DIGGES, Sir Dudley (1583-1639), of Philip Lane, London and Chilham Castle, Kent

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



Apr. 1610
16 Feb. 1621

Family and Education

b. May 1583,1 1st s. of Thomas Digges† of London and Wingham, Kent and Anne, da. of Sir Warham St. Leger of Leeds Castle, Kent.2 educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1600, BA 1610;3 household of Abp. Whitgift by 1602;4 travelled abroad (France) 1604;5 G. Inn 1618 and 1631.6 m. aft.1607, Mary (d.1631), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Kempe of Olantigh, Wye, Kent, 8s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da.7 suc. fa. 1595;8 kntd. 29 Apr. 1607.9 d. 18 Mar. 1639.10 sig. Dudly Digges.

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Kent and Suss. 1609-d.,11 Kent 1620-5, 1631,12 Suss. 1630,13 piracy, Cinque ports 1616, 1625, 1629, 15 Mar. 1639-d.;14 j.p. Kent 1616-26, 1628-d.,15 capt. militia ft. by 1621,16 commr. subsidy 1621-2, 1624,17 dep. lt. by 1623-at least 1626, ?1628-at least 1636,18 commr. inquiry into profits of Wye Coll., Kent 1623;19 collector, Privy Seal loan, Kent 1626,20 commr. Forced Loan 1626-7,21 recusants’ lands 1627,22 oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1631-d.,23 London and Mdx. 1636.24

Cttee. Virg. Co. 1609,25 E.I. Co. 1611,26 N.W. Passage Co. 1612;27 member, Muscovy Co. 1620.28

Member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1613-at least 1633;29 gent. of Privy Chamber from 1618;30 commr. transportation of ordnance 1619,31 trade 1621-2, 1625,32 Irish inquiries 1622;33 PC [I] from 1622;34 commr. exacted fees 1622,35 better plantation of Virg. 1631;36 master in Chancery 1631-at least 1635;37 master of the Rolls 1636-d.38

Amb. Russia 1618; commr. (jt.) to treat with Utd. Provinces 1620-1.39

Bencher, G. Inn 1631-d.40


Digges’s ancestors had lived in Kent since the thirteenth century, producing a knight of the shire in 1437. His father, Thomas, who sat in Elizabeth’s fourth and fifth parliaments, was a distinguished astronomer and mathematician, and served under Leicester in the Netherlands as muster-master-general. Digges, Leicester’s godson, was patriotically pressed for service against the Armada at the age of five.41 Thomas died seven years later, leaving instructions for his infant son to be ‘brought up chiefly in knowledge and fear of God, and also in learning the mathematical sciences, military studies and foreign languages’. Digges’s wardship was purchased from the Crown by his mother, and his education was placed in the hands of George Abbot, then master of University College, Oxford, and later archbishop of Canterbury, who formed a life-long bond with his ‘towardly’ pupil. He also spent some time in the household of Archbishop Whitgift, who in 1602 provided him with an introduction to Sir Robert Cecil†.42

Still under age at the first general election of the new reign, Digges set out on his travels, meeting Theophilus Howard*, Lord Howard de Walden in Paris. On his return he published his father’s book on military discipline, which he dedicated to Howard, adding some remarks of his own on the army as the most worthy career for a gentleman, though his own experience was distinctly limited. It was reputedly Howard’s father, lord chamberlain Suffolk, who arranged his knighthood in 1607, and subsequently his marriage to Mary Kempe, a Kent heiress. Digges’s own patrimony amounted to just two manors and a few hundred acres, and his wife brought him ‘his best means of livelihood’, including Chilham Castle.43 Digges joined the board of the Virginia Company in 1609, and became one of the three principal backers of Hudson’s last voyage in search of the North-West Passage. One of the lesser contributors to this venture was Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, who at around this time sold Digges an annuity of £500 secured on his customs farm, and also recommended him for Tewkesbury when the borough was enfranchised in 1610. ‘By way of thankfulness’, Digges sent Tewkesbury £160 to purchase a landed endowment for the town school.44

The first Jacobean Parliament was already into its fourth session when Digges took his seat on 16 Apr. 1610, the first day after the Easter recess. Despite his novice status and his absence from the session’s initial phase, he settled rapidly, receiving his first committee nomination, to scrutinize a bill on women tenants in tail, on only his second day in the House. In all he received 17 committee nominations during the session, and made six speeches. Digges’s speaking style was very distinctive. He himself later acknowledged his ‘imperfection of speaking fast’, and he acquired a reputation for both ‘volubility and elegancy of speech’.45 His first recorded intervention came on 21 Apr., when he opposed the bill to allow a Kent landowner, Sir Henry Crispe, to revoke a conveyance to his wife. Three days later, he re-opened the debate on ejected ministers with the moderate proposal that the House should petition the king to restore specific clergy, rather than raise the general issue as a grievance. This idea was well received, and Digges was subsequently appointed to attend the conference with the Lords on the bill of canons (5 July). His talents were also acknowledged on 11 May, when he was named to the committee to sort grievances. Already sensitive to the problems of parliamentary management, or perhaps prompted by Salisbury, he moved successfully on 25 May for votes on major issues to be suspended during the disruption caused by Prince Henry’s investiture, but for work on bills to continue.46 Nominated on 27 Apr. to help decide how to report the previous day’s conference with the Lords about the Great Contract, he was relatively unsympathetic to the Crown’s financial problems. On 14 June Digges acknowledged the challenges that James faced following the assassination of Henri IV of France, but argued that grievances should be addressed before supply was considered. Four days later, he was named to the committee to finalize a message to the Lords agreeing to a further conference about the Contract, at which the Commons sought more information about its wider financial implications. On 19 July he was appointed to help prepare for a further conference, as the final details of the Contract’s price were thrashed out.47 Digges’s attitude to the king’s financial demands must have been conditioned by his intense hostility towards impositions. On 11 May he attacked James’s ban on further discussion of the Crown’s prerogative power to levy these taxes, and he was appointed on 24 May to help present the Commons’ petition protesting against this censorship. He was also named to help draft a further petition on this subject on 3 July. On the following day Digges was nominated to a conference with the Lords on judicial problems on the Scottish border. His speech on 19 July concerning Sir Stephen Procter, a corrupt patentee, was not fully recorded, but he said enough to be named the same day to help prepare for the conference with the Lords about the bill against Procter.48

Despite the paucity of records for this Parliament’s fifth session, three speeches by Digges were recorded, all relating to the Great Contract, the future of which now hung in the balance. On 2 Nov. 1610, with the king agitating for a final verdict from the Commons, Digges changed his tune. Presumably under pressure from his patron, Salisbury, he now urged Members to do as they were requested, and to seek improved relations with James. The next day, he argued that the Commons had now received sufficient assurances to justify accepting what was offered, and that the remaining problems could be resolved later. After the Contract’s abandonment, he helped to report from the conference on 14 Nov., at which Salisbury requested a conventional grant of supply.49

Towards the end of 1611 the newsletter-writer John Chamberlain reported that Digges was under consideration for the post of ambassador to Brussels, ‘if this new discovery of the North-West Passage (wherein he is a great undertaker) will give him leave to think of anything else, for it possesseth him wholly’. The following year saw the publication of his tract promoting the Passage, Of the Circumference of the Earth, and the incorporation of the North-West Passage Company under the patronage of Prince Henry. Digges was also a partner in the syndicate which purchased the Bermudas from the Virginia Company.50 In 1613, the year that he became a member of High Commission, he sought employment as ambassador at The Hague, while in early 1614 he was a candidate for the equivalent post at Venice. In pursuit of advancement, he is said to have ‘addressed his changeable protestations’ to the royal favourite, Viscount Rochester. He was certainly on intimate terms with the latter’s domineering client, Sir Thomas Overbury, and apparently participated in the efforts to persuade him to accept a foreign posting when Rochester tired of Overbury’s influence.51 Not surprisingly, Sir Francis Bacon*, in his optimistic assessment of the prospects for a Parliament, expected Digges to be a reliable government supporter in the Commons. In the 1614 elections, he secured his own re-election at Tewkesbury, then devoted his energies to helping his cousin Sir Edwin Sandys* in the latter’s unsuccessful campaign for a county seat in Kent.52

Although Digges received only 24 committee nominations during the Addled Parliament, a modest increase on his total in 1610, he made 36 recorded speeches, a sign of his growing prominence in the House. He was named on 8 Apr. to the prestigious committee for privileges and returns, and also to the committee to search for precedents on whether attorney-general Bacon should be allowed to sit in the Commons. Three days later, ‘for satisfaction to His Majesty’, he backed the compromise decision to allow Bacon to remain in the House on the proviso that his successors were barred from membership of the Lower House in subsequent parliaments. On 19 Apr., in the context of the disputed Cambridgeshire election, he ‘complained of preventions of free elections by great men’s letters’, and proposed a bill to enable the Commons to examine witnesses under oath. He was promptly nominated to help draft a bill to regulate elections. Predictably, he backed calls on 9 May for Sir Thomas Parry to be sequestered from the House over his manipulation of the Stockbridge election.53 Nevertheless, he drew a distinction between such behaviour and the rumour that there was a secret ‘undertaking’ to manage the Parliament on behalf of the king, commenting on 12 Apr. that he himself had been ‘such an undertaker’ in the sense that he had advised ‘the Parliament to be called for ease of the subjects’ grievances and supply of the king’s wants’. On 14 May he cited his own father’s dealings with Elizabeth I as evidence that ‘a private man might go and move the king for the good of the country, uncalled’. While concerned that Members’ speeches should not be misreported to James, he argued on 12 Apr. against a remonstrance about undertaking, preferring the less provocative course of a message to the king delivered by the privy councillors in the House. Despite this, he was named the next day to help decide how the Commons’ protestation on this subject should be presented to James. On 2 May, as Members sought to draw a line under the whole affair, Digges apparently accused John Hoskins* of stirring up reports that undertaking was a Catholic conspiracy, and dismissed the idea as a ‘false rumour spread to hinder the great businesses now in hand’.54

This episode aside, Digges was consistently hostile in his pronouncements on Catholics, on 6 May backing Secretary Winwood’s motion for tougher action against recusants. He was also appointed on 14 Apr. to the conference with the Lords on the bill to ensure that Princess Elizabeth’s children by the Protestant Elector Palatine were not debarred from the succession. Surprisingly for a man who was neither a lawyer nor even, as yet, a magistrate, Digges was named to the committee to review statutes requiring repeal or continuance (8 April). On 23 May he responded cautiously to the petition against baronets, agreeing that there were grounds for questioning the establishment of this Order, but insisting that it would be ‘prejudicial to the king to bind his successors not to advance virtue’. He was subsequently named to help consider the petition.55

Digges apparently remained silent during the attacks on the French Company, apart from observing on 3 May that the king should be informed of the allegation that the Company’s charter had been obtained by bribery. However, his stance on impositions had not weakened since 1610. On 18 Apr. he supported the bill against such levies, calling for the arguments assembled during the previous Parliament to be presented to the king. Claiming that each merchant bankrupted by impositions was ‘a feather pulled away from the commonwealth’, he recited an anecdote relating to Edward the Confessor, who, when confronted by the sight of a danegeld collection

thought he saw a little devil upon it, whereupon he never after would receive any more of it. So he thought if our king did but look well into these impositions he might see such another little devil amongst them as he would utterly abhor them.

