CARNABY, Sir William (c.1593-1645), of Farnham (Thernham), Alwinton and Bothal, Northumb.

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.) - 26 Aug. 1642

Family and Education

b. c.1593, 1st s. of William Carnaby of Farnham and Langley, Northumb., and Mabel, da. of Cuthbert Carnaby of Aydon, Northumb. m. Jane, da. of Sir Robert Bindloss of Borwick Hall, Warton, Lancs., 1s. ?d.v.p. 1da.1 kntd. 10 Aug. 1619;2 suc. fa. 1622 or 1623. d. Oct. 1645.3 sig. William Carnabye.

Offices Held

J.p. ?Westmld. 1621,4 Northumb. 1621-at least 1640, co. Dur. 1634-at least 1640;5 dep. lt. Northumb. by 1627,6 commr. Forced Loan 1627,7 sheriff 1635-6;8 commr. suppress malefactors, Borders 1635,9 oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1639-at least 1641,10 array, Northumb. and co. Dur. 1642.11

Treas.-at-wars (roy.), army of the mq. of Newcastle (Sir William Cavendish II*) 1643-4.12


The Carnaby family settled in Northumberland by the late fourteenth century, and supplied one of the county’s knights in the 1404 Parliament. Carnaby himself belonged to a junior line that acquired its principal estate at Farnham through marriage around the time of Henry VIII. His grandfather was one of the few Northumberland squires to support the 1569 rebellion of the Northern Earls, and unsurprisingly the family maintained a low profile for the remainder of Elizabeth’s reign.13 Carnaby is not known to have attended university or the inns of court, but was evidently a man of energy and ability. He may have attached himself early on to Sir William Cavendish II, the future earl (and later marquess) of Newcastle, for he was knighted in 1619 at the latter’s main seat, Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire. Appointed a Northumberland magistrate two years later, he rapidly threw himself into local affairs, reporting to the Privy Council in 1622 on the county’s wool trade, and collection of the Benevolence.14

In 1624 Carnaby became only the second member of his family to enter the Commons, winning a seat at Morpeth, some three miles from his secondary seat at Bothal. He neither spoke nor received any personal nominations, but in his ex officio capacity as a Northumberland burgess he helped to scrutinize the bill to enfranchise county Durham (25 March). He was similarly entitled to attend legislative committees concerned with knife manufacture in Yorkshire, and the burning-off of moorlands (3 and 13 April).15

Carnaby was a deputy lieutenant by mid-1627, confirming his rise to local prominence. Although appointed a commissioner for the Forced Loan that same year, his attitude towards this unpopular levy is not known. In 1628 he was elected as Northumberland’s junior knight of the shire. While he again contributed little to the Commons’ proceedings, he proved more active than his colleague, Sir John Fenwick. During the first session he was named to consider two private bills (4 and 23 June). He also called, on 3 May, for the serjeant-at-arms to fetch Sir Henry Stanhope, who had been detained by the Privy Council in breach of his parliamentary privilege, but without success. When Lord (Sir John) Savile* was accused in the 1629 session of abusing his powers as a recusancy commissioner in Westmorland, Carnaby was among those Members appointed to investigate (16 February).16

Carnaby remained a significant force in local government during the following decade. In August 1635 he intervened in a fight between Dutch and Dunkirker ships on the River Blyth, six miles from Morpeth. This conspicuous courage probably earned him his appointment three months later as a commissioner for suppressing crime on the Scottish border. As sheriff of Northumberland in 1635-6, he collected the county’s full quota of Ship Money, despite local protests.17

Carnaby sat for Marlborough in the Short Parliament, but resumed his seat at Morpeth in the Long Parliament. An active commissioner of array at the opening of the Civil War, he was expelled from the Commons for royalism in August 1642, and served under the earl of Newcastle for the next two years. According to one contemporary account, he and his brother lost £10,000 during the war. Like Newcastle, he fled to the Continent in July 1644 after the shattering defeat at Marston Moor. His property was sequestered by Parliament, and he died intestate in France in October 1645. Carnaby’s daughter Jane applied to compound for his estates in 1649, his only son being already dead. No further members of the family are known to have sat in the Commons.18

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Hist. Northumb. (Northumb. Co. Hist. Cttee.), x. 408.
  • 2. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 173.
  • 3. Hist. Northumb. x. 408.
  • 4. C231/4, f. 126v. No other evidence has been found to show that Carnaby was a Westmld. j.p.; possibly he was listed in error, for he was certainly added to the Northumb. bench in 1621, though there is no entry for his appointment.
  • 5. C193/13/1, f. 75v; C231/5, p. 140; C66/2859.
  • 6. SP16/66/86.
  • 7. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; C193/12/2, f. 43.
  • 8. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 99.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 510.
  • 10. C181/5, ff. 138, 203v.
  • 11. Northants. RO, FH 133.
  • 12. W. Yorks. AS (Bradford), SpSt/10/3/4; M. Cavendish, Life of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle ed. C.H. Firth, 88.
  • 13. Hist. Northumb. x. 408; HP Commons, 1386-1421, ii. 490; Recs. of Cttees. for Compounding in Dur. and Northumb. ed. R. Welford (Surtees Soc. cxi), 143; S.J. and S.J. Watts, From Border to Middle Shire, 56-7.
  • 14. Shaw, ii. 173; SP14/130/8; 14/131/29.
  • 15. Hist. Northumb. x. 408; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 211; CJ, i. 754b, 764b.
  • 16. CD 1628, iii. 244; iv. 84, 425; CJ, i. 930b.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1635, pp. 370, 510; 1635-6, p. 461; 1636-7, p. 215; M.D. Gordon, ‘Collection of Ship Money in the Reign of Chas. I’, TRHS (ser. 3), iv. 159; E134/14 Chas.I/East. 31, Mich. 9.
  • 18. CCC, 1917-19; G. Duckett, ‘Civil War Proceedings in Yorkshire’, Yorks. Arch. Jnl. vii. 370; CJ, ii. 738a; Cavendish, 43; Hist. Northumb. v. 333; x. 408; Recs. of Cttees. for Compounding, 143-4.