BARRETT, Sir Edward (1581-1644), of Belhus, Aveley, Essex and Smithfield, London

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. 21 June 1581,1 1st s. of Charles Barrett (d.1584) of Belhus and Christian, da. of Sir Walter Mildmay† of Apethorpe, Northants., chan. Exch. 1559-89.2 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1598; L. Inn 1600; travelled abroad (Spain, Italy) 1605-7.3 m. (1) 20 Feb. 1609,4 Jane (bur. 3 Jan. 1633),5 da. of Sir Edward Carey† of Aldenham, Herts., master of the Jewel House 1595-1618, 1da. d.v.p.;6 (2) Aug. 1635 (with £10,000),7 Catherine, da. of Hugh Fenn of Wotton-under-Edge, Glos., wid. of Hugh Perry alias Hunter, Mercer, of London, s.p.8 suc. grandfa. 1586;9 kntd. 17 Apr. 1608;10 cr. Lord Barrett of Newburgh [S] 17 Oct. 1627, bt. 2 Oct. 1628.11 d. Dec. 1644.12

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Essex 1605-27,13 Westminster 1634;14 j.p. Essex 1614-at least 1639, Mdx. 1641-d.;15 commr. highways, Essex 1615,16 inquiry, earl of Somerset’s estates 1616,17 gaol delivery, Havering, Essex 1620-22,18 oyer and terminer, Essex 1622,19 repair, St. Paul’s Cathedral 1631,20 survey, St. James’s bailiwick 1640,21 array, Essex and Mdx. 1642.22

PC 1628-d.;23 chan. exch. 1628-9;24 commr. abuses in silk dyeing 1628,25 to compound for knighthood 1628,26 Crown lands compositions 1629;27 member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1629-41;28 chan. duchy of Lancaster 1629-44;29 commr. poor relief 1631,30 starch manufactures 1631,31 transportation of felons 1633,32 defective titles revenue 1635,33 treasury 1641-4,34 revenue inquiry 1642.35


Barrett was the last of a family which had acquired Belhus by marriage in 1397. At the age of just five he inherited substantial estates, not just in Essex but also in Berkshire and Hampshire.36 He was the ward first of his maternal grandfather and then of his stepfather, Sir John Leveson*.37 After accompanying the 1st earl of Nottingham’s (Charles Howard†) mission to Spain in 1605, Barrett toured Italy, including Rome, with his half-brother and their cousin Walter Fitzwilliam*.38 A patron of learning, Barrett accepted the dedication of a sermon on predestination in 1620 from a Calvinist divine, Richard Crakanthorpe, who attended ‘divers conferences’ on the subject at his house; but his chaplain in 1625-7 was the Arminian Benjamin Laney.39 During his first marriage, which afforded him ‘comfort, blessing and unspeakable happiness’, he lived next door to his brother-in-law Sir Henry Carey* (later Viscount Falkland) in Smithfield, and the two families remained on intimate terms after the death of Barrett’s first wife.40 He tried unsuccessfully to reclaim his nieces from the Catholic faith, but never lost their esteem.41 Despite residing mainly in London he did not neglect the Belhus estate, which by 1619 had expanded to 2,249 acres, one of the largest in Essex.42 He later built and supported 12 almshouses at Aveley.43

Barrett’s property in Hampshire included Wolverton, ten miles from Whitchurch, for which borough he was returned in 1614.44 His only appointment of the Parliament was a bill committee to regulate the Court of Wards (14 May); he left no other trace on the assembly’s records.45 In the hope of succeeding Sir Dudley Carleton* at The Hague embassy in Jan. 1620, Barrett assiduously courted the rising royal favourite, the marquess of Buckingham, and was returned for Newport on the duchy of Cornwall interest at the next general election.46 However, it was noted a month after the third Jacobean Parliament assembled that he, together with Carey and others, remained ‘beyond sea’, and he may not have taken his seat until the autumn sitting.47 On 20 Nov. 1621 he was named to the committee for the bill to defer Michaelmas term, his only appointment of this Parliament.48

In the summer of 1622 it was reported that Barrett aspired to become the next comptroller of the Household, but he lost out to (Sir) John Suckling*.49 When a fresh Parliament was summoned in 1624, he was again nominated at Newport by the Prince’s Council, but this time the duchy’s application for a seat on his behalf was unsuccessful.50 He does not appear to have sought any other seat, and instead concentrated his efforts upon obtaining higher office. He put himself forward to be vice-chamberlain later in 1624, but again was disappointed.51 Barrett was named as ambassador to France in 1625. He made ready to depart only to be delayed because the situation was too delicate for ‘a novice in diplomacy’, and despite several renewals of his instructions he never took up the post.52 Like Carey, now Viscount Falkland, he accepted a Scottish peerage, becoming Lord Newburgh in 1627. In order to obtain the chancellorship of the Exchequer the following year he granted the reversion to his estate, worth £1,200 a year, to Buckingham’s brother, the earl of Anglesey.53 The appointment ran counter to the advice of his predecessor Sir Richard Weston*, and proved to be a mistake, and in the next year he exchanged it for the duchy of Lancaster.54 Upon receiving a Nova Scotia baronetcy in 1628 he planned an expedition to take possession of his grant of 16,000 acres, but the project was never carried out, perhaps as a result of a ‘quartan ague’ that permanently weakened his health.55 After the death of his first wife in 1633 it was reported that he was a suitor for the hand of Viscountess Dorchester, but finding no success he instead married the wealthy widow of a London alderman, and was noted as a kind stepfather to her children.56