On 21 May he dismissed Secretary Winwood’s argument that Continental practice supported the Crown’s prerogative right to establish impositions, asserting that this was no justification for departing from traditional English practices. He even claimed on 7 June to have found a precedent in an old Parliament roll that equated impositions with villeinage. Having argued on 5 May for discussion of these taxes to take precedence over consideration of supply, he was named later that day to help prepare for a conference with the Lords concerning impositions. Subsequently entrusted with drafting one clause of the petition to James on the same subject (12 and 19 May), he opposed moves on 16 May for a further conference on the grounds that there was nothing left to discuss.56

Surprisingly, when Bishop Neile of Lincoln made his disparaging remarks about the Commons’ stance on impositions (24 May), Digges responded cautiously. While deeply critical of Neile, he was anxious that reports of his speech should be verified before further action was taken (25 May). The second Member named to the committee to decide on a plan of action, he insisted on 26 May that the Commons must approach the Lords before appealing to James, and was duly appointed to help compose a message to the peers. Although he apparently supported the suspension of business while the Lords’ reply was awaited, he was also keen to resolve as fast as possible the resulting dispute with the king (27 May), and he was appointed on 28 May to attend James when the Commons sought to justify its behaviour.57 In the heightened tension generated by the stand-off with the Lords, he and his cousin Sandys, who had ‘hitherto agreed like sworn brethren’, very publicly fell out. On 31 May Digges complained that Sandys had slandered him in the House behind his back. The quarrel was soon patched up, and on 6 June, with James now threatening dissolution over the Commons’ failure to grant supply, Digges supported Sandys’s offer to suggest a suitably dutiful reply to the king.58

After the Parliament’s abrupt end, Digges was summoned before the Privy Council with the other managers of the impositions conference, and ordered to burn his notes. According to one newsletter-writer, he was also ‘confined to the city’ until further notice. Despite this treatment, he contributed £100 to the 1614 Benevolence. His prospects of public employment were once again bleak, and in July 1614 he was also defeated by Sir Thomas Smythe* in a contest for the governorship of the East India Company. In the following year he addressed The Defence of Trade, a detailed rebuttal of charges against the company, to his successful rival, and devoted his energies to building a new house at Chilham. This activity may have enhanced his local standing, as he was added to the Kent bench in 1616.59 Early in 1618 he was involved, according to Sir Francis Michell, in the Howards’ unsuccessful attempt to oust Buckingham from the king’s favour and replace him with William Monson*: ‘his grace of Canterbury can best tell who moved him that young Monson should receive the communion at his chapel’. Like Monson, Digges was sent on his travels, albeit in the honourable post of ambassador to Moscow. One objective of his mission was to negotiate access to trade routes across Russia for the East India Company, but with the Poles advancing on Moscow, Digges appears to have got no further than Archangel.60 Having returned to England, in January 1619 he was called upon to assist Smythe and Buckingham’s protégé, Sir Lionel Cranfield*, in negotiations with the commissioners for the United Provinces. Digges probably already knew Cranfield, whose sister had married into the Wiltshire branch of the Digges family. At this juncture and later, Digges was also active in furthering a Kentish settlement in Virginia.61 Early in 1620 he projected the raising of a regiment to serve in the Low Countries, offering Sir Dudley Carleton* £500 for his assistance. Later in the year he and Maurice Abbot*, the archbishop’s brother, were sent on a trade mission to the United Provinces, where he found the Dutch to be ‘unreasonable slow and dull cattle’. By now on very friendly terms with Carleton, then ambassador to The Hague, he took to signing himself in their regular correspondence as ‘your brother Dudley, servant Digges’.62

Still abroad at the general election of 1620, Digges nonetheless reported to Carleton that there was ‘such strange packing for burgesses ... that an old seaman may already fear a storm by the working of the sea’. However, he viewed the Parliament as a fresh opportunity to advance his claims to office, and was re-elected at Tewkesbury in his absence.63 The fact that Digges had been returned ‘whilst beyond seas’ was mentioned in the Commons just over a week into the first sitting, but it was not until 15 Feb. 1621 that Sir Thomas Roe moved for him and Maurice Abbot to be allowed to take their oaths. Although the election of men absent abroad in the king’s service was generally held to be valid, some Members expressed doubts, and a decision was postponed until the following day in the hope of a fuller House. On 16 Feb. Sir Edward Coke provided a definitive ruling, and Digges and Abbot were admitted without further argument.64 Now an established figure in the Commons, Digges participated very much more fully in proceedings than in his previous Parliaments. In the first sitting alone he made almost 120 recorded speeches, and received nominations to 46 committees or conferences.

Much of this business concerned national affairs, but Digges also conspicuously served the interests of his own constituency, not least by promoting a bill to secure additional local funding for the reconstruction of Tewkesbury’s bridge. This measure, which began its passage on 7 Mar., received its second reading on 5 May, when Digges vigorously defended it against its critics. He chaired the committee, reporting the bill on 29 May, but although it was engrossed it proceeded no further.65 In the meantime, he opposed the bill to ban corn imports, arguing on 20 Apr. that extra supplies were needed in his own locality and calling for the legislation to respect regional variations. On 17 May he reiterated the dangers of total prohibition in times of dearth, though he subsequently conceded that the bill would help farmers by maintaining prices (28 May).66 He was also very keen to promote free trade in cloth, the commodity on which Gloucestershire’s wool merchants so heavily depended. On 20 Mar. he argued at length that the Merchant Adventurers’ dominant role in cloth exports had significantly depressed the trade. If provincial merchants were allowed to participate too, their greater proximity to the cloth manufacturers would enable them to keep costs down, and sell their goods abroad at more competitive prices.67

Nevertheless, Digges did not hesitate to vary his position on these issues when he felt it was appropriate. As he observed on 9 May during a debate on the Irish cattle bill, although ‘we must remember the places we serve for as our private benefit’, Members must also ‘look to the public good’. Thus on 21 Apr., notwithstanding his earlier attack on the Merchant Adventurers, he acknowledged that production of poor quality cloth had helped to drive down foreign sales, and that the prevailing imbalance between imports and exports was also partly due to the English merchant navy’s failure to compete effectively with Dutch carriers. Similarly, he was quite prepared to adopt a protectionist stance on certain issues, on 21 Feb. supporting the bill against wasteful apparel on the grounds that ‘it cannot be good to send away our cloth, and to receive for it matters of vanity and superfluity’. Again, he was keen to ban imports of Spanish tobacco, which he believed were a major cause of the shortage of coin (18 April).68 Some of his judgments were not entirely impartial, and he was certainly defending his own financial interests on 27 Feb. when he refuted Sir Edward Coke’s claim that the East India Company was draining the country of silver. Even so, he brought a professional eye to the Commons’ economic debates, attributing the Muscovy Company’s current woes to professional mismanagement (24 Apr.), and, presumably with the disastrous Cockayne project in mind, warning on 7 May of the risks involved in reducing the Merchant Adventurers’ market share too rapidly.69 Although he missed the preliminary debates on trade, he joined Sir Edwin Sandys in calling on 26 Feb. and 17 Apr. for a subcommittee to be established to pool expertise on the questions of the coin shortage and the London Companies. When such a committee was finally established on 19 Apr., to prepare for a debate in grand committee, Digges was appointed to it. As the sitting drew to a close, he repeatedly called for trade problems to be given priority (28 and 31 May). Finally, on 2 June he presented a detailed proposal for provincial ports to lease their own customs, a decentralizing measure which he claimed would both benefit the ports, and increase the Crown’s revenues by £20,000 p.a. The king was impressed enough to refer the idea to the Privy Council, though nothing ultimately came of it due to Cranfield’s opposition.70

Digges brought the same independent mindset to many of the other debates on reform during this sitting. When Thomas Wentworth I denounced the Virginia Company’s lottery on 24 Feb., he countered that it was at worst a ‘voluntary grievance in those that did suffer by it’, because participation was not obligatory. On 26 Mar. he successfully defended the exemption from the monopolies bill of the patent for making ordnance. Having helped to devise the grant’s terms, in his capacity as a commissioner for ordnance, he was able to reassure the House that in this case the privileges conferred were conducive to the public good. He was even willing to admit that while patents remained in force, Parliament had no power to vary their conditions (23 April).71 At the same time, Digges was eager to present himself as a reformer. On 3 Mar. he called for a new bill to address electoral abuses, while 11 days later he sided with Sir Edward Coke in demanding that Chancery’s jurisdiction be reduced to its traditional scope. He opposed the bill to confirm Crown grants, calling it ‘the most dangerous bill that ever came into the House’, on the grounds that many of the patents in question were disadvantageous to the Crown (25 April). He was twice appointed to conferences with the Lords concerning the bill against informers (19 and 25 Apr.). After Sir John Bennet* was accused of corruption, Digges presented a letter of excuses from him on 20 Apr., but then ostentatiously drew a distinction between this act of personal friendship and his public duty as a Member, the latter obliging him to recommend that the charges against Bennet be transmitted to the Lords.72 When the inquiry into the patent for licensing alehouses highlighted the incompetence of many local magistrates, he responded on 22 Feb. by calling on the government to reform the county benches. This plea initially seemed to fall on deaf ears, so on 25 Apr. he presented a petition to the Commons, in which he urged that the benches be reduced to their traditional size. He also called for the removal of socially inferior magistrates, clerics, rank-and-file lawyers, and any justices with recusant relatives. This prompted an announcement that the government was in fact already looking at this issue, in response to Digges’s February speech. However, the king then intervened to insist that he would not remove bishops and other senior clergy. Although Digges maintained on 1 May that he had never contemplated such a thing, his proposals stalled.73

