CHETWYND, Walter (c.1557-1638), of Reule and Ingestre Hall, Staffs.

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.1557, 2nd s. of John Chetwynd (d.1592) of Ingestre and his 2nd w. Margery, da. of Robert Middlemore of Edgbaston, Warws. educ. Barnard’s Inn; G. Inn 1582. m. (1) settlement 10 Jan. 1594, Mary, da. John Mullins, archdeacon of London, 2s. 1da.; (2) lic. 13 Apr. 1605, settlement 17 Nov. 1605, Katherine (d. 25 May 1638), wid. of Sir Edward Unton†, of Wadley, Berks., da. of George Hastings†, 4th earl of Huntingdon, s.p. kntd 4 July 1604; suc. half-bro. Sir William Chetwynd 1612. d. 31 May 1638.1 sig. Walter Chetwynd.

Offices Held

J.p. Salop 1595-1625, Staffs. 1596-d.,2 dep. custos rot. Staffs. by 1613-17, 1620-d.;3 commr. i.p.m. Staffs. 1597, 1603,4 Warws. 1603,5 Salop 1609,6 musters 1601-at least 1602,7 subsidy, Staffs. 1600, 1608, 1610-11, 1621-2, 1624-5, 1628,8 oyer and terminer, Gunpowder plotters, Staffs. 1606,9 Oxf. circ. 1611-d.,10 inquiry, lands of Gunpowder plotters, Staffs. 1606,11 charitable uses 1606-8, 1615, 1621, 1629-30, 1634, 1637, Salop 1632;12 sheriff, Staffs. 1607-8,13 collector and commr. aid 1609, 1612;14 freeman, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs. by 1613, mayor, 1613-14;15 member, Council in the Marches 1617;16 commr. concealed lands, Lichfield, Staffs. 1626,17 Forced Loan, Staffs. 1626;18 dep. lt. 1627-9,19 commr. sewers 1634, swans, Staffs. and Worcs. 1635, 1638.20

Steward, lands of Edward, 4th Lord Stafford and Henry, 5th Lord Stafford, 1609-at least 1631.21


The Chetwynds took their surname from the eponymous parish in Shropshire, where they are first mentioned in 1180. In the thirteenth century a junior branch of the family acquired Ingestre, four miles east of Stafford and an ancestor of this Member sat for Shropshire in 1377. Chetwynd’s father owned considerable property in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire. When he died the bulk of his estate, including Ingestre, was inherited by Chetwynd’s elder half-brother, William, so that Chetwynd was left with only a small amount of property at Reule, about five miles west of Stafford, and some minor holdings in Shropshire.22

At the time of his first marriage, in 1594, Chetwynd seems to have been living at Newport in Shropshire, but soon after he moved to Reule.23 Thereafter he began to acquire an impressive estate, purchasing in 1596 the 2,400-acre manor of Church Eaton and Wood Eaton, near Reule.24 Furthermore, substantial amounts of property seem to have been transferred to Chetwynd by his childless brother William during the latter’s lifetime.25

Chetwynd was first elected to Parliament while still at Gray’s Inn. He did not sit during the final four Elizabethan Parliaments, however, perhaps because he was out of favour with the 2nd earl of Essex, Staffordshire’s dominant magnate. A fortnight after Essex’s unsuccessful rebellion, Chetwynd was appointed to the Staffordshire musters’ commission. At the same time he kept the Council informed of the work of his brother William, then sheriff of the county, in dealing with the aftermath of the rebellion. The Council was so impressed that William was ordered to act in conjunction with Chetwynd.26 Subsequently Chetwynd became deputy to Thomas, 1st Lord Gerard (Thomas Gerard†), who replaced Essex as chairman of the Staffordshire bench. Chetwynd attributed this appointment to lord chancellor Ellesmere (Thomas Egerton†), with whom he became connected on his marriage in 1605 to the daughter of the 4th earl of Huntingdon, whose heir had married Ellesmere’s step daughter.27

