BARNARDISTON, Sir Nathaniel (c.1588-1653), of Kedington, Suff.

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



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

b. c.1588,2 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Thomas Barnardiston (d.1610) of Witham Knights, Essex and Mary, da. of Richard Knightley of Fawsley, Northants. m. 16 May 1613, Jane (d. 15 Sept. 1669), da. of Sir Stephen Soame†, Girdler, of London and Little Thurlow, Suff., ld. mayor 1598-9, 8s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da.3 kntd. 21 Dec. 1618;4 suc. gdfa. 1619.5 d. 25 July 1653.6

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Essex and Suff. 1617, Suff. 1626, Mdx. 1645;7 j.p. Suff. 1622-7, 1628-d., Essex by 1650-d.;8 dep. lt. Suff. by 1623-7, 1642;9 sheriff, Suff. 1623-4;10 commr. Forced Loan, Suff. 1627, Orford, Suff. 1627,11 swans, Eng. except the W. Country 1629, Essex and Suff. 1635,12 subsidy, Suff. 1641-2,13 propositions 1642,14 assessment 1643-d., sequestration 1643, levying money 1643, execution of Ordinances 1643, defence of Eastern Assoc. 1643,15 oyer and terminer 1644, Essex 1644, gaol delivery, Suff. 1644, Bury St. Edmunds liberty, Suff. 1644, Bury St. Edmunds bor., Suff. 1644, liberty of St. Etheldred, Suff. 1645, oyer and terminer and gaol delivery, Essex 1645,16 elder, Clare classis, Suff. 1645;17 commr. New Model Ordinance, Suff. 1645, militia 1648, drainage, Fens 1649.18

?Member, Massachusetts Bay Co. by 1630.19

Commr. exclusion from sacrament 1646, compounding 1647, scandalous offences 1648.20


The Barnardistons were an ancient family that had held the manor situated in west Suffolk from which they took their name since at least the reign of Richard I. A Peter de Denardeston or Barnardiston represented Suffolk in 1298. Subsequently Sir Thomas Barnardiston acquired additional estates in Lincolnshire, which he represented in 1358, and the manor of Kedington, adjacent to Barnardiston, which became the family seat.21

Barnardiston’s grandfather Thomas, said to have been educated in Geneva during the Marian persecution, raised the family to its greatest affluence.22 According to a correspondent of Sir Lionel Tollemache*, a patent was drawn up in 1611 to grant Thomas one of the first baronetcies, but it was stayed for an unspecified reason.23 According to his funeral sermon, Barnardiston experienced some kind of conversion experience while at school and he subsequently took over the family’s ecclesiastical patronage during his grandfather’s lifetime. The same source praised his household for its remarkable spiritual quality. ‘He had ten or more servants so eminent for piety and sincerity that never was the like seen all at once in any family.’24

Barnardiston’s father died in his grandfather’s lifetime, and consequently it was from the latter that Barnardiston inherited the family estates in 1619. There is no evidence that he sought election to the third Jacobean Parliament, and in 1624 he was ineligible as sheriff of his county, but in the following year he was elected for Sudbury, about 11 miles from Kedington. He made no recorded speeches in the first Caroline Parliament, but was named to the committees for the bills to prevent tippling (24 June) and to mitigate excommunication (27 June) and, after the session had been adjourned to Oxford, for a naturalization bill (11 August).25 After the dissolution he was instructed by (Sir) Simonds D’Ewes† ‘how to frame a journal of the last unfortunate and successless Parliament’, and it is possible that he was the source of the account of the proceedings on 21 June which survives in the D’Ewes’ papers, although it should be noted that this is in D’Ewes’ handwriting, not Barnardiston’s.26

In January 1626 John Winthrop, writing to Sir Robert Crane, suggested Barnardiston as a possible candidate for the county, ‘though he be out of the country’, if Crane did not want to stand himself.27 In the event Crane did stand for the county and Barnadiston was merely re-elected for Sudbury. He appears only once in the surviving records of the 1626 Parliament, on 2 June, when he was absent without leave at the call of the House.28

Appointed a commissioner for the Forced Loan, Barnardiston (according to Winthrop) arrived late for the inaugural meeting for executing the Loan in Suffolk on 16 Dec. 1626.29 However, he was unable to evade the privy councillors who had been sent down to initiate collection of the levy and, having declared that he would not pay his £20 assessment or take the commissioners’ oath because he was ‘not satisfied therein in his conscience’, he was bound over to appear before the Council.30 There, on 20 Dec., he was prevailed upon to ‘set down in writing ... to pay the money required’.31 However, he evidently felt that he had been either cheated or compelled to acquiesce, and returning to his native county he refused to make payment unless his written submission was returned to him.32 He was again summoned before the Privy Council and was imprisoned in the Gatehouse in late February, before being confined first in Sussex and then in Lincolnshire.33

