HEATH, Robert (1575-1649), of the Inner Temple, London and Mitcham, Surr.; later of Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street and Brasted Place, Kent.

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 - 10 Feb. 1626

Family and Education

b. 20 May 1575, 1st s. of Robert Heath, attorney, Sanderstead, Surr. and Brasted, Kent, Kent and Anne, da. and coh. of Nicholas Posyer of Bletchingley, Surr. educ. Tonbridge g.s. 1582; St. John’s, Camb. 1589; Clifford’s Inn 1592; I. Temple 1593, called 1603; DCL, Oxf. 1643. m. 10 Dec. 1600, Margaret (d. 2 Dec. 1647), da. and h. of John Miller of Tonbridge, Kent, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1615;1 kntd. 28 Jan. 1621.2 d. 20 Aug. 1649.3 sig. Ro[bert] Heath.

Offices Held

Escheator, Kent and Mdx. 1599-1600;4 commr. aid, Surr. 1612;5 j.p. Surr. 1612-at least 1641,6 Suss. 1613-at least 1625,7 Essex 1618-20, Kent 1618-at least 1642, Mdx. 1618-at least 1636, Westminster 1620-at least 1632, Beds., Bucks., Hunts., Suff., Isle of Ely, Cambs. 1632-6,8 Cornw., Devon, Glos., Dorset, Hants, Som., Wilts., 1638-at least 1643, Derbys., Rutland 1639,9 liberties of Southwell and Scroby, Notts. 1641, Cawood and Ripon liberties, Yorks. 1641;10 commr. gaol delivery, London 1618-34, 1640-1, Isle of Ely, Cambs. 1632-4,11 oyer and terminer, London and Mdx. 1618-34, 1640-1, Essex 1621, Home circ. 1622-42, the Verge 1627-34, Norf. circ. 1632-4, 1642, Western circ. 1638, 1643, Oxf. circ. 1641, Northern circ. 1641,12 sewers, London 1618-23, 1629-32, Gt. Fens 1618-21, 1627-41, Mdx. 1619-20, 1627, 1630, 1639, Essex and Mdx. 1622, Surr. and Kent 1624-5, Essex, Mdx. and Kent, Cambs. 1627, Essex 1631, 1633, Surr. 1632,13 survey, L. Inn Fields, Mdx. 1618, new buildings, London 1619, 1625, 1630, Mdx. 1624,14 assurances London, 1619-20,15 inquiry, Tiptree Heath, Essex 1620,16 subsidy, Kent, Mdx. and London 1621-2, 1624, Surr. 1622, 1624,17 enclosure, Fens 1622, 1624,18 survey, Tiptree Heath, Essex 1623,19 repair of Bowes bridge and causeway, Mdx. 1623;20 kpr. (jt.) Houghton Park, Beds. 1623;21 gov. Charterhouse hosp., London 1625-44;22 commr. annoyances, Mdx. 1625,23 Forced Loan, Surr. 1626, Kent 1627;24 freeman, Portsmouth, Hants 1628;25 commr. piracy, London 1630, 1633,26 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1631,27 making the river Welland navigable, Lincs. 1634.28

Reader, Clifford’s Inn c.1607-9; dep. prothonotary, k.b. by 1610-29; bencher, I. Temple 1617-31, reader 1619, treas. 1625-8;29 j.p. ‘learned in the law’ Guildford 1615-19;30 recorder, London 1618-21;31 sol.-gen. 1621-5; att.-gen. 1625-31; c.j.c.p. 1631-4; sjt.-at-law 1631-d.; king’s sjt. 1637-41; j.k.b. 1641-2, c.j.k.b. 1642-6;32 just. of assize, Norf. circ. 1632-4, 1642, Western circ. 1638, Midlands circ. 1639, Oxf. circ. 1641, Northern circ. 1641-2.33

Freeman, Ironmongers’ Co., London 1618;34 member, Virg. Co. by 1620, cttee. 1620; member Council for New Eng. 1620.35

Member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1620-34;36 commr. logwood imports 1620, starch manufacture 1620,37 abuses in silk-dyeing 1620;38 commr. aliens 1621, 1622, defective titles 1622, 1625, trade 1622, 1625, Virg. plantation 1624, 1631;39 surveyor of soap 1624;40 commr. enforcement of recusancy laws 1625, 1630, northern counties 1629;41 commr. soap monopoly 1634;42 master of the Wards 13-17 May 1641.43


