CROMWELL, Henry (c.1566-1630), of Upwood, Hunts.

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.1566, 3rd s. of Sir Henry Cromwell alias Williams† (d.1604) of Hinchingbrooke, Hunts. and his 1st w. Joan, da. of Sir Ralph Warren, Mercer and alderman of London;1 bro. of Sir Oliver*. educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 1581, aged 15; BCL 1588.2 m. (1) by 1602, Margaret, da. of Thomas Wynde of South Wotton, Norf. 1s. d.v.p.;3 (2) c.1614, Eluzai (d. 31 Jan. 1620), wid. of John Jones of Mildenhall, Wilts. 2s. d.v.p., 2da.4 bur. 29 Nov. 1630.5 sig. H[enry] Cromwell.

Offices Held

J.p. Hunts. 1602-d.;6 commr. sewers, Gt. Fens 1605-d.,7 swans, Cambs. and Hunts. 1616, enclosure, Gt. Fens 1624;8 dep. lt. Hunts. by 1624-5;9 commr. Forced Loan, Hunts. 1626.10

Member, Virg. Co. 1610.


Cromwell was educated as a civil lawyer but did not enrol at Doctors’ Commons, nor is there any evidence that he practised. Instead, he settled at Upwood, where his father granted him a 500-year lease of a house, the tithes and a few acres of meadow in 1583; the unusual duration of the lease may have been designed to evade liability for wardship. In 1597 he and his brother Richard† inherited the manor of Freckenham, Suffolk from their uncle Richard Warren†, which was quickly sold, while Cromwell received a further £100 at his father’s death in 1604.11 He invested these windfalls in a 400-acre estate at Upwood, although his title was questioned in about 1612 by servants of the late lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), when he appealed to his neighbour Sir Robert Cotton* for precedents, ‘that I might be rid of these flesh worms which aim at the destruction of living men’.12

Cromwell had no personal influence at Huntingdon, where he was returned in 1604, on the interest of his eldest brother Sir Oliver*, whose main seat at Hinchingbrooke lay less than a mile from the town. Although not recorded as having spoken in Parliament, he was named to two or three bill committees. He had no discernible interest in the bill to restrict trading rights in Southampton to freemen (added 29 May 1607), but John Arundell*, to whose estate bill committee he was named on 27 Apr. 1610, was his second cousin.13 Either he or his brother Sir Oliver (then knight for Huntingdonshire) was also named to the committee for the bill for ‘good husbandry’ (27 Mar. 1610).14 In addition to these appointments, the Huntingdon burgesses were entitled to attend the committees for two bills of local interest, one for fen drainage (12 May 1604), the other an estate bill for the Smith family of Water Newton, Huntingdonshire (10 June 1610).15

Cromwell does not seem to have stood for election again, but in 1614 either he or his brother Sir Oliver secured a seat for Christopher Hodson* at Mitchell on the Arundell interest. In January 1626 Cromwell tried to find a seat at Camelford or Bossiney for his nephew Richard Hampden*, by lobbying Arundell’s brother-in-law William Carnsew†, with whom he had trained as a civilian at Oxford; he was unsuccessful.16 He remained active in local affairs for many years, particularly on the fenland sewer commission,17 and in December 1624 he was one of the deputy lieutenants involved in the mustering of recruits for Count Mansfeld’s army.18

Cromwell subscribed £25 to the Virginia Company in the autumn of 1610, but was prosecuted for non-payment two years later.19 He also became entangled in Sir Oliver’s financial affairs, standing surety for bonds to the London Haberdasher Edward Ryder, to whom Sir Oliver sold the manor of Low Leyton, Essex. When Ryder died in 1609, the Cromwells were liable for £2,060 of his debts, and were ultimately forced to find £850 of this sum from their own pockets.20 Cromwell subsequently restricted his exposure to his brother’s debts: he guaranteed two smaller bonds in 1610 and 1614, and in 1622 he lent about £500 in a transaction which was later converted into a mortgage on some woodland in Upwood.21 Cromwell and his brother Richard were also trustees for the younger children of their brother-in-law Sir Richard Whalley†, which they eventually assigned to the eldest son; the latter was trying to wrest control of the estate from his father, and their action provoked a lawsuit with Whalley’s other children.22

