ANNESLEY, Sir Francis (by 1584-1660), of Fishamble Street, Dublin; later of Thorganby, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. by 1584, 1st s. of Robert Annesley of Rathverd, co. Limerick, Ire. and Newport Pagnell, Bucks. and Beatrice, da. of John Cornwall of Moor Park, Herts.1 educ. L. Inn 1628.2 m. (1) c.1608, Dorothy (d. 3 May 1624), da. of Sir John Philipps† of Picton, Pemb. 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 8da. (at least 2 d.v.p.);3 (2) 16 Jan. 1628 (with c.£6,000), Jane (d. 12 Mar. 1684), da. of Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbys., wid. of Sir Peter Courteen (d.1624) of Aldington, Worcs. 7s. (at least 1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. aft. 1619;5 kntd. 18 July 1616;6 cr. bt. 7 Aug. 1620,7 Bar. Mountnorris [I] 8 Feb. 1629,8 Visct. Valentia [I] 26 May 1642.9 bur. 23 Nov. 1660. sig. Fra[ncis] Annesley.

Offices Held

Comptroller of Works [I] 1606-36;10 clerk of the Tallies and Pells [I] 1612-25;11 clerk of the cheque of the army [I] 1612-18;12 principal sec. of state [I] (jt.) 1616-34;13 PC [I] 1616-36;14 member, Ct. of Castle Chamber [I] by 1620;15 commr. inquiry [I] 1622-3;16 v.-treas. and recvr.-gen. [I] 1625-36;17 treas. at wars [I] 1632-6.18

Clerk, council of Munster [I] 1607-11 (jt.);19 provost-marshal, Connaught [I], 1609-?36;20 patentee, escheated lands, co. Wexford 1610;21 constable, Mountnorris, co. Armagh 1612-26;22 muster-master gen. [I] 1612-18;23 freeman, Newburgh, co. Wexford 1619;24 commr. plantation, co. Longford 1619, Ulster [I] 1622,25 native Irish on undertakers’ lands, cos. Tyrone and Armagh 1623,26 musters, [I] 1625,27 Irish affairs 1627;28 steward, Newport Pagnell, Bucks. 1627;29 commr. sale of French prizes, Leinster 1628,30 royal arrears [I] 1629,31 accts. of auditor-gen., [I] 1630;32 farmer (jt.), customs [I] 1632-6;33 member, council of Cork, co. Cork 1634;34 commr. militia, Yorks. 1648.35

Esq. of the body by 1613.36

MP [I], 1613-15.37

Capt. of ft. [I] ?1627-35.38

Member, Fishery Soc. 1632.39


From humble beginnings, Sir Francis Annesley became one of the most important officials in the English administration in early Stuart Ireland. An astute and pragmatic politician, he attained these heights through the assiduous cultivation of patrons both in Dublin and London, political skills which Clarendon (Edward Hyde†) disparaged as mere ‘servile flattery’.40 Although a committed Calvinist who counselled his daughter to ‘labour that every morning your first thoughts may reach heaven’, his own character was described as ‘scandalous ... [and] extremely given to good fellowship’, with a penchant for gaming.41 It was these qualities of sociability and ambition which facilitated Annesley’s political rise, and ultimately also led to his fall.

The Annesley family traced their origins to Nottinghamshire. Sir Francis was descended from a branch settled at Ruddington, which, under the Tudors, moved to Newport Pagnell, in Buckinghamshire.42 His father is sometimes misidentified as Thomas Annesley, high constable of Newport Pagnell, but he was in fact Thomas’s brother Robert, a captain in the force which suppressed the earl of Desmond’s rebellion in Ireland in the 1580s.43 Robert subsequently took advantage of the opportunities offered to ambitious Englishmen in Ireland, securing a grant of 2,600 acres of former Desmond estates in Limerick.44 The future MP was probably born in Ireland by 1584, as he must have been aged 21 on being granted a wardship on 1 Feb. 1605. It was probably a cousin of the same name who was baptized at Newport Pagnell in January 1586.45