Although Heath’s highly successful legal career took him twice to the highest reaches of the judiciary, he aroused considerable ambivalence among contemporaries and continues to do so among historians of the period.44 As one of the principal Crown law officers in the 1620s, and a prominent client of the royal favourite, much of the criticism he received in his lifetime may have been due to the unpopularity of the policies and people he was obliged to defend. However, even a fellow Crown servant, Sir Richard Weston*, does not seem to have rated his talents very highly and his modern biographer has defended his choice of subject for the insights into the era that his career provides rather than for Heath’s own talents or achievements.45 Nevertheless, in the early 1620s Heath was one of the most active, if not perhaps the most able, royal spokesmen in the Commons, and his characterization as ‘the nimble solicitor’ by one of Sir John Scudamore’s* correspondents in 1625, suggests that he possessed a quickness in debate which was sorely missed after his promotion to attorney-general removed him from the Commons.46

I. Ancestry and Early Life

Heath’s family had lived on the border between Kent and Surrey since the fifteenth century.47 His father was a country attorney and client of the 11th Lord Cobham (Henry Brooke alias Cobham†). Although educated in the law, Heath owed his advancement to Court patronage rather than his legal skills. His rival James Whitelocke* described him as ‘a great agent in new suits and projects for greedy courtiers’ and ‘well acquainted with the Scots in the bedchamber’. By 1607 he had attached himself to the Scottish courtier James Elphinstone, 1st Lord Balmerino, to whom he paid £500 for the reversion to a part share in the chief clerkship of the King’s Bench. He also entered into a bond promising to pay a further £1,000 at such time as the reversion should fall in. However, Balmerino was attainted for treason in 1609, and Heath was subsequently forced to surrender his patent. Nevertheless by 1610 Heath was acting as the clerk, and probably deputy, to the incumbent chief clerk, Sir John Roper. In 1616 the rising favourite, George Villiers, subsequently duke of Buckingham, forced Roper to surrender the office, which was then granted to Buckingham and Roper jointly. Heath continued to act as Roper’s deputy, and remained in position after Roper’s death in October 1618, having by this time established himself as a client of Buckingham’s.48

Thanks to Buckingham James I nominated Heath for the recordership of London when this office fell vacant in 1618. He defeated Sir John Walter* by two votes, Chamberlain describing him as ‘generally approved and well spoken of’. He began to buy land in Sussex, leased some Norfolk marshlands from the Crown, and joined the Virginia Company board. In 1619 he successfully negotiated with the attorney-general, (Sir) Henry Yelverton*, to procure a new charter for the City. However, the following year Yelverton was found to have drafted the patent improperly and in the process granted more powers to the City than had been intended. Heath was also implicated in the scandal, but he successfully defended himself, although Sir Simonds D’Ewes† thought him ‘as deeply guilty’ as Yelverton.49

II. The 1621 Parliament

In November 1620 Heath was elected to Parliament for the City, the first of his family to sit, taking the recorder’s traditional second place on the return. Before the Parliament met he succeeded Sir Thomas Coventry* as solicitor general after the latter became attorney-general in the wake of Yelverton’s fall. Coventry had been elected for Droitwich, but on 8 Feb. 1621 the Commons confirmed the 1614 resolution that the attorney-general was ineligible to sit in the House.50 Consequently Heath was thrust into the limelight as the senior crown law officer in the Commons in his first Parliament. Moreover he had to juggle his loyalties to the Crown, the wealthiest and most populous constituency in the land, and Buckingham.

Heath soon began to play an important role in the proceedings of the House, being named to 50 committees, 15 of them for drafting of bills and addresses, and making about 100 speeches. On 5 Feb. he was named to the sub-committee appointed by the Committee of the Whole to draw up a petition to the king in defence of freedom of speech in Parliament. However, 11 days later he joined in the condemnation of Thomas Sheppard* for the latter’s attack on puritanism, stating that ‘it were an injustice we should not punish license and abuse of that freedom’. He argued that Sheppard ‘must have punishment if ever you will punish’ because the Crown granted the Commons freedom of speech ‘upon a condition’, which was that the House should regulate itself. Unless action was taken Members would risk losing their freedom as ‘the king [would have] no reason to trust us’.51

