BERKELEY, Sir Maurice (c.1577-1617), of Bruton, Som.

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.1577,1 1st s. of Sir Henry Berkeley† of Bruton and Margaret, da. of William Lygon of Madresfield, Worcs. and wid. of Sir Thomas Russell† (d. 9 Apr. 1574) of Strensham, Worcs.; bro. of Sir Henry Berkeley*.2 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1590, aged 13, BA 1593; M. Temple 1594;3 vol. Cadiz expedition 1596;4 embassy, France 1598.5 m. by 1597, Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Killigrew I* of Hanworth, Mdx., 5s. 2da.6 kntd. 27 June 1596.7 suc. fa. 1601. d. 1 May 1617.8

Offices Held

Steward, S. Stoke and Corton manors, Som. 1601;9 j.p. Som. by 1602-d.,10 commr. sewers 1603, 1610, 1616,11 col. militia ft. by 1605-9, dep. lt. from 1608,12 collector, aid 1612-13.13

Member, Queen Anne’s Council from 1603,14 Council for Virg. 1607.15

Cttee. Virg. Co. 1609;16 member, E.I. Co. 1611.17


Berkeley belonged to a junior branch of the aristocratic Gloucestershire family, which achieved prominence in Somerset through the career of his grandfather and namesake in the mid-sixteenth century. The elder Sir Maurice, a protégé of Thomas Cromwell†, exploited his Court connections to acquire a substantial landed estate, including the site of Bruton priory, and represented Somerset in the Commons three times between 1547 and 1581. Berkeley’s father, Sir Henry, continued this proud record, serving as knight of the shire in 1584 and 1586, and also as Somerset’s sheriff in the year of the Armada.18 Events during Berkeley’s own formative years suggested that he would build successfully on these foundations. Knighted during the 1596 Cadiz expedition, he entered the Commons in the following year, sitting for Truro on the nomination of his father-in-law, the courtier Sir William Killigrew. His advantageous marriage brought him distant kinship ties with Sir Robert Cecil†, whom he accompanied on a mission to France in 1598. Berkeley briefly remained at Rennes with his friend Tobie Matthew* to nurse a sick relative, but in August that year he again offered his services to Cecil, unsuccessfully requesting a naval command. Matthew praised Berkeley as ‘a gallant, noble, witty gentleman, and withal a most honest man’, even while deploring his puritan convictions. His local standing was confirmed when he sat for Somerset in the 1601 Parliament, shortly after succeeding to his patrimony.19

Berkeley’s inheritance was somewhat smaller than he may have anticipated. His father made generous provision for his younger sons shortly before his death, reducing his estate to just three manors and a few other minor properties. Moreover, Berkeley never held the title to his main seat at Bruton, which was held in jointure by his mother, who outlived him. His prospects were further hindered by a tendency to introspection and self-doubt. In 1608 he claimed that he had never considered himself ‘destinated to a public life’ on account of his ‘general inability, besides many particular infirmities’. Nevertheless, he was appointed in 1603 to Queen Anne’s Council, with oversight of her interests in Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire, presumably through Cecil’s influence. Although this post was largely honorific it reaffirmed Berkeley’s local status, and also bound him loosely to the government’s interests.20

In 1604 Berkeley was returned to Parliament for the West Somerset borough of Minehead. Although he made only eight speeches during the first session, he was named to 24 committees and four conferences with the Lords. One of the more prominent Members from the outset, he was appointed on 28 Mar. to attend the king when the Commons defended its actions over the Buckinghamshire election dispute. He was also nominated to two bill committees concerned with membership of the House (26-7 April).21 Probably on account of his ties to Cecil, the master of the Court of Wards, Berkeley took a close interest in the Commons’ drive to reform wardship, and he was named on 26 Mar. to attend the conference at which the Lords were invited to join in petitioning James for permission to discuss this topic. After an encouraging start, this campaign ground to a halt in early Apr., but Berkeley revived it on 16 May with ‘an excellent and a long speech’ in which he argued for wardship reform to be linked to the ongoing discussions about purveyance. Having persuaded the House to approach the Lords again, he was named to the resultant conference (22 May), though he left it to other Members to develop detailed proposals.22