Digges’s commitment to reform was undoubtedly genuine. When the Commons agreed to grant two subsidies on 16 Feb., he wrote to Carleton, rejoicing at the thought that this would encourage the king to settle grievances, and calling it ‘the happiest day I ever saw in Parliament’.74 Encouraged by Sandys, he threw himself into the campaign against monopolies. One of his first targets was the alehouse recognizances patentee, Sir Francis Michell, who later libelled Digges as a ‘Tewkesbury-mustard burgess’, claiming that the latter in committee had cast on him ‘many bitter aspersions and detractions with such an assured boldness and confidence’ that although they were complete strangers they might have been mistaken for lifelong bedfellows. On 23 Feb., after Michell attempted to hide behind the royal prerogative, Digges backed calls for him to be fined and sent to the Tower.75

Digges may have had mixed feelings about the attack on the patent for regulating inns, given that one of the interested parties was his fellow Tewkesbury Member, Giles Bridges. Nevertheless, he called on 20 Feb. for the patent to be carefully investigated, and was named a week later to the committee to consider the options for punishing the main patentee, (Sir) Giles Mompesson*. On 5 Mar. Digges successfully moved for the drafting of a bill setting out the penalties for future projectors, and any referees who supported their proposals. He provided the introductory speech at the conference on 8 Mar. when the charges against Mompesson were presented, and was the only Member other than Sir Edward Coke who was deemed afterwards to have fulfilled his brief.76 During the conference other speakers had avoided the politically sensitive issue of referees, and the next day Digges advised that the Commons ‘should not be too curious in challenging too large a power’. Nevertheless, after the king condemned the alehouses patent by proclamation, Digges urged the House on 21 Apr. to take steps itself to void the grant. He was also active in gathering evidence for corruption charges against lord chancellor St. Alban (Sir Francis Bacon), and was named to help prepare this material for transmission to the Upper House (17 and 19-20 March).77 He displayed greater caution when the king objected to the Commons’ inquiry into the government of Ireland, which both rubbed against the royal prerogative, and represented an indirect attack on James’s favourite, Buckingham. On 30 Apr. he conceded that Members could proceed no further without the king’s agreement, though, like Sandys, he favoured alerting James to the abuses that had been identified. Once it was clear that this particular campaign could not succeed, Digges was conspicuously supportive of Buckingham’s half-brother, Sir Edward Villiers*, whose role as a patentee for gold and silver thread was under investigation. On 2 May Digges agreed that Villiers should continue to sit in the House unless something was proved against him, and five days later he delivered the latter’s message that he would nevertheless absent himself while the inquiry continued.78

Digges appreciated the need to smooth the path of reform by avoiding unnecessary disputes, inside or outside the House. On 2 June, speaking in favour of the proposal to clear Members of suspicion of having abused their freedom of speech, he commented that ‘long sitting brings differences of opinion and so breeds heat’. He was particularly concerned to prevent misunderstandings with the Lords or the king. For example, on 16 Mar. he supported the peers’ request for two Members of the Commons to deliver their testimony concerning Lord Chancellor St. Alban under oath, a proposal which many of his colleagues viewed as a gross insult.79 Consequently, he was dismayed by the Commons’ intemperate bid on 1 May to punish the Catholic Edward Floyd for slandering Princess Elizabeth and the Elector Palatine. From the outset he advised against any actions being taken without the involvement of the Lords, who possessed a judicial power that the Lower House lacked. However, by 2 May he was more concerned about the king’s angry reaction, and began seeking for a way of placating him without the Commons having to back down completely. Although he was named on the same day both to hunt for precedents to justify the Members’ actions, and also to draft a message to James defending them, by 4 May he was arguing that the whole matter should now be dropped. Following his insistence that the Commons must now resolve the dispute with the Lords, he was named to the joint subcommittee of both Houses which finally concluded the affair (5 and 8 May). The issue of judicature aside, he was particularly disappointed by Members’ indisciplined performance during the first conference with the Lords on 8 May, subsequently insisting that the appointed speakers must deliver precisely the messages agreed in advance: ‘our strength stands not in the dexterity of any singular man’s wit or abilities, but in our multitude’.80

As late as 18 Apr. Digges felt able to report to Carleton that Members were proceeding ‘very mannerly with the king and lovingly with the Lords, unanimously among themselves, and constantly, though slowly, in examination, and reformation of things amiss’. However, he viewed the approaching end of the first sitting with mounting anxiety at how little of substance had been achieved, pushing on 28 May for something to be done about Chancery reform, trade problems, and his own project about justices of the peace. Two days later he warned Members that if they failed to complete more legislation before the recess it would be taken badly by their constituents. Nevertheless, as the principal Commons’ spokesman during the conferences called on 30 and 31 May to decide the arrangements for the forthcoming adjournment, he was prevented by his appointed role from expressing his own views, and remained evasive as the Lords probed for firm details about the current state of the Commons’ business. When it finally emerged on the second day that the Lower House planned to reject the king’s offer to pass some bills, the Members present were asked whether the Lords should believe Digges’s statement, or a contradictory one from Sir Edward Coke in favour of completing legislation; the reply came back ‘una voce, Sir Dudley Digges, Sir Dudley Digges’.81 He responded cautiously to Sir James Perrott’s motion on 4 June that Parliament should back war with Spain. While Digges broadly favoured this course of action, he was concerned that the Commons should not be seen to interfere in foreign policy, which was strictly the Crown’s preserve. Following the debate, he was named to the committee to draft a message to James expressing Members’ willingness to support a war.82

Despite the tribulations of the sitting’s final phase, John Chamberlain reported to Carleton on 23 June that in the closing ten or 12 days, Digges had ‘so pleased all sides in the greatest difficulty that he had the general applause and approbation’. Consequently, he was now ‘in a fair way to some preferment, being greatly favoured by the lord of Buckingham and the prince’. Nothing immediately materialized, and within a month he had gone home, ‘weary of Court holy-water’. However, he was appointed as a trade commissioner shortly before Parliament met again in November.83

During the second sitting Digges remained relatively vocal, with 26 recorded speeches, but he received just two committee nominations. On 22 Nov. he attempted to revive interest in his proposal for reforming the commission of the peace, and cautiously welcomed a bill designed to boost English exports, though two days later he again warned against reducing the privileges of the Merchant Adventurers too quickly. He was highly critical on 23 Nov. of the bill against scandalous clergy, which he believed cast doubt on the efficacy of High Commission, on which he himself served. As he observed, the only recent complaint to the Commons against this court was that it was too severe; the bill was therefore unnecessary.84

Digges welcomed the king’s apparent invitation to discuss the Palatinate crisis, and attempted on 23 Nov. to dismiss Edward Alford’s fears that the Commons was walking into a trap in which Members could be accused of debating matters of state. He also questioned whether his cousin Sandys’s imprisonment during the recess was in fact connected to the latter’s actions in the House. With the international situation demanding urgent action, he was even more keen to avoid stirring up distrust between king and Parliament.85 Three days later Digges opened the debate on foreign policy and supply with an anxious preamble: ‘I would not be misinterpreted or misreported, but I have been both. At Court I have cleared myself, and I desire to get off the rock here. I never touched any great man’s person.’ He then launched into a lengthy survey of the king’s efforts to resolve the Palatinate crisis by peaceful means and by support for continental allies. In his opinion, the Protestant and Catholic camps in Europe were evenly balanced, with James and the king of Spain as their respective leaders, though the former’s preference for quiet diplomacy might have created the impression that he lacked resolve. Given that James had decided ‘to descend from his royal prerogative therein so low, as to acquaint his houses of Parliament with his proceedings in this business’, it was essential that the Commons should ‘now show our affection to the king, so as the king may be encouraged to show his love to his people’. Accordingly, he proposed a resolution in favour of war, supply to maintain the current forces in the Palatinate, and a diversionary war against Spain in the West Indies. Perceptively, he identified the Habsburgs’ American bullion reserves as a vital element of their war effort, and predicted that if the supply chain could be disrupted, this would disrupt their continental campaigns in as little as two years.86

Over the next few days, Digges became worried that other Members did not share his commitment to rapid action. On 27 Nov. he pressed the House for a firm decision on how much supply to offer, and the next day called for private bills to be put on hold in order to clear the decks. Shortly afterwards he declined to chair the grand committee debate on religion and supply, stating that ‘he took it as reprehension of his too much speaking, that they would put him into a place of silence’.87 He was also concerned that the Commons was starting to delve too deeply into the mysteries of state, and on 3 Dec. he called for the petition to the king about religion and Prince Charles’s marriage to contain an assurance that Members were not seeking to interfere with the royal prerogative. When, as he feared, James reacted by banning further discussion of foreign policy and the prince’s marriage, Digges advised the Commons against a hasty response (4 December). However, his attitude then hardened. On 5 Dec., complaining that Members had addressed the disputed areas only because they believed they had been invited to do so, he called for a petition to explain this to the king. He defended the Commons’ inquiry into Lepton and Goldsmith’s conspiracy against Sir Edward Coke, which had also irritated James, and when the king wrote to demand that Members get on with business again, Digges sourly commented that ‘messages, by letters, may bring much inconvenience’ (11-12 December).88 Ultimately, though, he had no stomach for the continuing impasse over freedom of speech. On 14 Dec. he affirmed that the Commons’ privileges had not been infringed, and three days later called for a resolution of the dispute. Observing that ‘the prerogative of the king and liberty of the subject are fixed in so great a sphere as there is no meddling with them’, he warned that continuing efforts to justify Members’ behaviour would achieve nothing, and urged further progress with bills before the session ended.89 This was his last recorded speech in this Parliament. Chamberlain reported that he contributed nothing to the Protestation of 18 Dec., but was ‘either silent, or so little regarded when he spake that he had been better have sat still’. Severely compromised by his efforts to satisfy both the Commons and the Court, he had now ‘utterly lost the House, that hath a strong opinion of his halting, and the worst is he may [per]chance hereafter stand straight on neither leg’.90

Early in 1622 Digges was appointed to the commission of inquiry into the civil and ecclesiastical government of Ireland. Although his selection for this task has been interpreted as a punishment for his behaviour in Parliament, Digges himself more likely perceived it as an opportunity to demonstrate his fitness for office. While he still believed that some of his recent speeches had been misreported to the king, he sailed for Ireland with Prince Charles’s assurance ‘that I should be accounted one of your men’. Before leaving, having ‘grown bare ... with building and other devices’, he procured a royal letter to the East India Company ordering the return of his investment, but all in vain. Once in Ireland he drafted most of the report on the Crown’s revenues there, which carefully obscured Buckingham’s own considerable financial interests. Such discretion naturally met with the royal favourite’s approval. Digges was the only commissioner to be appointed to the Irish Privy Council, and also the first of them to secure his recall, in September 1622. Nevertheless, although he once again set himself to follow the Court, he proved too independent-minded for Buckingham’s liking, and found himself sowing in the sand, as Chamberlain colourfully put it. As a deputy lieutenant in Kent he helped to welcome the Spanish ambassador in the summer of 1623, though the task was doubtless uncongenial.91

