FLEETWOOD, Sir Miles (1576-1641), of Wood Street, London and Aldwinkle All Saints, Northants.

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.) - 8 Mar. 1641

Family and Education

bap. 1 Oct. 1576,1 1st s. of Sir William Fleetwood I* of Cranford, Mdx. and Jane, da. of William Clifton of Barrington, Som.; bro. of Sir Gerrard*.2 educ. G. Inn, entered 1588.3 m. c.1598, Anne, da. of Nicholas Luke† of Woodend, Cople, Beds., at least 5s. (1 d.v.p.), 1da.4 kntd. 29 Apr. 1602;5 suc. fa. 1616.6 d. 8 Mar. 1641.7

Offices Held

Vol. [I] 1602.8

Freeman, Southampton, Hants 1608;9 under-steward, honour of Grafton, Northants. by 1610;10 j.p. Bucks. 1624-5, Northants. 1625-d.;11 commr. disafforestation, Leicester forest, Leics. 1626-7;12 dep. lt. Northants. by 1627;13 commr. martial law, Northants. 1627,14 sewers 1633,15 inquiry, lands 1634.16

Recvr.-gen. Ct. of Wards 1610-d.17


Fleetwood began his career in Ireland, possibly under the command of his brother-in-law, Sir Oliver Lambart†, and was knighted there by lord deputy Mountjoy in 1602. He was granted the reversion to the receiver-generalship of the Court of Wards in 1604 and entered into office six years later after his father, the former incumbent, was sequestered.18 The elder Fleetwood’s bankruptcy meant that Miles inherited little more than this office, although he had acquired property in Aldwinkle by 1613.19

Fleetwood was returned to the Addled Parliament for Huntingdon on the interest of his wife’s uncle, the 3rd Lord St. John of Bletso, the county’s lord lieutenant.20 On 14 Apr. he was appointed to attend the joint conference on the Palatine marriage settlement. In addition he was named to nine committees, whose subjects included bills on non-observance of the Sabbath (7 May), the speedy recovery of small debts (11 May), clerical non-residence and pluralism (12 May), and the right to copy inquisitions, which Fleetwood and his colleagues in the Court of Wards wished to acquire from the petty bag office (14 May).21

In 1619, at the trial of the former lord treasurer, the earl of Suffolk, Fleetwood gave evidence that he had once paid £500 to Suffolk, ‘fearing his greatness and desirous to procure his favour’.22 At the next general election, Fleetwood found a seat at the Wiltshire borough of Westbury, probably on the interest of Sir James Ley*, his colleague in the Court of Wards.23 Among the 16 committees to which he was appointed were measures concerning the use of the Exchequer by private creditors (5 Mar. 1621), forcible entries (24 Mar.), abuses in Chancery (25 Apr.), legal fees (3 May) and unlawful imprisonment (5 May).24 As a member of the committee for privileges, to which he also belonged in the subsequent Parliaments in which he sat, he was among those ordered on 26 Apr. to recommend an order of priority for considering the various businesses before the House. On 24 May he was also appointed to help manage the joint conference on the revived Sabbath bill.25 It was not until the winter sitting that he made his maiden speech, when he spoke on the situation in the Palatinate. He described this matter on 26 Nov. as ‘the weightiest business’ he had known to have come before the House, since it concerned ‘the honour of God, and the propagation of religion ... the honour we owe to our king in his children [and] the good of the kingdom’. He therefore urged ‘a present and future’ supply and moved that the House confer with the Lords about a possible war with Spain.26 He was appointed to attend the joint conference for amendment of the bill against informers on 1 December.27 Two days later he was among those ordered to attend the king with the petition urging that Prince Charles marry a Protestant, the document which provoked the dissolution.28

