BARRINGTON, Sir Francis (c.1560-1628), of Barrington Hall and Priory House, Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex and 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



1628 - 3 July 1628

Family and Education

b. c.1560, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Barrington† of Barrington Hall and his 2nd w. Winifred, da. and coh. of Sir Henry Pole, Lord Montagu, wid. of Sir Thomas Hastings† of Stoke Poges, Bucks.; bro. of Henry†.1 educ. Trin., Camb., MA 1580; travelled abroad (Geneva) 1580; G. Inn 1606.2 m. settlement 15 May 1579,3 Joan (d. Dec. 1641), da. of Sir Henry Cromwell alias Williams† of Hinchingbrooke, Hunts. 4s. (? 1 d.v.p.) 6da. (? 1 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. 1581; mother 1602; kntd. 7 May 1603; cr. bt. 29 June 1611.5 d. 3 July 1628. sig. Fran[cis] Barrington.

Offices Held

J.p. Essex by 1584-1607, by 1610-?1626,6 Saffron Walden, Essex 1599-at least 1615;7 capt. militia ft., Essex 1588;8 commr. subsidy, Essex 1593-4, 1597-9, 1602-8, 1621-2, 1624, 1626,9 to value and seize Pishiobury manor, Herts. 1598,10 charitable uses, Essex 1600-at least 1619,11 musters 1600-?1603,12 oyer and terminer, Home circ. by 1602-8, 1610-?; dep. lt. Essex 1603-26;13 commr. repair of highways and bridges, Essex 1614-at least 1622,14 sewers, Dunmow to Maldon 1607, Chipping Ongar bridge to Ilford bridge 1615, Rainham bridge to Mucking mill 1627, R. Stort, Essex and Herts. 1628-d.,15 bankruptcy of William Steward of Hatfield Broad Oak 1618-19,16 survey, Tiptree Heath, Essex 1618, 1623,17 i.p.m. Robert Rich†, 1st earl of Warwick, Essex 1619,18 compound for provisions, Essex 1625, Forced Loan 1626.19

Member, Virg. Co. 1612.20

Commr. trade 1625.21


Described by his nephew shortly after his death as ‘one of the mirrors of our time’, Barrington was a wealthy Essex puritan and brother-in-law of Sir Oliver* and Henry Cromwell*.22 He enjoyed an exceptionally ancient and illustrious lineage: a ‘Barenton’ was a servant of Edward the Confessor’s queen and his mother was directly descended from George, duke of Clarence, which gave him the right to quarter the royal arms of England. His paternal ancestors dwelt at Barrington in south Cambridgeshire until the 1120s, when Eustace Barenton was granted Barrington Hall manor. Situated in north-western Essex on the edge of Hatfield Forest this property, comprising 1,214 acres by the 1620s, became the family’s principal seat.23 In the mid-1560s the Barrington Hall estate was augmented by a lease of the adjacent manor of Hatfield Broad Oak from the 1st Lord Rich. Moreover, in 1559 Barrington’s father, Sir Thomas, married Winifred Pole, the coheir of Henry, Lord Montagu. Winifred brought with her extensive estates in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Essex and the Isle of Wight, all of which passed to Barrington on her death in 1602.

Barrington was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and was awarded an MA in 1580. From Cambridge he travelled to the Calvinist city-state of Geneva where, in July, he encountered his fellow puritan and cousin, Francis Hastings*. He inherited his patrimony in 1581, and over the next 20 years discharged a variety of local offices, but he was not elected to Parliament until 1601, by which time he was in his early forties. Knighted at Theobalds in May 1603, he probably attended the Coronation two months later, for which occasion he had a new suit made.24 At the general election of 1604 Barrington campaigned to be elected junior knight of the shire for Essex. Vigorously supported by the 3rd Lord Rich (Robert Rich†), the greatest landowner in the county, for whom he would later act as a trustee,25 he was elected on 6 Mar. after Sir Gamaliel Capell* agreed to step aside. It seems likely that his prime purpose in standing was to reform the church and improve the quality of its clergy. A well-known patron of puritan ministers throughout his life,26 he must have been closely associated with the 1604 survey, which detailed the unfitness of most of Essex’s clergy, that was compiled, probably at the behest of Lord Rich, for presentation to the king and Parliament. He undoubtedly also helped organize the Essex petition opposing the intended deprivation of non-subscribing clergy which was presented to the king at Royston in November 1604, as one of the leading signatories was his kinsman and estate steward, Richard Hildersham.27

