RODNEY, Sir Edward (1590-1657), of Stoke Rodney, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 29 June 1590, 1st s. of Sir John Rodney*, of Stoke Rodney, and Jane, da. of Sir Henry Seymour† of Marwell, Hants.1 educ. Trowbridge g.s. 1598-1604;2 Magdalen, Oxf. 1605; M. Temple 1608.3 m. 29 May 1614 (with £2,000), Frances (d. 3 Aug. 1659),4 da. of Sir Robert Southwell† of Wood Rising, Norf., 5s. d.v.p. 8da. (3 d.v.p.).5 suc. fa. 1612;6 kntd. 29 May 1614.7 d. 25 May 1657.8
Commr. sewers, Som. 1610-41;9 j.p. Som. 1616-c.1642;10 steward, Eastbrent manor, Som. by 1617;11 freeman, Wells, Som. 1620;12 dep. lt. Som. c.1625-45;13 v.-adm. Som. by 1625-at least 1642;14 commr. enclosure, Sedgemoor, Som. 1628,15 subsidy, Som. 1628,16 swans, Hants, Wilts., Dorset, Som., Devon, Cornw. and I.o.W. 1629,17 knighthood fines, Som. 1630-1,18 repair of St. Paul’s cathedral, 1633,19 inquiry into depopulation 1635,20 oyer and terminer, 1640,21 array 1642;22 col. militia ft., Som. by 1642;23 commr. inquiry into accounts, Som. 1644.24
Gent. of the privy chamber extraordinary to Charles I.25
Rodney was born at Pilton and ‘bred together in the schools of Trowbridge and Oxford’ with his Seymour kinsmen. He went on to the Middle Temple, but by his own account ‘saluted only the law afar off, and misspent his time’.26 In July 1610 he was imprisoned in the Gatehouse for assisting William Seymour* in his marriage with Lady Arbella Stuart.27 In the following year he accompanied Seymour into exile, but returned early in 1612, to the relief of the latter’s grandfather, the 1st earl of Hertford, who regarded Rodney as a bad influence.28 On his father’s death later that same year, Rodney was granted administration of the estate; he provided £500 apiece for his three younger brothers, despite owing debts of £6,000, ‘with some other considerable sums which I had run out in my father’s life’. Interest being then ten per cent, he ‘paid use to the full value of my revenue, the whole estate not being above £1,000 p.a., whereof my mother had £400’.29 In 1614 he married a lady of Queen Anne’s privy chamber at Denmark House. The queen ‘kept the marriage feast all the day at extraordinary charges’, supplying all the bride’s wedding clothes, ‘worth at least £500’, and, with the king, jewels to the value of £1,000. In all the couple received gifts of plate worth nearly £2,000; but Rodney, who was knighted on the same occasion, claimed to have spent as much ‘in apparel, wedding gloves, scarves and rewards given to those that brought presents’.30
In December 1620 Rodney was admitted to the freedom of Wells, five miles from Stoke, without charge because his late father ‘was a great friend of the city’; and on the same day he was also elected to represent the town in the third Jacobean Parliament. He was appointed to two committees, one to confer with the Lords over the recusancy petition on 16 Feb. 1621, and the other to consider a bill to settle the lands of a recusant on Lord Holdernesse (13 March).31 On 9 May he flippantly remarked, concerning a quarrel between Clement Coke* and Sir Charles Morrison*, that Coke should ‘deliver a truncheon to Sir Charles Morrison, to strike him again, if he please’.32 Three weeks later, during a debate on the King’s call for an early adjournment, he commented on the Lords’ request for a conference on the informers bill that ‘we are in debate whether we shall do any business or no. Then, before we do send a message to the Lords, let us resolve’ (30 May).33
Re-elected for Wells to the next three parliaments, Rodney left no mark of his presence in 1624. In the first Caroline Parliament he was named to the fast conference of 23 June, and appointed to consider a bill to prevent tipping in inns and alehouses (24 June).34 His only appearance in the records for 1626 is on a list of Members fined for non-attendance at the call of the House on 2 June.35 Outside Parliament, Rodney was active as a county magistrate and deputy lieutenant, and John Poulett* praised him to the duke of Buckingham for his hearty service in promoting the Forced Loan.36 His attention to the Commons’ proceedings is attested by a speech he delivered at Axbridge in defence of the abortive benevolence, soon after the dissolution. Rodney maintained that ‘the king is engaged in a just war’, and, instancing ‘a short and true story, one which I had occasion to take notice of in my service and attendance at the last Parliament’, claimed he would ‘not stop the course of justice’ over the St. Peter of Le Havre, a French ship stayed on Buckingham’s orders, ‘for all the treasure in the world’.37
Despite Poulett’s fear that this speech had earned ‘envy, reproaches, and the raking of ill tongues’, Rodney was returned for the county in 1628.38 On 24 Mar. he was appointed to assist in drafting ‘a bill for the finding of arms and for regulating the power of lieutenants and deputy lieutenants’, the first step in the Commons’ investigation of the abuse of billeting in recent months.39 On 2 Apr. he defended his actions as one of the deputy lieutenants of Somerset in reply to the accusations of Sir Robert Phelips*. Rodney admitted that ‘I am sensible of the grievance of the country, but ... the reason that guided us to do as we did is the example of other countries’. He then tried to remind the Commons of ‘the king’s absolute power in Westminster, and ... the great power of kings in arms, all which transcends the law’; but his strongest argument was one of necessity; that faced with armed and hungry troops returning from the wars in France, ‘all we did was to make them subsist’.40
