DUNNE (DONNE), Sir Daniel (c.1546-1617), of Aldersgate, London and Theydon Garnon, Essex

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.1546, 1st s. of Robert Dunne of London, and Anne, da. of John Branche, Draper, of London.1 educ. All Souls, Oxf. 1567, BCL 1572, DCL 1580; adv. 1580; G. Inn 1599.2 m. by 1587, Joan (d.1640), da. of William Aubrey†, DCL, of London and Sydenham, Kent, 5s. 11da.3 suc. fa. 1553;4 kntd. 23 July 1603.5 d. 26 Sept. 1617.6

Offices Held

Principal of New Inn Hall, Oxf. 1580-1;7 member, Doctors’ Commons 1582-1612;8 official, archdeaconry of Essex 1585-6; chan. Rochester dioc. 1598-1604;9 j.p. Essex 1598-d.;10 commr. subsidy, Essex 1601-2, 1605, 1609,11 piracy, London and home counties 1603-15, Carm. 1609, 1617, Durham, 1610, Soton, Hants 1611, 1614, 1615, Dorset 1611, Devon 1611, 1614, Exeter, Devon 1612, Suff. 1612, Cornw. 1613, Cumb., Northumb. and Westmld. 1614,12 sewers, London and Mdx. 1606, 1611, Suff. 1609, Essex and Mdx. 1613, London 1615,13 oyer and terminer, London and the Verge 1606-d.,14 gaol delivery, Newgate, London 1606-d.,15 charitable uses, Essex 1607-14,16 assurances, London 1610-d.,17 Admlty. causes, Mdx. and Home Counties 1614.18

Judge of audience and dean of Arches 1598-d.;19 commr. prizes 1598, 1613;20 master in Chancery extraordinary 1601-?d.;21 member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1601-d.;22 commr. treaty of Bremen 1602-3;23 master of Requests 1602-11;24 commr. imported bks. 1604,25 Union with Scotland 1604;26 judge of Admlty. (jt.) 1609-14, (sole) 1614-d.27

Member, Span. Co. 1604; Virg. Co. 1609; Newfoundland Co. 1610; French Co. 1611.28


This Member’s background is so obscure that he has previously been mistakenly identified as Welsh in origin.29 Dunne’s father, a villein from Eye in Suffolk, married the daughter of a London Draper, and died in 1553 leaving Dunne to be raised by his maternal uncle, also a Draper and former lord mayor of London, from whom he inherited some property in Essex in 1589.30 A glittering career at Oxford, and marriage to the daughter of his predecessor as principal of New Inn Hall, helped Dunne attain the apex of his profession as a civil lawyer in the last years of Elizabeth’s reign, when he became not only dean of the Arches but also a master of Requests and a master in Chancery extraordinary. He was at Bremen at the time of the queen’s death, engaged in negotiations for a commercial treaty with Denmark, but returned in time to attend her funeral as an official mourner.31

Early in 1604 Dunne attended the Hampton Court Conference, where he argued in defence of ecclesiastical courts.32 He played a part, acknowledged by Sir Edward Coke* in a letter to the vice-chancellor, in securing the enfranchisement of Oxford University ahead of the first Jacobean Parliament, and he was rewarded by being elected as the university’s senior Member.33 On the opening day of the first session he was named to the two committees for grievances proposed by Sir Robert Wroth I* and Sir Edward Montagu* (23 Mar. 1604).34 Dunne was among the lawyers and gentlemen appointed to confer with the judges on 5 Apr. over the Buckinghamshire election dispute.35 A fortnight later he was appointed to prepare for a conference with the Lords on religion.36 On 20 Apr. he spoke in the debate on the name to be given to the united kingdoms, and he was among those immediately appointed to attend the king for an explanation of his intentions and to attend a conference on the Union with Scotland. On 12 May Dunne was chosen by the Commons as a commissioner for the Union.37 His other appointments included a conference with the Lords on wardship (22 May), and committees for bills on marriage (26 Apr.), pluralism (4 June), popish books (6 June), and abuses in the ecclesiastical courts (16 June).38 On 7 June he delivered two speeches, the first concerning a bill for the exchange of lands between Trinity College, Cambridge and Sir Thomas Monson*, and the second on a bill for reform of the clergy.39 Dunne played an advisory role in the negotiation of peace with Spain in July 1604, and was rewarded the following September with an annuity of £100.40 He seems to have invested his rising income in various commercial ventures, including the newly re-founded Spanish Company, and he later joined the Virginia, Newfoundland, and French companies.41

