CHIBORNE, Charles (c.1569-1619), of Messing Hall, Essex, St. Andrews, Holborn and Lincoln's Inn, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. c. 1569,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Christopher Chiborne of Messing and his 1st or 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Edward Laurence of East Tilbury, Essex.2 educ. Furnival’s Inn; L. Inn 1586, called 1594.3 m. (1) settlement 18 Aug. 1593,4 Jane (bur. 10 Jan. 1606), da. of Thomas Spilman of Great Chart, Kent, 1s. 3da.; (2) by 20 July 1608, Winifred, da. of William Wiseman* of Mayland, Essex, 1s. d.v.p. 3da.; (3) settlement 8 Aug. 1613, Margaret (d.1628), da. of Sir Charles Young of York, s.p. suc. fa. 1606;5 kntd. 19 May 1619.6 d. 14 Nov. 1619.7 sig. Charles Chiborne.

Offices Held

Reader, Furnival’s Inn 1599,8 reader’s steward (jt.), L. Inn 1600, bencher 1609-14, marshal 1612-13, reader 1613;9 recorder, Maldon, Essex 1608-d.;10 sjt.-at-law 1614, to Prince Charles 13 Jan. 1619-d.;11 fee’d counsel, Vintners’ Co. London by 1617.12

Commr. sewers, Essex 1607, highways’ repair 1614,13 assist Colchester bailiffs, 1616,14 charitable uses 10 June 1619-d.;15 j.p. Essex by 1607-d., Maldon 1608, Harwich, Essex 1618-d.; freeman, Maldon 1608.16


Chiborne’s father, a minor but active Essex j.p. who briefly lost his seat on the bench in 1587,17 resided near the Thames estuary at Orsett in southern Essex before the mid-1580s, when he purchased the manors of Messing Baynards, Bourchiers and Harborough for £1,100.18 He established his new seat at Messing Hall, eight or nine miles north east of Maldon, from where Chiborne was sent to London for a legal education that culminated in his call to the bar. In 1593 financial difficulties induced father and son to arrange a joint marriage with the widow and daughter respectively of Thomas Spilman of Great Chart, Kent. Through this double marriage alliance the Chibornes allegedly obtained ‘great helps and portions which served their then great wants’.19 Chiborne himself certainly profited from his match with Jane Spilman, selling her late father’s property in Kent in June 1604 for more than £1,750.20 This sum undoubtedly helped Chiborne finance the subsequent extension of his family’s holdings in Messing.21

Chiborne entered into his inheritance in April 1606. A rental of 1618 claims that the total rents due from all three of Chiborne’s Essex manors amounted to just £10 17s. 4d., but this may have been misleading. The manor of Messing was described as valuable by the nineteenth-century antiquary Thomas Wright, while the two remaining manors - Bourchiers and Harborough - alone yielded the Court of Wards a yearly rent of £66 13s. 4d. after Chiborne’s death.22 One source excluded from the 1618 rental was the income derived from the lease of Messing’s rectory and advowson. Though Chiborne subsequently lost the right of presentation to Messing rectory, he raised the annual rent from £50 to £80 in 1617.23

Following the death of his first wife in 1606, Chiborne married a younger daughter of William Wiseman, Member for Maldon, a shrewd match as it undoubtedly helped him secure the recordership of Maldon, which Wiseman had recently vacated. On Wiseman’s death in January 1610, Chiborne may have expected to assume possession of his parliamentary seat, but the corporation was already engaged to Sir John Sammes, whom it had been forced to disappoint five years earlier. A second by-election, occasioned by the summons to the Lords of Theophilus Howard, also saw Chiborne passed over, this time in favour of Sir Robert Rich. It was therefore not until March 1614 that Chiborne, now a bencher, was elected to Westminster,24 where he made only a modest impact. As a lawyer closely associated with Chancery,25 he was named to the committee for a bill to confirm a Chancery decree (18 May). Six days later he announced that he considered affidavits sworn before a master in Chancery ‘void’ and ‘not fit to be read here’.26 His interest in the bill for settling the debts of the late Sir Robert Wroth I*, to which committee he was named on 25 May, probably owed something to specialist knowledge, as in the previous August he had recently lectured on debt at Lincoln Inn, although Wroth’s ownership of property in Essex may also have been a consideration.27 The only other legislative committee to which he was appointed concerned the erection of unauthorized buildings in London (1 June). Chiborne is noticed just twice more in the parliamentary records. On 14 Apr. he was named to the Palatine marriage conference with the Lords, while on 2 May Sir Edwin Sandys noted that he had been appointed to a sub-committee to prepare a conference with the Lords on impositions.28 This latter conference never took place, but the committee for impositions, whose members appointed Chiborne as one of its spokesmen, was summoned to the Council table on the day after Parliament was dissolved to debate the matter there.29