Although a spokesman for the Crown, Heath was willing to defend the powers of the Commons. On 16 Mar. he objected to the request of the Lords to examine Members on oath about issues that had been adjudged a grievance by the Commons.52 On 9 May he stated that there was ‘no question’ but that the Commons had the right to administer an oath to those who had witnessed the quarrel between Clement Coke and Sir Charles Morrison, although he thought it ‘not convenient now’.53 In the debate concerning the punishment of the Yorkshire constables for misdemeanours at the recent general election he stated that although the Commons did not have the power to order punishment in this case, it could ‘enjoin a punishment, and if the party do it not ..., then we may command him hither again’. He therefore urged that the constables be ordered to acknowledge their guilt at the county sessions, and was among those ordered to draw up a form of words for that purpose.54

Heath initially seems to have taken little interest in the case of Edward Floyd, the prisoner in the Fleet accused of making derogatory remarks about the Elector Palatine and his wife, the Princess Elizabeth. Having discovered Floyd’s offence during its investigation of the Fleet, the Commons ordered his punishment on 1 May. By the following day Heath was aware that the king believed that the Commons had exceeded its authority. When the Speaker moved that the sheriffs of London, who had attended the House to implement Floyd’s punishment, should be discharged, he concurred, stating if the Commons dissented ‘the king will send a message’.55 When the Commons failed to heed his warning the chancellor of the Exchequer delivered a message from the king thanking the House for its care but ordering it to relinquish the case into his hands. In the subsequent debate Heath urged the Commons to comply with the king’s message, although he was keen to emphasize that Floyd would not escape punishment. He assured the House that ‘the king intends not to pardon’ and urged it to lay its evidence before James I, who would proceed to order the examination of the witnesses under oath, confirm the Commons’ judgment ‘and so to punish’. He dismissed the proposal to consult the Lords, arguing that this would ‘detract from our judgment’ and, although he said he ‘liketh well’ the proposal to proceed by bill, he thought it ‘too tedious’. An attempt by Members to justify their judgment would only compound their error and could have dangerous consequences ‘lest the country think that we have not given the subsidies with judgment if we understand not our own authority’. Instead the Commons should ‘return to the king with acknowledgement of his gracious favour unto us by way of a loving admonition’.56

Two days later Heath reported that he and the attorney-general had examined Floyd, who had adamantly denied the charges against him, and had inspected a document initially thought to have been his confession, which had turned out to be a petition from his son. Heath announced that Floyd’s stubbornness had only served to make James more hostile to him, especially as Floyd was also refusing to acknowledge his guilt in another case despite incontrovertible evidence against him. Faced with such obstinacy, however, James would not condemn Floyd without sworn testimony. Consequently Heath reported that the king wished the Commons to transmit its charges to the Lords, where they could be dealt with in a proper judicial manner, although he added that ‘His Majesty said, that, if we can find a better way for this business ... he shall like well of it’. However, instead of attending to this matter the Commons proceeded to debate whether it should make an official record of its judgment, so causing Heath to rise to speak again. His attempt to speak a second time during the debate contravened the House’s rules and provoked opposition, prompting him to remark that ‘I wonder [there is] such contention for my speaking when so many [others] have’. Although he stated that he ‘will not go about to dissuade from this’, he argued it was wrong ‘to do fit things unseasonably’. He reminded his colleagues that the issue had arisen from a message from the House that the king’s request for precedents ‘whereby he might see our power to give such judgments’ had gone unanswered. He warned that in entering a judgment the House would only further antagonize the king, to no purpose.57 At a conference on 5 May the Lords challenged the Commons’ right to condemn Floyd. Three days later Heath supported Sir Edwin Sandys’ motion for a joint committee of both Houses to settle the dispute. That afternoon he argued that ‘we lose by differing’ with the Lords and he asserted that ‘it can do no harm to this House, to agree, that no use of this precedent [for punishing Floyd] shall be hereafter made, for increasing of our power, or for abridging [that of] the Lords’. He also proposed that the joint committee, to which he was appointed, should ‘not have power to go farther then to the accommodating of this particular’.58 There can be little doubt that Heath took Floyd’s offence very seriously, and when charges against the warden of the Fleet were debated on 16 May he reminded the House that the warden had known of Floyd’s words but had failed to take action.59