While Berkeley possibly aimed to help Cecil over wardship, he was openly hostile to the government’s proposals for the Union of England and Scotland. On 18 Apr. he objected strongly to the adoption of the name Great Britain, arguing that if the traditional names were to be lost, then Scotland should initiate the change, being the less glorious and honourable kingdom of the two. According to Dudley Carleton*, it was thus Berkeley who ‘first turned the stream backward’ in the Union debates.23 He resumed his complaints on 20 Apr. when a conference was proposed with the Lords to discuss the change of name, warning the House that it must ‘either proceed with danger, or desist with shame’. Appointed the same day to attend the king and hear James’s own views on the Union, Berkeley was also nominated on 27 Apr. to participate in a further conference with the Lords on this subject, with a brief to speak on ‘matter of honour and reputation’. On 2 May he was named to the abortive committee to draft a justification of the Commons’ proceedings over the Union, and when Sir Herbert Croft raised doubts about the bill to establish a Union commission, Berkeley was appointed to help consider these objections (22 May). He was also nominated to the committee for the bill to annex certain English lands to James and his heirs, and to the subsequent conference on this measure (4-5 July).24

Berkeley was well aware of the dangers of an open rift between monarch and Commons, arguing on 14 June that the recently approved Tunnage and Poundage bill was offered to James not of necessity but as ‘a mere gratuity, which might well quell the rumour of distaste between the king and the Lower House’. Nevertheless, he reacted firmly after James confiscated a seditious ‘bill’ presented to the Commons, thereby preventing Members from discovering its contents. With the Commons’ control of its own business suddenly in doubt, Berkeley moved on 23 May that ‘no bill, being preferred to the Speaker, or the House, [was] to be delivered to the king, or to be sent for by the king, without notice to the House’.25

The fact that the offensive ‘bill’ was thought to touch on religion may have influenced Berkeley’s attitude. His puritan credentials were apparently well known, and he was appointed both to help prepare for a conference with the Lords on religious grievances (19 Apr.) and to consider a bill to restrict the circulation of popish books (6 June).26 His personal interests also encouraged his involvement with several private measures. On 12 June he called for the committal of a bill to settle the estates of the earl of Hertford, then lord lieutenant of Somerset. Duly named to the committee, he took over its chairmanship on 18 June, though he failed to report back before the end of the session.27 Berkeley was probably nominated to the bill committee concerned with the estates of Sir Henry Neville II* (14 May) on the strength of his kinship with Sir Henry Neville I*, his wife’s cousin by marriage. However, his speech on this measure on 29 June was not adequately recorded. His appointment on 2 Apr. to the legislative committee concerned with the restitution in blood of the earl of Southampton certainly reflected his close relationship with the peer. When Southampton was arrested on 1 July, just before the end of the session, following false allegations that he planned to kill some Scottish courtiers, Berkeley briefly found himself under suspicion as one of the earl’s closest associates. Fortunately for him his reputation was untainted by this incident, and Tobie Matthew considered that Berkeley ‘hath done exceeding well’ in the Commons.28