In around 1606 Annesley joined the household of the new lord deputy, Arthur Chichester. Clarendon suggests that he initially occupied a menial post,46 but he quickly secured several positions, almost certainly under Chichester’s patronage. In September 1608 the lord deputy recommended Annesley to lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) as one who had ‘long attended me and done me faithful service’; he later described Annesley as ‘an honest and trusty servant to me’.47 At around this time, Annesley married a granddaughter of Chichester’s late father-in-law, the Elizabethan lord deputy Sir John Perrot†. Like many New English settlers, Annesley took advantage of the Jacobean plantations of Ulster and Wexford to expand his estates.48 In 1612 he was granted 480 acres in co. Tyrone, undertaking to build a ‘substantial English house’ in a fortified plot at Dungannon.49 He also acquired other lands in Armagh, and 1,000 acres in co. Wexford.50

In Dublin, Annesley belonged to an influential group of New English colonists which included Sir Charles Wilmot* and Richard Boyle, whom he described in 1613 as ‘one of my principal friends’.51 Being well aware that ‘it is the life of the endeavours of His Majesty’s servants here [Ireland] to have patronage and supportation’, he also cultivated relations with King James’s secretary for Irish affairs, (Sir) Humphrey May*.52 In May 1612 his efforts yielded a major reward, when James sent him to Dublin with new rules bringing the Irish Exchequer into line with English practices. Upon a royal recommendation, Annesley was appointed clerk of the Pells, in charge of issues from the Irish Exchequer, a position which brought him both personal profit and political influence.53 In the following year he was returned to the Irish Parliament for the New English borough of Lismore. Protests by Catholic Old English MPs led to the disenfranchisement of the borough, which had obtained its charter after the issue of the writ of summons, whereupon Annesley was returned for co. Armagh at a by-election in 1614.54 The English Privy Council subsequently had him carry the most important piece of legislation, the subsidy bill, to Dublin.55

Salisbury’s death led Annesley to ingratiate himself with the Howard faction at the English Court: in 1613 Chichester thanked Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Suffolk, for obtaining Annesley a position as esquire of the body to King James.56 Chichester’s recall to England in 1615 left Annesley in a precarious position, but, perhaps with advice from May, or his sister, a member of Anne of Denmark’s Household, he attached himself at an early stage to the new royal favourite, George Villiers. This affiliation helped him secure a knighthood in July 1616, and three months later he was appointed to the Irish Privy Council as one of the secretaries of state.57 In 1620 Villiers, now marquess of Buckingham, procured one of the first Irish baronetcies for Annesley, who paid £300 for the honour, while in 1622 Annesley received a reversionary grant of an Irish viscountcy, although he did not succeed to the title until 1642.58

Buckingham initially posed as a reformer of the corrupt practices of the Howard years, in the spirit of which Annesley sent a memorandum about ‘inconveniences in Ireland’ to the new lord treasurer, (Sir) Lionel Cranfield*.59 As a key Exchequer official, Annesley was appointed to the Irish reform commission of 1622, although he (and Buckingham) had much to lose from retrenchment. He was quickly compromised by revelations about Edward Wray’s patent for collecting fines in Ulster, and annoyed Buckingham by signing a report criticizing Wray’s project. He responded that he had only signed under duress when confronted by the commission’s chairman, (Sir) William Jones I*, and protested himself ‘the ungratefullest man living if my heart or hand should willingly consent to anything that might give you ... the least occasion of dislike’.60 When Cranfield’s pursuit of reform continued to clash with Buckingham’s interest, Annesley had no doubt about where his loyalties lay. Indeed, it has been suggested that he was involved in bringing Irish evidence to England for use in Cranfield’s impeachment in 1624.61

