BAMPFIELD, Sir William (aft. 1568-1631), of Sandsfoot Castle, Dorset and Kingston-upon-Thames, Surr.; later of Drury Lane, Westminster

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. aft. 1568,1 o.s. of Hugh Bampfield of North Cadbury, Som. and Cecily, da. of Thomas White† of Fittleford, Dorset.2 m. Anne (d.1657),3 da. of Daniel Kirton of Castle Cary, Som., wid. of Philip Bodenham (d. 3 Aug. 1599) of Fugglestone, Wilts., 1s. 3da. (2 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. 1589;5 kntd. 12 May 1604?6 bur. 22 Aug. 1631.7

Offices Held

Capt. (jt.) Sandsfoot castle 1594-d.8


Bampfield belonged to a cadet branch of the prominent Devon gentry family headed during this period by his distant cousin, John*.9 Still a minor at his father’s death in 1589, he first acquired ties with Dorset through his sister, Jane, the mother of Bampfield Chafin*. Along with Jane’s second husband, Sir George Trenchard†, Bampfield was appointed captain of Sandsfoot castle, near Weymouth, in 1594.10 He was living there three years later, when a creditor complained to the Privy Council that ‘in respect of his place’, Bampfield held himself ‘in some sort privileged and secure from the law’.11 The castle was well maintained, but in 1601 Trenchard informed Sir Robert Cecil† that Bampfield, ‘by the long indisposition of his health’, had ‘grown very weak, and no way able to endure the cold nature of the place’.12 Despite these difficulties, Bampfield retained this office, which brought him and Trenchard the substantial salary of £115 11s. 8d. p.a., although £70 of this sum was assigned to paying the garrison.13 This was vital income, for in his younger days Bampfield earned the reputation of ‘a man very penurious, and an inviter of himself to other men’s tables’. He also allegedly sought to increase his income by horse-trading.14 Following his mother-in-law’s second marriage to the royal cofferer, Sir Robert Vernon of Mitcham, Surrey, which brought him potentially useful Court connections, Bampfield took up residence at Kingston-upon-Thames, conveniently close to Hampton Court palace.15

In 1614 Bampfield was returned to the Commons for Bridport, doubtless through Trenchard’s local influence. However, he was simultaneously pursuing a Chancery suit against Sir John Wentworth*, and, between the issuing of the parliamentary writ for Bridport and the actual election, he was committed to the Fleet for contempt of court by lord chancellor Ellesmere (Thomas Egerton†). Trenchard’s son-in-law, Sir John Strangways*, claimed privilege for Bampfield on 9 Apr., and the Commons ordered his release five days later. Brought into the House by the warden of the Fleet on 16 Apr., Bampfield took his seat, but played no known part in the Parliament’s subsequent proceedings.16

In 1618 Bampfield was indirectly involved in one of the great scandals of the Jacobean Court, when his wife gave evidence on behalf of the countess of Exeter in the latter’s defamation suit against the family of Sir Thomas Lake I*. A year later, he leased part of Drury House, Westminster from Christopher Brooke*.17 Bampfield died intestate in August 1631, and was buried at night in St. Martin-in-the Fields, Westminster.18 His widow took as her third husband the fashionable physician, Sir Matthew Lister, while Bampfield’s daughter Frances married Sir John Brooke*.19 His son George succeeded to the captaincy of Sandsfoot castle, but no later member of this branch of the family sat in Parliament.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. He was still a minor in 1589: PROB 6/4, f. 121.
  • 2. The Gen. n.s. iii. 177; PROB 6/4, f. 121.
  • 3. Northants. N and Q, iii. 211.
  • 4. C142/257/70; F. Brown, Som. Wills, i. 43-4; C2/Chas.I/B9/61; Soc. Gen., Mitcham, Surr. par. reg..
  • 5. PROB 6/4, f. 121.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 132 (listed as Sir Matthew Bampfield, apparently in error).
  • 7. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxvi), 262.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 551; C66/1655.
  • 9. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 38.
  • 10. PROB 6/4, ff. 121, 138v; Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 565; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 551.
  • 11. APC, 1596-7, p. 473.
  • 12. Harl. 1326, f. 90; HMC Hatfield, xi. 467.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 356.
  • 14. J.L. Hotson, I William Shakespeare, 205.
  • 15. Brown, i. 43-4; C2/Chas.I/B9/61.
  • 16. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 41, 80, 83, 89; Hutchins, ii. 679.
  • 17. Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. i), 59; SP14/105/82; R.C. Bald, Donne and the Drurys, 154.
  • 18. PROB 6/14A, f. 86; St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 262.
  • 19. London Mar. Lics. ed. J. Foster, 848; CP, iii. 339.
  • 20. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 221.