BANISTER, Henry (c.1538-1628), of Clapton, Hackney, Mdx.

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. ?c.1538. m. 18 May 1584, Anne/Agnes (d. 4 Jan. 1634), da. of Bernard Townley of Hurstwood, nr. Burnley, Lancs. 1s. (d.v.p.) 2da. (d.v.p.). d. 25 July 1628.1 sig. He[nry] Banister.

Offices Held

Freeman, Goldsmiths’ Co. London by 1581, 3rd warden 1609-10, 2nd warden 1611-12, prime warden 1614-15.2

Gunner in the Tower, 1603-?d.3

Freeman, London by 1609, alderman, Aldgate ward 31 Jan.-4 Feb. 1622;4 j.p. Mdx. by 1614-21 Mar. 1625, 9 Apr. 1625-?d.;5 commr. to order the estate of Sir Richard Martyn, master of the Mint 1616-17,6 gaol delivery, Newgate, London 1621-6, oyer and terminer, London 1621-6,7 subsidy, Mdx. 1621-2, 1624;8 foreign burgess, Preston, Lancs. by 1622;9 commr. annoyances, London and Westminster 1625.10

Vestryman, Mdx. Hackney 1613.11


Born at Preston, Lancashire of unknown parentage,12 Banister should be distinguished from his recusant cousin Henry Banister of Banke Hall, Bretherton (d.1614) and the latter’s son Henry (d.1640).13 A freeman of the London Goldsmiths’ Company by the middle of Elizabeth’s reign, he took on his first apprentice in 1581, by which time he was living in either the parish of St. Peters or St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, whose residents included the Goldsmith and future master of the Mint, alderman Richard Martyn.14 In 1584 he married into the Townley family of Lancashire. Among his northern business contacts in London was the Haberdasher William Sudell (d.1598), a relative who also came from Preston.15

By the end of the 1590s Banister had moved to Hackney, leasing a house from the Goldsmiths’ Company.16 There he formed a lifelong friendship with his neighbour, Edward, 11th Baron Lord Zouche.17 During the latter’s brief spell as deputy governor of Guernsey (Aug. 1600-May 1601), Zouche so trusted Banister that he deputed him to help manage his domestic affairs in his absence. As Zouche settled into his new position, he relied upon Banister to provide him with a steady stream of news from England and to supply his most urgent wants, even to the extent of asking him to recruit a good baker. Although unpaid, Banister discharged these responsibilities diligently, reporting his progress regularly. Zouche, however, was a hard taskmaster, and by December 1600 Banister had become offended at some sharp criticism. In reply, Zouche sought to soothe Banister’s injured feelings, apologizing for his bluntness and promising to heed his friend’s advice: ‘for your travail for me, I confess it is much, and with little gain’. Though not always fully appreciated, Banister did not go entirely unrewarded. More than once Zouche offered to lend out his friend’s money at interest ‘without factorage’, and he promised to do Banister ‘all the service I can’.18 Zouche proved true to his word, for as a result of his intervention Banister was later spared the expense and inconvenience of serving as sheriff of London.19 Zouche’s influence may also have secured for Banister a sinecure, for in 1603 Banister was granted one of the gunnerships in the Tower, which carried with it a fee of 6d. per day for life. In the following year Zouche sold three closes of pasture in Hackney to Banister.20

Elected third warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company in June 1609, Banister progressed to the second wardenship in 1611 before being returned to Parliament for Preston in 1614. His election may have been prompted, in part, by Lord Zouche, whose cousin Sir Edward Zouche controlled the glass monopoly, which was subsequently questioned in the Commons. Moreover, Banister himself may have wished to sit in order to further a bill aimed at assuring the title of some lands bought by Bevis Molesworth, then prime warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company. If so, however, it is strange that Banister was not named to the bill committee on 20 May.21 Indeed, he made no mark on the records of the Parliament at all.

Following the Parliament’s dissolution, Banister was himself elected prime warden of the Goldsmiths.22 His appointment to the Middlesex bench that same year was marred by the fine imposed by his fellow justices on his servant for riding down another man. However, he proved a valuable addition to the bench, and in 1617 was appointed to the small committee of magistrates for regulating the county’s new house of correction.23 As a prominent Goldsmith, Banister signed a report sent in January 1617 to the master of the Rolls, Sir Julius Caesar*, recommending economies in the household of the master of the Mint, Sir Richard Martyn, whose finances were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. He was not fined for refusing to serve as a sheriff of London in the following year, probably because Lord Zouche persuaded the corporation that Banister, having become the guardian of eight children following the death of his brother-in-law, was genuinely incapable of bearing the costs of office. Zouche, whose own finances were in a parlous condition, also pointed out that Banister was ‘deeply engaged for me in mine own particular’.24 There was undoubtedly some truth in this claim, for in December 1624 Banister lent Zouche £400 upon the security of some jewellery and plate.25

Banister’s pleas of relative poverty continued to be believed, for in February 1622 he was discharged from the office of a London alderman immediately after being sworn in on the grounds that his entire estate was worth less than 10,000 marks.26 The only corporation of which he was then technically a member was that of Preston, where he was elected to Parliament for a second time in May 1625, when he was described as being ‘of Hackney’. Once again, he was not appointed to any committees, although the burgesses of Lancashire were appointed en bloc to the committee for the Macclesfield tenants’ bill, and he is known to have attended both of its meetings.27