Charles’s accession brought further advancement for Annesley. In July 1625, following the death of Sir Francis Blundell*, who had handled much Irish business for Buckingham, now a duke, Annesley became vice-treasurer and receiver-general of Ireland.62 Meanwhile, Annesley secured a seat in the English House of Commons in 1625, representing Carmarthen Boroughs, an area where his recently deceased first wife’s family had interests. He may have sought election because of difficulties with the new lord deputy, Viscount Falkland (Sir Henry Carey I*), who had earlier suspected that Annesley was ‘employed doing him ill in England’; attendance at the Parliament provided him with a suitable pretext for travelling to London.63 There again, as part of the English subsidy receipts voted in 1624 were appropriated to the defence of Ireland, a matter likely to be scrutinized in the next session, Charles and Buckingham may have believed the presence of an Irish Exchequer official would be useful in answering such questions. In the event, the expenditure of the 1624 subsidies was not seriously investigated, and Annesley played no recorded part in the Commons’ debates, perhaps because he had been elected on a double return, a matter which remained unresolved at the dissolution.64

Annesley appears to have spent a good deal of time in England in 1626-8, advising the Privy Council committee for Irish affairs as well as being appointed to a body which counselled the king in negotiations over concessions, or ‘graces’, to the Irish Catholics.65 He also kept a watchful eye over his family’s interests in Buckinghamshire: In 1627 he paid £1,181 for a reversion of the manor of Newport Pagnell, which included lands that ‘had been held there by his ancestors for many descents successively’.66 The negotiations over this purchase provided an excellent opportunity for him to advance the Crown’s interests in the county, and it was noted in February 1627 that he was promoting the Forced Loan there.67

Annesley’s re-election to the Commons in 1628 swelled the number of Buckingham’s supporters, and also provided an authoritative voice if the delicate matter of the graces (which were being negotiated concurrently) were raised in the House. He initially approached secretary of state Sir Edward Conway I* for patronage, who used his position as lord lieutenant of Hampshire to recommend him at Southampton.68 This, however, crossed the ambitions of Sir Henry Whithead*, but Annesley’s old acquaintance Sir Humphrey May eventually found him a seat at Newton, Lancashire on the duchy of Lancaster interest, along with another prominent Irish official and Buckingham client, Sir Henry Holcroft*.69

Annesley was most prominent in Parliament in 1628 when his two primary interests - Buckingham and Ireland - were on the agenda. On 4 Apr. he advocated a large grant of five subsidies towards the war increasingly identified as the duke’s personal crusade.70 Buckingham faced personal attacks after the king’s first, unsatisfactory answer to the Petition of Right, and on 5 June Annesley responded by accusing the duke’s opponents of speaking against him in general terms, ‘but nothing proved’.71 Four days later he rejected Edward Kirton’s accusation that worthy men had been neglected by the duke, insisting once again that MPs should ‘not accuse generals without particulars’.72 Buckingham’s support for Arminianism came under attack on 11 June, when Annesley pointed to the duke’s sponsorship of the impeccably Calvinist Irish Primate, Archbishop Ussher.73 Meanwhile, on 6 June, Pym raised the question of the Irish graces, protesting that the terms under discussion amounted to a toleration of Catholicism, and that military commands in Ireland had been given to papists. Annesley responded that, while Irish Catholics had sought a toleration, ‘they missed it’. He also maintained that he was unaware of any popish commanders in Ireland, an assertion quickly repudiated by Sir James Perrot.74

During the session Annesley also became involved in the case brought by Sir John Eliot* against another Buckingham client, John, Lord Mohun*, who later appointed Annesley as guardian of his children in the event of his death.75 Annesley was named to the committee which considered a petition against Mohun’s interference in the Cornish election (16 Apr.) and also acted as an intermediary between Mohun and the Commons during the examination of this matter (28-30 May).76 Having attended a controversial sermon preached by Roger Manwaring at St. Giles-in-the-Fields on 4 May, Annesley was examined regarding its content, reporting that he and some others ‘misliked’ the political inferences Manwaring drew from Biblical examples.77 During the autumn of 1628, Annesley helped the Privy Council prepare the agenda for a summons of the Irish Parliament, which never took place.78 He left almost no trace on the 1629 session of the English Parliament, being named to a single committee considering John Rolle’s* account of the seizure of his goods for non-payment of Tunnage and Poundage (22 January).79