In the second session Dunne was among those instructed on 5 Nov. 1605 to consider the Spanish Company patent, before the Gunpowder Plot interrupted proceedings.42 When the House reassembled, on 21 Jan. 1606 he was named to the committee to consider ways of countering the plots and practices of ‘Jesuits, seminaries and all other popish agents’.43 His other appointments included a committee on the ministry, set up in response to a motion of Thomas Wentworth I* (22 Jan.), and those to consider bills against married dons (25 Jan.), the relief of debtors (28 Jan.), against pluralism and non-residence (5 Mar.), and for the confirmation of the incorporation of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (6 March).44 He was among those sent to the Lords on 12 Feb. to desire a conference on grievances.45 In the debates of 7-8 Mar. on the main grievance of purveyance, Dunne praised James’s bountiful distribution of honours and dignities, and moved for a conference with the Lords.46 On 17 Mar. he declared that the articles prepared by Nicholas Fuller* against the courts of High Commission were not fit to be presented.47 His later committees encompassed another Oxford bill for Oriel College (18 Mar.), as well as bills on players (19 Mar.), church attendance (19 Mar.) and free trade (3 April). He was also required to consider the bill to remove impediments to navigation on the Thames between London and Oxford (17 April).48 He was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords on ecclesiastical grievances on 11 Apr., which met again on 1 May.49 When the latter was reported on 3 May, Dunne added that ‘the direction of the House’ concerning deprived ministers ‘was for a petition of mercy, and not to justify the ministers, urging their wrong’.50

The Union with Scotland occupied Dunne’s attention almost exclusively in the third session. In debate on the post-nati, he was of the opinion, as a civilian, that the king had power to naturalize by Proclamation, as he argued on 23 Feb. 1607.51 He was among those appointed to manage a conference on the subject two days later.52 On 28 May he began to argue, again on the basis of the Civil Law, in defence of the Crown’s right to extradite prisoners from England to Scotland, and vice versa, but was interrupted by the Speaker on the ground that it was indisputable that the king was legally entitled to issue commissions for remanding.53 Dunne was later appointed to prepare for a conference with the Lords on the bill to repeal hostile laws (11 June).54 His other bill committees included one to revise the powers of High Commission (26 June).55

On the death in February 1609 of his fellow Member for Oxford University, Sir Thomas Crompton*, Dunne was appointed judge of the Admiralty Court alongside Richard Trevor. When Parliament reassembled in 1610 for its fourth session he was appointed to attend the conference with the Lords of 15 Feb. at which the lord treasurer unveiled his plans to reform the king’s finances. He was subsequently instructed to help prepare for a conference on the authoritarian writings of the civilian Dr. Cowell (27 February).56 Those bills he was named to consider dealt with debts (20 Feb.), piracy (3 Mar.), and the naturalization of ambassadors’ children (27 April).57 At the end of May he was ordered to attend the king with a petition against recusants.58 He left no trace on the records of the brief fifth session.

In 1611 John Chamberlain reported that Dunne ‘grows old, and hath resigned his place of Requests, or at leastwise his waiting’.59 An authority on marriage law, he served on the commission for the 3rd earl of Essex’s high profile divorce, and left a ‘compendium of the whole course of the proceedings’.60 He was re-elected for Oxford University in 1614, beating Francis James* with the support of his ‘good friend’ Lord Chancellor Ellesmere (Sir Thomas Egerton†), the university’s chancellor, who expressed his displeasure at the threatened ‘discourtesy and disgrace to a gentleman of his place’, and the ingratitude that such a rejection would imply, ‘considering what testimony he hath heretofore given of his good affection and readiness to pleasure that university upon any occasion’, and his part in securing its enfranchisement.61 Dunne played only a modest role in the Parliament, however, being named to just three committees. These concerned privileges (8 Apr.), the continuance or repeal of expiring statutes (8 Apr.), and a private bill for the confirmation of a Chancery decree (18 May).62