Berkeley maintained a similar level of performance during the 1605-6 parliamentary session, receiving nominations to 29 committees and two conferences, though once again he made just eight speeches. In the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, his religious fervour will have been welcomed in the Commons. Appointed to committees to consider action against Catholic conspirators, and to scrutinize the attainder bill for the Gunpowder plotters (21 Jan., 30 Apr.), he was also named to help consider how to encourage a learned ministry in England, and to address the threat posed by English Catholic mercenaries serving under the archdukes in the Low Countries (22 Jan., 6 February).29 By now Berkeley had clearly absorbed some of Minehead’s local priorities, and he secured appointment to five bill committees concerned with trade, the issues ranging from corrupt customs officials to impositions (15 and 19 March). He was also named on 16 May to attend a conference with the Lords on beer exports.30 Of the ten private measures with which he was associated, he certainly followed the progress of William Davison’s† bill to settle the reversion of his King’s Bench office on his own children. Berkeley’s kinsman Sir John Leigh*, his wife’s stepbrother, also had an interest in this post, and when the bill reached its third reading on 5 Apr. Berkeley requested that Leigh’s counsel be heard at the bar of the Commons, alleging that Davison’s initiative had offended the king. The House agreed, but by 8 Apr. both parties had appealed to James, and Berkeley accordingly moved that the hearing of counsel be delayed until the king’s pleasure was known.31

For much of this session Berkeley was on cordial terms with the government. This was demonstrated most conspicuously on 10 Feb., when he seconded a motion from Sir Thomas Ridgeway, his colleague on Queen Anne’s Council, for a committee to debate supply. Indeed, on 22 Mar. he was one of three Members appointed to attend the king following rumours that James had been assassinated, and he delivered the monarch’s thanks to the House two days later. Such personal prominence was presumably a factor behind Berkeley’s addition to the committee for privileges on 26 March.32 Nevertheless, he again proved a staunch defender of the Commons’ interests, particularly over purveyance. When Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, criticized John Hare during the conference on 19 Feb. for his outspoken opposition to this much-abused Crown prerogative, Berkeley responded firmly. In a ‘very good speech’ three days later, he not only moved that Hare should be cleared by the House of any wrongdoing, but insisted that the Lords should be informed of that verdict, adding ‘that we desire all reprehension at conferences [ought] to be forborne, for, quoth he, if we meet upon such disadvantage I could wish our conferences should not be so frequent as they have been this session’. This proposal was adopted, and Berkeley was duly appointed to help draft the message. On 27 Feb. he was also nominated to attend the next conference concerning purveyance. He subsequently argued against Salisbury’s proposal for a composition to replace purveyance, instead backing Hare’s call on 6 Mar. for the Commons to reform this practice by means of a bill:

we may as lawfully though not so possibly be drawn to compound for our lives and lands as for the matter of purveyance; also the prerogative cannot nor ought not to be bought or compounded for; neither any increase of subsidy, for when that money shall be spent the king’s wants will remain. I wish such course may be taken for supply of the king’s occasions as may serve for perpetuity without charge to the people.33

Berkeley may also have lobbied behind the scenes for action against purveyance. Around this time, he worked closely with Sir Herbert Croft and Sir Robert Wingfield, rallying support for some ‘intended business’ which was ‘much desired by the whole state’. Such a clear espousal of thoroughgoing reform doubtless helped to secure him a nomination to the committee to consider what other grievances should be included in a petition to the king (8 April).34

It was presumably in the aftermath of this session that Berkeley was summoned before the Privy Council to answer the improbable charge that he had promised to oppose anti-Catholic legislation in the Commons, and had even expressed support for a Catholic rising in England. The Council apparently accepted his vigorous denial of these allegations, which originated with the recusant dowager countess of Southampton.35

Berkeley was markedly less active in the 1606-7 parliamentary session, making only three speeches, and securing nomination to just 11 committees. His primary concern was once again the Union. He was appointed on 24 Nov. to the meeting at which the Lords gave their initial reactions to the Instrument of Union, and he was also named to help prepare for a conference on the same topic (11 December). However, his personal attitudes became clear only in the New Year. Having been nominated on 24 Feb. to prepare for a further conference on the naturalization of Scots, on 2 Mar. he condemned the Crown’s legal opinion that all Scots born since James ascended the English throne, the so-called post-nati, were automatically naturalized. Asserting that such an issue must be settled by Parliament, he called for a committee to gather arguments for and against. He was duly appointed to the next conference on this issue (7 Mar.), with a brief to defend, if necessary, the Commons’ contention that all Scots should be treated the same, regardless of their date of birth. He remained firmly of that opinion on 28 Mar., insisting that any concessions on that point would give countenance to the judges’ ruling on the post-nati. Nevertheless, Berkeley took a more constructive approach to other aspects of the Union, on 8 May producing in committee a draft bill for partial repeal of the hostile laws. This document was not read on the procedural grounds that it must first be introduced in a full sitting, and it was apparently then withdrawn.36

