HOBY, Edward (1560-1617), of Bisham, Berks. and Queenborough Castle, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 1560, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Hoby by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Anthony Cooke of Gidea Hall, Essex; bro. of Thomas Posthumous Hoby. educ. Eton; Trinity Coll., Oxf. 1574, BA Feb. 1576, MA July 1576; travelled abroad 1576-9; M. Temple 1584. m. (1) 1582, Margaret (d.1605), da. of Henry Carey†, 1st Baron Hunsdon, s.p.; (2) aft. 1613, Cicely, da. of Sir Edward Unton, wid. of John Wentworth of Gosfield Hall, Essex, s.p., at least 1s. illegit. suc. fa. 1566. Kntd. 1582.
J.p. Berks., Kent, Worcs. from c.1583, Mdx. from c.1593, Surr. from c.1601; v.-adm. hundred of Milton 1585; custos. rot. Kent c.1594; constable, Queenborough castle 1597; kt. of canopy at Queen’s funeral 1603; gent. of privy chamber 1605.3
Hoby was only six when his father died, and the widow was allowed to buy her son’s wardship. He succeeded to lands in Berkshire and Worcestershire valued at nearly £220 a year. Related through his mother to the Cecils and Cookes and married into the Careys, he had opportunity of advancement at court. There is no evidence that he shared the puritanism of his younger brother Thomas Posthumous (although he wrote several tracts against the Catholics), but he had his share of the family pride and tactlessness, quarrelling with Walsingham, Heneage and Sir Humphrey Gilbert. On at least one occasion, when Burghley lost patience with him, his mother made him write a letter of apology. It was his mother, in fact, one of the best-educated women in England, who prepared him for a court career. After Eton (where he became a close friend of the Queen’s godson John Harington) and Oxford, he travelled on the Continent. The appointment of a Mr. Hobbie to a House of Commons committee on 4 Mar. 1581 suggests that he had come back to England and been returned to Parliament at a by-election, probably for Berkshire, where the death of William Norris in 1579 had created a vacancy. About this time he became involved in land disputes with Sir John Conway and others over his estates at Uffenham and elsewhere. On 22 May 1582, the day after his marriage, the Queen knighted him at Somerset House in London.4
His first experience of government service came in August 1584, when he accompanied his father-in-law Lord Hunsdon on a mission to Scotland, and made himself too agreeable to James VI for Elizabeth’s liking. Hoby had to have a diplomatic attack of ague to excuse him from court for some time.5
During the next few years he was active in the Isle of Sheppey, where he was responsible for the defences. He wrote to Burghley on behalf of the islanders against the ‘oppression’ of royal purveyors (anticipating his activity in the Parliament of 1589), and served as a grain commissioner and j.p. His wife’s health was at this time causing him anxiety, and in December 1586 Burghley advised him to come from Sheppey to Bisham, where his mother was still living. Hoby had just obtained a crown lease of the manor of Shurland in Sheppey, but he does not seem to have found it profitable: early in James I’s reign, when he owed the King over £500 rent, he exchanged the property for fee farm rents from lands in Kent and Buckinghamshire. Besides his other property in Kent, he leased the manor of Upbury and rectory of Gillingham from Brasenose College, Oxford. Again he proved a defaulting tenant, and after a case brought by the college in 1593, he was required to pay about £500 arrears. Hoby had considerable electoral influence at Queenborough both before and after he obtained the appointment of constable of the castle, an office for which he had pestered Burghley for six years.6
After his temporary lapse, Hoby quickly recovered the Queen’s favour. At the time of the Armada he was chosen to report to her on the defence preparations, and in 1592 she visited him at Bisham, where James I was to be a frequent guest. Between 1594 and 1598 he received several valuable royal grants, including a patent to buy wool in several counties (confirmed, on his accession, by James I), and the right to half the forfeitures from the prosecutions of those who through his information were convicted of illegally exporting iron. In August 1595 he and Sir George Carew were appointed to re-organize the records in the heralds’ office.7
Returned at a by-election for Queenborough in 1584, Hoby sat in every remaining Parliament of Elizabeth’s reign, and found seats for a number of his friends and relatives. He was not particularly active in his first Parliament, his only committee in 1581 being that concerning Dover harbour (4 Mar.). In his second Parliament he was again appointed to only one committee, concerning grain and game (4 Mar. 1585), and he made no impression on the surviving records of the 1586 Parliament. In the remaining Parliaments of the reign he was a frequent speaker and an active committee-man.
In 1589 Hoby was at the centre of a storm in the Commons concerning liberty of speech. On Friday 14 Feb. he had introduced a bill against extortions practised by Exchequer officials, one of the two great matters in this Parliament touching the royal prerogative. The next day he demanded
that speeches used in this House by members of the same be not any of them made or used as table-talk, or in any wise delivered in notes of writing to any person or persons whatsoever not being members of this House, as of late (it is thought) hath been done in this present session.
Two days later he was more precise:
Sir Edward Hoby showed with his great grief that since the last sitting of this House he hath been of some great personage (being no member of this House) [i.e. Burghley] very sharply remonstrated for some his speeches delivered in this House by him upon Friday last.