Cromwell’s plans for his own estate changed abruptly after the death of his last surviving son in June 1626.23 A year later, at the same time as the senior branch of the family sold Hinchingbrooke, he settled a reversion of his estates on Sir Oliver Cromwell’s son, Henry Cromwell of Ramsey, who undertook to raise portions of £2,000 each for Cromwell’s daughters Elizabeth and Anne, and a further £1,000 for Cromwell’s granddaughter Anne.24 He confirmed this arrangement in his will of 1628, making his nephews Richard and John Hampden* guardians of his female heirs. 25

Cromwell’s health declined during his final years. In 1626 he was ‘affected ... with a grievous palsy’, and in January 1630 he was convalescing after ‘a long and most dangerous sickness’. He suffered ‘an ague’ a few months later, but recovered sufficiently to receive a visit from his nephew, Sir Thomas Barrington*.26 When summoned before the commissioners for knighthood fines at Huntingdon on 1 Sept. he asked for ‘time to bring in his discharge, having compounded’ at £10, but he was buried at Upwood on 29 Oct. 1630, and it was presumably Sir Oliver’s son, Henry Cromwell of Ramsey, who showed the requisite Exchequer tally to the commissioners six months later.27 Henry Cromwell of Ramsey encountered great difficulty in raising his cousins’ portions. In December 1637 he mortgaged half the Upwood estate to his nephew Horatio Palavicino to raise £2,000 for Elizabeth Cromwell on her marriage to Oliver St. John†, but the interest payments quickly fell into arrears, and he later forfeited the other half of the estate because of his failure to pay a similar portion to Elizabeth’s sister Anne on her marriage in 1641. He avoided similar troubles with Cromwell’s granddaughter Anne by marrying her to his own son Henry Cromwell†, but the complications arising from his inability to meet his uncle’s legacies were only resolved by the sale of Upwood in 1648.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Vis. Hunts. ed. H. Ellis (Cam. Soc. xliii), 79-80.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. Vis. Hunts. 80. Their son was 10 years old in 1613.
  • 4. M. Noble, Mems. Protectoral-House of Cromwell, 27-30; Vis. Hunts. 80; C142/379/91.
  • 5. Noble, 27-8.
  • 6. C231/1, f. 136v.
  • 7. C181/1, f. 120; 181/2, f. 62v; 181/4, f. 20.
  • 8. C181/2, f. 257v; 181/3, f. 127.
  • 9. SP14/178/10; Add. Ch. 33168B.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144; C193/12/2.
  • 11. Al. Ox.; G.D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons; Add. Ch. 33159, 53649; W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. iv. 162; PROB 11/89, f. 159.
  • 12. Add. Ch. 53652; Cott. Julius C.III, f. 129.
  • 13. CJ, i. 376b, 421b; ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 8; Vis. Hunts. 79-80; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 280.
  • 14. CJ, i. 415a.
  • 15. Ibid. 207b, 440b; HLRO, O.A. 7 Jas.I, c. 66.
  • 16. SP46/73, f. 150.
  • 17. Add. 33466, ff. 9, 13, 26-9; Add. 33467, ff. 162, 188; Add. 34217, f. 8; Hunts. RO, dd/M78/6.
  • 18. SP14/178/10.
  • 19. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iv. 365; C2/Jas.I/V2/27, f. 5.
  • 20. Add. Ch. 33162, 33164-5; C78/179/15.
  • 21. Add. Ch. 33157, 33166, 53664.
  • 22. Eg. 2644, ff. 202, 205; C2/Chas.I/W101/12.
  • 23. Noble, 27-30.
  • 24. Add. Ch. 53660-6.
  • 25. Add. Ch. 53667.
  • 26. SP46/73, f. 150; Barrington Fam. Letters ed. A. Searle (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xxviii), 126, 128, 156-7.
  • 27. Bodl. Carte 74, f. 193; E407/35, f. 91; CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 23.
  • 28. Noble, 27-30, 72-3; Add. 33462, ff. 130-2; 33463, f. 16; Add. Ch. 53670-5.