During the first Jacobean Parliament Barrington was repeatedly appointed to bill committees that reflected his concern for the church. These included measures to root out scandalous clergy (12 June 1604) and provide a learned ministry (22 Jan. 1606; 15 May 1607), and on four occasions he was required to peruse bills directed against pluralism (4 June 1604; 5 Mar. 1606; 4 Mar. 1607; 26 Feb. 1610).28 On 26 June 1604 he reported the bill to relieve clergymen of those responsibilities that interfered with their divine calling and, following the promulgation of the 1604 Canons, he supported parliamentary attempts to restore deprived ministers (7 Mar. 1606 and 14 Mar. 1610).29 In the future he wanted only canons approved by Parliament to be issued, and consequently, on 29 Nov. 1606, he preferred a measure to that effect, reporting the proceedings of the bill committee on 19 Feb. 1607.30 For all his enthusiasm, however, Barrington adopted a realistic attitude towards church reform. When Thomas Wentworth complained on 18 June 1607 that the king had not answered the House’s concerns regarding non-residence, Barrington did not favour submitting a fresh petition, even though he had belonged to the committee which had drafted the original, but instead declared that ‘we having done our duties and the king’s pleasure known, I wish the petition should sleep’.31

Barrington considered it just as important to eliminate the threat of popery as to raise the standards of the parish clergy. He was accordingly twice named to bill committees aimed at firming up the laws on church attendance (27 June 1604 and 19 Mar. 1610), and on 6 June 1604 he was appointed to a committee for a measure to prevent the printing and import of Catholic literature.32 Following the Gunpowder Plot he was included on committees to prevent further popish conspiracies (21 Jan. 1606), to ensure the enforcement of the penal statutes (22 Jan. 1606) and to authorize an annual public thanksgiving (23 Jan. 1606).33 It was not only Catholicism which threatened the Protestant state, however, as so too did low moral standards. Barrington was accordingly included on committees for bills to prevent drunkenness (8 Dec. 1606) and bastardy (19 Mar. and 8 Apr. 1606; 16 May 1610).34 Whether religious opinions explain Barrington’s repeated interest in bills regarding usury (9 May and 9 June 1604; 3 Apr. 1606) is unknown.35

Barrington was not exclusively concerned with religion. A member of both committees concerned with the continuance of expiring statutes in 1604 (25 Mar. and 5 June), he also helped to draft the Form of Apology and Satisfaction of the Commons (1 June 1604).36 On 26 Mar. 1606 he was added to the committee for privileges and was reappointed to its ranks on 12 Mar. 1607.37 He was twice named to attend conferences with the Lords on the Union (14 Apr. 1604 and 24 Nov. 1606) and on 3 May 1604 he was placed on the committee for the bill to naturalize those Scots born after James’s accession to the English throne. At his suggestion the House resolved, on 27 Apr. 1607, to debate the Union the following morning.38 His attitude towards the Union cannot be discerned from the surviving parliamentary records, but the Crown regarded him as hostile, for in August 1607 he was temporarily removed from the Essex bench as a punishment.39

Between 1604 and at least 1607 Barrington spent much of his time at Hackney rather than on his Essex estate.40 This probably explains why, on 31 Jan. 1606, he was appointed to consider the bill to bring water from the River Lea, which ran through Hackney, to north London.41 The proximity of his Essex properties to Hatfield Forest may explain his inclusion on committees for bills on the conversion of coppices into tillage or pasture (28 Apr. 1604) and on assart lands (3 May 1604).42 As both a landlord and a tenant, Barrington was not surprisingly named to consider bills on landholding and rent charges (24 Apr. 1604; 28 Jan. 1606),43 and as a member of the Essex gentry he was naturally appointed to examine the bill to restore the son and heir of (Sir) Thomas Lucas† of Colchester in blood, to which Rich’s estate steward, William Wiseman, was also named (12 and 24 Apr. 1604).44 Unlike Wiseman, Barrington was not appointed to consider the bill regarding the entailed part of the estates of the late lord chancellor, Sir Christopher Hatton† (4 Apr. 1606), even though the measure concerned Sir Robert Rich*, the son of Lord Rich, who had married Hatton’s coheir. Barrington’s connections with Rich presumably explains why a petition opposing the fen drainage bill of 1606/7, drawn up by the owners and commoners of the East Anglian fens, is located among his surviving papers. This measure concerned Sir John Peyton, the Member for Cambridgeshire, who was both a cousin and trustee of Rich’s estate.45

Barrington expressed little recorded interest in purveyance during the Parliament, although Essex was a prime source of foodstuffs and fuel for the board of Greencloth. His name was linked to the subject only once, on 20 Jan. 1606, when he was nominated to consider the bill to ensure the proper enforcement of existing laws against purveyors and cart-takers. There is equally little evidence to indicate that Barrington was greatly vexed by wardship, despite having purchased, in 1598, the guardianship of his lunatic brother-in-law, William Bourchier.46 Apart from being named to attend the conference with the Lords on 26 Mar. 1604 and being added to a committee on 1 June, he showed no concern for the subject. Likewise, Barrington played little recorded part in the negotiations for the Great Contract. Indeed, the only time he seems to have stirred was on 5 May 1610, when he criticized Sir Henry Montagu for reporting only what had been said by the earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) at the previous day’s conference.47