Aside from his contribution to the debate on the Yorkshire constables, Heath made only one speech on an election dispute. On 18 May he agreed with Sir Edwin and Sir Samuel Sandys that there was no necessity to re-examine Lewis Powell* about the Pembrokeshire election. On the same day he successfully asked to be heard in his capacity as king’s counsel before the privileges committee judged the claims of the boroughs of Hertford, Wendover, Amersham and Marlow for enfranchisement.60 Despite his rivalry with (Sir) James Whitelocke, Heath presented a petition for privilege for one of Whitelocke’s servants on 28 May.61

Heath was concerned for the Commons to proceed efficiently. At the committee for grievances on 19 Feb. he urged his colleagues ‘not to dwell upon generals’ but to concentrate on specific issues.62 On 28 Feb. he moved that ‘public bills might be dispatched that we might give a better account of our time’.63 When Sir Robert Phelips moved on 24 Mar. ‘for a course for settling bills and petitions’, Heath urged the House to order that all legislation ready for report should be reported before the Easter recess and appoint a committee to ‘frame bills for divers matters which have been discovered fit to be redressed’.64 When the Commons resumed after Easter on 17 Apr. it was Heath who reported on the business conducted by the recess committee. He concluded by urging the House ‘to set apart some hours for reading bills’.65

Religion played an important part in Heath’s life: an inventory of his library drawn up in 1647 suggests that his reading, other than for professional purposes, consisted largely of sacred works. He was a devout Calvinist and, although there is no evidence that he was personally dissatisfied with the structure and worship of the established church, he may have had some sympathy with moderate puritanism as he supported episcopacy but could be critical of the bishops. 66 In the debate on (Sir) Robert Lloyd’s* patent for engrossing wills and inventories on 21 Mar. 1621 Heath was critical of William Noye’s* argument that it was the application of the episcopal seal to a will, not the act of engrossing, that officially certified the text of a will. Heath felt that if the Commons accepted ‘the doctrine of Noye’ it ran the risk of a scheme similar to Lloyd’s patent being established by the bishops for sealing wills. He therefore argued for a bill to enable anyone to have their wills engrossed where they chose and to restrict the fees taken by the officials of ecclesiastical courts.67

Heath’s major religious preoccupation in the first sitting of the 1621 Parliament was with measures to eliminate loopholes in the legislation against recusancy. On 5 Feb. he was appointed to the sub-committee named by the Committee of the Whole to suppress Catholicism and, ten days later, he was among those instructed to attend the conference with the Lords about the petition to the king on the subject.68 On 2 Mar., following the second reading of the bill to prevent recusants avoiding seizure of their lands by making fraudulent leases, he supported the treasurer of the Household, Sir Thomas Edmondes, who proposed a clause to prevent the undervaluing of property owned by Catholics, but moved successfully that this matter should be dealt with in a separate bill. Heath was subsequently appointed to the committee for the leases bill, which was also charged with drafting fresh legislation against ‘all the frauds, and deceits, in finding of inquisitions, or otherwise, in favour of recusants’.69 When, on 24 Mar., he moved for the reporting of bills before the Easter recess he emphasized the importance of tightening up the legislation against recusants, ‘that papists may not find starting holes’. 70 Two days later he reported the recusants’ leases bill, which was ordered to be engrossed.71 At a meeting of the recess committee concerning the recusancy laws on 4 Apr., Heath launched into a long disquisition on the existing statutes and a meeting, presumably of a sub-committee, was ordered at his chambers in the Inner Temple that afternoon.72 Heath made various proposals for tightening up the laws against recusants at a further committee meeting on 10 Apr., and a week later he reported that a bill had been drafted ‘to prevent the frauds of recusants’. On 18 Apr. the House ordered a meeting, presumably of the committee appointed on 2 Mar. ‘to perfect it’. The bill concerning recusant leases, passed its third reading on 24 Apr. and two days later the bill ‘for the explanation of former laws made against popish recusants’ was read for the first time. It was committed on 4 May and, although not named to the committee, Heath attended one of its meetings 11 days later. He felt obliged to defend the measure, arguing that it was needed to combat wide-ranging evasion of the existing legislation by Catholics, who either avoided conviction for recusancy or concealed their property and hampered the Crown’s efforts to extract revenue from their estates. However, the measure was never reported.73