In the elections for the last Jacobean Parliament, Digges stood for one of the Kent county seats, only to be defeated by Sandys, whose supporters denounced him as a ‘royalist’. He was, nevertheless, returned as usual at Tewkesbury.92 During the 1624 session Digges made 43 recorded speeches, a marked reduction on his total during the previous session, but he remained a prominent figure, with nominations to the committee for privileges and 34 other committees. The bruising battle with the king in December 1621 had not been entirely forgotten, and Digges was named on 27 Feb. to the committee to review the Commons’ privileges. His own anxiety over the arrest of Members after the end of the 1621 Parliament for words spoken in the Commons surfaced on 12 Mar., when he recommended that the names of speakers during debates should not be recorded by the clerk.93 Nevertheless, having committed himself to backing Prince Charles’s drive for war with Spain, he moved quickly to advance this cause. On 25 Feb. he supported a petition to request James to order recusants to leave London during the parliamentary session, and was nominated to help draft a message to the Lords on this subject. Two days later, he was appointed to the committee established to refute the charge that Buckingham had maligned Philip IV during his recent account, given to both Houses, of the negotiations for the Spanish Match. Digges finally tackled the issue of war directly on 1 Mar., warning that it was a weighty matter which needed to be debated in grand committee, so that the full range of the Commons’ collective expertise could be brought to bear, not least on the question of funding. This last point was one which most of the so-called ‘patriots’ did not wish to raise so early in the proceedings, which suggests that Digges was not collaborating closely with them. Later that day, he expounded at considerable length on the Habsburgs’ gradual rise to European dominance, and concluded that because they were such a formidable enemy a clear decision must be reached on whether to continue negotiating over the Palatinate or to seek a military solution. He was duly nominated to the committee to prepare the Commons’ reasons for advising the king to abandon the treaties.94 Digges ruffled a few more feathers on 2 Mar., by proposing that both Houses thank Prince Charles for showing such constancy to the cause of true religion. Thanking the prince independently of the king constituted a highly insensitive breach of protocol. Although this motion was adopted by the House, Digges’s fellow managers at the conference later that day persuaded him to let it drop, leaving him on 3 Mar. to explain to Members why he had not ultimately fulfilled his brief. Despite this gaffe, he was the first Member named to the joint committee with the Lords to prepare Parliament’s recommendation that James break with Spain.95

On 5 Mar. Digges defended the Lords’ request for the Commons to offer supply as an inducement to the king to embrace the drive to war. While recognizing that this proposal breached the convention that grants of supply were initiated by the Lower House, he argued that no offence had been intended, and called for a declaration that the Commons would back the Lords’ advice on the treaties ‘in a due parliamentary course’. As a member of the delegation sent to James to convey Parliament’s views, he witnessed the king’s uncooperative response, but rallied on 11 Mar., urging the Commons to stick to the line already agreed with the Lords.96 Having learnt from his experience a week earlier, he argued against a new message thanking Prince Charles for qualifying James’s observations on the prospect of war, but he was overruled, and appointed to help draft the appropriate sentiments (12 March). Digges insisted a week later that the country was wealthy enough to pay for a war, but he nevertheless argued that it would be premature to offer the king a specific sum before war was actually declared. In doing so he may have been trying to deflect the growing suspicion in the Commons that he was an unofficial spokesman for Prince Charles and Buckingham. Chamberlain reported on 20 Mar. that Digges, along with Sandys and Sir Robert Phelips, was now regarded as an undertaker, and that he was treated with less respect accordingly. Certainly, when Digges that day proposed that the Cinque Ports should lose their exemption from paying subsidy, to increase the level of supply available for the war effort, the Hythe Member Sir Peter Heyman slapped him down with the jibe that ‘he [Heyman] had been an apprentice to the wars, and should understand them better than he that never had been in them (meaning Digges)’.97

Following the supply vote of 20 Mar., Digges fell silent on the question of war, apparently not addressing the subject again until 20 Apr., when he complained that the lack of progress on the subsidy bill was hampering military preparations. He also took little part in the Buckingham-inspired attack on lord treasurer Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield), his kinsman and sometime colleague. Named on 9 Apr. to help investigate the new imposition on wines, an issue which had emerged during the Commons’ inquiry into the lord treasurer, Digges commented three days later that he took the introduction of this levy far more seriously than the allegations of corruption collected against Middlesex, otherwise he would not support pressing charges against him in the Lords. Nevertheless, he was appointed to help prepare for the impeachment proceedings (12 April).98

On commercial matters at least, Digges could still expect to command respect. He drew Members’ attention on 18 Mar. to recent discussions in the commission on trade, to which he himself belonged, offering the encouraging news that England’s economy had been recovering for the past two years. That was not to say that further reforms were not needed. During the usury bill debate on 8 Mar., he denounced foreign merchants who refused to deal in English commodities, exchanging their own goods only for money which could then earn them interest; in his opinion, this practice was both draining the country of coin and hurting the cloth trade.99 On the same day Digges renewed his campaign against the Merchant Adventurers, proposing that they should be made to open their ranks to other merchants and investors, so that their monopoly could be gradually broken down without the cloth trade suffering the kind of disruption wrought by the Cokayne project. He was appointed on 23 Apr. to the committee to examine the Merchant Adventurers’ patent and to propose reforms. Under this sustained parliamentary pressure, the Company began to offer concessions, and although it was unwilling to go as far as Digges wanted, by 15 May he felt able to boast that it was ‘already dissolved in a manner’, though his objective remained to open up the cloth trade completely.100

Digges’s interest in reform was not restricted to economic matters, since he was named to committees to view petitions on abuses in the courts of justice, and also to prepare the Commons’ collected grievances for presentation to the king (19 and 28 April). As ever, he approached such issues pragmatically. When some Members complained on 23 Mar. that the bill to prevent the procuring of writs of the peace did not cover areas like the Welsh Marches or County Durham, he observed that it was not possible to accomplish more at present; all regions should receive some benefit by the bill, ‘and if with the Good Samaritan you have not oil and wine both to pour into the wounds, yet pour at least wine alone’.101 Digges was dispatched by the House on 13 May to acquaint his patron Archbishop Abbot with the Commons’ concerns about the anti-Calvinist Richard Montagu’s book, the New Gagg. In the field of private legislation, he attended a meeting of the committee for the Goathland manor bill, to which he was nominated on 20 April. He also spoke in favour of Sir Edwin Sandys’s cousin, Sir Anthony Aucher*, when the latter requested the Commons’ protection while he attended the committee for a bill aimed at resolving his debts (12 April); several months earlier, Digges had become a feoffee of Aucher’s lands, and thus had a vested interest in this business.102

In October 1624 Digges fully expected to become Buckingham’s deputy and lieutenant at Dover, but the appointment went instead to Sir John Hippisley*. Early in 1625, however, he and Sir John Wolstenholme* successfully approached the duke for assistance with another North-West Passage venture.103 Returned for the fifth time at Tewkesbury in 1625, Digges probably supported Edward Scott’s unsuccessful campaign to be elected a knight of the shire for Kent, because, following his defeat, Scott turned to Digges to present his petition to the privileges committee.104

During the course of the Parliament Digges was nominated to 12 committees, a respectable number which included the committee for privileges, but he made just five recorded speeches. In the previous parliaments of which he had been a Member, Digges had shown an interest in a wide range of topics, but during the Westminster sitting of June-July 1625 a good half of his business related to religion. The main reason for this departure was the renewed inquiry into Richard Montagu’s publications. Appointed on 29 June to find out from Archbishop Abbot what had been done about the New Gagg since the previous year, he reported on 1 July that the primate had been unable to rein in the offending author. On the same day Digges was nominated to help examine Montagu’s latest book, Appello Caesarem. He agreed on 7 July that Montagu’s efforts to avoid examination by the Commons rendered him guilty of contempt, and was promptly named to the committee to compile an account of Members’ proceedings in this matter.105 Digges was also appointed to the conference on the proposed petition for the king to grant a general fast, and to bill committees concerning excommunication, and subscription to the articles of religion (23 and 27 June). Predictably, he objected on 28 June to Sir Nathaniel Rich’s proposal for some deprived clergy to be restored to their livings.106

Religious matters did not, however, entirely dominate Digges’s time at Westminster. On 30 June he was instructed to help draft the subsidy bill’s preamble. He was also nominated to consider a petition against the new imposition on wine imports (29 June). During the inquiry into the Yorkshire election dispute, he acted as teller to deny Sir Thomas Wentworth’s* request to be heard by counsel (5 July).107 At the Oxford sitting Digges was again sent to the archbishop to check whether action had been taken against Montagu (6 Aug.), while two days later he was named to attend the conference on religious grievances. Although he was appointed to help report from the conference on 8 Aug. at which Buckingham defended the conduct of the war, this task ultimately fell to others. Insofar as he expressed any opinion on the royal favourite, he defended his performance as lord admiral when he observed on 11 Aug. that France and Spain were no more effective than England in dealing with coastal piracy.108

Sometime during the first ten months of Charles’s reign, Digges composed a letter of advice to the king. It was probably never sent, but a copy was found among Digges’s papers when they were seized by the government in May 1626, and it offers striking insights into his thinking. He still believed that the international situation could be transformed if England provided a strong enough lead, but recognized that the Crown’s financial weakness was a serious obstacle. To remedy this defect he recommended that the king’s ordinary revenues be reformed. Among those changes he suggested was a revised book of rates, the implementation of Digges’s own 1621 scheme for allowing ports to farm their own customs, the more efficient exploitation of the royal demesnes, and a clampdown on wasteful grants and pensions. Nevertheless, some recourse to parliamentary supply would also be necessary, and he accordingly offered his own recipe for success in this sphere. Acknowledging that the Commons, ‘a body much above 400 men (too much enlarged), that never did nor will want humours’, required careful management, he stressed the benefits of straight dealing between king and Members. ‘Plain, open, and old ways are best without these fancies of offering bills of grace, or this or that good bill beforehand, or choosing this or that man Speaker; ... and if you please to take no notice of particular follies, but think the Commons only speak what passes as a question in the House, it will avoid much loss of time and trouble.’ A willingness to listen to Parliament’s own reform proposals, and to adopt at least some of them, would also be advantageous: ‘if you please to hear all these petitions, the hurt is little, seeing [as] what you please may in conclusion be denied’. Digges’s vision was at once naïve and practical. ‘If Your Majesty’s grave counsellors, such as are reverenced there for their worth, shall make known your great occasions, your engagements, and your wants, the honest country knights and burgesses will soon show their affections, and your servants are ever ready to advance intimated desires, which I make no doubt the great men that are near about your royal person now will further by their friends and followers, and not infuse jealousies to raise factions, as some have done to my late great master’s disservice.’ Restoring the ranks of magistrates and deputy lieutenants to their Elizabethan levels and character would also help: ‘those places would be better served than they are, and better valued, which would help in parliament where little obligation is now left, but your ordinary household service’. He also threw in a general plea for the nobility and gentry to be more fully employed in public service, especially those of most ability. While he clearly aimed in this to promote his own talents, there was also a sense in his argument that a resource exploited to great effect under Elizabeth was now being wasted.109