Essex’s fall paved the way for Chetwynd’s re-election for Newcastle in 1604. Chetwynd did not own property near Newcastle but he had important family connections with the borough, as his cousin John Brett was mayor in 1603-4 and his aunt was married to Ralph Sneyd of Keele, an important local landowner.28 The Sneyd connection may have been particularly important, as Ralph Sneyd seems to have acted as the local power broker between the borough and the duchy of Lancaster, which owned the manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme. This may have secured Chetwynd the duchy’s nomination, and with it the prestigious first place on the indenture.29

Chetwynd’s name does not appear in the Commons Journal until the fourth session and it is likely that he was not a regular attender. Indeed, on 5 June 1604, when he should have been in the House, he was present at the quarter sessions at Stafford, and he was also away from the House on 4 July 1604, when he was knighted at Chatham.30 During the second session he probably attended the Easter sessions of the peace at Stafford on 29 Apr. 1606.31 In the fourth session he again preferred to participate in the Easter sessions of the peace.32 However his poor attendance record finally caught up with him. On 15 June 1610, the day on which Fuller reported the attendance bill and two days after the House decided to fine absentees, he was ordered to be ‘re-committed for his excuse’. The following day Sir John Holles, Chetwynd’s kinsman by marriage, reported the recommendation of the privileges committee that he should pay 20s. to the messengers.33

Chetwynd’s election for Staffordshire in 1614 is not surprising, as two years earlier he had inherited the remainder of the Chetwynd lands and moved to Ingestre on the death of his brother. His rental income accordingly rose to nearly £1,500 p.a., so that by 1630 he was described as ‘a knight of great estate’.34 As mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1614, Chetwynd also presided over the latter borough’s parliamentary election.35 Once again his Commons’ attendance was probably irregular, as an order signed by him dated 26 May 1614 survives in the Staffordshire session rolls. His only committee appointment, on 31 May, was to consider the bill to prohibit brewers and tipplers from being magistrates.36 Chetwynd’s irregular attendance did not mean that he was uninterested in national or constitutional issues, however, for two papers relating to the legality of impositions are to be found among his papers.37

The 1614 Parliament marked the end of Chetwynd’s parliamentary career, possibly because of the rising power of the 3rd earl of Essex, although he continued to participate in the county elections, signing the four surviving election indentures from the 1620s.38 When Essex was appointed custos in 1617 he chose Sir Walter Aston as his deputy instead of Chetwynd. Although Chetwynd ostensibly did not object, complaining it was ‘a place of trouble and no profit’, it must have been a significant blow to his prestige, and he contrived to get himself re-appointed in 1620, after Aston had been sent as ambassador to Spain.39 He evidently retained the post until his death, when he was in possession of a significant part of the bench’s archive.40 Nevertheless, Chetywnd was never part of the earl of Essex’s inner circle. He did not become a deputy lieutenant until the 1st earl of Monmouth (Sir Robert Carey*) replaced Essex as lord lieutenant in 1627, and he appears to have promptly lost office when Essex was reappointed in 1629.41

In 1623 Chetwynd’s daughter Mary married George Digby, equerry to James I and client of the duke of Buckingham. Chetwynd was initially reluctant to agree to the match but was probably persuaded by Buckingham’s promise to pay £3,000 to their children.42 On 28 Apr. 1624 he participated in the election at Newcastle-under-Lyme as a foreign burgess when another of Buckingham’s clients, Charles Glemham, was elected.43 The following year Chetwynd probably supported the election of Digby’s half brother, Richard Erdeswicke, as knight of the shire for Staffordshire. In 1626 he was appointed a commissioner for the Forced Loan, but was omitted from the larger revised commission issued in early 1627 and seems to have taken no part in the collection.44 Chetwynd’s religious views are unknown: he was accused of being a Catholic sympathizer in 1608, but denied it.45 He made his will on 20 Apr. 1638, and added a codicil nine days later. He died on 31 May and was presumably buried at Ingestre in accordance with his request.46 His grandson, Walter Chetwynd, was elected for Stafford in 1674, 1679 and 1685 and for Staffordshire in 1690.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Ben Coates


