GAWDY, Framlingham (1589-1655), of Bardwell Hall, West Harling, Norf.

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.)

Family and Education

b. 8 Aug. 1589,1 1st s. of Sir Bassingbourne Gawdy* of West Harling and his 1st w. Anne, da. and coh. of Sir Charles Framlingham of Crow’s Hall, Debenham, Suff. educ. G. Inn 1624.2 m. 16 Feb. 1609, Lettice (bur. 3 Dec. 1630), da. and coh. of Sir Robert Knollys I* of Westminster, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. d.v.p.; (2) 28 Jan. 1653, Dorothy (d.1659), da. of Philip Gawdy* of West Harling and London, s.p. suc. fa. 1606.3 d. 25 Feb. 1655.4 sig. Framlingham Gaudy.

Offices Held

J.p. Thetford, Norf. 1611-49, Norf. 1614-49;5 commr. subsidy, Norf. and Thetford 1621, 1624, 1628;6 capt. militia foot, Norf. by 1626,7 commr. Forced Loan 1627,8 sheriff 1627-8,9 commr. charitable uses 1629-33,10 assessment 1641,11 dep. lt. 1642,12 commr. New Model Ordinance 1645, 1645-8, militia 1648.13

Treas. k.b. and Marshalsea, 1615-16.14


The Gawdy family of West Harling had resided at Bardwell Hall since the mid-sixteenth century. Gawdy remained there until he was 16, when, after an affair with a serving maid named Mistress Havers,15 he was sent to London to live with his uncle, Philip Gawdy*. The latter was an esquire of the Body to James I,16 well-connected at Court, who wrote to Gawdy’s father frequently:

I bought him his clothes, hat, sword and other such necessaries as he wanted. I have been careful to save somewhat, not to spend one penny extraordinary. I never brought him into ill company; neither was he ever from me. In all truth I do not doubt but that he will do very well and make an honest man if he may meet with a worthy wife.17

Philip took Gawdy to see the lions in the Tower, and the tombs at Westminster, and promised to take him to ‘my Lo[rd] Mayor’s shows and pageants’, but he could not persuade him to write to his father.18 Philip also attempted to arrange a match for young Gawdy with Penelope, daughter of Thomas, Lord Darcy, a known crypto-Catholic. Since the Gawdys inclined towards puritanism the match did not look promising, and was abandoned after Penelope and her grandmother, Lady Kitson (the sister of Sir Charles Cornwallis*) demanded that Mistress Havers be banished from Bardwell Hall.19 Nevertheless, Gawdy proved a popular figure at Court, and his uncle noted approvingly that ‘he is mended in his carriage and behaviour’.20

Following his father’s death in 1606, Gawdy inherited substantial properties in Norfolk.21 However, as he was still under-age he was entrusted to the guardianship of Sir Robert Knollys I, with whom he resided at the Vinegarden, in Westminster.22 In 1609 Gawdy married his guardian’s daughter, Lettice. Many years later the validity of this marriage was challenged by George Gawdy of Claxton, who, anxious to secure the estate of Framlingham Gawdy’s late father-in-law, claimed that it had not been solemnized in a church. However, Framlingham produced depositions from an old family servant, as well as the minister who conducted the wedding ceremony, Jeremias Leech, which showed that a special licence had been obtained.23

Although he travelled frequently to London, Gawdy spent most of his time at Harling. Mainly devoted to foldcourse sheep farming, the estate generated an annual income of approximately £600 and was convenient for the markets at Bury St. Edmunds and Thetford. Gawdy’s household accounts for the 1630s show that his income from all his properties stood at just over £1,000 p.a.24 In 1624 he was assessed at £20 in lands for the subsidy, one of the highest assessments in Norfolk.25 Like his father, Gawdy lived frugally, but he did ensure that his sons were well educated, receiving private tuition before attending Bury grammar school and then Caius College, Cambridge.26 He had at least six sons by Lettice, who once complained to her father that ‘I have had so many children that they have worn out all my things... I trust that you have some old shirts in a corner for me’.27 Gawdy often played bowls at Buckenham, Norfolk, and enjoyed hunting with Sir John Rous I*.28

Gawdy was only 16 when his father died, and therefore could not replace him as Member for Thetford at the ensuing by-election. However, in 1614 he was comfortably elected for Thetford’s second place, obtaining 16 of the 24 votes available.29 He had been advised by his uncle Philip to ‘have a care concerning yourself in that business, because there are many [that] labour for places in the House’.30 In 1621 he was again elected to the second place. During the Parliament he sent at least two letters to his wife. In one of them, dated March 1621, he wrote that ‘I am sorry I cannot dispatch my business to come into the country, where I long to be, w[hi]ch I hope will not be long’. He added that all the news in London was of (Sir) Giles Mompesson’s* escape. On a family note, he also remarked that their cousin William, Lord Wallingford had not come to London for the Parliament.31

In the last Jacobean Parliament Gawdy served as the senior Thetford Member with his close friend, Dru Drury.32 Gawdy also attended the county election in Norwich, where he received a message from his friend Sir John Rous: ‘not doubting that you shall be of the Parliament, [Rous] desires that you, some other of your neighbours and friends, may associate together in the time of Parlia[ment]’.33 The meaning of this message is not entirely clear, but perhaps Gawdy and his friends were being invited to enjoy Rous’s hospitality while in London. At the following election, in 1625, Gawdy faced strenuous opposition from Sir Charles Le Gros for the second place after Thetford, but by 15 votes to 13 he was elected to his fourth consecutive Parliament.34 On 29 June, towards the end of the Westminster sitting, Gawdy instructed his long-term servant, Anthony Rawlins, to bring his horses to London, ‘w[hi]ch I may have occasion to use about a fortnight after the date of this letter’. However, in a postscript he noted that ‘since writing this letter the House hath given the king two subsidies - therefore pray send my horses for me ... and send my summer suit’.35 During the Parliament, Gawdy received a message from the Member for Norwich, Sir Thomas Hyrne, requesting a meeting ‘about some serious business’.36

