ONSLOW, Sir Richard (1601-1664), of Knowle, Cranleigh, Surr.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
bap. 30 July 1601, 2nd s. of Sir Edward Onslow (d.1615) of Knowle and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Shirley I* of Wiston, Suss.2 educ. Jesus, Camb. 1617; L. Inn 1618.3 m. (settlement 21 June 1620), Elizabeth (d. Aug. 1679), da. and h. of Arthur Strangways, innkeeper of the Queen’s Arms, Holborn Bridge, London, 8s. (3 d.v.p.) 6da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. bro. 1616; kntd. 2 June 1624. d. 19 May 1664.4
J.p. Surr. 1626-42,5 by 1644-60,6 1661-d.,7 custos rot. 1659-60;8 col. militia horse, Surr. 1626;9 dep. lt. Surr. by 1627-at least 1642;10 commr. sewers, Surr. 1632, Suss. 1637, London 1645, Surr. and Kent 1645, 1657, 1659,11 Wey navigation, Surr. 1635,12 maltsters, Surr. 1636,13 oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1640-2, by 1654-8, 1662-d., Surr. 1644, 1659, perambulation, Windsor Forest, Surr. 1641,14 subsidy Surr. 1641-2,15 assessment 1643-52, 1657, 1660-d.,16 Glos. 1647-8, defence of Surr. 1643, 1645, sequestration, Surr. 1643, levying money 1643, execution of ordinances 1644,17 gaol delivery 1644,18 New Model Ordinance 1645, militia 1648, 1660;19 elder, Guildford classis, Surr. 1648;20 commr. scandalous ministers, Surr. 1654,21 high steward, Guildford bef. 1662;22 commr. corp. act, Surr. 1662-3,23 highways and sewers, London and Westminster 1662-3;24 bailiff, Bedford Level 1663-d.25
Onslow’s paternal grandfather, a successful lawyer of Shropshire origin, was elected for Steyning in 1558 and 1563, served as Speaker in 1566, and acquired an estate in the parish of Cranleigh, eight miles south-east of Guildford.31 His father, Sir Edward, was a ‘church puritan’ who played no part in public affairs, at least according to an account of the family written by Onslow’s great-grandson, Arthur Onslow†.32 Sir Edward died in 1615, and the following year Onslow’s elder brother also expired after being struck down by smallpox on his wedding-night, whereupon Onslow himself inherited the family estate.33 As Onslow was then still under-age, his mother was obliged to purchase his wardship for £250.34 Onslow subsequently grew up to become, according to his great-grandson, ‘a man of high spirit ... and of great parts, knowledge and courage’. On his marriage in 1620, he acquired ‘a very considerable fortune’, consisting chiefly of one of the great inns situated at the north-west entrance to the City. He was knighted in 1624, and was assessed to pay £20 towards the 1625 Privy Seal loan.35
Onslow was returned for Surrey to the third Caroline Parliament, probably with the support of Sir George More*, with whom he was on friendly terms.36 On 26 Mar. Edward Bysshe complained about ‘outrages’ committed by soldiers billeted in Surrey. Both Onslow and his colleague Sir Ambrose Browne were deputy lieutenants of the county, and on 28 Mar. the latter was obliged to admit that he and his fellow deputy lieutenants had made rates for billeting soldiers. However, he denied that either he or Onslow were responsible for the abuses complained of by Bysshe.37
Onslow was named to only two committees, one of which was for a subscription bill (23 Apr.) and the other for a measure to confirm the jointure of Lord Abergavenny’s (Sir Henry Neville II*) daughter-in-law (17 May). The latter appointment may be explained by the fact that Onslow’s elder brother’s bride had been Abergavenny’s aunt.38 Onslow made his only recorded speech on 11 June in defence of the duke of Buckingham during the debate on whether to include the favourite among the grievances in the Remonstrance. Onslow, who had no known connection with the duke, answered William Coryton’s charge that Buckingham favoured Catholics, stating that ‘I know the duke is no papist’. As for those named by Coryton as examples of Catholics favoured by Buckingham, Onslow added that ‘I know what opinion he has of them’.39 A contemporary satire on the debate states that Onslow ‘often moved, for want of other sense, to have it proved’.40 He left no mark on the records of the 1629 session.
Onslow contributed £20 towards the expenses of the Scots war in 1639 and was re-elected to the Short and Long Parliaments.41 A Presbyterian, he took the side of Parliament in the Civil War, commanding a regiment and dominating his county committee. Cromwell distrusted ‘that fox of Surrey’, but appointed him to the ‘Other House’.42 He and his son Arthur were defeated in the county election to the Convention Parliament, but were returned for Guildford, where he was re-elected the following year. He drew up his will on 20 Feb. 1664, bequeathing a portion of £2,500 to an unmarried daughter, and died on 19 May. According to one account he died of an ague that turned to gangrene, but in another he is said to have expired after being struck by lightning. His grandson, Sir Richard Onslow†, was ennobled in 1716.43
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates
- 1. Secluded at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648; readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
- 2. Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 54; W.H. Challen, ‘Suss. Entries in London Par. Regs.’ Suss. N and Q, ix. 103; Oxford DNB.
- 3. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
- 4. C142/746/116; Manning and Bray, iii. 54; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 184.
- 5. C231/4, f. 202; 231/5, p. 532;
- 6. ASSI 35/85/4; C220/9/4.
- 7. C231/7, f. 127; C193/12/3.
- 8. HMC 14th Rep. IX, 482; C231/7 p. 9.
- 9. HMC Laing, i. 172.
- 10. Manning and Bray, iii. 670; VCH Surr. i. 405.
- 11. C181/4, f. 121v; 181/5, ff. 69v, 247, 263v; 181/6, ff. 263, 386.
- 12. T. Rymer, Foedera, ix. pt. 1, p. 19.
- 13. PC2/46, f. 273.
- 14. C181/5, ff. 174, 211v, 222, 239; 181/6, ff. 12, 305, 348.
- 15. SR, v. 65, 155.
- 16. A. and O. i. 94, 636, 976, 1093; ii. 44. 310, 479, 676, 1081, 1379; SR, v. 220, 339, 465.
- 17. A. and O. i. 116, 150, 335, 450, 731, 966, 1083.
- 18. C181/5, f. 239v.
- 19. A. and O. i. 624, 1243, ii. 1443.
- 20. W.A. Shaw, Hist. of Eng. Church during Civil Wars and under Commonwealth, ii. 434.
- 21. A. and O. ii. 975.
- 22. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. lx), 1.
- 23. HMC 14th Rep. IX, 483.
- 24. C181/7, ff.