L'ESTRANGE, Sir Hamon (1583-1654), of Hunstanton, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 1583,1 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Nicholas L’Estrange of Hunstanton and Mary, da. of Robert Bell† of the M. Temple and Beaupré Hall, Outwell, Norf.2 educ. fell. comm. Queens', Camb. 1601.3 m. (settlement 8 June 1602, with annual allowance of 100 marks),4 Alice (bur. 9 Nov. 1656),5 da. of Richard Stubbe† of Sedgeford, Norf., 4s. 4da.6 suc. fa. 1591;7 kntd. 13-14 Mar. 1603.8 d. 31 May 1654.9
J.p. Norf. 1608-at least 1636,10 sheriff 1608-9,11 commr. subsidy 1608, 1621-2, 1624, 1628,12 oyer and terminer by 1616-at least 1636,13 dep. lt. 1625-c.1642,14 commr. Forced Loan 1626-7,15 capt. militia ft. Smithdon Hundred 1626-7,16 commr. sewers, Norf. 1629, Lincs. 1635,17 knighthood fines 1630-4,18 maltsters 1636,19 assessment 1642,20 gov. (roy.), King’s Lynn, Norf. 1643.21
Member, N.W. Passage Co. 1612.22
The L’Estrange family of Hunstanton was probably the oldest gentry family in Norfolk.23 During the sixteenth century they were closely connected with the Howards, but enjoyed sufficient influence to survive the falls of both the 3rd and 4th dukes of Norfolk.24 In 1592 L’Estrange succeeded to the lordship of Hunstanton as a minor. His wardship was sold for £100 to his father’s executor, Sir John Peyton†, and also to the latter’s wife Dorothy, L’Estrange’s maternal grandmother; nevertheless, his principal guardian seems to have been Sir Henry Spelman*, who resided at Hunstanton until at least 1603.25 In 1602, while still under-age, L’Estrange married Alice, daughter of Richard Stubbe†, a lawyer who acted for both the L’Estrange and Peyton families. The marriage settlement was financially advantageous to both Peyton and L’Estrange; Stubbe paid £1,000 to Peyton, who agreed to give Alice an annual allowance of 100 marks plus various landholdings.26 During L’Estrange’s minority these lands were held in trust by William Street of Lincoln’s Inn, (Sir) Henry Hobart* and Thomas Oxborough*.27
At the Norfolk election of 1614, L’Estrange used his influence with the sheriff, Sir James Calthorpe (husband of L’Estrange’s aunt),28 to move the proceedings from their accustomed location, in Norwich, to Swaffham at short notice. In this way he thwarted Sir Henry Rich*, who was waiting in Norwich with the backing of Thomas, earl of Suffolk and an organized group of freeholders.29 At Swaffham, L’Estrange disbursed £5 0s. 3d. in election expenses.30 Despite the care he took to ensure his election, L’Estrange was absent from the opening of Parliament on 5 Apr., and did not set out from Hunstanton until the 21st.31 In the Commons, he was appointed to bill committees concerned with the deceitful packing of fish (24 May) and forcible entries (31 May).32 Along with Sir William Cooke, Sir Henry Bedingfield, and Sir Robert Wynde, he was also fined 12d. for attempting to leave the House before the Speaker had departed. That same day, 28 May, he was ordered to attend the king to help explain that the House had not attempted to claim the power to call a recess.33 L’Estrange waited until the last day of the Parliament (7 June) to deliver his maiden speech, when he suggested that the Commons should vote on whether to reply to James’s letter announcing the dissolution.34
L’Estrange again represented his county in 1621. This time the election was held at Norwich, and perhaps as a consequence his election expenses of £20 3s. 4d. far exceeded his previous outlay.35 He travelled to Westminster in company with his wife, indicating, perhaps, that he expected a long session, and arrived in time for the opening of Parliament. While in London, L’Estrange and his wife spent £163 8s. 1d., an enormous amount when compared to Sir Hamon’s outlay of £20 in 1614.36 However, this was Lady Alice’s first and only visit to London, and while L’Estrange attended Parliament she purchased a variety of items for the family and Hunstanton Hall.37 In the Commons, L’Estrange was named to the general committee on recusancy (5 Feb.) and a joint conference on the informers bill (19 April).38 He was included on the committee for a bill to prohibit the export of corn (8 Mar.), a matter of particular importance to Norfolk.39 His other bill committee nominations concerned recusant lands (2 Mar.), alienations (19 Mar.) and apparel (21 April).40 On 27 Feb. L’Estrange also introduced the saltmarshes bill to the Commons.41 Designed to clarify landholders’ title to coastal lands, the bill claimed that because landowners erected and maintained banks to protect against storms and the sea, they should be entitled to hold title and use all the land down to the low-water mark.42 However, the measure received only one reading due to fears that it sought to overturn an established tenet of the Common Law.43