  • 1. H.E. Chetwynd-Stapylton, Chetwynds of Ingestre, 180; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. v. pt. 2), pp. 81-3; GI Admiss.; Staffs. RO, D1798/HM Chetwynd/30; Leics. RO, ID41/37/1, f. 9; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 134; C142/236/64.
  • 2. C231/1, f. 2; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 15; C66/1468; Staffs. RO, Q/SO/4, f. 235.
  • 3. Staffs. RO, D(W)1721/1/4, f. 25v; FSL, L.a. 382; Wm. Salt Lib., S.40, p. 326.
  • 4. CPR, 1596-1597 (L. and I. Soc. cccxxii), 194; C142/281/91.
  • 5. C142/281/54.
  • 6. C142/312/158.
  • 7. APC, 1600-1, p. 175; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. S.A.H. Burne, (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1935), p. 423.
  • 8. J. Sleigh, Hist. Leek, 189; SP14/31/1; E179/178/283; 179/283/27; C212/22/20-1, 23; FSL, L.a. 1004; Staffs. RO, D1798/HM Chetwynd/116.
  • 9. C181/1, f. 132.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 145; 181/5, f. 95.
  • 11. C181/2, f. 5.
  • 12. C93/2/25; 93/3/5; 93/3/28; 93/6/10; 93/11/19; 93/13/29; 93/13/25; Staffs. RO, D1978/HM Chetwynd/116, C192/1, unfol.
  • 13. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 128.
  • 14. SP14/43/107; E163/16/21, unfol.
  • 15. T. Pape, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 252.
  • 16. Eg. 2882, f. 82v.
  • 17. E178/7203.
  • 18. Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
  • 19. Staffs. RO, D1798/HM Chetwynd/114.
  • 20. C181/4, ff. 189, 199v, 181/5, f. 91.
  • 21. Wm. Salt Lib., S.40, pp. 326-7; VCH Staffs. v. 87-8.
  • 22. Chetwynd-Stapylton, v. 181; VCH Staffs. iv. 76; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1884), pp. 76-8; List of Sheriffs, 127, 128.
  • 23. Staffs. RO, D1798/HM Chetwynd/30; VCH Staffs. iv. 76.
  • 24. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. R.W. Boyd and G. Wrottesley (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvi), 156; VCH Staffs. iv. 114.
  • 25. Staffs. RO, D1798/HM Chetwynd/30; C54/1705; C2/Chas.I/C51/35.
  • 26. APC, 1600-1, pp. 175, 184.
  • 27. FSL, L.a. 382; Oxford DNB sub Hastings [née Stanley], Elizabeth, countess of Huntingdon.
  • 28. Pape, 134; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1884), p. 81.
  • 30. Staffs. RO, Q/SR/92.
  • 31. There is an undated document signed by Chetwynd in the Easter 1606 sessions roll. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. S.A.H. Burne (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1940), p. 302.
  • 32. Staffs. RO, Q/SR/114/2.
  • 33. CJ, i. 440a, 440b; PROB 11/121 f. 215.
  • 34. Staffs. RO, D(W)1744/20; C2/Chas.I/C100/54.
  • 35. Pape, 252.
  • 36. Staffs. RO, Q/SR/131/32; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 395.
  • 37. Staffs. RO, D(W)1744/70/1-2.
  • 39. FSL, L.a. 382; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. J.C. Wedgwood (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1912), pp. 326, 327; Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 258.
  • 40. Staffs. RO, D1798/617/2.
  • 41. C66/2431, mm. 19d-20d.
  • 42. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. S.A.H. Burne (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1941), pp. 84, 90-3.
  • 43. Pape, 266.
  • 44. C193/12/2, ff. 53v-4; R. Cust, ‘List of Commrs. for the Forced Loan of 1626-7’, BIHR, li. 201, 203.
  • 45. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. A.G. Petti (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. ser. 4. ix), 78.
  • 46. PROB 11/181, ff. 31v-2, 56; C142/565/189.