Buckingham’s assassination in August 1628 robbed Annesley of his chief advocate against lord deputy Falkland, but he was nothing if not adaptable, and his advice on Irish matters in 1628-9 led the king to declare ‘that he would not have him suffer any prejudice or dislike in anything appertaining to him’; he was also elevated to an Irish barony in February 1629.80 Such royal support must have helped Annesley retain his Irish offices in the face of Falkland’s campaign to remove him, which was supported by a group of New English landowners including his former associate Richard Boyle, now earl of Cork, who accused him of slander and corruption.81 As ever, Annesley weathered these storms by cultivating support in England. Clarendon later recalled that Annesley had always ‘wrought himself into trust and nearness with all [lords] deputies at their first entering their charge’, and he continued this trend after Falkland was replaced by Sir Thomas Wentworth* (now Lord Wentworth). 82 However, Annesley’s share in the Irish customs farm and his position in the Irish Exchequer hindered Wentworth’s desire to control the country’s financial administration.83 This led to the most notorious incident in Annesley’s life, an outburst in 1635 about the lord deputy’s treatment of his family. Wentworth responded with an inquiry into Annesley’s misconduct, and the Irish Council of War stripped him of his offices and sentenced him to death. Although the sentence was commuted, Annesley spent the rest of the 1630s in the political wilderness, and was denied the ability to appeal to the English authorities, despite private approaches to the king and queen by his wife and daughters.84

The calling of the Long Parliament allowed Annesley to petition the Commons for justice. However, though the proceedings against him were declared illegal, his offices were not restored.85 With astonishing effrontery, Annesley wrote to Wentworth, now earl of Strafford, on the day before the latter’s execution, mingling consolation and forgiveness with a request that Strafford intercede with Charles to obtain a restoration of his offices.86 Annesley was in London when the Irish Rebellion broke out in October 1641, and was one of those who petitioned Parliament to save their estates.87 He remained in London for most of 1642, acting as an intermediary between the English Commons and the earl of Ormonde, but appeared at Nottingham three days after Charles raised his standard there, presumably lobbying for restoration to his former offices. He subsequently became a parliamentarian, and was a moderate Presbyterian by the end of the Civil War.88

Annesley estimated that his treatment by Strafford and the ‘horrid rebellion’ in Ireland had cost him £20,000.89 After the Civil War he found refuge at his daughter-in-law’s house at Thorganby, Yorkshire;90 he was later accused of withholding the estate’s profits from his eldest son Arthur†, who played a prominent part in the politics of the Interregnum.91 Annesley died at Thorganby shortly after the Restoration. Having previously conveyed his lands and assets to Arthur, he left no will or administration.92