As a speechmaker in 1621 L’Estrange was primarily concerned with two matters. First, he called for the punishment of the monopolist (Sir) Giles Mompesson*. On 5 Mar. he observed that Mompesson, who had described himself as ‘justice per excellentium’, should have termed himself a justice ‘per pestilentiam, for he hath plagued the country’. Later in the session he called for Sir Giles’s expulsion from the Commons (23 April).44 L’Estrange’s other main concern was the Virginia Company lottery, which he wanted suppressed. Criticism of the lottery had been growing in the counties, but L’Estrange’s speech on 24 Feb. seems to have been influential in revoking the grant.45 Sir Lionel Cranfield was delegated to inform James that the House condemned the lottery, and reported back that the king was prepared to annul it, resulting in a Proclamation to this effect issued on 8 March.46 On 5 Mar. L’Estrange argued that the value of the informers bill to the Commonweal was so great that it should take the place of the general pardon.47 It is not known how the House reacted to this unusual proposal.
L’Estrange travelled to Norwich for the county elections in 1624, but it is not known if he stood.48 In 1625 he was returned for Castle Rising, where the L’Estrange family had long been influential. One of the castle’s towers was known as ‘Strange’s Tower’, or ‘Hunstanton Tower’.49 L’Estrange left no trace of his presence on the records of the 1625 Parliament, although he certainly attended the Westminster sitting, as the stay cost him £14 4s. 7d. He probably did not travel to Oxford for the second sitting, as there is no record of such a trip in his meticulously kept household accounts.50
In the 1630s L’Estrange’s annual income from his estates reached almost £3,000.51 He undertook a project to fortify the seabanks and drain marshland around Heacham, Norfolk, thereby reclaiming land for grazing sheep, but when he attempted to increase the rent from one of his tenants, Robert Cremer, who farmed the ‘new’ land, it led to a bitter legal dispute which spawned suits in three courts, and eventually cost him £1,385.52 Although L’Estrange eventually won the case, Cremer subsuently sued him at the Norwich assizes and continued to publicly denounce him. L’Estrange therefore prosecuted Cremer for libel in the High Court of Chivalry, which was presided over by the earl marshal, Thomas, earl of Arundel, the patron of Castle Rising. L’Estrange triumphed once again, and also emerged victorious after he was counter-sued by Cremer in Star Chamber.53
During the Civil War, L’Estrange and two of his sons were committed royalists.54 In October 1642 the constables of Smithdon Hundred were ordered to disarm Hunstanton Hall, leaving L’Estrange with only sufficient personal weaponry to protect his family ‘against any rude or pilfering people’.55 His fortunes revived, albeit briefly, when King’s Lynn declared for Charles I on 13 Aug. 1643, whereupon L’Estrange was named governor. However, the town was forced to surrender on 16 September.56 L’Estrange was subsequently ordered to compensate all those who had suffered damage and confinement during the parliamentarian siege, including the town’s two Members, Thomas Toll and John Percival. His losses totalled £1,088, and in addition, as Lady Alice’s household accounts record, he lost 1,660 sheep, all his corn, and several horses.57 L’Estrange was spared the immediate sequestration of Hunstanton by the terms of the articles of surrender, but as these were subsequently lost the estate was seized in 1649.58 To make matters worse, his old adversary, Cremer, obtained a Chancery ruling which overturned the previous verdicts against him.59 L’Estrange was ordered to pay legal costs and damages of £400.60 It was not until November 1651 that Parliament granted L’Estrange the benefit of his lands.61
During his final years L’Estrange suffered badly from gout. He died at Hunstanton on 31 May 1654.62 His will, drafted on 2 July 1652, appointed his eldest son Sir Nicholas as his executor. His second son, Hamon, inherited East and West Fen in Boston, Lincolnshire.63 L’Estrange was buried at Hunstanton Church, where his gravestone reads: ‘in Heaven at home, O blessed change! Who while I was on earth, was Strange!’.64 L’Estrange’s third son, Roger, represented Winchester in 1685, while his grandson Sir Nicholas served for Castle Rising that same year.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Chris Kyle
- 1. C142/232/53.