If Digges’s letter was composed ahead of the 1626 parliamentary elections, then his comments on faction were a less than honest reflection of his own immediate intentions. Years of fruitless searching after office had doubtless soured his attitude towards the Court. Now, as (Sir) James Bagg II informed Buckingham, Digges’s devotion to Archbishop Abbot drew him into alliance with the francophile followers of the 3rd earl of Pembroke, whose objective was the duke’s removal from power. In keeping with this new stance, Digges backed Edward Scott’s successful campaign for a Kent shire seat, thereby helping to ensure the defeat of Buckingham’s candidate, Sir Edwin Sandys. However, it is clear that Digges, who was himself re-elected at Tewkesbury, was also seeking revenge on Sandys for his defeat in the 1624 Kent election.110

The 1626 Parliament saw Digges return to prominence, as he was nominated to 48 committees and made over 100 recorded speeches. Although not initially named to the committee for privileges, he was added to its ranks on 11 February. He apparently also chaired all the meetings of the committee established on 3 Mar. to consider the best method of selecting committees.111 The early stages of the new session once again highlighted the fact that Digges was a member of High Commission. On 15 Feb. he denounced the bill against scandalous clergy for seeking to establish a parallel framework for disciplining offenders, prompting a stinging rebuke from William Strode. Two days later he was obliged to defend High Commission’s decision to excommunicate Sir Robert Howard*, though he subsequently distanced himself from the court’s refusal to accept Howard’s plea of parliamentary privilege (21 March).112 Digges initially made strenuous efforts to avoid confrontation between the Commons and the king. On 14 Feb. he successfully proposed that the potentially explosive issue of Sir Edward Coke’s election should be considered by a select committee. The next day, amid mounting concern that the king was levying Tunnage and Poundage without parliamentary sanction, he reminded Members that these same duties had been collected by James in 1603 before they had been officially granted to him by Parliament. He also specifically argued against raising the vexed issue of impositions, ‘lest we be thought to take from the king when it is expected we should help him’.113

Digges fully understood that no attack on Buckingham could succeed unless Charles was offered substantial benefits in return. When William Coryton moved on 17 Feb. to consider the Crown’s ordinary revenues, Digges quickly linked this subject to the question of national defence, thereby giving the former issue a greater significance. He pursued the same line a week later, when he secured a discussion of the whole subject in grand committee. On 25 Feb., borrowing the old Athenian metaphor of ‘wooden walls’ to describe the navy, he relayed Kentish concerns about the inadequacies of coastal patrols, and then proposed that an imposition be levied on foreign merchants to provide additional funds for this task. Named on 7 Mar. to the committee for the bill to preserve the king’s revenues, he continued to labour the point about the inadequacy of the Crown’s ordinary resources (16 Mar.), and on 10 Mar. even suggested that remedies should be found before the House proceeded to consider supply.114

Meanwhile, having already hinted at Buckingham’s failure as lord admiral to protect domestic waters, Digges sought to attach blame to him for the failure of the Cadiz expedition. On 28 Feb. he absolved both Charles and the ordinary soldiers of responsibility for this debâcle, and ascribed the disaster to a failure of leadership. The difficulty now was in finding evidence to back this claim. Later that day he was nominated to prepare questions to be put to the Council of War, but all efforts during the next ten days to establish whether its military advice had been followed foundered in the face of the councillors’ refusal to supply definite answers. Digges was even sent to interview Lord Conway (Sir Edward Conway I*), who claimed to be ill, but all to no avail.115 He showed great interest in a petition from Mark Willes, a merchant who claimed that Buckingham had denied him compensation for losses incurred while helping the war effort, attending all five meetings of the committee set up on 8 Mar. to investigate. However, he was initially unimpressed by (Sir) John Eliot’s bid to blame Buckingham for the second arrest of the St. Peter of Le Havre, an incident which had exacerbated an existing embargo of English merchandize in France. On 22 Feb. he moved for his High Commission colleague and senior Admiralty judge, Sir Henry Marten*, to be cleared of any personal wrongdoing in connection with the arrest. Digges took no part in the Commons’ abortive attempt to summon Buckingham for questioning about these events, but helped to manage the conference with the Lords after the Upper House complained at this clumsy breach of parliamentary protocol. Not until 11 Mar., with the pursuit of the Council of War going nowhere, did he finally claim that the St. Peter affair was a grievance. In the ensuing vote he joined Eliot as a teller for the yeas, but the motion was lost.116

Digges remained conscious of the need to demonstrate that the Commons could offer the king positive initiatives, and he was the first Member named on 14 Mar. to help draft a bill for finding arms. On the same day he unveiled a project for a defensive and offensive naval war, funded by a joint-stock Company. Strategically his objective was much the same as the one he had outlined in 1621, this being a concerted bid to disrupt the fleets bringing bullion from America, though he also initially envisaged patrols in the Channel. By promoting what would be in effect a privateering venture backed by Parliament, he aimed to boost the war effort without placing a fresh burden either on the Crown or on ordinary taxpayers, while simultaneously encouraging the wealthier classes to rediscover their former military prowess. However, by implication, this venture would also be outside the control of the lord admiral. A select committee was immediately established to explore the idea further, under Digges’s own chairmanship. By 14 Apr., when he reported back, many of the details had been worked out, including a calculation that around £200,000 p.a. would be needed for three or four years in order to break Spain’s hold on the Caribbean. This money would be entrusted to 200 local treasurers, who would also choose a Council of War. In the event of peace with Spain, the organization would become a mercantile body trading with the West Indies. Digges’s project remained under discussion until late May, but then vanished from the Commons’ agenda. One minor by-product was his nomination on 15 Apr. to help draft a bill on shipping laws.117

Meanwhile, a new front had opened up in the attack on Buckingham. On 11 Mar. Samuel Turner suggested that the duke be charged with a variety of offences on the basis of common fame. At first Digges made no comment, instead focusing his attention on Clement Coke’s earlier outburst about tyrannical government. In the face of the king’s demands that Coke be punished by the Commons, Digges combined with Eliot on 15 Mar. to secure a vote that the offender had been misreported. However, their political alliance remained fragile, and the next day Digges blocked an attempt by Eliot to resurrect the St. Peter affair during a debate on the French embargo. On 17 Mar. he finally addressed Turner’s charges, specifically backing those which concerned the sale of honours and Buckingham’ accumulation of offices.118 The die was now cast. When the king sent a message on 20 Mar. demanding action over supply, Digges helped to ensure that debate was delayed for an entire week. In the meantime, he was appointed to the committee for the ‘causes of causes’, which began the process of assembling charges against Buckingham. Not all Members were happy with this turn of events, and on 24 Mar., when Eliot reported the highly circumstantial evidence for the duke’s alleged encouragement of popery, Digges felt obliged to block a vote on whether to accept these claims. On 27 Mar. he took the chair of the grand committee for supply after John Glanville was taken ill, and although a grant of three subsidies and three fifteenths was agreed, Digges won the argument that there should be no progress on the subsidy bill until the king addressed the Commons’ grievances. The stakes were raised further on 29 Mar., when Charles threatened to dissolve Parliament if it continued to ignore his wishes. This warning was virtually rescinded the following day, but Digges, who helped to report from the conference where Buckingham announced this climbdown, backed calls on 1 Apr. for a remonstrance of the Commons’ privileges, and was appointed four days later to attend the king when this protest was delivered.119

As tension mounted, tempers became frayed. On 20 Apr., with Charles demanding progress on supply within the next five days, Sir Dudley Carleton attempted to explain the urgency of the international situation. Carleton was back in the House for the first time since 1610, and Digges rounded on his old friend, dismissing him as ‘a stranger in Israel’ who did not understand the Commons’ concerns; England and Ireland faced their own crisis, and the root of the problem was a single overmighty subject. He then secured agreement for Members to focus all their efforts on the inquiry into Buckingham, so that they were free to discuss supply by the king’s deadline. On 21 Apr. Digges moved for a committee of 12 to finalize the charges against the duke, and then assumed its chair. By 3 May he was ready to report the finished outline of the intended impeachment case, and the next day was appointed to help present it to the Lords. As one of the few non-lawyers among the impeachment managers, he was entrusted with the preamble, which provided an overview of the entire case.120

The impeachment conference got underway on 8 May. Drawing on the language of his astronomer father, Digges opened the proceedings by comparing the different ranks of society to the earth and the heavenly spheres, a harmonious whole into which Buckingham had appeared like a meteor, an omen of ill fortune. He then touched on the detailed charges to follow, before ending with further astronomical allusions. The conference had been intended to continue the following day, but Digges was obliged to inform the Lords that there would have to be a pause, as one of the speakers, Edward Whitby had been taken ill. This gave the Commons time to voice its discomfort that the duke himself was attending the conference to hear the charges, and Digges, having agreed with the general view that the Lords should be requested to imprison Buckingham, was named to help devise an appropriate message.121 The impeachment hearing concluded on 10 May, but the next day the king counter-attacked, ordering the arrest of both Digges and Eliot, who had handled the summing-up. Both men were summoned to the door of the Commons’ chamber and then conveyed to the Tower while their papers were searched. On 12 May Carleton claimed that, in outlining the charge that Buckingham had allowed English ships to be sent to France for use against the Huguenots, Digges had distorted the evidence. Even more seriously, in respect of the charge that Buckingham had hastened James I’s death during the latter’s final illness, Digges had implied that Buckingham had acted deliberately, and that Charles may have been a willing accomplice. The Commons, outraged at this blatant attack on its privileges, suspended business, and began preparing a Remonstrance against the arrests. It was also agreed that each Member would declare that Digges had not spoken the words of which he was accused. These actions had the desired effect, and five days after his arrest Digges was back in the House. Nevertheless, he was understandably chastened by his experience. Having affirmed that he had never even thought of using the offending phrases, he rushed to assure Members that he had now received ample satisfaction from the king, and that the incident should not be made an excuse for further delay.122 On 19 May Eliot was also released, whereupon Digges recommended that the Remonstrance be abandoned. However, his wishes were ignored. On 22 May he again moved the Commons to return to business, while on 3 June, with unconscious irony, he excused Carleton’s speech of 12 May which warned that the king might adopt ‘new counsels’, insisting that he could not possibly have said such a thing.123

