FREKE, John (1589-1641), of Westbrooke House, Upwey, Dorset; later of Cerne Abbey, Dorset and Peper Harrow, Surr.

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

Family and Education

b. 20 June 1589, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Freke* and Elizabeth, da. of John Taylor, Haberdasher, of Coleman Street, London, and wid. of Francis Smith, Mercer, of London.1 educ. M. Temple, entered 1600; Hart Hall, Oxf. 1605.2 m. (1) c.1611, Arundell (d. 1 June 1623), da. of Sir George Trenchard† of Wolveton, Charminster, Dorset, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.;3 (2) lic. 20 Dec. 1632, Jane (d.1666), da. and coh. of Sir John Shurley* of Isfield, Suss., wid. of Sir Walter Covert* (d. 22 Jan. 1632) of Slaugham, Suss., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 1633.4 d. 28 Nov. 1641.5

Offices Held

Freeman, Weymouth, Dorset 1621;6 sheriff, Dorset Jan.-Oct. 1636.7


Freke was apparently overshadowed for most of his life by his father, and even copied the preamble to the latter’s will almost word for word. His first marriage was arranged by his kinsman William Pitt*, to whom he doubtless also owed his return for Wareham in 1614.8 He had little impact on the Addled Parliament, being named only to the conference with the Lords on the bill to settle the succession following the recent marriage of Princess Elizabeth and the Elector Palatine (14 April).9 In December 1620 Freke was replaced at Wareham by his brother-in-law John Trenchard*, and instead found a seat at Weymouth, four miles from his home at Upwey.10 Marginally more active during the 1621 session, he was appointed to attend conferences with the Lords concerning the petition against recusants (15 Feb.) and the bill on informers (1 December).11 Re-elected for the same borough in 1624, he left no further trace on the Commons’ records, and apparently never stood again.

Freke purchased Cerne Abbey from the Crown in 1625, probably with his father’s assistance, and on the basis of this property compounded for knighthood six years later at £15.12 However, following his second marriage he preferred to reside at Peper Harrow, his wife’s jointure estate in Surrey.13 Consequently, although he succeeded to his patrimony in 1633, he failed to emulate his father’s prominence in Dorset affairs. Even when appointed as county sheriff three years later, he obtained permission to exercise this office in absentia, apparently employing as his deputy his son George, son-in-law to the Dorset-based 1st earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*). This refusal to act in person not only damaged Freke’s local reputation, but also caused particular problems later in the year when he needed to collect Ship Money arrears and it emerged that his son was one of the defaulters. He eventually secured all but £152 7s. 9½d. of the £5,000 demanded by the government.14 Freke’s limited contact with Dorset may help to explain why he was the only gentleman of that county to contribute towards the costs of the First Bishops’ War.15 He died in November 1641, and his widow later married Denzil Holles*. Freke’s youngest son, Thomas, represented Dorset in the Commons from 1679 till his death in 1701.16

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. The Ancestor, x. 198-9.
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.; Al. Ox.
  • 3. Add. 29974, f. 26; The Ancestor, x. 198-9; Eg. 784, f. 32.
  • 4. London Mar. Lics. ed. J. Foster, 513; CP, vi. 546; The Ancestor, x. 198-9.
  • 5. WARD 5/11/1951.
  • 6. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 452.
  • 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 39; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 170.
  • 8. PROB 11/164, f. 341v; 11/188, f. 167; Add. 29974, f. 26.
  • 9. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 82.
  • 10. Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 94; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 845; The Ancestor, x. 198.
  • 11. CJ, i. 522b, 654b.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 511; Add. 29974, f. 193; Som. and Dorset N and Q, iv. 17.
  • 13. VCH Surr. iii. 51; The Ancestor, x. 199.
  • 14. CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 220; Add. 29974, f. 254; The Ancestor, x. 198; Som. and Dorset N and Q, xiii. 189; M.D. Gordon, ‘Collection of Ship Money in the Reign of Chas. I’, TRHS (ser. 3), iv. 157.
  • 15. PC2/51, p. 77.
  • 16. HP Commons, 1660-90, ii. 365.