GIFFARD, Emmanuel (c.1580-1634), of Whitehall, London

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.1580, 3rd s. of John Giffard, ‘priest’, and da. of one Wyot. unm.1 bur. 10 Apr. 1634.2

Offices Held

Servant to James I by 1620; commr. for Irish affairs 1625; gent. of the privy chamber (extraordinary) 1632-4.3

Freeman, Rye 1621.4

Member, embassy to Germany 1631-2.5


Giffard has to be distinguished from a Devonshire contemporary who was educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge.6 He came instead from a cadet branch of a Buckinghamshire family that regularly represented the county between 1306 and 1554.7 His cousin Roger, physician to the queen, sat for Old Sarum in two Elizabethan parliaments. Giffard’s early life and career are obscure, but his father was a Catholic priest and he was evidently brought up by the Jesuits. He nevertheless had powerful friends at Court. In 1614 he was nominated by Lord Knollys (William Knollys†) as second choice for Wallingford in 1614,8 but the electors preferred Sir George Simeon. After the arrest of Sir Charles Cornwallis* for stirring up trouble in the Addled Parliament, Giffard was among those allowed access to him in the Tower to enable provision to be made for his daughter-in-law, the widow of Sir William Cornwallis*.9 He seems to have been in reasonably prosperous circumstances at this time, joining with (Sir) Edward Fraunceys* in a loan of £210 to a Warwickshire knight.10

Giffard was included among the king’s sworn servants in 1620, when he was granted the mastership of the rolls in Ireland in reversion to Sir Francis Aungier*.11 His ‘ancient acquaintance’, Lord Zouche recommended him for election at Rye as ‘a sufficient religious gentleman, who would not only be forward to advance the good of the ports in general, but ready to do and stand for the good of your town in particular, though perhaps he be not well known to you’.12 Elected in his absence, he had not taken out his freedom three weeks later and did not even return thanks until 21 Feb. 1621, when he wrote to the corporation in connection with its instruction to prefer a bill giving it the right to levy taxes on shipping to pay for the repair of the town’s harbour. Giffard, promising ‘all diligence’, asked the corporation to send up a solicitor ‘with a copy of your charter, or whatsoever other writings which concern your privileges, and furnished with as many good reasons as may be’.13 However, if any such bill was ever laid before the Commons there is now no trace of it. The corporation was also anxious that its parliamentary representatives should help secure legislation to prevent the use of trawl nets. Such a measure was subsequently laid before the Commons by a group of London Fishmongers and, as a ‘baron’ of the Cinque Ports, Giffard was entitled to attend the committee appointed on 24 Apr. for its consideration.14 During the course of the third Jacobean Parliament, Giffard was named to nine committees, including those to naturalize the diplomat Sir Stephen Lesieur, Sir Francis Stewart*, Walter Stewart* and other Scottish courtiers and to draft a bill against the export of ordnance.15 On 26 Mar. he sought to mitigate the offences of Sir Henry Britton* by pointing out that Britton was not the original projector of the monopoly of granting warrens and parks, which had been previously held by Sir Richard Gifford* (not, it would seem, a kinsman).16 He was among those ordered to consider a bill for uniting two Dover parishes, and may have intervened in the debate of 23 Apr. on the charges against Sir John Bennet*.17 During the winter sitting Giffard helped to manage the conference with the Lords on the informers bill, and was added to the committee considering a private bill promoted by Sir Charles Caesar* (4 December).18

Giffard desired to be re-elected for Rye in 1624, and persuaded William Angell, the king’s fishmonger and the father of Gifford’s 1621 colleague, to recommend him to the corporation.19 Secretary Conway, however, required a seat at Rye for one of his sons, and consequently Giffard turned to Conway’s patron, the duke of Buckingham. Buckingham appeared to be well placed to help, for by early February his client, the comptroller of the Household, Sir John Suckling, no longer required the senior burgess-ship at Kingston-upon-Hull to which he had been elected a few weeks earlier, having been returned as knight of the shire for Middlesex. Buckingham therefore wrote to the Hull corporation in favour of Giffard, as did Suckling. However, by the time these letters arrived the townsmen had already returned alderman John Lister as Suckling’s replacement.20

