LASSELLS, George (1576-1647), of Kneveton, Notts. and Gray's Inn, London; later of Elston, Notts.
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Family and Education
bap. 25 July 1576,1 o.s. of John Lassells of Elston, Notts. and Gray’s Inn and Elizabeth (d.1632), da. and h. of Bartholomew Metheley of Elston.2 educ. G. Inn 1598, called 1626.3 m. 1599, Anne, da. of Gervase Wirral of Leversall, Yorks., 7s. 8da. (2 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. by 1614.5 bur. 28 Apr. 1647.6
Commr. swans, Notts. and Derby 1613, sewers, Notts. 1615, Lincs. 1619, Leics. and Notts. 1625-29; j.p. liberties of Southwell and Scroby, Notts. 1621-7.7
Servant to William Herbert, 3rd earl of Pembroke by 1620.8
Lassells came from a cadet branch of a family that first represented Yorkshire in 1346. The Nottinghamshire branch was established at Sturton, six miles north-east of East Retford, in the fourteenth century. Lassells’ paternal grandfather, George, acquired the manor of Sturton in 1540 and represented Nottinghamshire in Parliament in 1553. The latter’s younger brother, John, was an early Protestant, and was executed for heresy in 1547. Lassells’ uncle, Brian Lassells, was returned for Nottinghamshire in 1589, possibly with the assistance of the county’s lord lieutenant, George Talbot, 6th earl of Shrewsbury. Lassells should not be confused with Brian’s son, Sir George Lassells, who was for many years a Nottinghamshire magistrate. Lassells’ father was a younger son and became a lawyer. He acquired the manor of Kneveton, in south Nottinghamshire, and married the heiress to significant property at Elston, five-and-a-half miles south-west of Newark.9
Lassells was admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1598, where his father was a barrister, but he himself was not called to the bar until 1626. By 1614 he had inherited his father’s estate, the income from which was estimated by members of the Nottinghamshire bench in the 1630s at between £400 and £500.10 Nevertheless he seems to have preferred a career in aristocratic service, and in 1620 was described by the south Yorkshire landowner, Sir Thomas Wentworth*, as the 3rd earl of Pembroke’s ‘principal agent in these parts’. By that date Pembroke had inherited significant estates in south Yorkshire and the east Midlands from his father-in-law, Gilbert Talbot†, 7th earl of Shrewsbury (d.1616). Other members of the Lassells family had been closely connected with the Talbots and it is possible that Lassells had first entered Shrewsbury’s employment before transferring to Pembroke’s after Shrewsbury’s death. In 1618, presumably at Pembroke’s nomination, Lassells was instructed by the Privy Council to assist John, 3rd Lord Darcy of Meinill in examining Shrewsbury’s papers at Sheffield and Worksop, which suggests that Lassells was familiar with the estate. The following year he was empowered to seize some of the papers back from where Shrewsbury’s widow had secreted them.11
Lassells was closely involved in Pembroke’s electioneering in and around the former Talbot estates in 1620. In November he and Pembroke approached East Retford, where Shrewsbury had been high steward, ‘for their burgess’, but without success.12 Lassells was also instrumental in mobilizing the tenants of the former Talbot estates in the Sheffield area in Yorkshire for Sir Thomas Wentworth* and Sir George Calvert*.13 Lassells himself benefited from Nottingham corporation’s decision to return two ‘foreigners’ to Parliament for ‘the easing of the town’s charges’, and was elected despite competition from four other minor gentlemen. How Lassells came by the seat is uncertain, but it was probably through Pembroke, as the earl of Shrewsbury had been high steward of Nottingham. Lassells’ own legal abilities may also have helped, for shortly after his election the corporation sent their town clerk, Robert Greaves*, to ask him to oppose a decree in the Court of the duchy of Lancaster concerning the town’s tolls.14
Lassells left no trace on the surviving records of the 1621 Parliament. He stood for re-election in 1624 and 1625, but was rejected on the former occasion in favour of candidates of higher social status, and on the latter after the corporation agreed to elect only townsmen.15 In 1627, after his belated call to the bar, he prepared a scheme for increasing the Crown’s revenue from the Court of Wards, possibly in the hope of winning royal office, but although his proposals were referred to the senior officers of the court nothing more was heard of them.16
During the 1630s Lassells was in considerable trouble over his eldest son John, who had become a dangerous lunatic. He refused to pay maintenance for John or the latter’s family, despite being assessed by the overseers of the poor, and apparently threatened to sell his lands and leave the country. In January 1634 his daughter-in-law petitioned the Privy Council, whereupon Lassells claimed that his son had married without his consent and threatened to kill him and burn down his house. He also stated that he had 11 or 12 dutiful children to support and substantial debts.17 This may not have been an exaggeration, for seven months later he sold the manor of Kneveton.18 Nevertheless, in May 1637 the Council ordered him to pay up, and when he continued to refuse he was imprisoned in the Fleet. On his release in April 1638, the dispute was referred to the arbitration of Harbottle Grimston* and Sir Robert Coke*, who agreed that Lassells should pay his daughter-in-law’s uncle £100 in hand and £500, plus interest, a year later. This recommendation, which was approved by the Privy Council on 30 May 1638, evidently brought the dispute to an end.19
It is not known which side Lassells supported during the Civil War. He made his will in 2 June 1646, in which he gave the bulk of his estate, including his house at Elston, to his youngest son Bartholomew, leaving John only £5. Although describing himself as ‘sick and weak’, he survived until the following April, when he was buried at Elston. No further members of the family sat in Parliament.20
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: George Yerby / Ben Coates
- 1. Elston Notts. par. reg. (Soc. Gen. microfiche).
- 2. Thoroton, Notts. (1790), i. 340; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 60.
- 3. GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 274.
- 4. Thoroton, i. 340; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. n.s. v), 41.
- 5. C142/694/38.
- 6. Elston Notts. par. reg. (Soc. Gen. microfiche).
- 7. C181/2, ff. 201v, 225, 354v; 181/3, ff. 24, 162, 222v; 181/4, f. 23v.
- 8. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 11.
- 9. OR; Thoroton, i. 302, 338, 340; iii. 298; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 57-60; Oxford DNB sub Lasselles, John; HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 441; PBG Inn, i. 43.
- 10. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 438.
- 11. Illustrations of British History ed. E. Lodge, iii. 109; APC 1618-19, pp. 207, 487.
- 12. Letters of John Holles ed. P.R. Seddon (Thoroton Soc. Rec. ser. xxxv), 247-8.
- 13. Strafforde Letters, i. 11; Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 144-5.
- 14. Recs. of Bor. of Nottingham ed. W.H. Stevenson, iv. 278, 373, 375; Notts. RO, CA3395, f. 21.
- 15. Recs. of Bor. of Nottingham, iv. 387; Notts. RO, CA3399, f. 60.
- 16. CSP Dom. 1627-8, pp. 223, 415.
- 17. CSP Dom. 1633-4, pp. 438, 444.
- 18. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 661; Thoroton, i. 302.
- 19. CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 469; PC2/49, p. 100.
- 20. PROB 11/200, ff. 201v-2.