FRAUNCEYS (FRANCIS), Edward (c.1566-1626), of Petworth and Wappingthorne, nr. Steyning, Suss.

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



1626 - c. 20 May 1626

Family and Education

b. c.1566,1 ?2nd s. of William Fraunceys of Ticknall, Derbys. and Elizabeth, da. of Sir George Cotton of Combermere, Cheshire.2 educ. Shrewsbury g.s. 1577; St. John’s, Camb. 1582.3 m. Elizabeth, da. of Edward Atslowe, fell., Royal Coll. of Physicians, of Downham, Essex, 1da.4 kntd. 26 Feb. 1605.5 bur. 23 May 1626.6

Offices Held

Steward, 9th earl of Northumberland’s household 1593-1603, and of earl’s Petworth estate, Suss. 1603-20.7

Paymaster, gent. pens. 1603-8.8

J.p. Suss. 1602-5, 1619-26,9 commr. sewers 1604-at least 1625,10 subsidy 1621-2, 1624,11 impressment of seamen 1625.12


Fraunceys came from one of the more obscure branches of a family settled in Derbyshire since the early thirteenth century, first representing the county in 1338.13 He is known to have had one brother, Richard, who remained in Derbyshire and seems to have inherited their father’s estate, presumably as the eldest son. Fraunceys himself entered the service of the earl of Northumberland, becoming steward of his household in 1593, and sat for Beverley on his master’s interest in the last two Elizabethan Parliaments. It may have been as a result of his service in the Percy household that he met his future wife, as her father, the Catholic doctor and conspirator Edward Atslowe, attended one of Northumberland’s sons at his deathbed in 1587.14

Fraunceys ceased to be steward of Northumberland’s household in 1603 but continued in the earl’s service, running his principal seat at Petworth in Sussex. Northumberland was in favour at Court at the beginning of the next reign and, as captain of the gentlemen pensioners, secured Fraunceys’ appointment as paymaster. The earl was presumably also responsible for his return to Parliament, as Northumberland’s friend Sir George More* owned Haslemere manor, situated eight miles from Petworth.15

In the first Jacobean Parliament Fraunceys received 12 committee appointments, including seven in the first session, but made no recorded speeches. He was named to consider a bill to enable magistrates to release poor prisoners (31 Mar.), added to the committee for the recommitted bill for the limitation of prescriptions (24 Apr.), and appointed to committees to consider two bills against usury (9 May and 9 June) as well as measures concerning respite of homage (26 May), the preservation of game (16 June), and the continuance of expiring statutes (22 June).16

Fraunceys was knighted early in 1605 and obtained by purchase a pension of £200 a year in June;17 however his hopes of further advancement at the hands of the Crown more or less ended with the alleged involvement of his master in the Gunpowder Plot. Northumberland was imprisoned until 1621, but as he retained control of his lands he continued to employ Fraunceys, whom he requested in 1606 should be allowed access to him in the Tower.18 Fraunceys himself does not seem to have been suspected of any complicity in the Plot, even though his wife was presented for recusancy in Sussex in 1605.19 Indeed, the Commons expressed its confidence in him by appointing him to attend the conference of 6 Feb. 1606 on the tightening up of the recusancy laws. His only other committee appointment in the second session, on 25 Jan., was to consider the bill against married dons.20 With his master in disgrace he was, however, removed from the Sussex bench. He left no mark on the records of the third session, and in 1608 relinquished the paymastership of the gentlemen pensioners. In the fourth session he was named to consider bills on logwood (29 Mar.), the naturalization of Sir George Kerr (24 Apr.), and elopement (8 May).21 A lease of Crown lands in Northumberland received by Fraunceys on 10 Apr. was almost certainly in trust for the earl.22

While serving the Percy family at Petworth, Fraunceys bought and sold on his own account in the Sussex land-market, and acted as trustee for Sir George More* in 1612 and later.23 In 1614 he was returned for Steyning, 12 miles from Petworth and near some of his newly acquired property, but played no recorded part in the Addled Parliament.24 In 1618 he became a trustee for the much-indebted Sir John Leedes* and subsequently took up residence at Leedes’ home at Wappingthorne near Steyning. His interest at Steyning was further strengthened by his restoration to the county bench in 1619.25

