BACKHOUSE (BACCHUS, BAKEHOUSE), Samuel (1554-1626), of Swallowfield , Berks.

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

bap. 18 Nov. 1554, 1st s. of Nicholas Backhouse, alderman and Grocer, of Honey Lane, London and his 1st w. Anne, da. of Thomas Curzon of Croxall, Derbys. educ. Trin. Camb. 1569, BA 1573; G. Inn 1572. m. 6 Sept. 1581, Elizabeth (d. 1 Feb. 1630), da. of John Borlase† of Little Marlow, Bucks., 4s. 4da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1580. d. 24 June 1626.1

Offices Held

J.p. Berks. 1593-d., Wilts. 1615-16;2 sheriff, Berks. 1600-1;3 commr. recusants, Berks. 1602, preservation of ditches, London, Mdx., Surr., Kent, Essex, Berks., Bucks. and Hants 1605,4 swans, Oxon., Berks., Wilts., Glos., Northants. and Hants 1606-at least 1615, Kent, Mdx. and Berks. 1609,5 subsidy 1608, 1622, 1624,6 charitable uses 1608-13, 1618, 1626;7 collector aid (jt.), Berks. 1613;8 commr. sewers, Bucks. and Berks. 1622.9

Member, E.I. Co. 1600, New River Co. 1619.10


Backhouse’s father, a London alderman of Cumberland origin, received a confirmation of arms in 1574 as one ‘whose ancestors long time past did come out of Lancashire, where they were of worshipful degree’.11 Backhouse himself spent his youth in Hampshire,12 where his father owned a manor, before being educated at university and the inns of court. On his father’s death in June 1580 he inherited property in Hampshire, London and Middlesex, but after marrying into the Buckinghamshire gentry in 1581 he purchased the Berkshire manor of Swallowfield, presumably to be close to his wife’s relatives.13 He subsequently settled to the life of a country gentleman, leaving the mercantile world to his brother Rowland, although in 1600 he followed the latter into the East India Company, investing £240.14 As sheriff of Berkshire in 1600-1, Backhouse was reported by John Chamberlain, his contemporary at Trinity, as ‘almost out of heart’ on hearing the news that the queen intended to visit the county ‘because he was altogether unacquainted with courting’. However, he reportedly performed his duties ‘very well’.15

It was perhaps encouraged by this success that Backhouse entered Parliament in 1604, sitting for Windsor. His many kinsmen in the House included his brothers-in-law Sir William Borlase and Nicholas Fuller. Over the course of the Parliament he made no recorded speeches, but was named to 50 committees. In the opening session, in which he was nominated to nine committees, his first appointments, on 5 May 1604, were to consider bills on land titles and (with Fuller) Exchequer abuses. Along with Fuller and Borlase, Backhouse was instructed to attend the conference with the Lords of 8 May on purveyance, at which he and Borlase were among those singled out as fitted by their own or their neighbours’ experience to ‘make more pregnant proof’.16 The three men were also appointed to the joint conference of 26 May on wardship, of which subject Backhouse had indirect experience, for as a young man he had agreed to pay lord treasurer Burghley (William Cecil†) two years’ income to escape this feudal tenure.17 Backhouse was the only one of the brothers-in-law, however, named to consider a bill for confirmation of letters patent on 4 June.18

In the second session Backhouse was named to ten committees, including those for bills on London housing (24 Jan. 1606) and the bringing of water to London from the Lea (31 Jan.), which measure was subsequently reported to the House by Fuller. It may have been at this committee that Backhouse first came into contact with Hugh Myddelton, with whom, on the matter of the Lea water scheme, he was to have later dealings. On 30 Jan. 1606 he, Fuller and Borlase were appointed to help consider Sir Robert Johnson’s bill to compound for purveyance. His attitude towards this proposal is unknown, but Fuller at least opposed the bill, arguing that ‘composition, in [a] few years, may become an imposition’. Required to attend joint conferences on supply (14 Feb. 1606) and ecclesiastical grievances (11 Apr.), Backhouse was among those ordered to help deliver the Commons’ petition of grievances to the king on 14 May.19 On 10 May he was one of four Members ordered to give evidence against William Tipper, the patentee for defective titles. Towards the end of the session, ‘upon the Sabbath day in the morning’, purveyors took wood from his Berkshire estate, an action later judged in Star Chamber to be contrary to Magna Carta.20

Shortly before the beginning of the third session Backhouse found himself in Chancery as a co-defendant in a case prosecuted on behalf of Henry Campion* by the Speaker of the Commons, Sir Edward Phelips.21 On returning to Parliament he was named, on 24 Nov. 1606, to attend a joint conference on the Union with Scotland the following day.22 He was also required to consider bills on ecclesiastical courts (29 Nov. 1606) and bastardy (9 December). When Fuller reported the latter measure on 4 Mar., Backhouse was one of those appointed to re-examine the bill.23 His other committees included one for the bill to explain the 1606 New River Act, when he was again named with Myddelton (1 May 1607), and one for a bill to secure the lands of the London livery companies (4 May). On 18 May he and his brothers-in-law were instructed to help draft a petition on religion. His last committee of the session, on 13 June, was for a bill to enable a Berkshire gentleman, William Essex†, to sell lands to settle his debts, and he was named to it with Sir Henry Neville I.24