In the elections to the Short and Long Parliaments in 1640, Newburgh, as chancellor of the Duchy, nominated candidates in several boroughs, but many of them were unsuccessful.57 Though one of the privy councillors impeached in 1641,58 he regularly attended the Long Parliament as an assistant to the House of Lords, and remained in London during the Civil War, which, he complained, deprived him of two-thirds of his income.59 In his will, written out in his own hand on 17 Mar. 1644, he set aside £200 for his funeral, enjoining the preacher ‘not to daub over my sinful life with praises’. His present ‘dear wife’ received jewels worth £2,000 and the profits of his Essex estates for five years. He ordered his lands in Hampshire and Berkshire to be sold to pay his debts, which he blamed on his own extravagance and ‘the public misery of the times’. He left a silver flagon to Aveley church and £15 to the poor, regretting that his reduced estate prevented a more generous bequest. His ‘little friend’ Edward Perry, his wife’s grandson, received all his papers and books in French, Italian, Spanish and Latin.60 He died a few days before the end of the year and was buried at Aveley on 2 Jan. 1645.61 Anglesey had long predeceased him, and the Belhus estate went to a cousin, Richard Lennard, who took the name of Barrett.62

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. WARD 7/21/226.
  • 2. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 145.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.; HMC 5th Rep. 140; HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 147; Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton ed. L. Pearsall Smith i. 338-40, 379.
  • 4. St. Mary Aldermanbury (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxi), 82.
  • 5. Her. and Gen. iii. 43.
  • 6. T.B. Lennard, Fams. of Lennard and Barrett, 361, 367.
  • 7. HMC Var. iii. 250.
  • 8. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 262, 463.
  • 9. WARD 7/21/226.
  • 10. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 145.
  • 11. CB, ii. 362.
  • 12. Lennard, 390.
  • 13. C181/1, f. 121; 181/2, f. 318v; 181/3, f. 218v.
  • 14. C181/4, f. 191.
  • 15. Cal. of Assize Recs., Essex Indictments ed. J.S. Cockburn, 141, passim; HMC Westmorland, 503; SP16/405, f. 26; C231/5, p. 493.
  • 16. C181/2, f. 226.
  • 17. Ibid. f. 260.
  • 18. C181/3, ff. 3, 78.
  • 19. Ibid. f. 68v.
  • 20. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 6.
  • 21. Ibid. 1640-1, p. 208.
  • 22. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 23. APC, 1628-9, p. 42; CSP Dom. 1638-9, pp. 607-8; 1640-1, p. 3.
  • 24. C66/2477; Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 39.
  • 25. APC, 1628-9, p. 242.
  • 26. Ibid. 277.
  • 27. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 76.
  • 28. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 355; CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 326.
  • 29. Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders, ed. R. Somerville, 1; Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 387.
  • 30. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 474.
  • 31. APC, 1630-1, p. 238.
  • 32. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 547.
  • 33. Rymer, ix. pt. 1, p. 7.
  • 34. Rymer, ix. pt. 3, p. 47; CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 394; Docquets of Letters Patent, pp. 14, 60.
  • 35. CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 263.
  • 36. Morant, Essex, i. 78; PROB 11/84, f. 210v, PROB 11/132, f. 341.
  • 37. Lennard, 365.
  • 38. Ibid. 366; HMC 5th Rep. 140; HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 147; Staffs. RO, D593/P/5/2/11.
  • 39. Oxford DNB sub Crakanthorpe, Richard; Lany, Benjamin; N. Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 38.
  • 40. E.A. Webb, Recs. of St. Bartholomew’s Smithfield, ii. 174; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 109; Life of Lady Falkland ed. R. Simpson, 8, 34, 46.
  • 41. Life of Lady Falkland, 62, 71; Lennard, 384-5.
  • 42. VCH Essex, viii. 6.
  • 43. Ibid. viii. 16.
  • 44. VCH Hants, iv. 60, 271, 354; Hants RO, 20M52/7, 8, 14, 16.
  • 45. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 235.
  • 46. DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants 1620-1’, f. 39v; Bodl. ms Add. D. 111, f. 89; HMC 2nd Rep. 58; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 281.
  • 47. CJ, i. 529a; Lennard, 373.
  • 48. CJ, i. 641a.
  • 49. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 446.
  • 50. DCO, ‘Prince Chas. in Spain’, f. 33v.
  • 51. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 585, 595.
  • 52. CSP Ven. 1626-8, p. 86; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 502, 1625-6, p. 485; Lennard, 373-9; HMC Skrine, 103-4; Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 107.
  • 53. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 452.
  • 54. G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 88-89.
  • 55. Lennard, 382; CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 294.
  • 56. Strafforde Letters, i. 227, 262; CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 159.
  • 57. J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 185-8.
  • 58. HMC 4th Rep. 99.
  • 59. HMC 5th Rep. 119.
  • 60. PROB 11/195, f. 115.
  • 61. Lennard, 390.
  • 62. CCAM, 497.