Soon after the 1625 Parliament ended Lord Zouche died. Banister, who witnessed Zouche’s will, was left £100.28 Banister’s own will, drawn up in July 1625, was heavily amended in June 1628. Originally, Banister had intended to devote the proceeds arising from the sale of his lands, which he estimated at £600, to his brother-in-law’s children, but he now decided that the money would be better employed in paying for one or more ministers ‘to water the dry and barren places in the county of Lancaster, where there is great want of a preaching ministry to direct aright the people to the glory of God’. He accordingly appointed nine trustees, including the justice of Common Pleas, (Sir) Henry Yelverton*, to carry out his wishes. However, Banister’s initial desire to confer £200 on the corporation of Preston for the use of poor apprentices remained unchanged, as did his wish to assign £160 to the London Goldsmiths’ for the same purpose on condition that the Company pay £8 annually to Hackney’s churchwardens.29

Banister died without leaving any surviving children on 28 July 1628 aged 90, and was buried two days later in the chancel of St. John’s, Hackney.30 Those of his relatives who had stood to benefit under his original will and were disadvantaged under the codicil attempted to have the latter suppressed in the ecclesiastical court by casting doubt on Banister’s state of his mind, but sentence was pronounced in his widow’s favour after her opponents failed to appear.31 In 1630 Banister’s widow, and her new husband, Sir William Bulstrode*, were sued in Chancery by Lord Zouche’s executor, Sir Edward Zouche, for the return of jewels pawned to Banister in 1624, but it emerged that these had been legally sold by Banister at a handsome profit in 1626.32 The Goldsmiths’ charity founded by Banister was not finally established until 1635, more than a year after his widow’s death.33 It continued unchanged until 1820, when the fund was considered so small that £12 was added to it from another source.34 A monument erected in Hackney church claims that Banister ‘was the hand of amity to all deserving, The heart of integrity in all his dealing, And the soul of sincerity in religious living’.35 No other member of his family subsequently served in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


PROB 11/154, f. 153.

  • 1. J. Stowe, Survey of London ed. J. Strype (1720), ii. app. 1, pp. 126-7; Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxviii), 311; PROB 11/154, f. 154; IGI, ‘Lancs.’, ‘London’.
  • 2. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, appr. bk. 1, f. 27; apprenticeship and freedom index.
  • 3. PSO5/2, unfol.
  • 4. A.B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, i. 12; ii. 56.
  • 5. Cal. Sess. Recs. Mdx. ed. W. le Hardy, n.s. ii. 351; iii. 313; C231/4, ff. 177, 183.
  • 6. Add. 38170, ff. 282-3.
  • 7. C181/3, ff. 23v, 47, 182v, 212.
  • 8. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 9. Rolls of Burgesses at Guilds Merchant of Preston ed. W.A. Abram (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 78.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 4, p. 97.
  • 11. Monuments in Hackney Church comp. R. Simpson, 11.
  • 12. PROB 11/154, f. 153v.
  • 13. For this fam. see Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxii), 23; Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxiv), 23; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 389-90, 419. W.D. Pink and A.B. Beaven, Parl. Rep. of Lancs. 149, misidentify Banister.
  • 14. Two Tudor Subsidy Assessment Rolls for London ed. R.G. Lang, (London Rec. Soc. xxix), 161.
  • 15. REQ 2/154/13; PROB 11/92, f. 200v.
  • 16. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bk. 1605-11, p. 389. A. Heal’s suggestion that he lived in the par. of St. Pancras, Soper Lane (London Goldsmiths, 1200-1800, p. 100), is apparently based upon a misreading of Regs. of St. Mary le Bowe, Cheapside, All Hallows, Honey Lane and St. Pancras, Soper Lane, London (Harl. Soc. Reg. xliv), 147.
  • 17. Regrettably, only one of Banister’s letters to Zouche survives: CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 104.
  • 18. Eg. 2812, ff. 4v, 7-8, 20r-v, 32v, 33v, 43v, 57v-8, 73v-6, 89, 102, 114, 117r-v, 121.
  • 19. Remembrancia ed. W.H. and H.C. Overall, 463-4.
  • 20. The property was the subject of a boundary dispute in 1619-20: E112/100/1198; E134/17Jas.I/Mich. 28.
  • 21. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 110n, 199, 293-4. On Molesworth, see Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, apprenticeship and freedom index.
  • 22. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bk. 1611-17, pp. 162, 170.
  • 23. Cal. Sess. Recs. Mdx. n.s. i. 454; iv. 158.
  • 24. CLRO, ‘Remembrancia’, iv. 121. The City’s records contain no mention of a fine.
  • 25. C2/Chas.I/Z1/11.
  • 26. CLRO, Reps. 36, ff. 55v-6.
  • 27. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 228.
  • 28. PROB 11/146, f. 294.
  • 29. PROB 11/154, ff. 153-4v.
  • 30. LMA, P79/JN1/22; P79/JN1/21, f. 291.
  • 31. PROB 11/154, f. 374r-v.
  • 32. C2/Chas.I/Z1/11.
  • 33. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bk. 1634-5, pp. 98, 168-70.
  • 34. W. Robinson, Hist. and Antiqs. of Hackney, ii. 363.
  • 35. Monuments in Hackney Church, 11.