Berkeley’s other principal business concerned the recent massive flooding in the Bristol Channel. He chaired the committee established on 3 Mar. to consider relief measures, but the proposals that he reported to the House on 27 March were referred back for further discussion. Understandably, he was named to the legislative committee concerning the estates of his late kinsman, Sir Jonathan Trelawny* (21 February). As in the previous session, he was added to the committee for privileges (16 June), this time so that he could advise on whether the Commons might continue working on an anti-Catholic petition that the king had vetoed in anticipation. Ten days later he was named to the committee for the bill to amend the legislation underpinning High Commission.37

In July 1608 Berkeley accepted the earl of Hertford’s invitation to become a Somerset deputy lieutenant, characteristically commenting that ‘howsoever in my nature I am averse from business, yet in this I am resolved that my industry shall in some measure supply the rest of my defects’. However, he warned that he was frequently absent from the county on business. In addition to his responsibilities as one of the queen’s councillors, he had been appointed to the Council for Virginia in 1607, while his involvement in the colony’s affairs deepened in 1609 when he joined the Virginia Company’s board of directors.38

The first parliamentary session of 1610 brought Berkeley his highest recorded level of business, with at least 38 committee appointments, although he still made only 12 speeches. He doubtless paid close interest to the bill to repair Minehead harbour, being nominated to the committee on 23 Feb., though he neither reported the measure nor commented on it publicly. His status as a port town burgess probably explains his appointment to the committee for the shipping bill (28 Feb.), which he chaired. On a personal matter, he was granted stay of trial on 26 Apr. in a King’s Bench suit against Sir Thomas Thynne*.39 Berkeley’s religious priorities were reflected in his nomination to committees to scrutinize the bill against compulsory clerical subscription to the 1604 Canons, and to draft a bill concerning excommunication (14 Mar., 4 May). He also called for ‘ecclesiastical censures to be remembered’ in the general pardon (16 July).40

Berkeley’s reputation in the House remained high. He chaired the committee for the bill to naturalize the king’s favourite, Sir Robert Carr, and was named to help prepare for the conference with the Lords on Dr. John Cowell’s controversial Interpreter (20 and 27 February). Appointed to help sort the general grievances for presentation to James (11 May), he was also nominated to settle their final details (26 June).41 Berkeley was closely involved in the case of Sir Stephen Proctor, a notorious patentee. Nominated on 8 Mar. to investigate the complaints against him, he was also named to the committee for the bill to strip Proctor of his knighthood (15 June), and on 16 July he called for the offender to be excluded from the general pardon.42

Given his ties to the earl of Salisbury, who was now lord treasurer, it was not surprising that Berkeley was heavily involved in the Great Contract negotiations. He was almost certainly the ‘Berkley’ appointed on 15 Feb. to the conference at which Salisbury laid out the Crown’s financial needs. If that is the case then he was also entitled to attend the conference on 24 Feb., at which the lord treasurer first sketched out the Contract. Berkeley opened the debate on these proposals on 28 Feb., accepting the broad principle of an annual supply for the king, but insisting that the bargain must include a deal over wardship, which was not yet on offer. Contradicting his previous statements on the Crown’s prerogative revenues, he now insisted that it was feasible to compound for wardship. The next day, he was nominated to help draft a message to the Lords requesting clarification of the Contract.43 By 15 Mar. James had conceded that the Commons might discuss wardship, and Berkeley seconded Humphrey May’s motion for regular debates on this issue by the whole House. However, negotiations ran into serious trouble when, on 26 Apr., the Commons offered to provide James with an annual grant of only £100,000, half the sum originally requested. Once it became apparent that this was unacceptable, the House hastily sought to clarify its position, asserting that this was merely an interim proposal. Berkeley helped to draft the appropriate message to the Lords, but the text that he reported to Members on 2 May was rejected, and he was promptly appointed to revise it. Naturally, he was then also nominated to attend the conference at which the message was presented, and to help prepare the report (3 May).44