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Lloyd Bowen / Simon Healy


  • 1. Oxon. RO, E/6/7/4D/1; Irish Fiants of Tudor Sovereigns ed. K. Nicholls, iii. 89-90; J. Lodge, Peerage of Ire. (1754), ii. 273.
  • 2. LI Admiss. i. 206.
  • 3. Lodge, ii. 281-3.
  • 4. C2/Chas.I/P63/28, f. 2; SP63/250/1586; Lodge, ii. 283-4.
  • 5. C3/299/13.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 158.
  • 7. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 474a, 499a.
  • 8. CPR and CCR Ire. 1625-33, p. 440.
  • 9. Annesley was awarded the title in reversion in March 1622, and succeeded to the viscountcy after the death of Sir Henry Power: C66/2253/8; J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, iv. 657.
  • 10. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 90b.
  • 11. Ibid. 230a; Harl. 2138, ff. 60-1; CPR and CCR Ire. 1625-33, p. 45; CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 11.
  • 12. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 237a, 249b, 366b; R. Lascelles, Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniae, i. (pt. 2), p. 99; CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 193.
  • 13. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 368b; Sentence of the Councell of Warre ... Against the Lord Mountnorris (1641), p. 12.
  • 14. Carew Letters ed. J. Maclean (Cam. Soc. lxxvi), 69; Lismore Pprs. (ser. 1) ed. A.B. Grosart, iv. 155.
  • 15. HMC Egmont, i. 59.
  • 16. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/Hi212; Add. 4756, f. 100.
  • 17. C66/2359/3; CPR and CCR Ire. 1625-33, p. 34.
  • 18. Lascelles, i. (pt. 2), p. 45.
  • 19. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 101a; Lascelles, i. (pt. 2), p. 187.
  • 20. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 153b; CSP Ire. 1608-10, p. 252.
  • 21. CSP Carew 1603-24, p. 54.
  • 22. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 238b.
  • 23. Ibid. 237a, 249a, 366b; Lascelles, i. (pt. 2), p. 99.
  • 24. Lodge, ii. 276.
  • 25. Ibid.; CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 353.
  • 26. CSP Ire. 1615-25, pp. 439, 483; APC, 1623-5, p. 145.
  • 27. Lascelles, i. (pt. 2), p. 99; CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 50.
  • 28. Oxon. RO, E/6/1/1L/2; Act Book of Christ Church, 155.
  • 29. F.W. Bull, Hist. Newport Pagnell, 54.
  • 30. CSP Ire. Addenda 1625-60, p. 131; APC, 1627, p. 460.
  • 31. CSP Ire. Addenda 1625-60, p. 138.
  • 32. CSP Ire. 1625-32, pp. 566, 571-2.
  • 33. C54/2992/31; H.F. Kearney, Strafford in Ire. 37, 163-4.
  • 34. Council Bk. of Corp. of City of Cork, 1609-43, 1690-1800 ed. R. Caulfield, 165.
  • 35. A. and O. i. 1141, 1245.
  • 36. Bodl. Clarendon 2, ff. 19, 64v.
  • 37. CJ [I], i. 5, 11.
  • 38. SO1/1, f. 54v; Sentence of the Councell of Warr, 14.
  • 39. SP16/221/1; 16/231/15.
  • 40. Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, i. 294.
  • 41. P. Little, ‘Providence and Prosperity: a Letter from Lord Mountnorris to his Daughter’, Irish Hist. Studs. xxxiii; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 403; Works of Abp. Laud ed. J. Bliss, vii. 237.
  • 42. HP Commons 1386-1422, iii. 22; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 141-2; G. Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 280; Univ. London, Goldsmiths ms 195/1, f. 44.
  • 43. C2/Jas.I/A9/23, f. 2; 3/399/13.
  • 44. Lodge, ii. 273; CSP Ire. 1592-6, p. 56; Irish Fiants ed. Nicholls, iii. 89-90; M. MacCarthy-Morrogh, The Munster Plantation, 245.