In his official capacity as solicitor general, Heath’s main legislative preoccupation in 1621 was with bills of grace. In 1614 Yelverton, then solicitor general, had introduced 14 grace bills which, it was hoped, would smooth the way for a grant of supply. They were mostly highly technical measures dealing with complex points of law. None were enacted because Parliament was dissolved without any bills being passed. By November 1620 the Privy Council had agreed that a similar programme should be put forward in the forthcoming Parliament, but at that stage Heath was still recorder of London and there is no evidence that he was a party to those preparations.74 Consequently it was Thomas Crewe who first raised the issue of the grace bills in 1621, complaining on 16 Feb. that they had not been reintroduced. Six days later Heath moved that the 1614 bills should be reviewed and the clerk was ordered to bring them in. It subsequently transpired that some had gone missing, but those which had survived were ordered on 27 Feb. to be delivered to Heath for redrafting, except for one concerning Wales, and he was ordered to prepare substitutes for those which had not been found. Because the solicitor general had introduced the bills in 1614 the Commons considered that they were Heath’s particular responsibility.75

At the committee for grievances on 28 Feb. Heath raised a number of issues which had been the subject of grace bills in 1614, including the fees for granting licences of alienation and passing sheriffs accounts.76 However, the first bill of grace to be given a reading in 1621 was the concealments bill, which was introduced on 1 March. It was Sir Edward Coke, rather than Heath, who preferred this measure, presumably because it had not been part of the 1614 programme. It received its second reading the following day, at which time Cranfield called for the other bills of grace ‘to be brought in, and read, one a day, every day’. At this Heath promised that the four bills he had in hand, presumably being the survivors from 1614, would be made ready, and he asked for assistance in preparing the others. He was then named to the committee for the concealments bill, which was also instructed to consider the remaining grace bills.77

After the first reading of the subsidy bill on 5 Mar. Sir Thomas Wentworth called for the grace bills ‘to go up with the subsidy’ bill, whereupon Heath announced that these were still ‘preparing’. Sir John Strangways’ motion later the same day for a day to be assigned ‘for bringing in some of the bills of grace, at least’ suggests a growing impatience with Heath’s progress. Four days later it was not Heath but his successor as recorder of London, Heneage Finch, who finally brought in two of the grace bills.78 On 12 Mar. Heath assured the House that he had shown the bills to the king who had consented to ‘most of them’.79 On 24 May Heath reported six bills of grace, plus a bill concerning bankruptcy, a measure presumably of interest to his London constituents and which seems to have been substituted for an unready seventh bill of grace.80 Five days later four of the six bills were given a third reading, although Heath himself unsuccessfully moved that the clerks of the Exchequer should receive a hearing before the passing of the bill concerning alienations, as the measure threatened their fees.81

Heath was active in promoting the passage of the subsidy bill. After secretary of state Sir George Calvert reported James I’s response to Parliament’s petition against recusancy on 23 Feb., Heath called for rapid progress in passing the subsidy. He smoothed concerns at the first reading of the bill on 5 Mar. by not only assuring his colleagues that progress had been made with the bills of grace, but also by commending Crewe’s motion ‘to have the pardon go on with the subsidy [bill]’. At the second reading on 7 Mar. Heath called for Noye’s proposed proviso, to ensure that the session did not end when the king assented to the bill, to be read. Heath was appointed to the committee for the bill and may well have been responsible for drafting it as Pym stated that Heath placed his alma mater Cambridge before Oxford in the original text, a piece of drafting that was changed by the committee on 10 March.82

Heath was active in promoting numerous other items of legislation. On 16 Feb. he reminded the House of the bill against informers that had been introduced by the Sir Henry Poole. This was subsequently debated at the committee for the whole House, whereupon Heath argued that although the measure was ‘good in intention’ it contained ‘some fault[s]’. He was appointed to a subcommittee to reconsider it, and when it was reported on 7 Mar. he opposed Sir Thomas Riddell’s motion to have its provisions extended to cover the attorney-general.83

On 24 Feb. Heath offered to report the bill for the limitation of actions, but consideration of his motion was deferred. He had presumably reported the measure by 3 Mar., when it was ordered to be engrossed. However, at the third reading on 19 Mar. he raised objections on behalf of the Crown. Further consideration of the bill was delayed until 25 May, when he announced that he would speak for his constituents, whom he referred to as ‘merchants’. He successfully moved for a proviso to exempt disputes arising between factors and their principals.84 Heath may also have been speaking for his constituents when, on 21 Feb., he introduced a bill against brokers, whom he accused of receiving stolen goods and of encouraging apprentices to run away from their masters.85 In addition, in the debate on the second reading of bill against drunkenness seven days later, he supported his fellow London Member Sir Thomas Lowe in calling for the ‘other bill of drunkenness’. Heath complained about the difficulty of getting London brewers to observe the regulated prices, a problem which, he said, Lowe’s bill would remedy. At this the bill then being debated was allowed to sleep, and the following day the new bill received a second reading and was committed to the consideration of Heath and others.86