While the government pondered its next move over the Contract, the Commons turned its attention to impositions, prompting the king to ban discussion of this issue. When it emerged that his message, delivered by the Speaker, had actually originated with the Privy Council, the House resolved to receive no such messages in future. James took offence and a stand-off ensued, which Berkeley attempted to resolve on 19 May, seconding a motion by Thomas Wentworth I that the Commons’ restraining order should not be entered in the Journal. Although initially unpopular, this motion did defuse the situation. Despite this brave intervention, Berkeley was determined that impositions should be debated. On 23 May, while the House awaited permission to present James with a petition requesting free speech, he ‘moved that the petition might presently be entered and (though it were vehemently opposed by some and affirmed that that was not fit till it was delivered), the House concluded it should be first entered and engrossed in parchment after and delivered to the king’.45

Berkeley’s attitude towards the Crown was now distinctly ambivalent. On 14 June he opposed an immediate grant of supply on the grounds that the government had not adequately redressed grievances. Four days later he was named to prepare a message to the Lords agreeing to renew discussion of the Great Contract, but on 3 July he was also appointed to help draft a petition to the king about impositions. He was one of the eight Members invited on 10 July to a private meeting with Salisbury in Hyde Park, at which the lord treasurer defended impositions. When news of this discussion reached the Commons, it was widely assumed that Berkeley and his colleagues were ‘plotters of some new designs; and the great matter of the Contract was in danger, by this jealousy, to have sped the worse, which most of these did seek to advance’.46 Berkeley was nominated to help prepare for the next two conferences on the Contract, at which higher offers of £180,000 and then £200,000 were made (14 and 19 July). However, on 18 July he backed Sir Herbert Croft’s motion for the last-minute inclusion in the Contract discussions of a potential complicating factor, the issue of the four English shires governed by the Council of Wales. On the following day he also moved for the new revenues raised from land to be capped at £100,000 a year, while apparently proposing compensation for Salisbury, who stood to lose significant revenues through the abolition of wardship. Despite this latter intervention, which seemed to compromise his independent judgment, he was appointed on 20 July to help manage the conference with the Lords at which the draft Contract was finally settled.47

Berkeley is known to have spoken six times during the ill-reported autumn session of 1610. The first ten days saw barely any further progress on the Contract, and on 27 Oct. he proposed an explanation. While it was tempting to blame the delay on the thin attendance in the Commons, Berkeley believed that the real problem lay elsewhere:

as one that wisheth from his heart all good to the Contract, I wish that the first thing we do be to call for the king’s answer to our grievances, and if we find the answers satisfactory we may then with cheerfulness go on with the Contract. But ... we shall never go forward till the cause of our stay be both moved and removed.

Four days later, James himself demanded a clear verdict on the Contract, but Berkeley was more concerned to defend the Commons’ behaviour than to press on with the negotiations. On 3 Nov. he produced a draft reply to the king, in which he shamelessly contradicted his earlier argument, recommending that the ‘want of competent number’ of Members be used to excuse the delays. ‘If our demands be granted, and no more shall be imposed upon the land, His Majesty shall perceive that we now are as constant to persevere with the Contract, as we were forward to undertake it’. Sir Robert Phelips proposed a vote on this text, which was promptly rejected ‘as too ceremonious and complimentical, and not real and actual’.48

