping to another local church to receive communion. Not surprisingly, he welcomed and circulated three anti-puritan libels which appeared in the town during the summer and autumn of 1606, supposedly showing one of them to Francis Ashley*. Their author was Robert Adyn, a tobacco merchant and public notary who, by 1608, found himself in Dorchester gaol as ‘a dangerous Popish recusant’. Chubbe, himself allegedly a Catholic sympathizer, was a trustee of Adyn’s estate, and openly supported him during his imprisonment. In April 1608 a visit to Dorchester by Lord Berkeley’s players gave Chubbe’s puritan opponents’ fresh ammunition against him. In accordance with a municipal bye-law, Chubbe refused to allow the company to use the town hall, but he subsequently attended a private performance of an ‘interlude’ at a local inn, allegedly on a Sunday. Shortly afterwards, Chubbe’s enemies sued both him and Adyn for defamation over the 1606 libels, implying that by propagating them Chubbe had indirectly encouraged the Catholic cause. However, while the court’s verdict is not known, this episode seems not to have significantly damaged Chubbe’s local standing.15

When Parliament resumed in 1610, Chubbe was so late arriving that a messenger was sent to fetch him. On 14 May the Commons rejected his excuses, and ordered him to pay the messenger’s expenses. Two days later he was named to the committee for the bill to discourage bastardy. Untypically vocal during the fourth session, Chubbe urged the Commons on 22 May ‘to forbear a while’ its attack on the Crown’s prerogative right to levy impositions. When the subject of troublesome recusants came up on 24 May he surprisingly implicated his friend Adyn by repeating the latter’s indiscreet opinion that the assassination of Henri IV by a fanatical Catholic had set a precedent for a similar attempt on James I.16 On 7 June, having opposed at great length the Lords’ bill to divert the revenues of the depopulated rectory of Frome Whitfield for ecclesiastical and charitable uses in Dorchester, he was added to the committee. By 29 June, Chubbe was once more anxious to return to Dorset, as he planned to spend £200 on a fresh charitable venture. Accordingly, he was granted ‘leave to depart, and to come and go at [his] pleasure in respect to his infirmity’. Moreover, the two Dorset shire knights, Sir Thomas Freke and (Sir) John Williams, together with Sir Robert Meller* and John Boden*, were instructed to confer with him at the assizes to ensure that his good intentions were carried into effect. In the following year Chubbe and Boden jointly founded a set of 16 almshouses at Shaftesbury.17

Chubbe took charge of the relief operations after the great fire of Dorchester in 1613, advancing £1,000 to its victims out of his own pocket on the promise of repayment by the Exchequer. At the 1614 parliamentary election, he may have backed George Horsey*, to whom he advanced £100 at around this time.18 He had still received no satisfaction from the Exchequer, which was empty, when he drew up his will on 21 June 1617, but left half his claim to the corporation for such charitable uses ‘as they in their discretion shall think most necessary and needful’. After generous bequests to his two sets of almshouses and to half-a-dozen servants and relatives ‘now living in house with me’, he made his wife Margaret his residuary legatee. He died shortly afterwards, and was buried in All Saints, Dorchester with the epitaph: ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them’.19 Margaret followed his example by building nine almshouses for women in Dorchester. After her death, Chubbe’s estate came to his nephew Matthew, ‘a poor ignorant man that could neither write nor read written hand’, who died in King’s Bench prison in 1633. Nothing further is known of the family.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Dorset Vis. Addenda ed. Colby and Rylands, 16; Soc. Gen., Holy Trinity, Dorchester par. reg.; Municipal Recs. of Dorchester ed. C.H. Mayo, 331.
  • 2. Dorset Vis. Addenda, 16; PROB 11/153, ff. 354v-5v.
  • 3. F. Weaver, Som. Incumbents, 89.
  • 4. PROB 11/130, f. 80.
  • 5. STAC 5/E12/31; 5/C3/1; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 352; Dorset RO, B2/11/2.
  • 6. Municipal Recs. of Dorchester, 479.
  • 7. Dorset RO, B2/11/2.
  • 8. CD 1604-7, p. 24.
  • 9. STAC 8/44/17.
  • 10. Municipal Recs. of Dorchester, 345; The Gen. n.s. ii. 300.
  • 11. Harl. 3324, f. 40.
  • 12. STAC 8/44/17; Municipal Recs. of Dorchester, 378; Som. and Dorset N and Q, xxx. 235.
  • 13. Not. Parl. ii. 415-16; CJ, i. 152a, 189a, 935a; CD 1604-7, p. 24.
  • 14. CJ, i. 310b, 315b.
  • 15. STAC 8/44/17; REQ 2/393/1.
  • 16. CJ, i. 428a, 429a, 430b, 432b.
  • 17. CJ, i. 435b, 444b; Som. and Dorset N and Q, xxx. 216.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 206; PROB 11/153, f. 354v.
  • 19. PROB 11/130, f. 80; Hutchins, ii. 378.
  • 20. PROB 11/153, f. 354v; Hutchins, ii. 369; C2/Chas.I/C111/50.