Released from confinement in January 1628, Barnardiston was returned for the county to the third Caroline Parliament unopposed, though there was little enthusiasm for the election.34 Again he made no recorded speeches, although he received nine committee appointments. He was among those instructed to attend the conference with the Lords on 21 Mar. concerning the fast, and was appointed to consider bills for reforming abuses of the Lord’s day, regulating alnage on the new draperies (both of 1 Apr.), and redressing neglect in preaching and catechizing (12 May).35 In the second session he was named only to the committees to consider the explanatory bill against recusancy (28 Jan.) and to inquire into the proceedings of the commission for compounding with recusants (16 February).36

Barnardiston was again returned for Suffolk at both elections in 1640. As a strong parliamentarian and a Presbyterian elder he was the dominant figure in Civil War Suffolk; but he abstained from the House after Pride’s Purge.37 He drew up his will on 10 Sept. 1651, giving £30 towards a college in New England and complaining that he had strained his resources to provide portions for his younger sons and pay off the debts contracted by his heir, Sir Thomas. He died at Hackney on 25 July 1653 and was buried at Kedington on 26 August. His funeral sermon was preached by Samuel Fairclough, to whom Barnardiston bequeathed £10, describing him as ‘my minister’, although Fairclough was in fact rector of Kedington, asking him to ‘afford my children his best help and assistance in the ways of god’. A marginal note in the printed version of the sermon states that nearly 200 people met Barnardiston’s corpse on its return to Suffolk and that ‘many thousands’ attended the funeral. Barnardiston’s son Sir Thomas sat for the county in the three Protectorate Parliaments.38

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648.
  • 2. S. Clarke, Lives of sundry Eminent Persons in this Later Age (1683), pt. ii. 106.
  • 3. R. Almack, ‘Kedington alias Ketton, and the Barnardiston Fam.’, Suff. Inst. Arch. Procs. iv. 137-42; St. Mary Le Bow, Cheapside, All Hallows, Honey Lane, and St. Pancras, Soper Lane ed. W.B. Bannerman (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlv), 325.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 170.
  • 5. C142/383/86.
  • 6. Almack, 140.
  • 7. C181/2, f. 272; 181/3, f. 201v; 181/5, f. 262v.
  • 8. C231/4, ff. 134, 228v, 261v; C193/13/3; 193/13/4.
  • 9. Add. 39245, ff. 71, 131; LJ, v. 342.
  • 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 132.
  • 11. C193/12/2, ff. 55v, 77v.
  • 12. C181/3, f. 269; 181/5, f. 28v.
  • 13. SR, v. 66, 156.
  • 14. LJ, v. 245.
  • 15. A. and O. i. 96, 115, 150, 168, 234, 293, 537, 639, 975, 1093; ii. 43, 309, 478, 675.
  • 16. C181/5, ff. 232v-3v, 237v, 238, 254, 267v.
  • 17. W.A. Shaw, Hist. of Eng. Church during Civil Wars and under Commonwealth, ii. 429.
  • 18. A. and O. i. 624, 1243; ii. 139.
  • 19. Life and Letters of John Winthrop ed. R.C. Winthrop, i. 393.
  • 20. Ibid. i. 853, 914, 1293.
  • 21. W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. v. 191, 256; OR; Almack, 126.
  • 22. Clarke, 109; Copinger, v. 259.
  • 23. J.G. Nichols, ‘Institution and early history of the dignity of baronet’, Her. and Gen. iii. 208.
  • 24. S. Fairclough, Hagioi Axioi (1653), p. 13; Clarke, 109-11.
  • 25. Procs. 1625, pp. 239, 253, 457.
  • 26. Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 280; Procs. 1625, pp. 16, 212-13.
  • 27. Winthrop Pprs. i. 325.
  • 28. Procs. 1626, iii. 347.
  • 29. Winthrop Pprs. i. 336; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 167.
  • 30. SP16/11/73, misdated to 1625 in CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 178.
  • 31. APC, 1626, pp. 426-7.
  • 32. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 66.
  • 33. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 200; Fairclough, 18; APC, 1627, pp. 396, 430.
  • 34. APC, 1628, p. 217; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 6; Harl. 378, f. 29v;
  • 35. CD 1628, ii. 42, 227; iii. 367.
  • 36. CJ, i. 923b, 930b.
  • 37. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 96-7; A.M. Everitt, Suff. and Gt. Rebellion (Suff. Recs. Soc. iii), 18-19; R. Ashton, Eng. Civil War, 80; D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 367.
  • 38. Almack, 140; PROB 11/232, ff. 72-4; Fairclough, 12.