FETTIPLACE, John (1583-1658), of Swinbrook, Oxon. and Childrey, Berks.

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



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 22 Jan. 1644
1644 (Oxf. Parl.)

Family and Education

bap. 23 May 1583, 1st s. of Sir Edmund Fettiplace of Swinbrook and Childrey and Anne, da. of Roger Alford† of Hitcham, Bucks.1 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1594; ?BA Hart Hall 1600; L. Inn 1601.2 unm. suc. fa. 1613.3 d. 20 or 21 Mar. 1658.4 sig. John Fetiplace.

Offices Held

Commr. swans, Oxf. circ. 1615; j.p. Berks. 1619-bef. 1625, 1629-at least 1640,5 commr. charitable uses 1626-at least 1641,6 subsidy 1628-9, 1641,7 sheriff 1630-1,8 commr. sewers, Berks. and Hants 1633,9 oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1639-at least 1642,10 assessment, Berks. 1642,11 array 1642, Oxon. 1642,12 excise, Oxon., Northants., Warws., Berks., Bucks. and Oxf. (roy.) 1645, to administer oath, Oxf. (roy.) 1645.13


The Fettiplace family first acquired a foothold in Berkshire in 1263, when Adam Fettiplace, a merchant from Oxford, bought North Denchworth manor, near Wantage. By the mid-fifteenth century a junior branch of the family had settled further south, at East Shefford. Its members included Anthony Fettiplace (d.1510), a younger son, who in 1503 purchased the Oxfordshire manor of Swinbrook, near Burford. In the late 1520s Anthony’s eldest son, Alexander (d.1564), was left several Berkshire properties by his childless uncle, William Fettiplace, who had acquired them by marriage. Located to the west of Wantage, they included Rampayns manor, in Childrey, as well as a string of holdings in and around Reading.14 Thus was created the Fettiplace family of Swinbrook and Childrey. Fifty years later good fortune placed the Oxfordshire manor of Dorchester in the family’s lap, when (Sir) Edmund Ashfield† bequeathed this former monastic property to his grandson (Sir) Edmund Fettiplace.15 By the end of the sixteenth century the family’s holdings, concentrated in Berkshire and Oxfordshire but also including minor properties in Bedfordshire and Wiltshire, comprised around 2,000 acres. In the early 1640s they probably yielded Fettiplace an annual income of around £1,300, although this included £300 assigned as dower to his mother.16

Baptized at Childrey in May 1583, Fettiplace was educated at Queen’s College, Oxford, and perhaps also at Hart Hall, where a man of his name was awarded a BA in January 1600. He was subsequently admitted to Lincoln’s Inn at the request of one of its benchers, Edward Clerke, a Berkshire man and future steward of Reading. Fettiplace entered into his inheritance in June 1613, but if he lived mainly at Childrey rather than Swinbrook he must have shared possession of the fifteenth-century manor house with his mother Anne, who resided there until her death in 1651.17 In May 1619 he was appointed to the Berkshire bench, but was displaced sometime before 1625.18 Despite his removal he remained a substantial figure in his county, as his election as junior knight of the shire in both 1626 and 1628 demonstrates.

Fettiplace made little impact on either Parliament. In 1626 his only mention in the records was to be nominated to the committee for settling a jointure on the wife of the Worcestershire baronet Sir Thomas Littleton* (9 June).19 He did slightly better in 1628, for as well as being added to the committee for the bill to consider a clause in the 1606 Recusancy Act (28 May) he presented a petition protesting against the activities of saltpetremen (27 May) to the Speaker, (Sir) John Finch II, which was referred to the committee for the saltpetre bill. He was probably encouraged in this so by his uncle, Edward Alford, Member for Steyning, as immediately after Fettiplace presented the petition Alford showed the House copies of two royal warrants authorizing the saltpetremen to raise money and carts from local people.20 Alford would later describe Fettiplace as his ‘honest nephew’ and appoint him an overseer of his will.21

Fettiplace was readmitted to the Berkshire bench in June 1629. In the following October he bought the manor of North Denchworth from the senior branch of his family, thereby rounding out his holdings around Childrey.22 He was appointed sheriff of Berkshire in November 1630, and in 1636 was reported to the Privy Council for refusing to pay Ship Money on his Oxfordshire property. He subsequently declined to contribute towards the cost of the Second Bishops’ War, and was elected senior knight of the shire to both the Short and Long Parliaments. Although named a commissioner of array in 1642, he remained at Westminster on the outbreak of Civil War.23 However, he grew disillusioned with the Parliament, and by January 1644 he had joined the king at Oxford and took his seat in the royalist assembly, for which offence he was secluded by his former colleagues at Westminster. He remained in Oxford until the royalist garrison surrendered in June 1646.24 Subsequently forced to compound as a delinquent, he was imprisoned at Peterhouse, Cambridge until October 1648.25 During the early 1650s he converted part of the former abbey of Dorchester, of which he was the lay impropriator, into a free grammar school, drawing up statutes for his new foundation and endowing it with £20 per annum.26 Unmarried, he died in March 1658, and was buried at Swinbrook as requested in his will of July 1656.27 His estate descended to his nephew, Sir John Fettiplace, 1st bt., whose son Sir Edmund, 2nd bt., erected a monument in his memory at Swinbrook.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), ii. 205-6.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.
  • 3. C142/333/42.
  • 4. Parochial Collections made by Wood and Rawlinson (Oxon. Rec. Soc. xi), 298; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), ii. 206.
  • 5. C231/4, f. 83v; 231/5, p. 10; C66/2858, dorse.
  • 6. C93/10/22; 93/11/13; 93/15/19; C192/1, unfol.
  • 7. E115/144/112; 115/153/20; SR, v. 82.
  • 8. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 6.
  • 9. C181/4, f. 147v.
  • 10. C181/5, ff. 140v, 173, 219v.
  • 11. SR, v. 149.
  • 12. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 13. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 259, 263, 268.
  • 14. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), ii. 93, 202; C.G. Durston, ‘Berks. and its County Gentry, 1625-49’ (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1977), ii. 52.
  • 15. VCH Oxon. vii. 43.
  • 16. Durston, ii. 55. The figure is derived from Fettiplace’s petition to compound.
  • 17. W.N. Clarke, Parochial Top. of Hundred of Wanting, 69-70.
  • 18. He is not listed as a magistrate on Charles I’s accession: T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 4.
  • 19. Procs. 1626, iii. 404.
  • 20. CD 1628, iii. 629, 631; iv. 3.
  • 21. PROB 11/161, f. 15.
  • 22. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), ii. 206.
  • 23. Durston, ii. 53.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1644-6, p. 486.
  • 25. CCC, 1542; CSP Dom. 1648-9, p. 302.
  • 26. VCH Oxon. i. 468-9.
  • 27. PROB 11/278, f. 75.
  • 28. Parochial Collections, 298.