CONINGSBY, Sir Ralph (c.1555-1616), of North Mimms, Herts.

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.1555, 1st s. of Sir Henry Coningsby of North Mimms, and Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Boteler of Watton Woodhall, Herts.1 educ. Exeter, Oxf. BA 1571; L. Inn 1572.2 m. (1) Margaret, da. and h. of Richard Whethill, Merchant Taylor, of London, 5s. 4da.;3 (2) aft. 1600, Jane (d.1628), da. of John Lambe of Coulston, Wilts., wid. of William Button of Alton Priors, Wilts. 1s.4 suc. fa. 1590, aged 35;5 kntd. 18 Apr. 1603.6 d. 23 Mar. 1616.7

Offices Held

Vol. Low Countries 1586.8

Gov. Q. Eliz. g.s. Barnet, Herts. 1591-d.;9 j.p. Herts. 1591-d., Mdx. and St. Albans liberty, Herts. by 1601-d.;10 sheriff, Herts. 1596-7;11 provost-marshal, Kent by 1601;12 ranger, Enfield Chase, Mdx. by 1601-at least 1605;13 commr. oyer and terminer, St. Albans liberty by 1602-d.,14 inquiry, lands of Henry Brooke alias Cobham†, 11th Lord Cobham and of Bartholomew Brookesby, Herts. 1603,15 sewers, Lea valley 1607, Coln valley 1609-d.;16 dep.-lt. Herts. by 1608-d.;17 commr. subsidy, Herts. and St. Albans 1608,18 coal purveyance, Herts. 1608,19 aid for Prince Henry 1609,20 supply of fresh water to London 1611.21


Coningsby’s grandfather, a younger son, acquired North Mimms in 1530.22 By his first marriage, Coningsby himself gained 11 messuages in London, but for the greater part of his adult life he was dependent on his mother for his maintenance.23 His father, uneasily conscious that ‘all my goods and chattels will not by great sums of money extend to pay my debts and legacies’, left her his entire estate for 20 years after his death, and in 1595 Coningsby begged to be excused from taking over his father’s captaincy in the local militia because ‘he greatly depending upon her [his mother] for maintenance, he cannot trouble her in such a chargeable matter’.24 As a Middlesex freeholder he served on the jury that condemned (Sir) Walter Ralegh† for complicity in the Main Plot.25 In 1606 he joined his two brothers in the sale of various outlying estates, including property in Surrey.26 As ranger of Enfield Chase he looked after the rather limited sporting interests of the 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), who granted him the benefit of a recusancy in 1608.27 Three years later Coningsby led the Hertfordshire delegation, appointed by the magistrates at quarter sessions in consultation with the principal freeholders and yeomen of the county, which presented Salisbury with an uncompromising demand, dated 1 Apr. 1611, for the total abolition of purveyance, specifically including carriages for the royal stables.28

Coningsby was elected to represent Hertfordshire in the 1614 Parliament. On the first day of business, 8 Apr., he was named to the privileges committee and to consider the extension, revival or repeal of statutes.29 He was among those ordered to prepare a protestation against ‘undertakers’ (13 Apr.) and to consider a bill against false bail (16 April).30 On 18 May, at the second reading of a bill to restrain the removal of cases from local courts to Westminster Hall, he urged that the committee ‘might consider of the great abuse that Hertfordshire received by the knight marshal’s men’ (the officers of the Court of the Verge), when the king was in residence at Royston or Theobalds. As a speaker in the debate he was entitled to attend the committee, but the content of his speech went unrecorded. Since Hertfordshire was noted for its malt industry, he was named to a committee for bills to exclude brewers from the commission of the peace, and to repress drunkenness (31 May).31

Coningsby drew up his will on 14 Mar. 1616, by which time he was ‘sick in body’, leaving his principal estate to his second wife. His eldest son Francis was to receive an annual allowance of £150 during her lifetime if he married in accordance with the wishes of six trustees, including Sir John Luke* and Sir John Boteler*.32 His death nine days later, shortly after Sir Thomas Dacres and Sir Rowland Lytton*, meant that Hertfordshire was suddenly ‘left naked of three good patriots and deputy lieutenants’.33 His second son, Thomas, who inherited North Mimms in 1630, represented St. Albans in the Short Parliament of 1640.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. R. Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 444.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.
  • 3. Clutterbuck, i. 445.
  • 4. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv), 34.
  • 5. C142/233/51.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 101.
  • 7. C142/765/34.
  • 8. R.C. Strong and J.A. van Dorsten, Leicester’s Triumph, 113.
  • 9. Trans. London and Mdx. Arch. Soc. v. 49.
  • 10. C181/1, f. 9v; 181/2, f. 240; Herts. Recs. i. 6; C66/1988.
  • 11. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 64.
  • 12. APC, 1600-1, p. 164.
  • 13. HMC Hatfield, xi. 542; xvii. 127.
  • 14. C181/1, f. 27; 181/2, f. 176v.
  • 15. C181/1, ff. 72, 73.
  • 16. C181/2, ff. 50, 90, 229v.
  • 17. HMC Hatfield, xx. 276; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 616.
  • 18. SP14/31/1.
  • 19. C231/2, f. 43.
  • 20. SP14/43/107.
  • 21. C181/2, f. 149v.
  • 22. VCH Herts. ii. 254.
  • 23. London Inquisitions (Index Lib. xxvi), 48-9.
  • 24. PROB 11/77, f. 37; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 108.
  • 25. State Trials, ii. 4.
  • 26. VCH Surr. iii. 169.
  • 27. Herts. Recs. i. 41; Add. 34765, f. 25; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 127.
  • 28. SP14/63/1.
  • 29. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 33, 35.
  • 30. Ibid. 76, 91.
  • 31. Ibid. 284, 395.
  • 32. PROB 11/127, f. 272v.
  • 33. Chamberlain Letters, i. 616; C142/765/34.