With preparations in hand for an attack on Spain, Giffard’s knowledge of Spanish agents in England became useful to Buckingham, to whom he communicated news of Spanish military preparations in July.21 The duke acknowledged his assistance by writing to Conway on 2 Dec. on his behalf,22 but nevertheless ignored his claims at Rye at the next general election, preferring to nominate his own steward, Thomas Fotherley*. Giffard instead obtained a letter of support from Sir James Ley*,23 but he was again without a seat in the first Caroline Parliament. On 11 Jan. 1626, however, he was returned for Bury St. Edmunds, presumably on the nomination of the Buckingham client Sir Thomas Jermyn*. Twelve days later he was arrested for a debt of £100 by an official of the Jewel House and imprisoned in the Gatehouse. When the second Caroline Parliament met, Sir Benjamin Rudyard applied for privilege on his behalf.24 The return had erroneously been dated 30 Jan., and only after it had been amended by the town clerk was Giffard able to take his seat.25 He was named to no committees in the second Caroline Parliament, but on 18 Mar. he reminded the House that the king had described the charges against Buckingham introduced by Samuel Turner* as a disparagement of his government and that of his father’s, and also their honour. On 24 Apr. he also reported the duke’s answer to the invitation to defend himself before the Commons.26

Considered by some ‘the byword of the Court’, Giffard nevertheless found another patron after the assassination of Buckingham, in the shape of the earl of Arundel, who secured for him a place on the mission to Gustavus Adolphus, then at the height of his success as the Protestant champion in the Thirty Years’ War. On returning to England in November 1631 with messages, he was said to have belittled the Swedish king as much as he could, for which offence he was apparently committed. On 11 Jan. 1632, a warrant was issued to swear him in as gentleman of the privy chamber extraordinary, which one observer described as ‘a double inconvenience’ since he had to take, wry-faced, the oath of supremacy, ‘and secondly for that he is to expect none other recompense for his service’.27 Whether Giffard really found the taking of the oath so irksome is open to question, however, as he would have done the same on taking his seat in Parliament. When Ireland’s master of the rolls died later that year Giffard, who was remembered as having been ‘so great an apologist for the duke in Parliament’, laid claim to the office on the strength of his reversionary interest, but Ireland’s new lord deputy (Sir Thomas Wentworth*) preferred to appoint his own henchman, Christopher Wandesford*.28 Giffard died in Whitehall, a bachelor and ‘very poor’, and was buried at St. Margaret’s, Westminster on 10 Apr. 1634. He was much indebted to his servant for wages and by bond. Administration was granted to Sir Thomas Glemham*, one of his creditors.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 181; PROB 6/15, f. 19.
  • 2. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 566.
  • 3. SP14/118/26; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 46; LC5/132, f. 281.
  • 4. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/10, f. 210.
  • 5. T. Birch, Court and Times of Chas. I, ii. 153-4; CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 206.
  • 6. Al. Cant.
  • 7. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 399.
  • 8. Stephens Pprs. (Oxon. Rec. Soc. xlii), 37.
  • 9. APC, 1613-14, p. 484.
  • 10. C2/Jas.I/F6/3.
  • 11. CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 295.
  • 12. Add. 37818, f. 52.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 200; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 158-9; E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/10, f. 210; RYE 47/96/27; Suss. Arch. Colls. cvii. 30-33.
  • 14. CJ, i. 588b.
  • 15. Ibid. 563a, 572b.
  • 16. Ibid. 573a.
  • 17. Ibid. 579b; CD 1621, iii. 55.
  • 18. CJ, i. 654b, 658a.
  • 19. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 163.
  • 20. Hull RO, Bench Bk. 5, f. 61.
  • 21. Harl. 1581, f. 312.
  • 22. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 399.
  • 23. Procs. 1625, pp. 696-7.
  • 24. Procs. 1626, ii. 8-9.
  • 25. Ibid. 60, 64, 68.
  • 26. Ibid. 316; iii. 55-6, 58-9.
  • 27. C115/106/8390, 8396; Birch, ii. 153-4, 158.
  • 28. Birch, ii. 177.
  • 29. Strafforde Letters ed. W. Knowler (1739), i. 242; Memorials of St. Margaret’s Westminster, 566; CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 572; PROB 6/15, f. 19.