On the death of Richard Trevor in June 1614, Dunne became sole judge of the Admiralty Court. He remained in office until he died, intestate, on 26 Sept. 1617. He was buried at Theydon Garnon, being described by Chamberlain as ‘no rich man for all he had three good offices’, presumably as a result of having to provide dowries for his numerous daughters.63 No other member of the family entered Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. cix), 68; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 567.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 3. Morant, Essex, i. 159; J. Aubrey, Brief Lives, i. 53, 56, 65.
  • 4. PROB 11/36, f. 39.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 114.
  • 6. C142/371/123.
  • 7. VCH Oxon. iii. 337.
  • 8. G.D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 161.
  • 9. B.P. Levack, Civil Lawyers, 226-7.
  • 10. C231/1, f. 45; C66/1988.
  • 11. Eg. 2651, ff. 10v, 14v; Eg. 2644, f. 171; SP14/31/1.
  • 12. C181/1, f. 66; 181/2, ff. 12, 95, 101, 129, 138v, 139v, 159, 174, 175, 186, 200v, 208v, 214, 215v, 220, 242, 276.
  • 13. C181/2, ff. 19v, 94v, 153, 193, 243; Lansd. 168, f. 151.
  • 14. C181/2, ff. 13, 18, 280v, 287.
  • 15. Ibid. ff. 18v, 280.
  • 16. C93/3/3; 93/4/4, 9; 93/5/7, 16; 93/6/6.
  • 17. C181/2, ff. 105, 143, 194, 215, 264.
  • 18. HCA 1/32/1, f. 38.
  • 19. Levack, 226; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, DCc/CA3, f. 211v.
  • 20. C231/1, f. 61v; HMC Downshire, iv. 214.
  • 21. C216/1/19.
  • 22. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 350; HMC Hatfield, xv. 224; xvi. 290; C193/6/173.
  • 23. Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 23; HMC Hatfield, xii. 502; T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 2, pp. 47-9, 68.
  • 24. APC, 1601-4, pp. 490, 499; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 160, 323.
  • 25. Levack, 226.
  • 26. CJ, i. 208a.
  • 27. HCA 30/586, ff. 28v-31; Lansd. 273, ff. 17v, 64v; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 515.
  • 28. Spanish Co. ed. P. Croft (London Rec. Soc. ix), 5-6, 93, 96; A. Brown, Genesis of US, 211; Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 52, 64.
  • 29. CPR, Eliz. I, 1575-8, p. 111; D. MacCulloch, ‘Bondmen under the Tudors’, Law and Govt. under the Tudors ed. C. Cross, D. Loades, and J.J. Scarisbrick, 92.
  • 30. VCH Essex, iv. 264-5.
  • 31. LC2/4/4, f. 67v.
  • 32. J. Strype, Whitgift, ii. 496.
  • 33. T.L. Humberstone, Univ. Rep. 21.
  • 34. CJ, i. 151a, b.
  • 35. Ibid. 166b.
  • 36. Ibid. 178a.
  • 37. Ibid. 179b, 180a, 208a.
  • 38. Ibid. 222b, 185a, 232a, 240b.
  • 39. Ibid. 234b, 988a.
  • 40. Add. 32471, f. 50; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 233, 325; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 149.
  • 41. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 284.
  • 42. CJ, i. 256b.
  • 43. Ibid. 257b.
  • 44. Ibid. 258a, 260a-b, 277b, 278b.
  • 45. Ibid. 267a.
  • 46. Ibid. 280a, 281b.
  • 47. Ibid. 286a.
  • 48. Ibid. 286a-b, 292b, 300a.
  • 49. Ibid. 296b, 303b.
  • 50. Ibid. 304b.
  • 51. Ibid. 1020a.
  • 52. Ibid. 340a.
  • 53. Ibid. 1047b; Bowyer Diary, 305-6; W. Notestein, House of Commons 1604-10, p. 481.
  • 54. CJ, i. 382a.
  • 55. Ibid. 387b.
  • 56. Ibid. 393b, 400b.
  • 57. Ibid. 397b, 404b, 422a.
  • 58. Ibid. 433b.
  • 59. Chamberlain Letters, i. 323.
  • 60. HMC 8th Rep. pt. 3 (1881), p. 22; Chamberlain Letters, i. 469.
  • 61. Bodl. Tanner 74, f. 34.
  • 62. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 34, 35, 280.
  • 63. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 99; E. Ogborne, Hist. Essex, 264.