Although he seldom addressed the Commons, Barrington attracted a considerable number of committee nominations: 55 in 1604 and 38 in 1605/6. In fact, he was appointed to so many committees that he could not have attended them all. Certainly he was double-booked six times in 1604, and six times again in February-March 1606.48 On the afternoon of 1 June 1604 he was timetabled to attend no less than four committees simultaneously.49 Although a Member’s committee nominations are not necessarily evidence of his presence in the chamber, the frequency and number of these appointments suggest that Barrington assiduously attended the Commons.50 Indeed, his attendance record may have been exemplary. In 1607, when many took advantage of the assizes, the Midlands Rising and the plague to avoid the chamber rather than discuss the Union,51 Barrington was certainly still in the House. On 23 Mar., the day of the Chelmsford assizes, he and a few other Members were required to meet that afternoon to determine how the House should proceed in the continued absence of the Speaker (Sir Edward Phelips*). By 1 July the House had dwindled to a mere handful of Members, among them Barrington, who asked the Speaker for permission to inspect the Journal.52 It was not only in 1607 that Barrington remained behind when others had gone home. In April 1610 he was one of the few Members to attend the committee for the bill to ensure the better attendance of Members.53

Barrington contributed £50 towards the Privy Seal loans of 1604, for which he was subsequently reimbursed. In 1606 he lent his alma mater, Trinity College, Cambridge, 200 marks towards the cost of the college’s building works, in return for which his lease of Hatfield parsonage was renewed. Such sums were small beer to Barrington, who was among the first to purchase a baronetcy, which cost £1,095. He could also afford to retain as counsel the recorder of London, Sir Henry Montagu,54 and in May 1612 he purchased from Lord Rich his leased manor of Hatfield Broad Oak for £8,000.55 At around the same time he sought to acquire nearby Hatfield Forest, most of which was owned by William, 4th Lord Monteagle, a prominent local Catholic who proved reluctant to sell. From September 1610 he allegedly embarked on a campaign of intimidation against Monteagle, who complained to Star Chamber in October 1614 that Barrington was responsible for beating up his servants and killing his deer.56

On the marriage of his eldest son, Sir Thomas*, Barrington vacated Barrington Hall and moved into the Priory House, on the Hatfield Broad Oak estate, which boasted a brewhouse, a milkhouse, a cheese-loft and an apple-loft.57 When a fresh Parliament was summoned in 1614 he did not seek election, perhaps after hearing that the Commons would be packed with Court nominees. (Sir Francis Bacon* thought that several leading Parliament-men declined to stand for that reason).58 He resumed his parliamentary career in December 1620, when he was elected senior knight for Essex. As in the first Jacobean assembly, he regularly attended the 1621 Parliament, being named to 50 committees and joint conferences and making several minor speeches. At least 15 of his appointments concerned the church or the reform of social manners. Those of a legislative nature dealt with the Sabbath (15 Feb. and 24 May), drunkenness (1 Mar.), recusancy (2 Mar. and 11 May) and swearing (10 Mar.), to which committee his son, Sir Thomas, and his son-in-law, Sir Gilbert Gerard, also belonged. He was also a member of committees concerning the Act of Chantries (22 Mar.), Dover parish (18 Apr.), clerical leases (23 Nov.), the catechizing of children (16 May), Freeford prebend, Lichfield (29 May) and scandalous clergy (23 November).59 He was especially keen to enact the Sabbath bill, for on 5 Mar., as the measure was about to be translated to the Lords, he requested that it be given precedence ‘and special recommendation’.60 He was also keen to tighten up the recusancy laws, for on 13 Feb. he seconded a motion by Sir Nathaniel Rich to strike out of any new bill a clause allowing the king the right to licence Catholic worship as it would offer papists a ‘back-door to evade’.61 Barrington’s anti-Catholic credentials subsequently gained him a place on the eight-strong body appointed to search the study of the Catholic barrister Edward Floyd and to examine those who had overheard the words spoken by Floyd in the Fleet (1 May). He was also chosen to sit on the joint committee for examining Floyd’s offence (8 May),62 and on the body appointed on 29 Nov. to investigate Sir Henry Spiller’s* abuses as the official responsible for the collection of recusancy fines.63

Barrington took no recorded part in the parliamentary attempts to persuade the king to abandon the Spanish Match, nor in the attacks on the lord chancellor (Sir Francis Bacon) or Sir Edward Villiers*. However, he disliked monopolists, for on 6 Mar. he told for the yeas in a division over whether to add a summary to the House’s case against them.64 Moreover, on 28 Feb. he suggested locking the doors of the chamber to prevent Sir Giles Mompesson* from learning prematurely of the House’s intention to arrest him. Informers, too, vexed him: on 7 Mar. he concurred with Sackville, who argued that since any man might err no informer should be trusted, and he was subsequently named to two joint conferences on the subject (19 Apr. and 1 December).65