By March 1622 Fleetwood had attached himself to the royal favourite, George Villiers, marquess (and later duke) of Buckingham.29 At the 1624 general election he was returned for the Surrey borough of Bletchingley on the interest of his wife’s cousin, the widowed Lady Howard of Effingham, and the Surrey feodary Edward Bysshe*. In the event, however, he opted for the Duchy of Cornwall borough of Launceston, for which he had also been returned.30 During the Parliament, Fleetwood was one of the most active members of Buckingham’s faction in the Commons, which sought to persuade the House to advise the king to break off the negotiations for a Spanish marriage treaty and to declare war on Spain.31 On 27 Feb. he was appointed to a committee to consider the dishonour done to the duke after the Spanish ambassadors complained about the language used by Buckingham to describe the king of Spain. On 1 Mar. Fleetwood spoke at length, with copious scriptural allusions, in favour of breaking off the negotiations for a Spanish Match.32 Ten days later he was named to attend a joint conference with the Lords on supply at which Prince Charles would be present, and on 19 Mar. Fleetwood recommended that James should nominate a committee of both Houses to find a remedy for ‘our decay of treasure’.33 One of the major impediments to war with Spain was the opposition of lord treasurer Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*), whom Buckingham and his clients were therefore determined to destroy. On 5 Apr. Fleetwood initiated the onslaught,34 accusing the minister of corruption in the Court of Wards, and with the agreement of the House he privately gave the names of witnesses to the Speaker, ‘that none may know to pervert them’.35 He also drew attention to the ‘unprecedented power’ that Middlesex wielded as lord treasurer, who was said to demand ‘that nothing should pass concerning the revenue without his privity’. This was perhaps a reference to their reported clash when Prince Charles had demanded £10,000 to be paid to the king of Denmark, but Middlesex refused on the grounds that the coffers were empty. Charles had then promptly obtained the money from Fleetwood, greatly annoying Middlesex, who was offended that Fleetwood had delivered the money without his consent.36 Two days later, before the committee for grievances, he further accused the minister of taking bribes from the customs farmers, and this was the charge that was pursued with most energy.37 On 10 Apr. he told the committee for grievances ‘that his opinion is that the proofs [against Middlesex] are so clear that they shall do him no wrong to transmit it to the House’, and he was later among those appointed to draft the charges.38 Fleetwood was not entirely preoccupied with the charges against Middlesex or the Spanish marriage negotiations, however, for on 8 Apr. he was one of six Members appointed to examine the books of the Merchant Adventurers.39 Moreover, on 28 May he was one of those appointed to attend the king with the grievances.40

Fleetwood was returned to the first two Caroline Parliaments for Newton in Lancashire, a proprietary borough then in the hands of his Catholic cousin, Sir Richard Fleetwood of Colwich, Staffordshire and Penwortham in Lancashire.41 Although he had not previously represented Newton himself, Fleetwood had, through his cousin, almost certainly exercised occasional patronage there. Sir John Luke, his wife’s kinsman, was probably elected at the request of either Fleetwood or his father in 1604, and it was presumably Fleetwood who suggested the courtier Sir George Wright in 1620. He may also have been responsible for the choice of Henry Edmondes as his junior partner in both 1625 and 1626, and the election of a fellow Buckingham client, Sir Francis Annesley, in 1628. On the opening day of Charles’s first Parliament, Fleetwood seconded the motion that all the Members should receive communion (21 June 1625). He desired both a private and a public fast for the king, for the ‘distressed’ churches abroad, for the ‘invincible’ navy, and for relief from the plague, and was named to a joint conference to draw up a petition to Charles for this purpose.42 He reported a recusancy bill on 27 June, and was among those appointed to draft the heads of the petition on religion and to help present it to the king on 8 July.43 Presumably he took the opportunity to conduct a little private business at Court, for on the following day he was granted £5,000 out of debts due in the Court of Wards.44 On 8 Aug., after the removal to Oxford, he informed the House that Buckingham was willing to compromise about the king’s demand for additional subsidies, since ‘this time [is] not seasonable for supply of the navy nor easing of the commonwealth’; he therefore suggested that it be deferred until the next meeting, and conveyed the favourite’s assurances on religion.45

In the Parliament of 1626 Fleetwood again demonstrated that while he zealously advocated the maintenance of religion at home and abroad, he was more open minded about the question of how to raise sufficient revenue. His numerous committee appointments included those for religion (10 Feb.), simony (14 Feb.) and unworthy clergymen (15 February). He was also among those ordered to present the names of dangerous recusants (23 Feb.) and to examine the procedure for naming committees (3 March).46 In addition, he was named to joint conferences to consider the Common’s summons to Buckingham (4 Mar.), which infringed the privileges of the Upper House, and the Crown’s foreign policy (7 March).47 He spoke several times in committee of the Whole House, beginning on 13 Mar., when he described supply as ‘the main business which we are now about’.48 Four days later he argued that the king’s revenues were ‘now greater than ever ... but greatly misemployed’.49 When Samuel Turner* was reprimanded by the king for his accusations against Buckingham, Fleetwood, perhaps surprisingly, objected that it was ‘unparliamentary’ that Charles should intervene in such a way (22 March).50 However, he soon showed that his loyalty to his patron was unshaken. On 24 Mar. he declared that he had heard Buckingham protest that he ‘abhors the errors of papists and Arminians ... and thinks his [Montagu’s] books ill-written’, and at the same time he made a somewhat half-hearted defence of the duke’s allegedly Catholic relative Lord Scrope, whom he described as not being ‘settled in religion’ at the time of his appointment to the presidency of the Council in the North.51 He further denied the charge brought by Sir John Strangways* that the duke had failed to maintain a proper naval presence in the Narrow Seas.52 The following day he gave a detailed rebuttal of certain accusations of financial corruption against his patron.53 After the king ordered the House to abandon its attack on Buckingham and to vote supply, Fleetwood reminded it on 1 Apr. of its share of responsibility for the war, ‘it being by our persuasions’; and he reinforced this with exhortations for the defence of religion.54