On 16 Feb. Heath chaired a committee of the whole House to consider the bill for regulating the wool trade, and in this capacity he examined a witness from the Staplers’ Company about their monopoly, asking sarcastically whether they traded ‘for charity or gain’.87 He reported the bill on 13 Mar., with amendments, when it was recommitted to the whole House.88 A week later he reported the bill to allow free trade in Welsh cottons, but when objections were raised that the bill would enable the export of unfinished textiles Heath proposed ‘a middle way’, which was to allow only the export of fully finished cloth, and so got the bill recommitted. He again reported the bill on 26 Mar., when it was ordered to be engrossed.89

Heath unsuccessfully opposed the bill concerning purveyance of carts at its third reading on 25 May. Stating that he was not unsympathetic to the objectives of the bill, he objected to the fact that it encroached on the king’s prerogative. He declared that the bill would make justices of the peace ‘judges of what the king shall pay, which we would not yield unto in our own services’. He also objected that if the purveyors did not pay what they owed it would be the king, not the purveyors, who would be punished as those with unpaid bills would no longer be subject to purveyance. He advised the House to proceed by petition, stating that the king ‘would (as he hath promised in my hearing) have all these wrongs redressed’. This last remark suggests that he had recently consulted James on the subject, who may have instructed Heath to oppose the bill.90

Three days later Heath successfully moved for the recommitment of the bill to confirm the provisions in Magna Carta against imprisonment without showing cause. He was critical of provisions for censuring the judges in Parliament for not granting writs of habeas corpus, arguing that it was ‘not fit to punish them for [an] error in judgment’. He also stated that it was prejudicial to justices of the peace who, he argued, necessarily had to use their discretion to commit malefactors. Moreover, he stated that the provision to suspend justices for a year was ‘such a disgrace that he will not be willing to come in again’.91

On 17 Feb. Sir Edward Sackville reported from the committee on abuses in courts of justice against the issue of protections for creditors by the Court of Wards. At this Heath informed the Commons of James’s sympathetic response to the petition he had drafted on behalf of the City against similar letters of protection issued by Chancery, known as bills of conformity. He proposed that the projected bill to remedy these abuses should encompass all the equity courts.92

Heath played an important role in the Commons’ proceedings against patentees in 1621. On 19 Feb. he set out ‘the nature’ of the patent for licensing inns for the committee for grievances. The following day he asked whether any of the new inns that had been licensed by the patentees had formerly been alehouses, presumably thereby seeking to substantiate the allegation that the patentees had licensed establishments previously suppressed by local magistrates.93 Heath was presumably speaking on behalf of his constituents when, on 22 Feb., he attacked Sir Henry Goldsmith’s patent for levying fines from craftsmen who had not served an apprenticeship, arguing that ‘every runaway [apprentice], if he will compound, may have a dispensation’.94 By 26 Feb., however, Heath was growing cautious about the implications of the Commons’ pursuit of the patentees. One of his concerns was to protect the reputation of those Crown law officers who had approved the patents. Care was needed, he declared, in examining their certificates ‘lest honourable persons be wronged’.95 However, Heath’s principal worry seems to have been the effect the investigation would have on the prerogative. At the committee for grievances on 2 Mar. he condemned the patentees who had compounded for tithes but at the same time he wanted ‘the right of the king maintained’, and he argued that the grievance consisted in the execution of the patent rather than in its inception.96 When the patent for making warrens and parks was debated on 26 Mar., Heath maintained that it was perfectly within the king’s power to grant, which meant that it was ‘inconvenient’ rather than unlawful. For this reason he called for the king to be called upon to rescind the patent rather than for a petition to be drawn up condemning it as illegal. He also defended the referees, arguing that they had not acted out of self-interest. On 20 Mar. Heath successfully moved for the recommitment of the monopolies bill, arguing that its enactment would harm Crown revenues by taking away several long established and profitable patents.97 The bill was reported again on 26 Mar., when, according to the Journal, it was ordered to be engrossed. An entry in Pym’s diary dated 26 Apr., however, states that engrossing had been delayed on Heath’s motion, although if this was indeed the case it is not otherwise recorded. Heath seems to have only managed to delay proceedings temporarily as the bill received a third reading on 12 May.98 On 21 Mar. Heath argued that if any Member was accused of being a monopolist he should be suspended until the accusation was investigated, but he successfully opposed William Mallory’s proposal on 2 May for a general order to expel all patentees, arguing that each case should be judged on its merits.99