Barrington was appointed to the privileges committee on 5 February. Three days later he suggested that counsel for the city of Oxford should be allowed to explain at the committee the circumstances behind the election of the borough’s parliamentary representatives.66 He was subsequently (26 Apr.) appointed to help consider the Commons’ business, and accordingly proposed (28 Apr.) that ‘the orders for the House be surveyed weekly’.67 On 22 Feb. he was added to the sub-committee for the courts of justice, and as a member of this body he was ordered, on 6 Mar., to go off and read petitions.68 As a teller in a division held during the subsidy debate of 7 Mar., he supported a proposal to commit a proviso regarding Wales. He again acted as teller on 27 Mar., when he opposed making a request to the Speaker (Sir Thomas Richardson*) for a copy of the king’s speech of the previous day.69 On 22 Feb. he spoke on behalf of the victuallers who put in bonds not to dress meat during Lent. Many of these men were so aggrieved at having to pay fees to the local magistrates and their clerks that they ‘would rather go [to] the gaol than pay’.70 Two days later Barrington seconded Strange’s motion to suppress the Virginia lottery, which was worth £8,000 a year, even though he owned shares in the Virginia Company.71

According to the diarist John Smyth, on the afternoon of 12 May 1621 the bill ‘for Sir Francis Barrington’s land in Norfolk’ was given a second reading. However, Barrington owned no land in Norfolk except as trustee for the late Lord Rich. No other diary mentions this bill, including the journal kept by Barrington’s own son, Sir Thomas, which contains a lengthy account of that afternoon’s proceedings.72 The measure to which Smith referred was probably the one aimed at settling the lands of the lunatic Francis Bonnington on his brother and heir apparent, Ralph, which had been given a first reading on 8 March.73

Barrington was named to the committee for drawing up an elections bill on 10 March. However, as he was not a lawyer the task of helping to create a first draft did not fall to him.74 He was also one of the Members charged, on 24 Apr., with drawing up bills to regulate inns and alehouses, the price of horse meat and the activities of the clerk of the market.75 On 18 May he seconded Sir Robert Phelips’ motion to have the bill permitting free trade in wool made a temporary measure, though why he did so is unclear.76 On 14 Nov. 1621, after hearing that both Houses were to assemble in the Painted Chamber the following afternoon to hear the lord keeper deliver a message from the king, he requested that ‘some course’ be taken ‘for avoiding overcrowding at the meeting, whereby much disease and hurt’. The House sympathized with his complaint, and ordered that action be taken.77 On 28 Nov. 1621 he exhorted his colleagues to be diligent in attending committees, although he himself was not entirely above reproach, having failed to attend either meeting of the committee for the bill to remove suits from inferior courts in April.78 He reacted with ‘grief’ and ‘sorrow’ when he learned in late May that Parliament was shortly to be adjourned, and was no less dismayed on 18 Dec., after a second adjournment was announced, asserting that ‘we can give no satisfaction to His Majesty nor to the country if we should make a session now’.79

Early in 1622 Barrington was summoned by the Council to explain his failure to contribute to the Benevolence and was subsequently persuaded to donate £50.80 In February 1624 he was re-elected as senior knight for Essex. His puritan convictions again influenced his legislative interests, as he was named to bill committees concerning clerical leases (22 Mar.), scandalous clergy (22 Mar.), the fining of recusant wives (1 May) and the curbing of drunkenness (26 Feb.), a measure which he reported (8 March).81 Moreover, disturbed by the growing influence of Arminianism in the church, he was appointed on 15 May to help consider the charges against the bishop of Norwich, Samuel Harsnett.82 His religious views also inclined him to favour a breach with Spain and to oppose those Crown ministers who wished for continued peace. Thus he was appointed to help draft the charges against lord treasurer Middlesex (Lionel Cranfield*) on 12 Apr., and served as a teller for the yeas when the House divided over whether to make Middlesex’s lands liable for his debts (28 May).83 He also belonged to the committee appointed to consider possession of the advowson of Sutton parsonage in Surrey, which was disputed between Lady Grace Darcy and lord keeper Williams, who shared Middlesex’s pacific attitude towards Spain. He attended the committee’s first meeting on the following day, but not the second on 11 May.84 On 1 Mar. he was named to the committee to exonerate Buckingham from the charge of having disparaged Philip IV while addressing both Houses on 24 Feb., and the joint conference established ten days later to consider war preparations.85

