HATTON, Robert (1582-1653), of Oakington, Cambs. and Lambeth, Surr.; later of the Lawn, Benefield, 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



1621 - 22 Mar. 1621
20 Nov. 1640 - 7 Sept. 1642
1644 (Oxf. Parl.)

Family and Education

bap. 29 Apr. 1582, 2nd s. of John Hatton (d.1587) of Long Stanton, Cambs. and Jane, da. of Robert Shute†;1 bro. of Sir Christopher* and Sir Thomas*. educ. Camb. to 1600; G. Inn 1602.2 m. by 1600, with £1,000, Mary (d. 5 June 1656), da. of Sir Robert Leigh of Chingford, Essex, 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 1da. d.v.p. kntd. 12 Mar. 1617; suc. mother to Oakington estate 1626. d. 10 Jan. 1653.3

Offices Held

Steward to Abp. Abbot by 1612-at least 1626.4

Freeman, Camb. 1613 (not sworn), 1640 (sworn),5 Sandwich 1620, 1624;6 commr. sewers, Surr. and Kent 1624-at least 1625,7 subsidy, Kent 1624;8 ?kpr. of Havering Park, Essex by 1625;9 j.p. Cambs. 1629-42, I. of Ely 1631-at least 1635, Northants. 1637;10 commr. gaol delivery, I. of Ely 1631-8,11 array, Northants. 1642.12

Chamberlain of Exch. 1644-6.13


Hatton, who was named after his maternal grandfather, Robert Shute, should not be confused with an Elizabethan yeoman usher, who seems to have settled in St. Margaret’s, Westminster during the 1590s.14 Under the will of his father, who died when he was five, Hatton was to receive an annuity of just £10, and perhaps also a quarter share of the proceeds from the sale of his father’s goods. However his uncle the lord chancellor (Christopher Hatton I†) also left him and his younger brother Thomas an annuity to pay for their education.15 The lord chancellor’s estates passed first to Hatton’s cousin Sir William Hatton†, and then, in 1597, to Hatton’s elder brother Christopher, who was a minor. In 1598 Sir William’s widow married Sir Edward Coke, who also obtained Christopher’s wardship and thus control of the entire Hatton estate, including the money assigned for Hatton’s education. When Coke withheld payment, Hatton was forced to abandon his studies at Cambridge, perhaps in favour of the law, as in 1602 he entered Gray’s Inn. He was never called to the bar, but instead entered the household of the archbishop of Canterbury. Bancroft left him a mourning ring in 1610,16 and two years later he was steward to Bancroft’s successor Abbot.

It was probably Abbot who recommended Hatton for Queenborough in 1614. He played little recorded part in the Parliament, being appointed to the committees for the bills to avoid charge and trouble upon respite of homage (2 May) and to abolish the use of the ex officio oath in High Commission (30 May). On 28 May he was ordered to accompany the Speaker to the king the next day with an explanation of the difference between ‘cessation’ and ‘forbearance’ of business.17

Hatton was knighted in 1617. At the general election of 1620 he was nominated for Sandwich by the lord warden, Lord Zouche.18 It was suspected that ‘a precise preacher’ stirred up feeling against the archbishop’s servant among the ‘rabble of schismatical sectaries with whom that town abideth’, and he was defeated for the senior seat by Sir Edwin Sandys. The mayor brought him in against six other candidates for the remaining seat only by refusing to accept the candidature of a popular jurat and confining the franchise to the corporation.19 On taking his place at Westminster, he was immediately named to the privileges committee (9 Feb. 1621). He was also appointed to consider the Wadham College bill (9 Mar.), in which Abbot, a former Oxford don, may have been interested. However, the irregularities of his election were too glaring, and on 22 Mar. it was declared void. No blame was attached to Hatton, who had not been present.20 It is unlikely that he stood at the ensuing election, at which John Borough was returned.