During the next few years Berkeley focused on commercial ventures. Still actively involved in the Virginia Company, in 1611 he also joined the East India Company. Meanwhile, he had become an undertaker in the Ulster plantation, though he probably overreached himself financially with this project. He failed to develop his 2,000 acres in County Donegal, and parted with the land in 1613.49 Berkeley collected the aid for Princess Elizabeth in Somerset in 1612-13, but he still professed to have little interest in seeking office. Writing to Sir Robert Phelips in November 1612, he claimed: ‘I am not only addicted but given over to a private life. I am not so vain as to expect to be sought, nor so ambitious as to meddle much without being called’. Nevertheless, he encouraged Phelips to engage with Sir Henry Neville I’s plans for managing a future Parliament. Perhaps for that reason, Sir Francis Bacon* in 1613 concluded that Berkeley would be ‘respective’ towards the government when he next entered the Commons.50

When Parliament was summoned in 1614, Berkeley again stood successfully as a knight of the shire, though his clumsy attempts to broker a deal between his potential partners, Phelips and John Poulett, resulted in a bruising contest. Phelips, the eventual loser, never forgave Berkeley for what he regarded as an act of betrayal.51 Once again a prominent figure in the Lower House, with 13 committee appointments and 13 speeches to his name, Berkeley was added to the committee for privileges on 9 April. Ten days later, during a debate on the Cambridgeshire election, he insisted that only the Commons possessed the power to judge electoral returns, and was promptly nominated to help draft a bill regulating elections.52 Berkeley’s earlier involvement in Neville’s project to manage Parliament made him particularly sensitive now to allegations of government ‘undertaking’. Following Francis Ashley’s claim that the attorney-general, Sir Francis Bacon, was likely to brief the king on the Commons’ proceedings, Berkeley proposed on 12 Apr. that James be requested to ignore such reports unless they were confirmed by the Speaker, and recommended ‘a motion to clear the undertaking’. The next day he was appointed to consider a message to the king protesting against undertakers. His final comment on this issue came on 13 May, after his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Killigrew, scandalized the House by physically threatening Sir Roger Owen during a grand committee debate on undertaking. Probably seeking to play down the incident, Berkeley observed that Killigrew was merely ‘accused of offering to pull Sir R. Owen out of the chair’, an interpretation that Owen himself immediately disputed.53

True to his puritan convictions, on 12 Apr. Berkeley attacked the ecclesiastical courts, which he denounced as a greater burden on the people than four subsidies, singling out the oath ex officio, by which witnesses might be required to incriminate themselves. His call for a new bill to reform such abuses was initially ignored, but when Nicholas Fuller’s bill against the oath ex officio received a second reading on 31 May, Berkeley was named to the committee. That same day, he was teller for the yeas in the vote on whether to commit a bill against drunkenness. Doubtless a supporter of Princess Elizabeth’s union with the Protestant Elector Palatine, he was appointed to the conference with the Lords concerning the bill to confirm the marriage settlement (14 April).54 Berkeley was representing his county’s interests when, on 3 May, he denounced the patent for the French Company of London as illegal, and called for it to be cancelled. On 20 May he preferred a private bill, but it failed to receive a reading, and its contents are unknown.55

With his sometime patron Salisbury now dead, Berkeley was much more openly critical of the government. On 6 May he backed Francis Moore’s proposal to bar all proceedings for concealed lands after 80 years’ quiet possession by Crown tenants. Following the second reading of the bill to abolish impositions, on 18 Apr., he opened the debate with a vigorous attack on the Exchequer barons’ verdict in Bate’s Case; in Berkeley’s opinion, although impositions ‘brought a great treasure into His Majesty’s coffers, yet it lost him a double treasure: the first in the love of his subjects; the second making them unwilling to relieve him’. On 5 May he was named to help prepare for a conference with the Lords on this subject.56 After Bishop Neile of Lincoln attacked the Commons’ behaviour over impositions, Berkeley argued that a complaint based on common fame should immediately be sent to the Lords (25 May). He remained convinced that this was the best solution even after the peers as a whole declined to back the Lower House over impositions (26 May), and only reluctantly supported the decision to suspend proceedings until the Lords dealt satisfactorily with Neile: ‘at first he thought it not fit to cease from all other business till we had answer, but the House being bent otherwise made him now see the wisdom of the House therein’ (30 May). Having fallen into line, he was promptly appointed to draft a second message to the Lords requesting action over Neile.57 The consequent reply from the Upper House, that Neile had apologized and the matter was now closed, clearly angered Berkeley, who argued on 1 June that the Commons should continue to complain.