By now Digges was starting to recover his nerve. He was appointed on 6 June to review the text of the Commons’ letter complaining about Cambridge University’s election of Buckingham as its new chancellor. Two days later he was named to help frame the heads of the Remonstrance against the collection of Tunnage and Poundage, which had still not yet been granted by Parliament to the king. On 9 June he gave evidence in the Lords as a Crown witness against the earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*), over the latter’s conduct as ambassador to Spain during the Spanish Match negotiations. Doubtless contrary to the government’s expectations, Digges affirmed that Bristol had disliked the treaty, and had always carefully followed James I’s instructions. By now the Remonstrance against his own imprisonment had evolved into a much lengthier document directed against Buckingham. On 12 June Digges defended its contents, and insisted that the king’s reaction to it should dictate whether or not supply was finally granted. Two days later he headed the list of nominees to draft the Speaker’s address to Charles when the Remonstrance was presented.124 Parliament was dissolved on 15 June, but Digges and the other managers of Buckingham’s impeachment were promptly instructed to remain in London. The king had decided to clear the duke’s name by having the charges against him considered in Star Chamber, and therefore wanted to obtain the evidence assembled by the Commons. However, with Eliot as their spokesman, the group declined to co-operate, on the grounds that they had no authority to hand over this parliamentary material, and after a few days they were allowed to depart.125

In July 1626 the government punished Digges by removing him from the Kent commission of the peace, but in the following month he was appointed one of the county’s collectors for the final batch of Privy Seal loans, presumably to test his loyalty. That autumn he also became a Forced Loan commissioner. Far from proving reluctant to collect the Loan, Digges was reported by Nathaniel Tomkins* to be one of ‘the foremost in advancing the service’. Consequently, by late November he was reconciled with the Court through the favour of Sir Richard Weston*. Nevertheless, in December he was summoned before the Privy Council after it was alleged, apparently by Lord (Sir Nicholas) Tufton*, that he himself had refused to pay the Loan. On 2 Jan. 1627 he lost his temper at the Council table, using ‘injurious and scandalous speeches’ of Tufton, and was committed to the Fleet. There he was questioned in a bid to prove that his attacks on Buckingham during the 1626 Parliament had been instigated by Archbishop Abbot. He was pardoned in early February, and on his release he ‘bestowed £30 to free debtors, poor men, who were in for small sums, or only for the fees; by whose example, others of the gentlemen imprisoned for the refusal of the Loan, have resolved to do the like’. Whether Digges did eventually contribute to the Loan has never been established. Although he is generally presumed to have complied, his assessment of £20 was still listed by the Kent commissioners in mid 1627 as ‘unpaid, if not paid above’.126

The suspicion that Digges was a Loan refuser did his local standing no harm at all, and in 1628 he finally achieved his ambition of representing Kent in Parliament, although not without a contest.127 With 98 recorded speeches and 43 committee appointments during the 1628 session alone, he remained one of the most prominent figures in the Commons. Named once more to the committee for privileges (20 Mar.), he remained watchful of the dignity of the House, and insisted on exemplary punishment of the Cornish gentlemen who, having opposed the election of Eliot and Coryton as knights of the shire, had resisted efforts to summon them before the Commons. Having concurred on 13 May with the general view that all three should be held in custody in the short term, he then acted as teller in favour of the motion that they make a public apology at the Cornish assizes, and was named to help draft a statement to that effect.128

This episode was, however, a mere sideshow to the main business of combating arbitrary government. During the session’s opening weeks, Digges said comparatively little about this, perhaps because he was disadvantaged by his lack of a formal legal training. Nevertheless he made his personal attitudes clear enough. As he explained on 25 Mar., ‘foreign writers by way of wonder have described this our kingdom, and admiring the prosperities of it, have ascribed all to the liberty that the subject ever hath enjoyed; and good cause they have, for we ourselves brag of it as the best part of our inheritance’. It was in the king’s best interests, he asserted on 22 Mar., to maintain these freedoms. ‘It is said he is no great monarch that hath not whatsoever he will, but rather he is a greater monarch in observing the laws of the kingdom. That king that is not tied to the laws is a king of slaves.’ The guarantee of propriety of goods bound the subject to serve his monarch (26 Mar.), and if the king did but uphold his people in ‘that glorious fundamental right whereby we have power to give’, then he would surely receive whatever supply he needed (24 March).129 Digges frequently maintained an independent stance during these debates. Understandably, he was unhappy that the appointment of ambassadors should be classed as a form of enforced exile, insisting on 25 Mar. and 3 Apr. that it was an honourable employment. He also warned on 3 Apr. that the attacks on impressment, if they became widely known, could make it difficult to recruit future soldiers and sailors.130 Nevertheless, he regarded the government’s use of confinement as degrading, suitable only for recusants, and, given his own experiences, he was naturally troubled by arbitrary imprisonment (26 and 29 March). He was also fiercely critical of the disruption wrought on life in Kent by the advent of billeting and martial law, outlining some of the problems on 8 Apr.:

Observe the nature of these insolencies. ... They are soldiers without officers,officers without justice, for there is no justice of the peace who is not scorned by them. ... They will come in late at night, and if the master of the house like it not, they beat him. ... They make the farmers to run away, and many an honest man that lived well to hide his head.131

Digges was appointed on 28 Mar. to help examine a report of the abuse of billeting powers in Surrey, and subsequently also to draft a bill on impressment, and to consider the Commons’ next moves to secure the liberties of the subject (3 April). Although he remained reluctant to pronounce on the legal complexities underlying these issues, he opened the conference with the Lords on 7 Apr. at which the Commons laid out its resolutions on the question of liberties, likening the task before them to King Josiah’s cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple, and citing several medieval precedents to show that these liberties were the Englishman’s birthright. He was subsequently instructed to provide a copy of his text for the benefit of other Members, though as late as 23 Apr. he had still not complied.132

Digges’s natural instinct was to come to terms with the king, and following Charles’s offer to confirm the subjects’ liberties providing he received supply, he enthusiastically gave his voice on 4 Apr. for a grant of five subsidies. However, when the king sent a further message demanding a more urgent response, Digges complained that such interventions were counter-productive, and insisted that supply must go hand in hand with the redress of grievances (12 April). He was promptly nominated to help draft the Commons’ reply. Two days later he was appointed to help investigate the slandering of John Selden* by his old friend Theophilus Howard, now 2nd earl of Suffolk. Although his views on this incident went unrecorded, he apparently took it seriously, attending two out of the committee’s three meetings.133 Digges attended the conference of 16-17 Apr., at which the Commons defended its resolutions on liberties, and helped to make the report. His priority remained a return to traditional courses, and on 22 Apr. he conceded that martial law had its place, though he fiercely rebutted (Sir) John Coke’s claim that it should also apply to trained bands, accusing him of confusing the English militia with their French counterparts.134 Named that same day to draft the message requesting a further conference with the Lords, so that the Commons could address their doubts about the resolutions on liberties, he dismissed Wentworth’s proposal for the judges to be invited to offer their opinions on the disputed points, affirming that these were questions that Parliament alone must determine (23 April). Digges reported from the conference two days later when the Lords offered their own compromise resolutions, and having communicated the speeches made by his patron Abbot, he recommended that this initiative receive all due consideration the following day. As he explained on 26 Apr., he could see advantages in the proposal for a revival of the old statutes on liberties, though he understood why some people might doubt the efficacy of this approach, given that so much now rested on how the royal prerogative was exercised. ‘We are now upon this question, whether the king may be above the law, or the law above the king. It is our unhappiness, but it is put upon us.’ However, his motion for a committee to draft a ‘Petition of Right’ to the king was dismissed by Phelips and Wentworth as premature and misguided.135

Despite this snub, on 28 Apr. Digges seconded Wentworth’s motion for a bill of liberties, and he was appointed to its drafting committee. Even so, he was dissatisfied with the resulting text, on the one hand concerned that it departed too far from the Commons’ original resolutions, and on the other that it went beyond previous laws in limiting the king’s actions (29 April). As he put it on 1 May: ‘I say the king ought not to do this, but I like not to put it in a law, that the king ought not. Never Act spoke in such language’.136 Consequently, when Charles made it clear that he would not accept an ‘explanatory’ bill of liberties, Digges was perfectly content to abandon this strategy, and back the renewed call by Edward Alford for a Petition of Right. Having already expressed a preference for this approach, he confirmed on 6 May that he believed such a document, once approved by the king, could carry as much legal force as an Act of Parliament. He probably served on the Petition’s drafting committee, which seems to have consisted mainly of those Members who had already devised the bill of liberties. Once again, though, the Lords made difficulties. Named on 13 May to the committee to set out the Commons’ reasons for not adopting the peers’ proposed amendments to the Petition, Digges attended several of the conferences at which the two Houses attempted to resolve their differences.137 By 20 May he was losing patience with the lawyers’ seemingly endless quibbling. Pondering the difference between ‘unlawful’, the Commons’ preference, and ‘not warrantable by law’, the Lords’ alternative, he recited an old Roman anecdote in which an author agreed to retract a particular word when instructed to do so by the emperor Hadrian, on the grounds that the latter knew best because he commanded 30 legions. This tacit admission of the Lords’ superior political strength did not, however, prevent him from opposing on 24 May the peers’ proposal for a joint committee of both Houses to settle the remaining issues, on the grounds that a few Members should not bargain over what had been agreed by them all. He was promptly dispatched to the Upper House to announce the Commons’ rejection of this initiative, and to invite the Lords to embrace the Petition as it stood. Another two days passed before the peers finally agreed, whereupon Digges called for an immediate vote by the Commons to formally adopt the text as well. He was then appointed to finalize the arrangements for presenting the Petition to Charles (27-8 May).138

The king’s initial reluctance to accept the Petition unconditionally prompted the Commons to begin work on a new Remonstrance of the nation’s ills. Ostensibly, Digges showed no interest in the early debates on this provocative document, though he reacted badly on 5 June when Charles intervened to ban attacks on his ministers. Denouncing this message as an attack on the Commons’ ‘fundamental liberties’, he may have then left the chamber. A scurrilous verse about the ensuing debate, in which Buckingham was specifically named as the root problem, asserts that ‘wily Digges’ was absent through sickness, as ‘his peaceful mind could not abide that fray’.139 In actual fact, there were at least two aspects of the Remonstrance of which he very much approved, namely the sections on religion and the decay of shipping. Digges’s fears about the growth of popery had already been highlighted on 28 Apr., when he was sent to ask Archbishop Abbot what action had been taken to remove Catholic schoolmasters since the king had announced a drive against them in 1626. On 14 May he had also linked Roger Manwaring’s sermons in support of the Forced Loan to Catholic teachings which encouraged arbitrary government. He now called for the Remonstrance to highlight the dangers posed by Arminianism and the growing strength of Irish Catholics (6 June), and the same day he was sent to the disgraced lord chancellor of Ireland, Viscount Loftus, to gather more evidence.140

Digges’s pursuit of the shipping problem dated back even earlier. On 11 Apr. he expressed concern that the needs of trade should not be completely subsumed beneath the problems of subjects’ rights:

the fundamental liberty which we have been upon ... may well be compared to the heart. And matters of navigation the next, and may be likened to the liver, which though it do not decay so fast nor appear to do so, yet in little time will, and be as dangerous to the life as the hurt of the heart.