- 2. Vis. Norf. ed. G.H. Dashwood, i. 64-5.
- 3. Al. Cant.
- 4. Norf. RO, L’Estrange A68.
- 5. Soc. Gen. transcript, Hunstanton par. reg. Norf. (extracts), 8.
- 6. Vis. Norf. i. 64-5; Soc. Gen. transcript, Hunstanton par. reg. Norf. (extracts), 8.
- 7. C142/232/53.
- 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 129.
- 9. Al. Cant.
- 10. SP14/33, f. 46v; E163/18/12; SP16/405, f. 49.
- 11. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 88.
- 12. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20, 21, 23; Norf. State Pprs. ed. W. Rye, 136.
- 13. C181/2, f. 258; 181/4, f. 10; 181/5, f. 120.
- 14. Norf. RO, 8538/21/B/5; Sainty, Lords Lieutenants, 28.
- 15. Norf. RO, 8538/21/B/5; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
- 16. Norf. State Pprs. 32, 78.
- 17. Ibid. 48, C181/5, f. 42.
- 18. C231/5, p. 16; E178/5520, ff. 7, 10, 13, 19, 22; E198/4/32, f. 3; Norf. RO, L’Estrange P20/13, 13A; APC, 1630-1, p. 69; Norf. Arch. x. 257-61.
- 19. PC2/46, p. 374.
- 20. SR, v. 153.
- 21. R.W. Ketton-Cremer, Norf. in Civil War, 206.
- 22. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 239.
- 23. F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. x. 319; C. Oestmann, L’Estrange Fam. and Hunstanton, Norf. 12.
- 24. Oestmann, 22-24.
- 25. WARD 9/348, f. 93; E. Gibson, Reliquiae Spelmannianae (1698), sig. b.
- 26. Norf. RO, L’Estrange P10, unfol.
- 27. Ibid. A68, A73.
- 28. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 66.
- 29. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, 518.
- 30. Norf. RO, L’Estrange P7.
- 31. Ibid.
- 32. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 332, 394.
- 33. Ibid. 376-7.
- 34. Ibid. 437.
- 35. Norf. RO, L’Estrange P7.
- 36. Ibid.
- 37. Ibid.
- 38. SP14/119/70; CJ, i. 582b.
- 39. CJ, i. 545a.
- 40. Ibid. 534a, 562a, 584b.
- 41. Ibid. 529a.
- 42. CD 1621, vii. 89-91.
- 43. CJ, i. 531a; CD 1621, v. 263; Coke, 5th Rep. no.106a, Sir Henry Constable’s Case (1601); Hale and Fleetwood on Admlty. Jurisdiction ed. M.J. Prichard and D.E.C. Yale (Selden Soc. cviii), p. clxxi; Norf. RO, L’Estrange P20/19.
- 44. CD 1621, ii. 168; CJ, i. 539a, 587b.
- 45. CD 1621, ii. 135.
- 46. Ibid. v. 489; vi. 12; APC, 1619-21, p. 359; Stuart Royal Procs. ed. J.F. Larkin and P.L. Hughes, 500-2.
- 47. CD 1621, ii. 163, 168.