Although the Lower House have but common fame for accusing the bishop, yet their lordships know that the words were spoken, and there might be sufficient witness thereof if they were fit to be produced. That it may teach the Commons how to deal with the Lords on the like occasion.

He now also favoured an approach to James over this issue, while sagely advising: ‘we should first proceed to do something for the king that might make us more acceptable’. Nevertheless, he appears not to have produced any positive proposals during the following week, as relations between the Commons and Crown deteriorated. Only on 7 June, as the confrontation over impositions reached its climax, and the threat of dissolution loomed, did Berkeley again intervene, urging the House ‘to continue the Parliament by a good message’. Asserting that ‘the king has granted more grace than five of his progenitors’, and that ‘the marriage of the Lady Elizabeth [was] of more worth to the subject than prejudice by the payment of the king’s debts’, he moved for supply. However, his desperate attempt to accuse alleged crypto-Catholics in the House of blocking a subsidy grant was ruled out of order.58

Shortly before the dissolution, Berkeley met a Somerset clergyman, Edmund Peacham, to discuss a local petition against the ecclesiastical courts. A few months later the government prosecuted Peacham for sedition, and in November Berkeley was summoned before the Privy Council, partly in connection with that business, and partly to report on the reaction in Somerset to the unpopular Benevolence. Fortunately for Berkeley, Peacham confirmed that he barely knew Sir Maurice, who was able to satisfy the councillors.59

Berkeley made his will on 26 Apr. 1617, already ‘sick in body’, but ‘confidently believing’ that he would ‘be made partaker of eternal glory in the kingdom of heaven’. His son Charles* was still under age, and he named as co-executors his wife and two friends who were currently bound as guarantors for repayment of his debts. He also assigned the revenues from several minor estates towards satisfying his numerous creditors. Despite these financial concerns, he bequeathed dowries totalling £3,500 to his daughters. He also left £20 to establish a stock for poor tradesmen at Bruton, and, in a codicil of 28 Apr., provided for ‘a reverend and a learned preacher’ there, who was to have his own house and £40 a year. Berkeley died three days later, ‘far indebted’ according to the newsletter writer John Chamberlain. Sir George Carew I*, another colleague on Queen Anne’s Council, preferred to remember him as ‘a gentleman ... of many good parts’.60