Re-elected for Steyning in 1620, despite having recently left Northumberland’s employment, Fraunceys received two committee appointments, one for a private bill concerning the lands of the Sussex Catholic Anthony, 2nd Viscount Montagu, (16 Mar.) and another for a bill for the relief of the London poor (2 May).26 On 28 Apr. 1621 Sir Francis Seymour complained to the House that ‘one Michael Chambers, a common informer, told one Richard Keeling that he would have out a supersedeas against Sir Edward Fraunceys, notwithstanding he is a Member of this House, and that he cared not a fart for the Parliament’. Chambers had informed against Lady Fraunceys for recusancy, but after the parties were examined no action was taken, as Keeling was ‘a solicitor for recusants’ and generally regarded as an unreliable witness.27 On 30 Apr. Fraunceys himself indignantly denied that there was any taint of recusancy in his family or household, and declared (as reported by Chamberlain) that ‘he cared not a fig (or somewhat worse) for the Pope nor the king of Spain’. Reproved by Secretary Calvert for such undiplomatic language, he protested ‘that he intended it only of the Spaniard’s religion, and intended that also no more of him than of all other princes that were of that religion’.28

Fraunceys was summoned before the Council in February 1622 to explain his failure to contribute to the Benevolence for the Palatinate.29 Re-elected in 1624 he was added to the committee for Sir Charles Caesar’s land bill on 1 May. On 29 Apr. he was presented by his former employer’s son, Algernon, Lord Percy*, as a local officeholder suspected of Catholic sympathies, on account of his wife’s recusancy, but he was ordered by the House ‘to be spared’ on 12 May.30 He left no mark on the records of the first Caroline Parliament, and was reportedly very ill in October 1625. He was re-elected in 1626 despite being described by one of the earl of Middlesex’s (Sir Lionel Cranfield*) correspondents around this time as ‘desperately sick’ and having just been removed from the commission of the peace. He may have failed to take his seat, as his absence was excused due to continued ill health at a call of the House on 5 April.31 On 17 May he resigned his interest in the Leedes property to Sir John Caryll, and six days later, while Parliament was still in session, he was buried at St. Margaret’s, Westminster. He was nevertheless included in the Commons petition against Catholic officeholders, approved on 6 June, again owing to the alleged recusancy of his wife. Administration of his estate was granted to his brother Richard on 8 July. His only child had married Sir William Goring*.32

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to St. John’s, Camb.
  • 2. Harl. 6160, f. 23v; PROB 11/83, f. 219; Vis. Eng. and Wales Notes ed. Crisp, ix. 83.
  • 3. Shrewsbury Sch. Regestum Scholarium, 1562-1635 comp. E. Calvert, 50; Al. Cant.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 223; The Gen. n.s. xxi. 62; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 46.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 137.
  • 6. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 544.
  • 7. Household Pprs. of Henry Percy, Ninth Earl of Northumberland ed. G. R. Batho (Cam. Soc. ser. 3. xciii), 153.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 13, 424.
  • 9. C231/1, f. 131; 231/4, f. 90; C66/1620; Arundel, Autograph Letters 1617-32, Peers to Spiller, 16 Jan. 1626.
  • 10. C181/1, f. 81; 181/2, ff. 134, 292v; 181/3, ff. 133v, 166v.
  • 11. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 12. C181/1, f. 81; APC, 1625-6, p. 29.
  • 13. Peds. Contained in the Visitations of Derbys. 1569 and 1611, pp. 38-9; OR.
  • 14. HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 157; VCH Herts. iii. 21-5; Oxford DNB sub Atslowe, Edward.
  • 15. Loseley Mss ed. A.J. Kempe, 496-7.
  • 16. CJ, i. 160b, 183b, 186a, 204a, 235b, 240b, 244b.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 223.
  • 18. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 608; xviii. 426.
  • 19. Cal. Assize Recs. Suss. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 18.
  • 20. CJ, i. 260b, 263a.
  • 21. Ibid. 416b, 420b, 426a.
  • 22. C66/1873/10.
  • 23. Suss. Manors ed. E.H.W. Dunkin (Suss. Rec. Soc. xix), 79, 134, 143; (xx), 349, 463; Surr. Hist. Cent. LM/349/87, 349/106/4.
  • 24. W.P. Breach, ‘Farnefold of Steyning’, Suss. Arch. Colls. lix. 101.
  • 25. E. Lloyd, ‘Leedes of Wappingthorne’, Suss. Arch. Colls. liv. 50
  • 26. CJ, i. 556b, 602b.
  • 27. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 348; CD 1621, iii. 109-10; iv. 274.
  • 28. CJ, i. 598b; CD 1621, v. 121; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 369.
  • 29. SP14/127/79.
  • 30. CJ, i. 696b, 703a; ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 53v.
  • 31. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/E66; Procs. 1626, ii. 431.
  • 32. Add. Ch. 18932; Procs. 1626, iv. 214; Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 544.