In 1624 Sandys moved up to represent the county and Borough transferred to Horsham, leaving Hatton free rein at Sandwich, where he was returned ‘by the major part of voices’. Once at Westminster he was appointed to the privileges committee (21 Feb.) and two joint conferences, one to produce reasons for breaking off relations with Spain (3 Mar.) and the other concerned with the monopolies bill (7 April).21 His remaining 19 committee appointments were mostly for private bills. In at least two cases - concerning the bills for Beaminster Second in Dorset and Prees manor in Lancashire - he did not attend the committee meetings.22 A trustee for the lands of Archbishop Abbot’s Kentish neighbour, Sir Anthony Aucher*, he was named on 7 Apr. to consider the bill to enable Aucher’s brother-in-law, Sir Roger James*, to sell land.23 His continued connection with Abbot meant that he was also appointed to look at the revived Wadham bill (9 March). The premature termination of his university education may still have rankled with him, as he was named to consider the bill to prevent simony in colleges and halls (12 Apr.), and twice named to the select committee to inquire into ‘corruption in religion and learning’ and hear petitions against the President of Corpus Christi, Oxford and the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge (28 Apr. and 1 May).24 A measure to enable Magdalene College, Cambridge to recover a house in Aldgate from the earl of Oxford elicited Hatton’s maiden speech on 24 May. As one of Oxford’s trustees Hatton, a member of the bill committee, inquired whether Barnaby Gooch* had power from his college to accept mediation.25 He was among those sent to acquaint the archbishop with the objections of the Commons to the attack on predestination in Montagu’s New Gagg for an Old Goose (13 May), and with the failure of the bishop of Norwich to take action against a popish schoolmaster in his diocese (20 May).26 His final legislative committee in 1624 was for the break-up of the Cambridgeshire estate acquired in the previous generation by the cosmopolitan financier, Sir Horatio Palavicino (19 May).27 With the end of the session in sight, Hatton opened the third reading debate on the Lords’ bill to enable Buckingham to take possession of the London house belonging to the see of York (28 May). He desired that it might sleep, as he was not satisfied regarding the value, title, or rents of the lands allotted to the archbishop in exchange, nor had either the archbishop or the dean and chapter signified their consent. Hatton’s experience of ecclesiastical estates won him little support in the ensuing three-hour debate but more in the division, when the bill passed by only 168 votes to 143.28

As lord warden, Buckingham sought to unseat Hatton at the next election by nominating Sandys’s eldest son, who was still a minor.29 Hatton took the precaution of standing also for Stafford; Abbot probably recommended him to Morton, the Calvinist bishop of the diocese, who may have eased his path by enabling Richard Dyott to transfer to Lichfield. Successful in both constituencies, Hatton was reappointed to the committee for privileges (21 June) and the conference on the fast (23 June), and to legislative committees to facilitate pleading of alienations (25 June) and mitigating sentences of excommunication (27 June).30 In the grand committee on religion on 28 June Hatton, supported by Sir Dudley Digges*, took exception to the reference to deprived ministers in the draft address, whereupon Sir Henry Marten produced a formula acceptable to both sides. With Digges, Marten, John Pym and Sir Thomas Hoby he was sent on 29 June to ask the archbishop what had been done about Montagu’s challenge to the Commons in his new book, Appello Caesarem. He was added to the committee of inquiry on 4 July, the same day on which he belatedly plumped for Sandwich, and was appointed to the committee for the earl of Dorset’s bill on 8 July. During the Oxford sitting he was again sent to his employer, with his brother Sir Thomas and Marten, to complain that the service-books appointed for the fast were too expensive (2 August). His last committee (11 Aug.) was on a naturalization bill.31

Hatton continued to serve as the archbishop of Canterbury’s steward until at least the autumn of 1625. Shortly thereafter he seems to have been displaced, although he continued to be regarded as Abbot’s servant. At the 1626 general election Sir John Hippisley* spread the rumour that Hatton, at the instigation of Sir Dudley Digges* and Edward Henden*, intended to stand for one of the county seats. However, Digges denied it, and pointed out that as Henden had succeeded Hatton as steward the two men were now enemies.32 Hatton inherited the Oakington estate later that year. 33 In 1628 he petitioned successfully for a Crown nomination to a place at King’s College, Cambridge, for his son George, who died young.34 During the 1630s he retired to Oakington, and by 1640 he also resided at Benefield, three miles west of Oundle.35 His life as a country gentleman was interrupted later that year, when his nephew Christopher*, by opting for Higham Ferrers in the Long Parliament, provided him with a seat at Castle Rising on the Howard interest. A strong royalist, he was reprimanded for defending George, Lord Digby†, blacklisted for voting against the attainder of Strafford (Sir Thomas Wentworth*), and finally expelled for participating in the commission of array.36

Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, Hatton was captured by parliamentary forces. Released during a prisoner exchange in February 1644, he made his way to Oxford, where he received a royal pardon in the following month.37 He sat in the Oxford Parliament, and in April 1644 was appointed chamberlain of the Exchequer on the death of Sir Nicholas Carew*. Following the collapse of the royalist war effort he petitioned to compound (14 Jan. 1647), but being heavily indebted was unable to pay the £1,000 fine, and his estates were sold by the treason trustees in 1652. He had never abandoned his connection with Kent; his daughter had married Aucher’s son, Sir Anthony Aucher†, and it was at Bishopsbourne that he died on 10 Jan. 1653. No will or administration has been found. His only surviving son Robert died without issue in 1658. His son-in-law succeeded in recovering Oakington at the Restoration.38

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Soc. Gen. Oakington par. reg.; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xii), 434; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 115.
  • 2. HMC Hatfield, x. 435; GI Admiss.
  • 3. PROB 11/120, f. 5; Memorials of St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 65, 68, 85; Essex RO, D/P 81/1/1, f. 76; Al. Cant. sub Richard and George Hatton; GI Admiss. 102, 159; Staffs. Parl. Hist. ii. 45; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 161.
  • 4. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 356; LPL, TG1, pp. 1, 24.
  • 5. Cambs. RO, Cambridge common day bk. 1610-46, p. 310.
  • 6. E. Kent Archives Cent. Sa/AC7, ff. 85v, 115.
  • 7. C181/3, ff. 115, 161v.
  • 8. C212/22/23.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 154.
  • 10. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 208; C231/5, ff. 11, 67, 237; 181/5, f. 20; 66/2527.
  • 11. C231/5, f. 67; 181/5, ff. 45, 66, 99, 118.
  • 12. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 13. Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 12.
  • 14. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 65, 68; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 119. We are grateful for a valuable correspondence on this subject to the Member’s collateral descendant, Mr. Robert Hatton.
  • 15. Cambs. RO, WRC19/308; HMC Hatfield, x. 435.
  • 16. S.B. Babbage, Puritanism and Richard Bancroft, 387.
  • 17. CJ, i. 470b, 501a, 503a.
  • 18. SP14/118/26.
  • 19. CD 1621, vii. 567-9.
  • 20. CJ, i. 507b, 546b, 568b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 211.
  • 21. CJ, i. 671b, 676b, 757b.
  • 22. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, pp. 200, 206.
  • 23. CJ, i. 757a; Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/OE30; Harl. 6847, ff. 35v-6.
  • 24. CJ, i. 692b, 695b.
  • 25. Ibid. 680a, 794a; C78/251/5.
  • 26. CJ, i. 704a, 707a.
  • 27. Ibid. 705a. For his other appointments, see ibid. 761a (Anstruther), 762b (Whetenhall lectures), 764b (Beaminster manor), 766a (Wolferstone), 767a (Jacobson), 768a (Newsam), 772a (Ryves), 774a (Burneby), 778b (coal duty), 694b (Poyntz), 704a (Montagu), 707b (Dormer).
  • 28. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 235; CJ, i. 797a.
  • 29. Add. 37819, f. 11v.
  • 30. Procs. 1625, pp. 205, 228, 246, 253.
  • 31. Ibid. 297, 265, 268, 282, 298, 349, 381, 457.
  • 32. Dorothea Scott ed. G.D. Scull, 133, 135; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 217.
  • 33. VCH Cambs. ix, 197, 226.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 161-2.
  • 35. Ibid. 1640-1, p. 177; E.S. Scroggs, Cat. of Finch-Hatton Mss, 505-8.
  • 36. CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 560; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 208.
  • 37. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 205.
  • 38. CCC, 1649-50; Staffs. Parl. Hist. ii. 45; VCH Cambs. ix. 197.