After the grand committee on trade had considered a petition from Trinity House on the decay of shipping, he moved on 25 Apr. for a select committee to explore possible solutions, and was naturally appointed to this body. Despite poor attendances at the trade committee, by 17 May Digges had prepared reports on a number of different topics. However, the Commons’ agenda left no space for these to be aired, and thus it was the general wish to include trade concerns in the Remonstrance that finally presented him with his opportunity. On 4 June he delivered a lengthy report on shipping problems, which recommended incentives for shipbuilders, and a rapid end to the three-year-old stand-off between Parliament and the Crown over the granting of Tunnage and Poundage. Much of this report was absorbed into the Remonstrance two days later.141

During the session’s final weeks Digges was busy on several different fronts. On 7 June he was appointed both to help draft the subsidy bill’s preamble, and to attend the conference at which the Lords announced their intention to press the king for a more satisfactory answer to the Petition of Right. His relief at the success of this initiative was evident three days later, when he moved a vote of thanks to Charles for agreeing to enter the Petition and its second answer on the Parliament roll and in Westminster’s courts of record. On 24 June Digges called for a petition to be sent to the king containing his proposals to encourage shipbuilding. Appointed to its drafting committee, he reappeared the next day with the finished document.142 However, he was also once again preoccupied with the question of the Crown’s revenues. He hoped that it might be possible to use the summer recess to continue work on the Tunnage and Poundage bill, and also to devise a new book of rates (21 and 24 June), and was thus bitterly disappointed when it became clear that Charles was determined to prorogue Parliament rather than adjourn it. As he pointed out on 24 June, this would mean that the Tunnage and Poundage bill would be lost, and the problem left to fester until the next session. While he could not bring himself to support the Commons’ Remonstrance opposing the collection of these levies until they were finally approved by Parliament, he warned prophetically that the king’s decision was against his own ‘honour and profit’, and would further discourage the merchant community.143

In November 1628 it was said at Court that Digges was to be employed ‘for certain’ as an ambassador, but he had received no such appointment when Parliament reconvened in the following January.144 During the 1629 session he secured nine committee appointments, but made only 17 known speeches, a reflection of his declining influence in the Commons. He continued to represent his constituency’s interests, on 26 Jan. requesting help for Kent’s farmers, who were unable to sell enough of their corn because its price had fallen below the level where exports were permitted. His speech was prompted by the news that corn was about to be shipped to the old enemy, Spain, and he was named to the committee to investigate this report. He was also nominated to the legislative committee concerning the Somers Islands Company’s charter (10 February).145

On the issue of religion, Digges remained broadly in line with the mood of the House. During the debate on 3 Feb. on how to enforce an unambiguously Protestant interpretation of the Church of England’s teachings, he attacked the Arminians for redefining the Thirty-Nine Articles to agree with their own views, though his proposal that the bishops should impose orthodoxy lacked credibility. Two days later he was appointed to compare the different printed versions of the Articles, after an inaccurate edition sparked fears of a surreptitious attempt to modify the official teachings on church ceremonies. On 13 Feb. he again complained about the increase of popery in Ireland. He also followed closely the inquiry into the reprieve of some Catholic priests arrested in Clerkenwell, Middlesex during the previous year, calling on 16 Feb. for a committee to prepare questions for the judges who presided over the trial, and the next day suggesting that evidence had been withheld from the jury.146

Fundamentally, however, Digges wished to see the Tunnage and Poundage question resolved, for on 12 Feb. he lamented ‘all the miseries that have fallen upon us ... since the dispute in this business’. Accordingly, he sought to avoid further disputes with the Crown. On 21 Jan. he opposed the establishment of a select committee to inquire into how the Petition of Right had been entered in the official records, agreeing with Secretary Coke that any concerns could be referred to the grand committee of grievances in the usual way. Although nominated to the committee to consider the confiscation of John Rolle’s* merchandise for non-payment of Tunnage and Poundage (22 Jan.), he was content to accept the bill offered by the government on 26 Jan. for granting these levies. When John Selden asserted that such a measure should only be initiated by the Commons, Digges expressed surprise, but promptly moved for a drafting committee to be established. Two days later, with the king demanding that this bill be given priority, he was named to help prepare the Commons’ account of their progress on this front.147 Digges had grave reservations about Eliot and Selden’s preferred strategy of restoring Rolle’s property before Tunnage and Poundage was granted. He agreed on 10 Feb. that Sheriff Acton of London, who had blocked Rolle’s efforts to recover his goods and then obstructed the Commons’ investigation, deserved firm treatment. However, when Members attempted to challenge the Exchequer barons’ ruling that the original confiscation was valid, he warned on 12 Feb. that this tactic would simply anger the king. In the event, the barons refused to back down, and attention switched to whether Rolle could use parliamentary privilege to claim back his belongings. On 19 Feb. Digges argued that this issue should be deferred, just as the 1626 Parliament had opted not to pursue Sir Edward Coke’s exclusion, but his views were ignored. The debate then descended to the question of whether the customs farmers who had seized the goods were acting on the king’s behalf, or for their own benefit. Digges attempted on 20 Feb. to convince the House that the farmers, including his friend Sir John Wolstenholme*, were telling the truth when they claimed that they were the king’s officers, and the next day warned that if Rolle was granted privilege the Commons would then have to ask Charles to release his merchandise. When, inevitably, the king on 23 Feb. took responsibility for the customers’ actions, Digges frantically called for Charles to be reminded that the disputed goods belonged to one of their own Members, and then moved for further discussion to be deferred. After Eliot delivered his protestation against government ministers on 2 Mar., Digges was almost alone in defending the lord treasurer (Sir Richard Weston) and backing the Speaker’s efforts to adjourn the sitting.148

Digges’s customs annuity had been paid only intermittently during the 1620s, and in February 1630 he commuted it for £2,625. Almost simultaneously, acting through Sir Edward Hales*, he bought the manor and hundred of Faversham from the Crown for £3,129. Although still on close terms with the now imprisoned Eliot, who appointed him one of his executors later that year, Digges remained determined to secure a major office. In November 1630 he purchased the reversion to the mastership of the Rolls, then worth about £1,600 a year, but declining in value; he allegedly offered £10,000, half in cash and half to be paid later, when he had entered on the office.149 The fact that he was now a trafficker in ‘places of judicature’, one of the charges brought against Buckingham in 1626, seems not to have troubled him. However, he was uncomfortably aware that his only previous connection with the legal profession was his honorary admission to Gray’s Inn by the ‘prince of Purpoole’ in 1618. Accordingly, he arranged a more formal entry there in February 1631, and was made a bencher five days later, though he sensibly abstained from the Inn’s government.150 Later in 1631 he cemented his long association with the Abbot family by marrying his eldest son to a daughter of Sir Maurice. In July 1632 the archbishop himself bequeathed him a ring and his collection of antique coins. Digges succeeded to the mastership of the Rolls in 1636, but his efforts to revive the post’s patronage were unsuccessful.151 Digges died in March 1639 and was buried at Chilham, in the chapel that he had built himself nearly 20 years earlier. His epitaph, with unconscious irony, drew attention to his lack of ambition. He left £20 a year for an annual footrace at Chilham between two youths and two maidens. One of his sons became a royalist pamphleteer, and another served briefly as a governor of Virginia, but no later member of the family sat in Parliament.152