Barrington’s name was linked with several issues pertinent to his locality in 1624. On 30 Apr. he was required to consider the bill to authorize the sale of an entailed manor belonging to the late Sir James Poyntz, whose lands at Chipping Ongar lay only a few miles south of Barrington’s Hatfield estate.86 He was also appointed to the bill committee concerning a property in Huntingdonshire claimed by his fellow knight of the shire for Essex, Sir Thomas Cheke* (9 March).87 In this case, Barrington’s nomination may have reflected the fact that Cheke was the brother-in-law of the 2nd earl of Warwick, Barrington’s patron since the death of Lord Rich in 1619. Another issue relevant to Essex was purveyance, a topic in which Barrington had previously shown no recorded interest. On 8 Mar. he was appointed to consider the bill concerning the taking of carts, horses and barges by royal purveyors, but he failed to attend the committee meeting two days later.88 Complaints against the board of Greencloth that year centred on the activities of the purveyor Sir Simon Harvey, who was accused of exempting Middlesex from its share of the cost of carrying provisions for the royal Household and laying the entire expense on Hertfordshire and Essex instead. As a leading member of the Essex gentry, Barrington naturally sided with Harvey’s critics, and when the committee for grievances considered a petition from Hertfordshire’s gentry on 23 Apr. he reported that Harvey had employed threatening words while in Essex. Eight days later he was one of the Members charged with examining Harvey’s books.89

Barrington was again a member of the privileges committee in 1624, a body to which he continued to be named in successive parliaments, and on 27 Feb. he was appointed to the 15-strong committee to consider the liberties and privileges of the House.90 On 24 Mar. he served as teller for the yeas when the House voted to decide whether to validate the elections of Sir Thomas Holland and Sir John Corbet. He again told for the yeas on 7 May, when the House divided over whether to pass a bill concerning the sale of some Northamptonshire lands belonging to Sir Richard Burneby.91 Barrington belonged to the committees appointed to draft the preamble to the subsidy bill (10 Apr.) and draw up a bill to regulate parliamentary elections (15 Mar.), a task he had also been given in 1621.92

In 1624 Barrington belonged to five committees for which attendance records have survived. His absence from the purveyance bill committee has already been remarked upon, as has his attendance of one of the two meetings held to consider the Sutton parsonage bill. The remaining three committees concerned a dispute between two Welshmen, the relief of London’s artisan clothworkers, and the London Feltmakers. Barrington did not attend any of the meetings to consider the first of these subjects, and as far as the artisan clothworkers and Feltmakers’ bill committees were concerned he attended only one out of four meetings in both cases.93

There can be little doubt that Barrington regularly attended the Commons in 1625, when he again sat as the senior knight for Essex. Unlike many of his colleagues, who fled home to avoid the plague, he was present throughout both the Westminster and Oxford sittings. His paramount concern remained religion, for of the 12 committees to which he was named only four - those concerned with privileges and returns (21 June), the earl of Dorset’s (Robert Sackville*) bill (8 July), local payments towards military costs (10 Aug.) and the naturalization of Sir Daniel Deligne and Samuel Bave (11 Aug.)94 - were unconnected with spiritual matters. The rest dealt with recusancy (23 June); the disturbance of clergymen; tippling (a puritan concern); the drafting of the heads of the petition on religion (all 24 June); excommunication (27 June); subscription (27 June), simony (6 July); and the holding of farms by clerics (11 July).95 On 9 July Barrington was one of five Members chosen to acquaint the lord chief justice (Ranulpne Crewe*) with Ignatius Jordan’s complaint that known parts of London were centres of prostitution. Furthermore, on 23 June he was appointed to a joint conference regarding a general fast; on 8 Aug. he was named to another on religion.96

One month after the dissolution Essex was put on a war footing as an enemy landing on the coast was considered imminent. Fearing that the large Catholic population constituted a dangerous fifth column, Barrington advised that the county’s recusants be disarmed.97 In the event, however, the invasion scare proved groundless. In January 1626 Barrington secured his re-election as senior knight for Essex, and also the return of his son-in-law and neighbour, Sir William Masham, for Maldon.98 Once at Westminster he again attracted numerous committee nominations - 55 in all, and two appointments to joint conferences. Needless to say, many of these dealt with religious or moral issues. As well as membership of the committee on religious matters generally (10 Feb.), he was chosen to consider bills regarding simony (14 Feb.); the rights of ecclesiastical patrons (14 Feb.), unworthy ministers (15 Feb.); Freeford prebend (18 Feb.); recusancy (23 Feb.) and recusant children (1 Mar.); travel on the Sabbath (1 Mar.); citations issued by ecclesiastical courts (9 Mar.); clerical magistrates (10 Mar.); unlicensed alehouses (25 Mar.); marriage (6 May); subscription (6 May); curates’ stipends (9 May); preaching (25 May) and sexual misconduct (4 Mar. and 1 June).99 As a deputy lieutenant for Essex, and perhaps mindful of the previous autumn’s invasion scare, Barrington also secured places on two legislative committees, one of which concerned the arms of the kingdom (25 Mar.) and the other local muster-masters (28 March). He may have helped draft the arms bill himself, having been named to the committee appointed for that purpose on 14 March.100 On 3 Mar. he reported the Vincent Lowe land bill after he was named to the committee five days earlier, a measure in which he had no known interest.101 Four times during the session he acted as a teller, and on 13 June he was appointed a collector of the money raised by Members at the end of the session.102 He attended all three meetings of the committee to decide how committee members should be chosen in future,103 and was present for at least one of the meetings of the Freeford prebend bill committee.104 Although not one of the named members, he also attended the single meeting of the committee for the bill to naturalize Samuel Bave and Thomas Southerne,105 perhaps because Bave’s naturalization had formed the subject of one of his committee appointments in the previous Parliament.