In the following autumn Carleton reported after a visit to Swallowfield that Backhouse was ‘not a little perplexed’ at the failure of a proposed marriage between his son and one of Neville’s daughters. However, there was no lasting break, for in the following year Backhouse acted as godfather to a Neville child.25 Early in the fourth session both Backhouse and Neville were appointed to the committee for the revived Essex bill (16 Feb. 1610), and on 3 May 1610 Backhouse was also among those chosen to consider amendments made to this measure by the Lords. An equally natural choice for bills against purveyance and for the preservation of timber, he was also named to consider the bill to repeal the 1606 and 1607 New River Acts (20 June).26

Backhouse took the Aylesbury seat formerly held by his brother-in-law Borlase in the Addled Parliament. He was named to nine committees, but appears to have remained a silent Member. On 8 Apr. 1614 he was among those ordered to search for precedents regarding the eligibility for membership of the House of the attorney-general. He was also one of those appointed to consider the repeal of ‘obsolete, unprofitable and pernicious statutes’. He was also named to consider bills to improve Sabbath observance, confirm the Charterhouse hospital, repeal an Elizabethan Act on fish-packing, and prevent customs extortions.27 He did not attend the committee for the Charterhouse hospital bill.28 While the Parliament was sitting he received £65 in damages from Myddelton, who had obtained his permission to use his property in Clerkenwell, the Commandery Mantles, as the site of the New River head.29

Some four years after the Parliament, Backhouse became engaged in a violent quarrel over his family’s possession of certain pews in Swallowfield parish church, which ended in Star Chamber.30 In 1619 the New River Company was incorporated, the shareholders including Backhouse, his eldest son John*, his brother Rowland (who became treasurer of the Company), his brother-in-law Borlase, the latter’s son, and Sir Henry Neville III.31 Backhouse appears not to have sought election to the 1621 Parliament. In February 1622 he was summoned by the Privy Council for failing to contribute to the Benevolence raised in the wake of the Parliament’s dissolution.32 ‘Weak of body’, he drew up his will on 8 June 1626, dying 16 days later.33 He was buried at Swallowfield.34 His death passed unnoticed in Whitehall, at least for a while, as in February 1627 he was named to the Berkshire commission for the Forced Loan.35

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. All Hallows, Honey Lane (Harl. Soc. Reg. xliv), 101; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 160; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 20; C.C.E. Russell, Swallowfield, 99-101, 107-8; London Inquisitions Post Mortem III (Index Lib. xxxvi), 42-3; Ashmole, Berks. ii. 374-5.
  • 2. C231/4, pp. 5, 14.
  • 3. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 6.
  • 4. C181/1, ff. 34, 113v.
  • 5. C181/2, ff. 4v, 89v, 233.
  • 6. SP14/31/1; C212/22/21, 23.
  • 7. C93/3/13, 17; 93/4/11, 19; 93/5/4; 93/7/1, 12; 93/10/22; Russell, 104.
  • 8. E403/2732, f. 184.
  • 9. C181/3, f. 76v.
  • 10. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 116; B. Rudden, The New River, 29.
  • 11. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 57.
  • 12. STAC 8/239/17, deposition of Samuel Backhouse.
  • 13. PROB 11/62, f. 213; London Inquisitions (Index Lib. xxxvi), 42, 181; VCH Hants, ii. 516; VCH Berks. iii. 269; Russell, 92; CPR, 1585-7, p. 55.
  • 14. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, pp. 101, 116, 124.
  • 15. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 130.
  • 16. CJ, i. 199a, 199b, 202a.
  • 17. Ibid. 222b; Glos. RO, D3549/38/1/3.
  • 18. CJ, i. 232a.
  • 19. Ibid. 259b, 261a, 262b, 267a, 296b, 309a, 309b.
  • 20. Ibid. 308a; J. Hawarde, Les Reportes del Cases in Camera Stellata, 278.
  • 21. C33/112, f. 38v.
  • 22. CJ, i. 324b.
  • 23. Ibid. 326b, 328b, 348a.
  • 24. Ibid. 368b, 375a, 382b, 1039a.
  • 25. SP14/43/93.
  • 26. CJ, i. 394b, 4000a, 424b, 435b, 442a, 443b.
  • 27. Ibid. 456b, 457a, 476b, 477a, 496a.
  • 28. LMA, Acc/1876/G/01/161/1.
  • 29. Rudden, 266.
  • 30. STAC 8/239/17.
  • 31. Rudden, 282.
  • 32. SP14/127/82.
  • 33. PROB 11/149, f. 352.
  • 34. C142/438/113.
  • 35. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.