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Date calculated from age at admiss. to Oxf.
  • 2. Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 6; C142/172/163.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. S. and E. Usherwood, Counter-Armada, 1596, p. 147.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, viii. 16; xxiii. 22.
  • 6. Vis. Som. 6.
  • 7. Usherwood, 147.
  • 8. C142/270/148; 142/366/170.
  • 9. E315/309, f. 138v.
  • 10. C66/1594, 2076.
  • 11. C181/1, f. 70; 181/2, ff. 129v, 245v.
  • 12. Earl of Hertford’s Ltcy. Pprs. ed. W.P.D. Murphy (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 57, 112, 147.
  • 13. E403/2732, f. 169.
  • 14. Add. 38139, f. 104v (ex inf. Dr. Helen Payne).
  • 15. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 93.
  • 16. Ibid. 232.
  • 17. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 240.
  • 18. Vis. Som. 5-6; HP Commons, 1509-58, i. 418-19; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 124.
  • 19. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 432; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 268; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 3), iv. 20; HMC Hatfield, viii. 16, 323; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, pp. 52, 54; Conversion of Sir Tobie Matthew ed. A.H. Mathew, 85.
  • 20. C142/270/148; 142/366/170; Hertford’s Ltcy. Pprs. 113; Add. 38139, f. 104v; L.L. Peck, Court Patronage and Corruption, 3, 223 n. 6.
  • 21. CJ, i. 157a, 185a, 187b.
  • 22. Ibid. 154a, 222b, 973a.
  • 23. Ibid. 176b-7a; B. Galloway, Union of Eng. and Scotland, 20; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, iii. 192.
  • 24. CJ, i. 179b, 188b, 197a, 222b, 252a-b, 952b.
  • 25. Ibid. 978a, 992a-b.
  • 26. Ibid. 178a, 233b.
  • 27. Ibid. 237a, 990b, 994a, 1002b.
  • 28. Ibid. 162a, 210a, 1000a; Vivian, 268, 270; PRO 31/3/38 (5 July 1604); CSP Ven. 1603-7, pp. 165, 168; Collection of Letters made by Sir Tobie Mathews ed. J. Donne (1660), pp. 291-2.
  • 29. CJ, i. 257b-8a, 264b, 303a.
  • 30. Ibid. 285a, 287a-b, 292b, 295a, 310a.
  • 31. Ibid. 294b; Bowyer Diary, 104, 108; Vivian, 268, 270.
  • 32. CJ, i. 266a, 288b, 290a; Bowyer Diary, 31.
  • 33. CJ, i. 273a, 275b, 278b; Bowyer Diary, 50-1, 62.
  • 34. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 389, 456; CJ, i. 295a.
  • 35. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 378.
  • 36. CJ, i. 324, 329b, 340a, 350a, 1024b, 1033b; Bowyer Diary, 245-6; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, iii. 344.
  • 37. CJ, i. 339a, 346a, 355a, 387b; Vivian, 268; Bowyer Diary, 333.
  • 38. Hertford’s Ltcy. Pprs. 113.
  • 39. CJ, i. 399a, 402a, 409a, 421a-b.
  • 40. Ibid. 410b, 424b, 450b.
  • 41. Ibid. 397b, 398b, 400b, 427b, 443b.
  • 42. Ibid. 408a, 440a, 450b.
  • 43. Ibid. 393b, 398a, 402a, 403b.
  • 44. Ibid. 411b, 423a-b, 424b; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 361.
  • 45. CJ, i. 430a; Procs. 1610, ii. 97, 113.
  • 46. CJ, i. 439b, 441a, 445b; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 123.
  • 47. CJ, i. 449b, 451b-2a, 453a.
  • 48. Procs. 1610, ii. 305, 393, 396.
  • 49. Brown, i. 466; Rabb, 240; CSP Ire. 1608-10, pp. 180, 548; 1611-14, pp. 122-3, 201, 318; HMC Hastings, iv. 171.
  • 50. Som. RO, DD/PH219/107; C. Roberts and O. Duncan, ‘Parl. Undertaking of 1614’, EHR, xciii. 488; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, iv. 370.
  • 51. M.A. Kishlansky, Parl. Selection, 85-100.
  • 52. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 41, 104, 106-7.
  • 53. Ibid. 66, 76, 229.
  • 54. Ibid. 59-60, 82, 393, 395.
  • 55. Ibid. 128, 302.
  • 56. Ibid. 93-4, 100, 152, 163; Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 66.
  • 57. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 351, 359, 381, 386.
  • 58. Ibid. 403, 409, 411, 437, 443.
  • 59. S.R. Gardiner, Hist. Eng. 1603-42, ii. 272, 274; APC, 1613-14, pp. 611-12; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, v. 126; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 568, 584.
  • 60. PROB 11/130, ff. 1-2v; C142/366/170; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 74; Carew Letters ed. J. Maclean (Cam. Soc. lxxvi), 106.