Barrington probably supported the attempt to impeach Buckingham. His patron and ally, the earl of Warwick, opposed the duke, and he himself helped present the king on 5 Apr. with the Remonstrance which rebutted Charles’s accusation that the Commons had behaved in an unparliamentary fashion by exploiting the Crown’s need for subsidies to attack Buckingham.106 Moreover, on 26 Apr. he demonstrated his approval of the committee for managing the impeachment by telling for the yeas when the House divided over whether to allow the committee to investigate matters which had not first been laid before the House.107 Buckingham was in no doubt that Barrington was an enemy, for soon after the dissolution it was planned to demand £300 from him as a Privy Seal loan.108 In the event Barrington was apparently spared payment, but following Warwick’s dismissal as lord lieutenant of Essex in September he lost his position as deputy lieutenant, which he had held since 1603. Moreover, for the second time in his life, he was removed from the Essex commission of the peace. He strongly resented this diminution in his local status and authority, and when he and his son-in-law Sir William Masham were required at Romford to swear the oath of office as commissioners for the Forced Loan on 24 Oct. they refused. The following day he was imprisoned in the Marshalsea.109 He immediately feared that he would die in prison, for although he was then in good health he was also in his mid-sixties. The day after his arrest he drew up a short will, in which he recalled ‘that the holy prophet Isaiah gave to Hezekiah by God’s direction when he told him of the approaching of his death, videlicet, that he should put his house in order’. At the end of this document Barrington paid a touching and heartfelt tribute to his wife of 47 years, Lady Joan, who voluntarily undertook to share his imprisonment.110

Soon after he was gaoled, Barrington was visited by Warwick, John Pym*, Sir Richard Everard (his son-in-law) and the clerk of the Commons, John Wright, who lived in south-west Essex. He was subsequently denied visitors altogether, for he later referred to his ‘close imprisonment’, but he was nevertheless visited, perhaps in secret, by John Winthrop the younger, a notable Suffolk puritan.111 By mid-January it was reported that he remained ‘stout and resolute’ and that every Sunday he heard two sermons.112 However, the winter temperatures and the damp, foetid air of his surroundings soon began to take their toll. A medical inspection revealed that ‘his stomach is almost lost, his flesh is greatly wasted; rheum and coughs which abound ever of phlegm increase’. His consumption was so severe that his death seemed imminent, and consequently he appealed to the king to be released, professing that he had never had ‘so much as a disloyal thought against Your Majesty’.113 Charles, who had no wish to make him a martyr, responded by extending his place of imprisonment to the whole of Surrey, thereby allowing Barrington to stay at a garden-house in Southwark. Barrington was not finally freed until 2 Jan. 1628, when the Council ordered the release of all those held prisoner in connection with the Forced Loan.114

Barrington’s lengthy incarceration transformed him into a local hero, for at the general election of March 1628 he was once again returned as senior knight for Essex, obtaining, so it was alleged, ‘all the voices of the 15,000 men’ who voted.115 On taking his seat he was reappointed to the privileges committee, and over the next three months he was named to a further 34 committees and one joint conference. As usual his appointments included several legislative committees relating to the church and personal morality,116 although for the first time in five successive parliaments he was not asked to help organize the House’s communion service.117 Among his more secular appointments were the committee to draft the preamble to the subsidy bill (7 June) and the committee for the bill to secure the liberties of Parliament (28 April). He took no recorded part in the formulation of the Petition of Right, though a concern for the billeting of troops is suggested by his inclusion on the committee to consider the conduct of two deputy lieutenants for Surrey (28 March).118 In April he wrote in favour of Sir John Rous*, who desired to represent Suffolk in the Commons after the previously elected Member, Sir Edward Coke, plumped for Buckinghamshire. Rous was a close ally and adviser of the earl of Warwick, and the latter had recently canvassed strongly on Barrington’s behalf. However, despite Barrington’s letter the seat was taken by Sir William Spring.119