Hoby claimed that his speeches had been misrepresented to the said ‘great personage’, and that the whole episode constituted a breach of the liberties of the House. On 18 Feb. he was cleared by the House
of any such speeches touching the higher officers of the Exchequer as he had been charged with and rebuked for. And the whole residue of their arguments show no misliking at all of his similes or words used in the setting forth of the said bill.
Hoby’s plan for the reform of the Exchequer was defeated by the Queen, who classed him among those who had been ‘busy’ against her prerogative, but bore him no lasting ill-will.
He introduced a motion concerning returns and was appointed to the ensuing committee (8 Feb. 1589). He was also appointed to the committee for the Roger Puleston II privilege case (12 Feb.), and to committees concerning a private bill (22 Feb.), Tonbridge grammar school (22 Feb.), a legal matter (22 Feb.), purveyors (27 Feb.), Hartlepool pier (28 Feb.), Dover pier (5 Mar.) and the city of Lincoln (7 Mar.).
In 1593 he insulted (Sir) Thomas Heneage at a committee meeting, for which he earned a public rebuke from the Queen and was for a short time either imprisoned or placed under house arrest. His committee work during this session concerned privilege and returns (26 Feb.), recusancy (28 Feb.), the subsidy (26 Feb., 1 Mar.), a legal matter (9 Mar.), poor relief (12 Mar.) and kerseys (23 Mar.). On 1 Mar. Hoby spoke in support of Thomas Fitzherbert’s request for privilege, resting his case on his interpretation of ‘idoneus’:
The party outlawed is not out of his wits, therefore capable; and then is a man able to be chosen and idoneus to be a burgess.
He spoke concerning cases of privilege (6, 7 Mar.) and reported a private bill (14 Mar.).
During the 1597 Parliament his committee work embraced privileges and returns (5 Nov.), enclosures (5 Nov.), penal laws (8 Nov.), private bills (8 Nov., 16 Jan. 3598), 1598), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), the subsidy (11 Nov.), marriage without banns (14 Nov.), ecclesiastical causes (a6 Nov.), legal matters (26 Nov., 2 Dec., 11 Jan. 1598, 14 Jan.), the poor law (12 Jan.), the bishopric of Norwich (16 Jan.), defence (16 Jan.), and excess of apparel (19 Jan.). According to John Hare, Hoby made some novel proposals during a subsidy debate (probably on 15 Nov. 1597), among them that the Queen should receive a yearly payment from the Commons. He was an active speaker on questions of privilege and returns, being one of those negotiating with the lord keeper on the Thomas Knyvet I privilege case (8, 9 Nov.). He also spoke on ecclesiastical affairs (16 Nov.), Oxford and Cambridge colleges (19 Nov.), the deprivation of Marian bishops (24 Nov.), a legal matter (17 Dec.), and a private matter (16Jan. (16 Jan. 1598) and reported bills on forgery (24 (22 Nov.) and Warwick hospital (2 Dec.).
Hoby was exceptionally active in 1601. He was put in charge of the main privilege and returns committee and emerged as a champion of the liberties of the House. On 5 Nov. he took Sir Robert Cecil to task over an unfortunate phrase he had just employed:
For he said, ‘Mr. Mr. Speaker shall attend my lord keeper.’ Attend ? Attend? It is well known that the Speaker of the House is the mouth of the whole realm, and that the whole state whole state of the commonalty of a kingdom should attend one person, I see no reason. I refer it to the consideration of the House: only this proposition I hold, that our Speaker is to be commanded by none, neither to attend any, but the Queen only.
On 13 Nov. he urged the House to protect its privilege in the matter of the Denbighshire election:
There is no court that doth cloth not observe his rites and follow his privileges, much more this high court of Parliament, being the greatest and commander of all other courts, doth cloth and ought to observe the same most strictly. And all the precedents which I have seen and observed touching this point have ever gone to the clerk of the Crown and to none other.
On 14 Nov. he reported the committee appointed to consider precedems precedents in the issuing of writs. He was an active speaker and committeeman in individual cases of privilege throughout the Parliament, and on one occasion spoke to request privilege for his own servant, Bird (10 Dec.).
Hoby moved for an abridgement of the penal laws on 2 Nov. 16or 1601 and was appointed to the committee on the same day. Some of his other committee work during the Parliament concerned horse stealing (3 Nov.), the main order of business committee (3 Nov.), the poor law (5 Nov.), Exchequer reform (9 Nov.), legal matters (13 Nov.), St. Bartholomew’s hospital (17 Nov.), charitable uses (28 Nov.), the vicarage of Rotherstone (2 Dec.) and fustians (4 Dec.). He was also active in debate, speaking on legal matters (11, 20 Nov.), the poor (1 Dec.), and the subsidy (5 Dec.). On 11 Nov. he intervened to object to the London Members being appointed to a committee, on the grounds that they had previously spoken against the body of the bill. On 12 Dec., at the division on the bill for church attendance, Hoby and the ayes attempted to prove the Speaker’s right to vote, hoping by this device to equalize the numbers and save the bill. Sir Walter Ralegh opposed him on this point. He was appointed to the monopolies committee on 20 Nov., and became involved in the debate on the royal prerogative (8 Dec.) over the question of iron ordnance:
So I say, this bill is an excellent bill, the matter foul, the request and remedy good and honest, but this is not our means of redress our means of redress. ... This is a matter of prerogative, and this and this is no place.