A week later Rodney supported John Baber*, the recorder of Wells, against particular charges brought by Phelips, that soldiers had been unlawfully billeted in the town. Rodney admitted that he and Robert Hopton* had ‘advised’ Baber to find lodgings for the troops, but claimed that none had been ‘forced to receive a soldier that had not a mind to it’.41 Baber was nonetheless suspended from the House; Rodney presented his petition for re-admittance on 29 May, and successfully moved it on 17 June.42 He spoke again on 15 May for two other colleagues, (Sir) John Stawell* and William Walrond, who were accused of billeting offences in Taunton. When he advised ‘two Members of the House’ to ‘use the same moderation here that they did at the committee’ for the arms bill, and ‘refuse to give their voices because they confess Sir John Stawell and they were enemies’, the Speaker interrupted him, ‘and said he could not suffer any man to give advice in the House to any Members’. Rodney settled the question of who should pay the serjeant’s fees for summoning Stawell and Walrond by saying ‘he would take order without further trouble to the House’.43 He was more in accord with Phelips over the high-prerogative sermons of Roger Manwaring, and on 14 May was added to the sub-committee to draw up charges against him.44 On 11 June, in committee of the whole House on the Remonstrance, he suggested that they present to the king ‘the unwillingness of the people to pay the loans, which appears by the small sums that then were raised’.45 However, after its reading on 16 June he protested against the inclusion of complaints about soldiers, saying ‘posterity will draw arguments of an ill consequence, that notwithstanding our petition and the king’s answer, yet the same Parliament sitting, it will appear that the soldiers have still continued, and so be a prejudice to our petition’.46
Rodney remained active in county administration, and was returned for Wells at both elections in 1640. In July 1642 he joined his friend and kinsman William Seymour, now 2nd earl of Hertford, with the royalist forces there.47 He was taken prisoner later in the year, but was commander of the Somerset posse comitatus in 1644, and was present at the surrender of Bristol, after which he petitioned to compound as having never borne arms, and was fined £1,200.48 He lamented that ‘till these wars’ he had ‘almost winded’ himself out of his debts. He suffered further imprisonment in Somerset, but devoted his last years to his studies, including the writing of a brief family history.49 This was intended for his only surviving son, who died in 1651, putting ‘the period to my name and family’.50 Rodney himself died on 25 May 1657, the day after making a will in which he left all his lands and goods to his wife, ‘for her own use and to such of her children as she shall think fit’.51 He was buried at Stoke, the last of his family to sit in Parliament.52
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. The Gen. n.s. xvii. 103-4.
- 2. Ibid. 103.
- 3. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
- 4. Collinson, Som. iii. 607.
- 5. The Gen. n.s. xvii. 104.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 144.
- 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 154.
- 8. Collinson, iii. 607.
- 9. C181/2, ff. 130, 246; 181/3, f. 186; 181/4, ff. 21, 172v; 181/5, f. 205.
- 10. C231/4, f. 13.
- 11. DCO, Letters and Warrants 1615-19, f. 107v; SC6/Jas.I/1684, unfol.
- 12. Wells Convocation Acts Bks. ed. A. Nott and J. Hasler (Som. Rec. Soc. xc), 333-4, 1003-4.
- 13. T.G. Barnes, Som. 1625-40, pp. 116n, 317.
- 14. Add. 37816 f. 23v; HCA 14/49 no. 346.
- 15. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 267.
- 16. Wells Convocation Acts Bks. 471.
- 17. C181/4, f. 2.
- 18. E178/7154, f. 168; 178/5614, ff. 7, 13; Som. and Dorset N and Q, iv. 107.
- 19. Wells Convocation Acts Bks. 606.
- 20. C181/5, f. 1.
- 21. C181/5, f. 183.
- 22. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 23. P.R. Newman, Royalist Officers in Eng. and Wales, 316.
- 24. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, i. 208.
- 25. LC3/1, unfol. (n.d.)
- 26. The Gen. n.s. xvii. 103.
- 27. Add. 11402, ff. 155-6.
- 28. HMC Downshire, iii. 90, 166; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 39, 74, 84, 92.
- 29. The Gen. n.s. xvii. 106.
- 30. Letters of Philip Gawdy ed. I.H. Jeayes, 176.
- 31. CJ, i. 551b.
- 32. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 50; CJ, i. 616a.
- 33. CD 1621, iii. 356.
- 34. Procs. 1625, pp. 228, 239.
- 35. Procs. 1626, iii. 347.
- 36. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 205, 214-15.
- 37. Add. 34239, ff. 45-51.
- 38. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 445.
- 39. CD 1628, ii. 78.
- 40. Ibid. 254.
- 41. Ibid. 375, 384-5.
- 42. Ibid. iv. 16, 350.
- 43. Ibid. iii. 422-3.
- 44. Ibid. 404, 411.
- 45. Ibid. iv. 243.
- 46. Ibid. 338.
- 47. R. Hopton, Bellum Civile ed. C.E.H. Chadwyck-Healey (Som. Rec. Soc. xviii), 2.
- 48. HMC 5th Rep. 75; CCC, 916; Som. Q. Sess. Recs. ed. E. Bates Harbin (Som. Rec. Soc. xxviii), p. xx.
- 49. D. Underdown, Som. in Civil War and Interregnum, 44-5; CSP Dom. 1650, pp. 338, 371; 1651, pp. 169, 194, 234.
- 50. The Gen. n.s. xvii. 106.
- 51. PROB 11/266, f. 168.
- 52. Collinson, Som. iii. 606-7.