In 1626 Gawdy was again the junior burgess for Thetford.37 In March he wrote to his wife asking her to send his horses to London on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, presumably so that he could return to Harling over Easter. He informed her that the earl of Arundel was still imprisoned in the Tower, and enclosed a copy of the speech by Samuel Turner* attacking the duke of Buckingham. Gawdy also commented that his cousin, Clement Coke*, had incurred the king’s ire by asserting that he ‘had rather suffer by a foreign enemy than at home’.38 On 6 May Gawdy was licensed to return to Harling because he was ill.39

Gawdy was pricked as sheriff in 1627 and so was unable to sit in 1628-9. However, his younger brother Sir Charles, who was desperate to avoid his creditors, begged him for his support. Protesting that he had ‘a great desire’ to be of the Parliament, he added that ‘I know nobody can make better means to Thetford than yourself’.40 Shortly afterwards, Sir Charles again beseeched his brother ‘to go instantly about it yourself in person or else it will be gone, for Dru Drury was here in this town and do[es] purpose to send to Thetford tomorrow - not for himself but for a friend. And I am sure you have as much interest as he [has] ... There is such a stir for places that they are all gone or promised by this time’.41 Despite the receipt of a third letter, and another from Gawdy’s brother-in-law, William Stanhope, Gawdy rebuffed his brother in favour of an old family friend, Edmund Moundeford*, who also happened to be one of Sir Charles’s creditors.42 Moundeford was subsequently elected at Thetford, and kept Gawdy informed of events in Parliament and London. Gawdy also received news from Sir John Hare*, as well as a book detailing the names of the members of both Houses.43

Despite his length of service, Gawdy made no recorded speeches in any of the early Stuart parliaments. Moreover, he was named to just one legislative committee, concerned with the restitution of possession by magistrates (24 Mar. 1621), and a conference with the Lords on the informers bill (1 Dec. 1621).44 Nevertheless, he was elected to his sixth Parliament in March 1640. He also served as MP for Thetford in the Long Parliament and kept a diary of its proceedings in 1641 and 1642.45 A moderate parliamentarian who did not sit in the Commons after Pride’s Purge, nor on local commissions after the execution of the king, Gawdy died at West Harling in February 1655.46 His will, dated August 1652, was drafted before he married his second wife, who received the barley rents from his lands at Garboldisham. His younger sons were given various properties in Norfolk and Suffolk.47 The bulk of the estate went to his eldest son, William, who was created a baronet by Charles II and continued the family tradition by sitting for Thetford in the Cavalier Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. i. 306.
  • 2. GI Admiss.
  • 3. P. Millican, ‘Gawdys of Norf. and Suff.’, (Norf. Arch. xxvi), 335-90; Vis. Norf. (Harl Soc. xxxii), 126; PROB 11/109, f. 227.
  • 4. Millican, 368.
  • 5. Norf. RO, T/C1/3, p. 33; C231/2, f. 155; 231/4, f. 204; Add. 27396, f. 169.
  • 6. C212/22/20, 23; W. Rye, Norf. State Pprs. 137.
  • 7. Rye, 32, 130.
  • 8. Ibid. 48.
  • 9. Norf. Official Lists ed. H. L’Estrange, 21.
  • 10. C192/1, unfol.
  • 11. SR, v. 153.
  • 12. Jnls. Mar.-June 1642, p. 54.
  • 13. A. and O. i. 623, 641, 1089, 1240.
  • 14. Norf. RO, MC 98/1/3; HMC Gawdy, 109.
  • 15. Millican, 365.
  • 16. LC2/4/5/65.
  • 17. Letters of Philip Gawdy ed. I.H. Jeayes, 160.
  • 18. Ibid. 160-2.
  • 19. Ibid. 158-9.
  • 20. Ibid. 164-6.
  • 21. Millican, 355-6; HMC Gawdy, 106.
  • 22. WARD 9/162, f. 1.
  • 23. Add. 36990, ff. 100-4.
  • 24. Add. 27399, f. 229.
  • 25. Norf. RO, WLS XVII/2, f. 120.
  • 26. Al. Cant.
  • 27. Norf. RO, MC 2/92, p. 3.
  • 28. HMC Gawdy, 115; Eg. 2804, f. 210.
  • 29. Norf. RO, T/C1/3, p. 16.
  • 30. Eg. 2804, f. 208.
  • 31. Norf. RO, MC 2/92, pp. 7-8.
  • 32. Norf. RO, T/C1/4, p. 1.
  • 33. Eg. 2715, f. 250.
  • 34. Norf. RO, T/C1/4, p. 17.
  • 35. Add. 27395, f. 177.
  • 36. Eg. 2715, f. 286.
  • 37. Norf. RO, T/C1/4, p. 27.
  • 38. Norf. RO, MC 2/92, pp. 8-10.
  • 39. Procs. 1626, iii. 181.
  • 40. Procs. 1628, vi. 167-8.
  • 41. Ibid. 168.
  • 42. Add. 27395, f. 198; Eg. 2715, f. 366.
  • 43. Procs. 1628, vi. 204.
  • 44. CJ, i. 572a, 654b.
  • 45. Add. 14827, 14,828; Jnls. Mar.-June 1642.
  • 46. Millican, 367-8.
  • 47. PROB 11/248, f. 130.