Following the dissolution Fleetwood was summoned to appear before the newly appointed Crown revenue commissioners to provide information about pensions and annuities paid out of the Court of Wards. Like his father he was suspected of making irregular use of the sums passing through his office; however, no charges were brought against him.55 During the summer he also received a commission for the disafforestation of Leicester forest, a task upon which he busied himself over the next three or four years for a fee of £950.56 In the summer of 1627 a broken arm, sustained in a riding accident, delayed a visit to Neroche forest.57

Returned to the third Caroline Parliament for Woodstock, where his brother Sir Gerrard was keeper of the royal park, Fleetwood continued to attract numerous committee appointments, many of them concerned with measures against recusancy.58 On 22 Apr. 1628 he was ordered to help in drafting a message to the Lords on ‘the great business, concerning the liberty of the subject’.59 As the Commons debated how to respond to a series of messages from the king, Fleetwood, speaking in grand committee on 3 May, characteristically placed emphasis upon the importance of religion:

The breach of this Parliament will be the greatest misery that ever befell us. The eyes of Christendom are upon this Parliament. The fate of all our Protestant friends are ready to be swallowed up by the emperor’s forces, and our own kingdom is in a miserable strait. The defence of our religion, that is invaded by Romish Catholics by the colour of a commission which is intolerable; the defence of our realm by shipping is decayed; the king’s revenues are sold and gone.60

He therefore favoured a bill to ‘establish the fundamental laws’. He was later named to attend a joint conference on the Petition of Right (20 June).61 On 13 May he acted as teller for the noes in the vote to decide whether to impose a public humiliation at the assizes on the four Cornish deputy lieutenants who had attempted to rig Cornwall’s county election.62 A member of the committee for the estate bill promoted by the 2nd earl of Devonshire (Sir William Cavendish I*), he again acted as a teller when the measure went to a division (10 June).63 On 13 June he asked the House to consider ‘what course [is] fittest to be taken about the bill of Tunnage and Poundage’,64 which had not yet been enacted. Perhaps in order to persuade the House to turn its attention to this matter, he proposed, eight days later, that the king’s income from ‘the Court of Wards, recusants’ lands, forests and chases’ be greatly increased.65 The implied threat was obvious, but Fleetwood seems not to have banked upon the hostility of his fellow Buckingham client, Sir Robert Pye* who, fearful that Fleetwood’s proposal would wreck the chances of obtaining a generous grant of subsidies, accused him of acting like a projector, or in other words, of intending to make a private profit from increasing the Court of Wards’ business. Fleetwood was incensed, and had to be reassured by Sir Thomas Wentworth that Pye had, in fact, ‘meant no ill’.66

In the second session Fleetwood was among those appointed to consider bills against corruption in judicial and ecclesiastical appointments (23 Jan. 1629) and an explanatory recusancy bill (28 January).67 He was twice named to attend the king about Tunnage and Poundage (27, 31 Jan.), and on 23 Feb. he urged that the goods belonging to the merchant-Member John Rolle, which had been seized for non-payment of this duty, be returned.68 On 28 Jan. he complained that recusants ‘whose estates are £1,500 per annum have compounded for £30 or £40 per annum’, and two weeks later, in the debate on the secret Jesuit college that had been discovered at Clerkenwell, he moved to examine ‘one Middlemore, a general solicitor for almost all the recusants of England’.69 Linking Catholics with ‘Arminian sectaries’, he charged Montagu in the committee for religion on 11 Feb. with ‘schism and error in doctrine’ and ‘sedition and faction in matter of state’.70 On 23 Feb. he was named to a committee to examine the fines paid by recusants throughout the reign.71

Fleetwood was returned for Hindon to the Short Parliament in 1640, leaving the seat at Woodstock for his eldest son Sir William†. Walter Steward* reportedly said of Fleetwood that ‘he went to two sermons on a Sunday, and that on Monday morning he would sell his friend for two shillings’, but despite charges of corruption he retained the receivership of the Wards until his death.72 He died intestate on 8 Mar. 1641.73 His younger son Charles, the parliamentary general, entered the Commons as recruiter for Marlborough in 1646, and subsequently served in both the Protectorate parliaments and the ‘Other House’. Fleetwood’s eldest son, a royalist, represented Woodstock after the Restoration.74