Notwithstanding, the Commons proceeded by bill and on 15 Dec. called to have the bill read and sent up to the Lords. Again Hoby intervened, in a second attempt to delay legislation which might have affected adversely his own grant:
I am given to understand, and I know it to be true, for I saw it, that the Lords have a bill in their House touching transportation of ordnance, far more larger in matter and more stricter in punishment than ours is. And where we stand so much upon the words ‘without licence’ and spend time therein, they make no such scruple, but put it absolute.
He also claimed to have inside information that the patentee (Sir Henry Neville II) had surrendered his monopoly. He concluded:
Now my motion is this, I know their bill is coming and that the Parliament will be short. If we shall read ours and they send theirs, this will breed disputation, perhaps confusion, and so, in so good and necessary a cause, nothing done, but both neglected. Therefore my desire is, we may tarry for theirs.
Hoby had made Cecil smart on 5 Nov. A fit of pique only two days later gave Cecil an opportunity to turn the tables on him. It would appear that Hoby had entered the House on the afternoon of the 7th to find that his accustomed place by the Speaker’s chair had been taken. As no one offered to make room for him, he was obliged to take a seat by the door. The subsidy debate was in progress, and Sir Walter Ralegh spoke sitting. Hoby, by the door, found it diffacult difficult to hear and said so. ‘We cannot hear you, speak out, you should speak standing so that the House might better hear you.’ Ralegh retorted that as the House was in committee he was entitled to speak sitting or standing. Cecil spoke next, first explaining ‘Because it is a matter of more reverence, I choose to speak standing’ and closing with words nicely chosen to complete Hoby’s discomfiture:
If there be any that sits next the door that desires to sit next the chair to give his opinion, I will not only give him my place, but thank him to take my charge.8
Camden dedicated his Hibernia to Hoby, who had a number of acquaintances among the young literary men about the Earl of Essex. Hoby also served under Essex in the Cadiz expedition, his only known military exploit, but his connexions with the Cecils prevented him from becoming too closely involved with the Essex circle. James I, in whose first two Parliaments he sat, made him a gentleman of the privy chamber, and Hoby retained the royal favour until his death on 1 Mar. 1617 at Queenborough. He was buried at Bisham.9
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Authors: J.C.H. / M.A.P.
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. DNB; Rylands Eng. ms 311; Wards 9/138/603; Harl. 474; Add. 38823, ff. 30, 34 et passim; PRO ms index of patent rolls; C66/1421; LC2/4/4.
- 4. Wards 9/638, f. 603; CPR, 1566-9, p. 127; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 213, 365; Lansd. 33, f. 203; 43, f. 34; 68, f. 230; 72, f. 222; Rylands Eng. ms 311; Harington, Orlando Furioso (ed. 1607), 393; Oxf. Univ. Reg. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. x), ii(1), p. 69; CJ, i. 131.
- 5. CSP Scot. 1584-5, pp. 483, 485; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 213.
- 6. Lansd. 42, f. 21; 48, f. 136 seq.; 51, f. 47; 69, ff. 19, 23 seq.; 75, ff. 20-30 passim; 78, f. 38; PRO Index 6800, f. 65; 6801 passim; and QUEENBOROUGH.
- 7. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 503; 1595-7, p. 523; 1603-10, pp. 186, 368; Nichols, Progresses Eliz. iii. 130-6; DNB ; PRO Index 6801 passim; Archaeologia, xii. 401-3.
- 8. C219/284/4; Neale, Parlts. ii. 203, 207-8, 218, 278, 314, 359-61, 397, 404, 411-12, 419-21; D’Ewes, 363, 364, 430, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 440, 442, 445, 447, 450, 471, 477, 480, 481, 486, 489, 490, 499, 500, 502, 539, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 559, 560, 561, 562, 563, 566, 567, 570, 572, 577, 579, 580, 581, 583, 609, 610, 622, 623, 624, 625, 626, 627, 628, 629, 630, 631, 634, 635, 636, 637, 638, 641, 647, 649, 651, 657, 658, 661, 662, 665, 668, 669-70, 672, 673, 677, 683, 686, 687, 688; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 63, 67, 68, 70, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 109, 119, 120, 137, 138, 180, 185, 186, 191, 193, 196, 198, 207, 208, 211, 212, 213, 214, 221, 225, 226, 228, 236, 269, 285, 287, 289, 290, 291, 295, 298, 299, 304, 309, 321, 324, 326, 327, 329, 333; Bull. 1HR, xii. 13, 19.
- 9. Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, ii. 54; PCC 24 Weldon; DNB.