Less than eight weeks after Parliament was dismissed, Chiborne was elevated to the serjeantcy.30 In June 1616 he was again consulted by the Privy Council, this time in respect of the king’s right to grant letters of commendam, which permitted clergy to hold additional benefices in trust as a means of augmenting their livings. He strongly opposed the issue of these letters, arguing that the practice contravened Canon Law. Besides, he asserted, ‘there was no need of augmentation of livings, for no man was bound to keep hospitality above his means’. These views drew an angry response from the bishop of Winchester, who claimed that Chiborne ‘had maintained divers assertions and positions very prejudicial to His Majesty’s prerogative royal’.31

In January 1619 Chiborne was appointed counsel to Prince Charles, who subsequently had him knighted. Later that year Chiborne attended Queen Anne’s funeral as an official mourner,32 but his health soon deteriorated, and he died at his chambers in Holborn in mid-November.33 His will, which was proved in March 1620,34 was challenged in 1626 as a forgery. His third wife Margaret was accused of having exploited her husband’s incapacity during his final illness to substitute a will drafted by herself giving Chiborne’s three daughters by his second marriage greater portions than those allocated to their elder half-sisters.35 Whether or not this was true, Chiborne’s six daughters were allocated a total of £2,100 for their dowries but nothing for their maintenance. The wardship of Chiborne’s eldest son, Hanameel, who was aged 15 at his father’s death, was purchased by an uncle for £450.36 Chiborne was buried at Messing,37 and his passing was widely lamented. John Chamberlain described him as ‘a great Essex lawyer’,38 while (Sir) Richard Hutton* called him ‘religious, honest and greatly learned’, and a considerable loss to the commonwealth.39 No other member of the family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. C142/665/58.
  • 2. P. Morant, Hist. and Antiqs. of Essex (1798), ii. 177; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 374-5, which describes two of Christopher’s wives as his 1st.
  • 3. LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks. ii. 35.
  • 4. Essex RO, D/DH V.A.15, 16.
  • 5. Essex RO, microfiche D/P 188/1/1; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 374-5, 527; PROB 11/115, f. 102r-v; Canterbury Mar. Lics. 1619-60 ed. J.M. Cowper, 325-6; C142/384/162; D. Lysons, Environs of London, i. 485. Vis. Essex names his 1st wife ‘Anne’, an error reproduced by W. Prest, Rise of the Barristers, 350.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 171.
  • 7. Diary of Sir Richard Hutton 1614-39 ed. W.R. Prest (Selden Soc. suppl. ser. ix), 24.
  • 8. Readings and Moots at Inns of Ct. Vol. II ed. S.E. Thorne and J.H. Baker (Selden Soc. cv), p. cv.
  • 9. LI Black Bks. ii. 59, 120, 142, 147.
  • 10. Essex RO, D/B 3/1/19, ff. 15, 123v.
  • 11. SC6/Jas.I/1682, unfol.
  • 12. GL, ms 15333/2, p. 672.
  • 13. C181/2, ff. 32, 33v, 226.
  • 14. APC, 1615-16, pp. 422-3.
  • 15. C93/8/5.
  • 16. Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 14, 218; C231/4, f. 71; Essex RO, D/B 3/1/19, f. 15.
  • 17. Lansd. 53, f. 172; APC, 1588, p. 123.
  • 18. Essex RO, D/DH V.A.3-4, 9, 10.
  • 19. C2/Chas.I/C122/125.
  • 20. C54/1778, 1781; Cent. Kent. Stud. U321/T12.
  • 21. Essex RO, D/DH V.F. 66-8, 114b; E112/80/208.
  • 22. Essex RO, D/DH V.A. 20, 54; T. Wright, Essex, i. 385.
  • 23. Essex RO, V.E. 9, 11. For the legal case over the rectorial rights, see ibid. V.E. 10 and R. Newcourt, Repertorium (1710), ii. 416-17.
  • 24. Essex RO, D/B 3/1/19, f. 70v.
  • 25. Prest, 69.
  • 26. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 280, 332.
  • 27. Ibid. 338; Harl. 1692, f. 21v.
  • 28. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 82, 219, 402.
  • 29. Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx), 41-2.
  • 30. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 173.
  • 31. APC, 1615-16, p. 596; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 371.
  • 32. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 240; LC2/5, f. 43.
  • 33. Essex RO, D/B 3/1/19, f. 123v.
  • 34. PROB 11/135, ff. 193-4. For an abstract, see Abstracts of Wills in the PCC, 1620 ed. J.H. Lea, 90.
  • 35. C2/Chas.I/C122/125.
  • 36. WARD 9/162, f. 346.
  • 37. Essex RO, microfiche D/P 188/1/1. The precise date of burial is indistinct.
  • 38. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 275.
  • 39. Diary of Sir Richard Hutton, 24.