The final mention of Barrington in the records of the 1628 session occurs on 13 June, when he was appointed to consider the Bromfield tenants bill. He may have fallen ill shortly thereafter as he died on 3 July.120 At his own request, he was probably interred in his private chapel at Hatfield Broad Oak. In his will of October 1626 (proved 12 July 1628), Barrington looked forward to a bodily resurrection and joining ‘the rest of God’s Saints’. As regards his earthly wealth he said little, having already settled the bulk of his estate on his eldest son, Sir Thomas, and married off his daughters. He appointed his wife as his sole executrix and left her his lease of Hatfield Broad Oak parsonage, out of which he assigned his two younger sons an annuity of £40. He bequeathed £10 to the poor of the parish to set them to work and ‘to keep them from haunting alehouses, breaking hedges and lopping trees’, and promised them an extra £10 if they behaved.121 A portrait of Barrington, painted in about 1605, shows that he wore his hair short, a characteristic though by no means universal feature of puritans of the period.122 His son, Sir Thomas, represented Essex in both the Short and Long Parliaments.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 147-8.
  • 2. Eg. 2644, f. 157; Al. Cant.; Bodl. Tanner 309, f. 123; GI Admiss.
  • 3. Essex RO, D/DHt T/26/23.
  • 4. Barrington Letters ed. A. Searle (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xxviii), 27; D. Lysons, Environs of London, ii. 485; PROB 11/154, f. 50v.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 104; CB, i. 28.
  • 6. Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Eliz. ed. J.S. Cockburn, 243, 538; Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 1, 25, 32, 60, 71, 253.
  • 7. C231/1, f. 63v; C181/2, f. 231.
  • 8. HMC Foljambe, 37.
  • 9. E115/19/83; 115/29/31; 115/56/7, 13; 115/60/38; 115/104/94; 115/148/18; 115/266/144; C212/22/20-1; Eg. 2651, f. 14v; HMC 7th Rep. 540, 543.
  • 10. HMC 7th Rep. 542.
  • 11. C93/1/12, 19; 93/3/3, 12; 93/4/4; 93/5/7, 16; 93/6/6; 93/8/5.
  • 12. APC, 1599-1600, pp. 110, 128.
  • 13. Add. 11402, f. 89v; SP14/33, f. 4; B. Quintrell, Maynard Ltcy. Bk. 11, 140-1.
  • 14. Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Eliz. 243; C181/1, f. 15; 181/2, ff. 58, 107, 225v; 181/3, f. 68v.
  • 15. C181/2, ff. 32, 230v; 181/3, ff. 233, 251.
  • 16. C54/2397/25.
  • 17. C66/2180; 181/3, f. 95.
  • 18. WARD 7/60/282.
  • 19. Bodl. Firth C4, pp. 257, 593.
  • 20. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 543.
  • 21. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 22. Barrington Letters, 35.
  • 23. G.A. Lowndes, ‘Hist. of Barrington Fam.’, Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. i. 251; G.A. Lowndes, Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ii. 8-9; VCH Essex, viii. 166; Essex RO, D/DQ 14/191.
  • 24. Lowndes, Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ii. 14.
  • 25. Norf. RO, Hare ms 2439, 294/5, 982.
  • 26. For details, see J.T. Cliffe, Puritan Gentry, 11, 38, 159; Barrington Letters, 7, 13; J.A. Newton, ‘Puritanism and the Diocese of York, 1603-40’ (Univ. London Ph.D. thesis, 1955), p. 259.
  • 27. Add. 38492, f. 6; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 368.
  • 28. CJ, i. 232a, 237a, 258a, 277b, 347b, 400b, 1045a.
  • 29. Ibid. 246a, 279a, 410a.
  • 30. Ibid. 326a, 329b, 338a.
  • 31. Bowyer Diary, 343; CJ, i. 375a.
  • 32. CJ, i. 247b, 286b, 233b.
  • 33. Ibid. 257b, 258a-b.
  • 34. Ibid. 286b, 295a, 328b, 429a.
  • 35. Ibid. 204b, 235b, 292b.
  • 36. Ibid. 152b, 230b, 232b.
  • 37. Ibid. 290a, 352a.
  • 38. Ibid. 172a, 197b, 324b, 1035b. For further refs. to Barrington and the Union, see ibid. 1048b, 1049b and 1052b.
  • 39. Ibid. 1048b, 1049b, 1052b; Carleton to Chamberlain ed. M. Lee, 98.
  • 40. Cott. Titus F.V, f. 185; Eg. 2644, ff.157, 159, 165; Lysons, ii. 485.
  • 41. CJ, i. 262b.
  • 42. Ibid. 189b, 197b.
  • 43. Ibid. 183b, 260b.
  • 44. Ibid. 169b, 184a.
