CHOWNE, Henry (c.1613-68), of Horsham, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. c.1613, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Thomas Chowne (d.1639) of Place House, Alfriston by Rachel, da. of William Campion of Combwell, Goudhurst, Kent. m. 26 Apr. 1642, Barbara (bur. 29 Sept. 1688), da. of Thomas Middleton of Horsham, 7s. 1da. suc. nephew William 1651.1
Commr. for assessment, Suss. Aug. 1660-d., j.p. 1662-d.
Chowne came of a family settled in Kent since the early 15th century. His great-grandfather sat for Wilton in 1553 and for London in 1555, and his grandfather represented Rochester in 1593. His father sold the Kentish property and moved to Alfriston. The family played no part in the Civil War. As a younger son, Chowne was apprenticed to the father of Sir Robert Cordell, and by 1639 was acting as his factor at Smyrna, where he entertained George Courthope ‘very magnificently’. He succeeded to the family estate, which included property in Horsham, in 1651, but continued to hold stock in the East India Company, and later procured a post at Surat for his son.2
Chowne was involved in a double return for Horsham in 1659, but he was not allowed to sit, and the election was declared void. He is not known to have stood in 1660, but he succeeded his aged father-in-law in the following year, and was included in Lord Wharton’s list of friends. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was named to 33 committees, including those for the corporation bill, the bill against unlawful meetings of dissenters, the five mile bill and the preservation of prize goods. He twice claimed privilege: on 6 Dec. 1666 the House ordered a servant of a hackney coachman into custody ‘for his affront and abuse offered to Dr [Thomas] Burwell, Mr [Edward] Rigby, and Mr Chowne ... and for uttering reproachful words tending to the dishonour of the House’. No more appears in the Journals. On 14 Jan. of the next year he petitioned for relief against Thomas White, ‘an attorney who had arrested him at the church on a Sunday (for £10,000) for words’ which Chowne had supposedly spoken. The case occasioned considerable debate about whether privilege had been violated, the arrest having taken place when Parliament was not in session, but the House found in Chowne’s favour and fined White £1,000. On 28 Jan. 1667 he acted as teller against disposing, for rebuilding other churches, of the materials and sites of London churches not to be rebuilt after the Great Fire. Clearly a high churchman, his only recorded speech attacked the comprehension measures sponsored by Lord Keeper Bridgeman:
Mr Chowne made a long formal speech in which he told them that they were all born within the church; had received their rights and dues from the church; what then should cause them to dissent and separate from their mother? It was the devil that first moved them to dissent, and then a rebellious Parliament that did countenance and justify them in that rebellion, to the spilling of the blood of his sacred Majesty. It was this pretended conscience that murdered the King, dissolved the Parliament and enslaved the liberty of the nation, and that did tyrannize over the orthodox clergy.
Chowne was buried at Horsham on 22 Oct. 1668, and Bridgeman’s son was returned at the by-election. Chowne’s grandson Thomas was returned for Seaford as a Tory in 1702 and 1710.3
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: B. M. Crook / Basil Duke Henning
- 1. The Gen. n.s. xxiv. 73-78; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 168; (lxxxix), 24-25; Add. 5698, pp. 302, 407; PCC 64 Harvey, 280 Brent, 166 Hene.