In his report to the Commons about the patent for making gold and silver thread on 5 Mar., Sir Robert Phelips revealed that Heath had had a hand in drafting a Proclamation to enforce the monopoly when he had been recorder of London. Heath replied that he had only been consulted about the wording of the Proclamation and had been active in opposing the monopoly on behalf of the City. When the issue was debated again two days later, Heath reiterated the distinction he had earlier made between the king’s right to issue patents and the faults of the patentees, arguing that the grant was not grievance in itself ‘though it be so in the execution’. It was perfectly legitimate, he said, for the king to grant monopolies for a time to promote new industries. Drawing on the fact that the patent involved precious metals, he drew an analogy between the Crown’s power to grant patents and its undisputed power over the coinage, arguing that the king could lawfully order all coins to be melted down even ‘though it be inconvenient’. Nevertheless he evidently had no objection to the Commons condemning specific grants as grievances.100

In 1618 Heath had been assigned by the Privy Council to represent the Newcastle hostmen in their suit with the patentees of Winterton lighthouse, but in 1621, when there were calls for all lighthouses to be handed over to Trinity House, he argued that ‘private men [are] fitter than a corporation for maintaining lights’ (9 April). He also maintained that the patentees’ grant in this particular case was lawful and implicitly defended the conduct of the patentees, who exacted a fee from passing ships for their services, pointing out that the king did not have the resources to maintain the lighthouses himself. On 2 June he complained that it was irresponsible to condemn the patent without first establishing an alternative method for maintaining the lighthouses. 101

Heath was one of three Members who spoke in the committee for grievances on 14 May in favour of the patent for glassmaking granted to Sir Robert Mansell*. He argued it was perfectly legitimate to restrain economic freedom ‘for the good of the common wealth’ and stated:

... if it be profitable not to have wood wasted, if good for a populous and numerous nation to be set awork about a manufacture which before foreigners only exercised, then if it stand not with the policy and law of all states, I leave it to your judgments.

The committee judged it a grievance, and the House concurred.102

Heath was prominent in managing the final days of the sitting. On 29 May the House’s anger at the king’s refusal to delay the adjournment was, according to John Pym*, ‘expressed by a general cry "Rise, Rise", which Mr. Solicitor began to temper by a fair and mild speech’.103 On the following day he tried to assure the House ‘that this is and may be the happy Parliament’.

I know the ends we came for are good. He flatters that saieth the Commonwealth hath no diseases, but that they are incurable, God forbid we should say or think. We have divers good bills, grievances found. We all grieve one grief, that we cannot do so much good as we would; but shall we therefore refuse all that we may do?

Even though the continued sitting of Parliament remained outside of its control, there was still time for the Commons, with the co-operation of the Lords, to prepare a number of bills and petitions of grievance. Moreover, it was not necessarily the case that the passage of these measures would jeopardize the rest of the Commons’ legislation, for although the Royal Assent ordinarily ended a session the Commons might in this instance decide to pass a bill to enable Parliament at the beginning of the next session to take up the unfinished legislation where it had left off. Alternatively, Heath argued, the Commons could simply accept James’s offer of an adjournment.104 By the afternoon of 30 May Heath had come down on the side of an adjournment. Speaking in grand committee he argued that the Commons should still endeavour to complete as much business as possible in the time available. He also proposed that Sir Dudley Digges should speak for the Commons in the forthcoming conference with the Lords about the adjournment.105

On 2 June the king offered the Lords either an immediate adjournment or a further ten days in which to pass bills. The Lords referred the decision to the Commons, where Heath continued to favour an adjournment. He was among those ordered to attend the king with the answer in favour of adjournment, and was appointed to bring back the reply. When he reported the king’s response two days later he asked the House for ‘pardon if I use the help of my paper’, suggesting that Heath usually spoke without notes.106 That same day he was one of those instructed to draft the resolution in support of a war to recover the Palatinate moved by Sir James Perrot.107