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. St. James Clerkenwell (Harl. Soc. Reg. ix), 9.
  • 2. R.W. Buss, Fleetwood Fam. of Colwich, Staffs. 1, 9, 12.
  • 3. GI Admiss.
  • 4. F.A. Blaydes, Gen. Bed. 84, 85, 367.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 100.
  • 6. E214/1148.
  • 7. G. Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 227.
  • 8. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 146.
  • 9. HMC 11th Rep. III, 23.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 595; 1635, p. 7
  • 11. C231/4, ff. 168, 192;
  • 12. C66/2431; VCH Leics. iv. 64; L. Fox and P. Russell, Leicester Forest, 107.
  • 13. APC, 1627-8, p. 299.
  • 14. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 567.
  • 15. C181/4, f. 140.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 11.
  • 17. H.E. Bell, Ct. of Wards, 25.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 149, 593; Bell, 37.
  • 19. VCH Northants. iii. 165.
  • 20. VCH Hunts. ii. 27.
  • 21. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 81, 172, 206, 217, 235.
  • 22. Add. 12497, ff. 77v, 83v; HMC Hatfield, xxii. 98.
  • 23. VCH Wilts. viii. 185.
  • 24. CJ, i. 540a, 572a, 590b, 597a, 606a, 610a.
  • 25. Ibid. 592b, 626a.
  • 26. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 208-9; CD 1621, iii. 447-8; CJ, i. 645a.
  • 27. CJ, i. 654b.
  • 28. Ibid. 657b.
  • 29. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/OE108; R. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, pp. 325-6.
  • 30. CJ, i. 695b, 716a, 726a; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 666; Ruigh, pp. 79-80.
  • 31. C. Russell, PEP, 168, 173.
  • 32. CJ, i. 722a, b; R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 181, 183, 193.
  • 33. CJ, i. 683a, 740b.
  • 34. SP14/165/1; Ct. of Jas. I ed. G. Goodman, i. 325; HMC Mar and Kellie, ii. 198; HMC Hastings, ii. 65; Russell, 199-200.
  • 35. Lowther, f. 50v.
  • 36. Bodl. Rawl. B151, f. 65; M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 235, 237; CJ, i. 755a-b.
  • 37. ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 111, 119v, 121v, 132v; LJ, iii. 323b, 324b, 336a.
  • 38. ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 2v; CJ, i. 764b.
  • 39. CJ, i. 758b.
  • 40. Ibid. 714a.
  • 41. Vis. Staffs. ed. H.S. Grazebrook, 129-30; Buss, 3.
  • 42. Procs. 1625, pp. 204, 210.
  • 43. Ibid. 252, 349.
  • 44. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 57.
  • 45. Procs. 1625, p. 422; Russell, 248.
  • 46. Procs. 1626, ii. 13, 32, 44, 102, 186.
  • 47. Ibid. ii. 195, 216; Lockyer, 311.
  • 48. Procs. 1626, ii. 272.
  • 49. Ibid. ii. 307.
  • 50. Ibid. ii. 342.
  • 51. Ibid. ii. 358.
  • 52. Ibid. ii. 360.
  • 53. Ibid. ii. 371.
  • 54. Ibid. ii. 418.
  • 55. CSP Dom. 1625-6, pp. 378, 392; Univ. of London, Goldsmiths’ ms 195, i. ff. 3v, 4v, 6v, 12v, 23v, 27, 38.
  • 56. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 195; Fox and Russell, 103, 114.
  • 57. SP16/74/21; CSP Dom. 1627-8, pp. 299, 372.
  • 58. CJ, i. 874a, 885a, 887b, 893a, 896b, 904a,.
  • 59. CD 1628, iii. 22.
  • 60. Ibid. iii. 234, 236, 239-40, 244, 246.
  • 61. Ibid. iv. 390.
  • 62. Ibid. iii. 386.
  • 63. Ibid. iv. 220, 224.
  • 64. Ibid. 289.
  • 65. Ibid. 406, 420.
  • 66. HMC Cowper, i. 351; HMC Lonsdale, 51.
  • 67. CJ, i. 922a, 923b.
  • 68. Ibid. 923a, 925b; CD 1629, p. 235.
  • 69. CD 1629, pp. 114, 216.
  • 70. Ibid. 60, 140, 193.
  • 71. CJ, i. 932b.
  • 72. C115/106/8391.
  • 73. Smyth’s Obit. (Cam. Soc. xliv), 18.
  • 74. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 178.