  • 45. Repertory of the Inrolments on the Pat. Rolls of Chancery in Ire. ed. J.C. Erck, i. 154; Cent. Bucks. Stud. Newport Pagnell par. reg.
  • 46. Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion, i. 294. Another source referred to him as Chichester’s ‘butler’: N and Q (ser. 2), i. 325.
  • 47. SP63/255/198, 63/227/150.
  • 48. CSP Ire. 1608-10, pp. 367, 428; 1611-14, p. 130; CSP Carew, 1603-24, pp. 54, 327; Add. 4756, ff. 113v, 123v.
  • 49. HMC Hastings, iv. 179; ‘Ulster Plantation Pprs. 1608-13’, Analecta Hib. viii. 214; CPR Ire. Jas. I, 207a.
  • 50. Lodge, ii. 274.
  • 51. Lismore Pprs. (ser. 2), i. 158; Bodl. Clarendon 2, f. 57.
  • 52. CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 184; Bodl. Clarendon 2, passim.
  • 53. Harl. 2138, ff. 60-1.
  • 54. CSP Ire. 1611-14, pp. 405, 498; CJ [I], i. 5, 11.
  • 55. Bodl. Clarendon 2, f. 47.
  • 56. Ibid. ff. 9, 19; V.L. Rutledge, ‘Court Castle Faction and the Irish Viceroyalty’, Irish Hist. Studs. xxvi. 238.
  • 57. Carew Letters, 69; Lascelles, i. (pt. 2), p. 82; Sentence of the Councell of Warr, 12.
  • 58. CCSP, i. 15; Lodge, iv. 276-7; V. Treadwell, Buckingham and Ire. 106, 114.
  • 59. HMC 4th Rep. 316.
  • 60. Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc., n.s. i), 183-5; Treadwell, 202-3.
  • 61. Treadwell, 233, 255.
  • 62. SP63/241/46; CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 30.
  • 63. CSP Ire. 1625-32, pp. 489, 578; HMC Laing, i. 166.
  • 65. SO1/1, f. 1v; Treadwell, 260.
  • 66. Univ. London, Goldsmiths ms 195/1, f. 44; C66/2425/7; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 271; E401/1913, unfol.; SP16/69, f. 33r-v.
  • 67. SP16/69, f. 33.
  • 68. SP63/243/419; CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 54.
  • 69. Procs. 1628, vi. 165-6; C219/41A/31.
  • 70. CD1628, ii. 307-8; Procs. 1628, vi. 62.
  • 71. CD 1628, iv. 121, 127, 133; Procs. 1628. vi. 246.
  • 72. CD 1628, iv. 171.
  • 73. Ibid. 254.
  • 74. Ibid. 144-5, 157; Treadwell, 285-6.
  • 75. C66/2462/36; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 199.
  • 76. CJ, i. 884a, 906a, 906b, 907a; CD1628, iv. 6, 8, 11, 15, 28.
  • 77. CJ, i. 907b, 911a; CD1628, iv. 608-9, 615.
  • 78. APC, 1628-9, pp. 107, 115, 192; CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 378. In 1634 it was noted that Annesley advised the Irish Commons ‘out of such scraps as he had gotten from the parliaments of England.’: Strafforde Letters, i. 349.
  • 79. CJ, i. 921a.
  • 80. Add. 44919, f. 73; Kearney, 11-14; CSP Ire. Addenda, 1625-60, p. 126.
  • 81. Kearney, 11-14; CSP Ire. 1625-32, pp. 522, 564, 599, 657-8; Add. 64897, ff. 114r-v; Sloane 3827, f. 171.
  • 82. Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion, i. 294; Kearney, 27; SCL, WWM, Strafford Pprs. 1/43, 46, 60-2,63, 69v-70; Strafforde Letters, i. 73-4.
  • 83. Strafforde Letters, i. 392, 402-4.
  • 84. Ibid. ii. 2; CSP Clar. (1767), i. 449, 594; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, ii. 240.
  • 85. CJ, ii. 28a, 60b, 281b; HMC Egmont i. 131-2.
  • 86. CSP Clar. ii. 135-6.
  • 87. LJ, iv. 484-5.
  • 88. Bodl. Carte 3, ff. 270, 331, 337-8v, 349; HMC Egmont, i. 441-2; C108/188, pt. 1, ‘corresp. ii’; C108/255, ‘corresp.’
  • 89. C5/28/25.
  • 90. Oxon. RO, E/6/8/1D/5, 6, 10; C108/188, pt.1, ‘corresp. ii’; HMC Egmont, i. 442.
  • 91. C8/105/61; 5/28/25; Oxon. RO, E/6/1/1L/9.
  • 92. Borthwick, Thorganby par. reg.; Oxon. RO, E/6/1/1L/3, 4; C5/28/25.