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. C142/251/97.
  • 2. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xliii), 65.
  • 3. Al. Ox.
  • 4. HMC Hatfield, xii. 141.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 91.
  • 6. GI Admiss.
  • 7. C142/309/181; Vis. Kent, 65; F.H. Kemp, Kemp and Kempe Fams. 35-6; W.L. Spiers, ‘Note-Bk. and Acct. Bk. of Nicholas Stone’, Walpole Soc. vii. 86; IGI; C142/603/88.
  • 8. C142/251/97.
  • 9. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 142.
  • 10. C142/603/88.
  • 11. C181/2, f. 88; 181/5, f. 98.
  • 12. C181/3, ff. 3v, 157v; 181/4, f. 75.
  • 13. C181/4, f. 37v.
  • 14. C181/2, f. 246v; 181/3, f. 175v, 247v; 181/4, f. 48.
  • 15. C231/4, ff. 29, 261; SP16/405, f. 34; Som. RO, DD/PH219/66.
  • 16. HMC Finch, i. 42.
  • 17. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 614; 1635-6, p. 165; Arch. Cant. lxxxii. 141; P. Clark, Eng. Prov. Soc. 345.
  • 19. C181/3, f. 83v.
  • 20. APC, 1626, p. 168.
  • 21. Harl. 6846, f. 37; C193/12/2, f. 26v.
  • 22. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 449.
  • 23. C181/4, f. 72v; 181/5, f. 97v.
  • 24. C181/5, ff. 57, 58v.
  • 25. A. Brown, Genesis of US, i. 212.
  • 26. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 280.
  • 27. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 240.
  • 28. Rabb, 280.
  • 29. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 349.
  • 30. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 173; CD 1628, ii. 115.
  • 31. CD 1621, vii. 416.
  • 32. APC, 1621-3, pp. 80, 208; Rymer, viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 33. Ibid. 421.
  • 34. V. Treadwell, Buckingham and Ire. 1616-28, p. 206.
  • 35. APC, 1621-3, p. 325.
  • 36. Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 192.
  • 37. E. Foss, Judges of Eng. vi. 305; C181/4, f. 198v.
  • 38. G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 72; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 622.
  • 39. Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 196, 224.
  • 40. PBG Inn, i. 299.
  • 41. Arch. Cant. v. 30; OR; HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 37; A. Chapman, Gods in the Sky, 258; L. Hotson, I, William Shakespeare, 115; CD 1628, ii. 287.
  • 42. PROB 11/86, f. 165; WARD 9/158, ff. 211v-12; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, i. 451; HMC Hatfield, xii. 141.
  • 43. D. Digges, Four Paradoxes (1604), dedication, 76-9; Harl. 158, f. 228; Ath. Ox. ii. 634; C142/251/97.
  • 44. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 238; HMC 4th Rep. 287; W.B. Willcox, Glos. 31.
  • 45. CJ, i. 418a; CD 1628, ii. 516; Lords Procs. 1628, v. 172.
  • 46. CJ, i. 420a-1a, 427b, 432b, 446b.
  • 47. Ibid. 421b, 439a, 441a, 452b.
  • 48. Ibid. 427a, 432a, 445b, 452b.
  • 49. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 331, 393, 397.
  • 50. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 321-2; D. Digges, Of the Circumference of the Earth (London, 1612); Brown, 594, 878.
  • 51. Chamberlain Letters, i. 410, 515; Harl. 158, f. 228; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 325; State Trials ed. T.B. Howell, ii. 916, 919.
  • 52. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, iv. 370; Chamberlain Letters, i. 518.
  • 53. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 33-4, 57, 105-6, 108, 181. Digges attended the committee for the Charterhouse hospital bill (appointed 9 May): ibid. 176; LMA, Acc/1876/G/01/16/1.
  • 54. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 67-8, 76, 122-3, 246. One diarist misleadingly suggests that Digges himself drafted a protestation alleging a Catholic plot: ibid. 125.
  • 55. Ibid. 35, 82, 163, 167, 322, 326.
  • 56. Ibid. 96, 100, 129, 146, 152, 214, 260, 291, 312, 439.
  • 57. Ibid. 341, 346, 358, 360, 368,377.
  • 58. Ibid. 381, 393, 398, 404, 431; Chamberlain Letters, i. 536.
  • 59. Chamberlain Letters, i. 539; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 324; E351/1950; CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 302; D. Digges, The Defence of Trade (London, 1615); E. Hasted, Kent, vii. 274.
  • 60. Harl. 158, f. 228; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 172; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 533, 587; Bodl. Tanner 74, f. 121
  • 61. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 197; Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 46-8; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, i. 232, 483, 489.
  • 62. SP84/94/96; 84/98/184; Bell, 196; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 403.
  • 63. SP84/99/8; C. Russell, PEP, 35.
  • 64. CJ, i. 513b, 522a-3a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 50.
  • 65. CJ, i. 542b, 609b, 631a; CD 1621, iii. 171; iv. 307.
  • 66. CJ, i. 583a; CD 1621, ii. 397; iii. 27; Nicholas, ii. 87-8.
  • 67. Nicholas, i. 203-4.
  • 68. CD 1621, iii. 46-7, 215; iv. 88; Nicholas, i. 269-70.
  • 69. CJ, i. 528, 612a; CD 1621, iii. 74, 190; v. 263.
  • 70. CJ, i. 527a, 582b, 633b, 639a; CD 1621, iii. 4, 327, 370; Nicholas, ii. 154-5; SP16/19/107.
  • 71. CD 1621, iv. 100, 198; CJ, i. 575a, 586b.
  • 72. CJ, i. 537a, 582b, 590a, 592a; Nicholas, i. 159, 314; CD 1621, iii. 28.
  • 73. Nicholas, i. 79, 365; CD 1621, ii. 334; vi. 98; CJ, i. 590b, 593b.
  • 74. SP84/99/158.
  • 75. CD 1621, iv. 94; vi. 5; Harl. 158, f. 228v; T.K. Rabb, Jacobean Gentleman, 220.
  • 76. CD 1621, vi. 254; CJ, i. 530b, 538b-9a, 547b; Nicholas, i. 122, 135.
  • 77. Nicholas, i. 136, 293; CJ, i. 561b, 563b-4a, 589b.
  • 78. CJ, i. 598a; CD 1621, iii. 132, 188; v. 120.
  • 79. CD 1621, iii. 392; CJ, i. 557b.
  • 80. Nicholas, i. 371; ii. 8, 29, 44; CJ, i. 604b-5a, 608a, 614b; CD 1621, ii. 355.
  • 81. R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 99; CJ, i. 629a; CD 1621, iii. 360, 364, 377-9.
  • 82. CJ, i. 639a; CD 1624, iv. 415-16.
  • 83. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 386, 389.
  • 84. CD 1621, ii. 439; iii. 427; Nicholas, ii. 192-3, 195, 205.
  • 85. Nicholas, ii. 198-9; CD 1621, iii. 436.
  • 86. Nicholas, ii. 206-8, 216-17; CD 1621, ii. 445, 451; iii. 445, 458; CJ, i. 644b-5a.
  • 87. Nicholas, ii. 225; CD 1621, iv. 447; vi. 204.
  • 88. Nicholas, ii. 275, 279; CD 1621, ii. 503, 511; v. 233; CJ, i. 662a.
  • 89. Nicholas, ii. 328-9, 344-5; CD 1621, ii. 532; vi. 335
  • 90. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 416.
  • 91. Treadwell, 187, 189-90, 203, 206, 208; CD 1628, ii. 516; SP16/19/107; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 429, 456, 468; T. Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, 163; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 609.
  • 92. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 540.
  • 93. CJ, i. 671b, 720a; ‘Pym 1624’, f. 26v.
  • 94. CJ, i. 674a, 722a, 724a; ‘Spring 1624’, pp. 50, 54-5; ‘Pym 1624’, ff. 12v-13; Cogswell, 179.
  • 95. ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 19; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 41v, 43v-4; CJ, i. 676b.
  • 96. Ferrar 1624, p. 63; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 51; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 87; CJ, i. 729b, 730b; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 47.
  • 97. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 73; CJ, i. 684a, 743b-4a; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 139; Holles 1624, f. 109v; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 549; Cogswell, 218-19.
  • 98. ‘Holland 1624’, ii. ff. 12, 42; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 209; CJ, i. 764a.
  • 99. ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 59, 88v-9.
  • 100. Ibid. ff. 127v-8, 206; CJ, i. 774a, 781a.
  • 101. CJ, i. 692a, 770b; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 156.
  • 102. CJ, i. 704a, 771b; ‘Pym 1624’, f. 59v; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 197; Cent. Kent Stud. U269/1/OE30.
  • 103. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 583; HMC Cowper, i. 183; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 504.
  • 104. Cent. Kent Studs., U1115/C24.
  • 105. Procs. 1625, pp. 205, 268, 283-4, 334-5.
  • 106. Ibid. 228, 253, 265.
  • 107. Ibid. 268, 277, 315.
  • 108. Ibid. 411, 422, 424, 468.
  • 109. SP16/19/107.
  • 110. N and Q (ser. 4), x. 326; Dorothea Scott ed. G.D. Scull, 135-42.
  • 111. Procs. 1626, ii. 21, 186; Kyle, 232.
  • 112. Procs. 1626, ii. 46, 48, 64, 332.
  • 113. Ibid. ii. 38, 50-1.
  • 114. Ibid. ii. 66, 114, 120, 126-7, 214, 251, 299.
  • 115. Ibid. ii. 149-50, 153, 181, 190, 240, 256.
  • 116. Ibid. ii. 92, 97, 195, 226, 257, 261; Kyle, 234.
  • 117. Procs. 1626, ii. 279-80, 283, 440, 443-4, 446; iii. 302.
  • 118. Ibid. ii. 290, 292, 298, 307.
  • 119. Ibid. ii. 322, 334, 359, 375, 381, 415, 419, 430.
  • 120. Ibid. iii. 33-4, 38, 126-7, 140.
  • 121. Ibid. i. 408-10; iii. 201, 204, 206-7.
  • 122. Ibid. iii. 233, 235-6, 239, 254, 256, 265; iv. 330.
  • 123. Ibid. iii. 272, 283, 304, 356.
  • 124. Ibid. i. 596-7; iii. 377, 392, 424, 427, 445.
  • 125. Letter Bk. of Sir John Eliot ed. A.B. Grosart, 6-11.
  • 126. Som. RO, DD/PH219/67; APC, 1626, pp. 257, 410; 1627, pp. 2, 83; Historical Collections, i. 450; C231/4, f. 200v; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 201; SP16/73/30; Russell, 332.
  • 127. Procs. 1628, vi. 129, 152.
  • 128. CD 1628, ii. 28; iii. 386, 393.
  • 129. Ibid. ii. 66, 70-1, 84, 105-6, 123-4.
  • 130. Ibid. ii. 102, 104, 287-8, 291.
  • 131. Ibid. ii. 129, 156, 197-8, 260, 264, 365, 420, 574.
  • 132. Ibid. ii. 168, 277, 328, 332-4, 444; iii. 43.
  • 133. Ibid. ii. 302, 429, 435-6, 439, 446; Kyle, 235.
  • 134. CD 1628, ii. 480, 538; iii. 8, 32-3, 35.
  • 135. Ibid. iii. 22, 46, 75-6, 80-1, 98, 102.
  • 136. Ibid. iii. 124, 142, 153, 158, 167, 193.
  • 137. Ibid. iii. 273, 278, 297, 369, 387, 518; Lords Procs. 1628, v. 422-3.
  • 138. CD 1628, iii. 496, 597-8, 606, 617, 623; iv. 3.
  • 139. Ibid. iv. 123; Procs. 1628, vi. 246.
  • 140. CD 1628, iii. 123, 405; iv. 151, 157.
  • 141. Ibid. ii. 420; iii. 71, 88, 453; iv. 87-8, 148-9, 171.
  • 142. Ibid. iv. 177-8, 223, 446, 453, 472.
  • 143. Ibid. iv. 410, 449-51, 456.
  • 144. C115/107/8504.
  • 145. CD 1629, p. 107; CJ, i. 922a, 928a.
  • 146. CD 1629, pp. 122, 145, 154, 216; CJ, i. 926b.
  • 147. HMC Lonsdale, 59; CD 1629, pp. 108-9, 200; CJ, i. 923b.
  • 148. CD 1629, pp. 157, 165, 168, 188, 200-1, 227, 232, 237-8, 243, 265.
  • 149. CSP Dom. 1629-31, pp. 188, 190, 392; 1625-49, p. 382; E403/2981, p. 255; PROB 11/162, f. 475; Aylmer, 212.
  • 150. W.R. Prest, Inns of Ct. under Eliz. I and the Early Stuarts, 64-5.
  • 151. C142/603/88; PROB 11/164, f. 212; Aylmer, 73.
  • 152. N and Q (ser. 2), x. 218; Arch. Cant. lxxv. 27; J.M. Lipscomb, ‘The Chilham Mausolea’, Arch. Cant. cii. 141; Oxford DNB, xvi. 168; Brown, ii. 879.