  • 45. Essex RO, D/Dba O14.
  • 46. WARD 9/158, ff. 229v-30.
  • 47. CJ, i. 425b.
  • 48. For those of 1604, see ibid. 188a, 189b, 204b, 205b, 214b, 224a, 237b, 238b, 240b, 241a, 238b, 240a. For those of 1606, see ibid. 260b, 261b, 260b, 262a, 267b, 268b, 277b, 279a; 287a, 286b, 287b.
  • 49. Ibid. 226b, 227a, 228b, 230a.
  • 50. See SURVEY.
  • 51. See ‘Attendance’, in SURVEY.
  • 52. CJ, i. 354a; Bowyer Diary, 363. For the Chelmsford assizes, see Cal. of Assize Recs. Jas. I, Essex Indictments ed. J.S. Cockburn, 14.
  • 53. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 185.
  • 54. SCL, EM 1284(a); Essex RO, D/DB L1/3/6.
  • 55. Essex RO, D/DB L1/3/7.
  • 56. STAC 8/227/15.
  • 57. G.A. Lowndes, ‘Inventory of household goods of Sir Thomas Barrington, Bart., at Hatfield Priory’, Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ii. 172-5.
  • 58. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, v. 181.
  • 59. CJ, i. 523a, 532b, 534a, 548b, 568b, 617a, 622a, 626a, 631a, 643a-b.
  • 60. Ibid. 538a.
  • 61. Ibid. 519a. Two days later he was named to the joint conference to discuss the threat of Catholicism: ibid. 522a.
  • 62. CJ, i. 600b, 614b; CD 1621, iii. 119.
  • 63. CJ, i. 652a.
  • 64. Ibid. 532a, 541a.
  • 65. Ibid. 542b, 582b, 654b.
  • 66. Ibid. 507b, 514a.
  • 67. CD 1621, vi. 100; iii. 110.
  • 68. Ibid. vi. 262, 276.
  • 69. CJ, i. 544a, 577b.
  • 70. CD 1621, ii. 132.
  • 71. Ibid. vi. 7.
  • 72. CD 1621, v. 374. For the Barrington diary entry, see ibid. iii. 240-4. The CJ contains no account of that afternoon’s proceedings.
  • 73. CJ, i. 544b; CD 1621, iv. 133; vi. 37. None of the descriptions of this bill indicate where the Bonnington lands were located.
  • 74. CJ, i. 548a.
  • 75. Ibid. 590a.
  • 76. Ibid. 625a; CD 1621, iii. 289.
  • 77. CJ, i. 640b.
  • 78. CD 1621, vi. 204; Kyle, 192. For his appointment, see CJ, i. 583a.
  • 79. CJ, i. 668a; CD 1621, iii. 361; vi. 338.
  • 80. SP14/127/44; 156/14.
  • 81. CJ, i. 674b, 679b, 696a, 746a.
  • 82. Ibid. 705a.
  • 83. Ibid. 746a, 797b.
  • 84. Ibid. 785b; Kyle, 213.
  • 85. CJ, i. 683a, 722a.
  • 86. Ibid. 694b.
  • 87. Ibid. 680a.
  • 88. Ibid. 679a; Kyle, 195. Barrington had been named to a similar bill cttee. in 1621: CJ, i. 586a.
  • 89. ‘Earle 1624’, f. 158v; CJ, i. 696a. For the charges against Harvey, see CJ, i. 702a- b.
  • 90. CJ, i. 671b, 720a, 799b, 816b, 873a.
  • 91. Ibid. 699a, 749b.
  • 92. Ibid. 686a, 762a.
  • 93. Kyle, 203-4, 215; CJ, i. 767b, 768a, 698.
  • 94. CJ, i. 799b, 807a, 813b, 815a.
  • 95. Procs. 1625, pp. 226, 238-40, 253, 322, 368, 378.
  • 96. Ibid. 228, 360, 422.
  • 97. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p.101.
  • 98. Essex RO, D/B 3/3/658.
  • 99. CJ, i. 817b, 819a, 819b, 821b, 824a, 826b, 827b, 830b, 833a, 834a, 841a, 853a, 856a, 864a, 865b.
  • 100. Ibid. 836a, 841a, 842b.
  • 101. Ibid. 826a, 829b.
  • 102. Ibid. 817a, 833a, 849a, 870b.
  • 103. Kyle, 232.
  • 104. Ibid. 230. The cttee. appears to have met at least twice. For evidence of a 2nd meeting, see Procs. 1626, ii. 151-2.
  • 105. Kyle, 229.
  • 106. CJ, i. 844a. For the Remonstrance, see R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 316-17; C. Russell, PEP, 292-3.
  • 107. CJ, i. 849a.
  • 108. E401/2586, p. 461.
  • 109. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 161-2.
  • 110. PROB 11/154, ff. 50v-1; Eg. 2644, f. 251.
  • 111. Hunts. RO, dd/M24/4; Winthrop Pprs. Mass. Hist. Soc. i. 337.
  • 112. Birch, i. 186, 188.
  • 113. Lowndes, Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ii. 23.
  • 114. Birch, i. 243; APC, 1627-8, p. 217.
  • 115. Birch, i. 329.
  • 116. CJ, i. 877b, 879b, 833a, 884a, 885b, 886a-b, 887b, 888b, 904a.
  • 117. Ibid. 873b. For his previous appointments, see ibid. 508a, 671b, 799a, 817a.
  • 118. Ibid. 876a, 889b, 910a.
  • 119. C. Thompson, ‘New Light on the Suff. Elections to the Parl. of 1628’, Suff. Review, 1988, n.s. x, 19, 23.
  • 120. CJ, i. 913a; C142/450/72.
  • 121. PROB 11/154, ff. 50v-1.
  • 122. Cliffe, 57.