During the recess Heath was active in suppressing a number of patents condemned by the Commons.108 When Parliament resumed for the second sitting Heath contributed to the supply debate on 27 Nov., when he moved a resolution to vote the Crown a fresh grant of taxation and for a committee to consider the details.109 At the committee of the whole House the following day he responded to Sir William Strode’s motion to raise money from the estates of recusants. Declaring that he approved the ‘substance’ of what Strode had proposed, he added that he nevertheless feared that Strode’s desires could not be performed without new legislation because Catholics ‘have found such evasions, by releases and the like’. He concluded that they needed a ‘speedier course’ for raising money, but also called for the passage of the bill to reform the recusancy laws on which he had worked in the first sitting.110

On 3 Dec. Heath approved Goring’s motion for a war with Spain, which included the advice, unsolicited by the king, that Prince Charles should marry a Protestant. Ironically, given that the Commons was trespassing on matters that were the exclusive preserve of the king, he began by criticizing Noye for intruding on the royal prerogative when the latter questioned the case for war. Exclaiming ‘for God’s sake let us not dispute whether the league be broken or no’, he argued that only the king could determine that question. He then announced that he was ‘satisfied with the matter of the petition’ in general and declared that he thought the ‘particulars follow as consequents’, whereupon he moved ‘for the form of the petition, that, though the king only [was] to determine of peace, and war and marriage, yet we may with duty petition His Majesty, as we may do to God’. Nevertheless he stated he had ‘two scruples’. First he wanted the petition to state ‘in precise terms’ that ‘we take not upon us to determine’. Secondly, he was concerned that the end of the petition, which included requests concerning the ending of the session, the passing of bills, and the pardon, would become confused with those sections relating to foreign policy.111 That same day he wrote to Buckingham but failed to mention anything about the petition.112 When the king rebuked the Commons for meddling in mysteries of state the next day, Heath expressed the belief that the address would nonetheless be graciously received, and that it was ‘the labour of our adversaries to make a breach and misunderstanding between the king and us’. He made no further recorded speeches until 10 Dec., when he begged the House ‘to do something’, and moved without success that the committee for the repeal and continuance of expiring statutes should meet that afternoon to prepare a bill, ‘that we be not taken unprovided if it should be broken up suddenly’.113

Five days later Heath endorsed the Protestation defending the House’s right to free speech, agreeing that ‘the privilege and liberty of Parliament [was] the subjects’ inheritance’, but he was still eager to secure the passage of at least ‘a short Act of six lines ... to preserve all statutes as they now stand’. On 17 Dec. he urged the House ‘to overpass the curious construction’ of the king’s letter on its privileges. ‘Shall we desire him favourably to interpret our words, and shall we tie him so strictly? It is dangerous to contest.’ The next day he supported the Speaker’s motion to proceed to business ‘at a certain hour’, whether or not the House was full, observing that lawyers must be wasting their time in Westminster Hall if ‘for their late coming they cannot afford to pay 6d.’. He now believed that there was no time to complete the continuance bill, but tendered ‘a short bill, to continue these laws for a time’, and, while thinking it best to defer the pardon bill, he assured the House that it was ready if required, as was the subsidy bill.114 Early in 1622, after the Parliament had broken up, Chamberlain reported that Heath ‘was in danger for not interposing himself more earnestly’ against the Protestation. ‘However’, added the newsletter-writer, ‘he hath made his peace’.115

III. The 1624 Parliament

Heath needed to find a new constituency for the next election in 1624, and East Grinstead was the natural choice. His father had passed the last years of his long life in the neighbourhood, and he had himself purchased property in the town in 1618 from Matthias Caldicott*, a servant of the 3rd earl of Dorset, the dominant electoral patron of the borough.116 Returned for the borough alongside Caldicott, Heath was appointed to 71 committees in the 1624 Parliament, delivered some 20 reports and made about 50 recorded speeches.

Heath was appointed to the privileges committee on 23 Feb., to which body the question of enfranchising Wendover, Marlow and Amersham was referred two days later. When this issue was debated in committee on 4 Apr., Heath stated that the king, mindful that numerous other boroughs could make a similar case, did not want the Commons encumbered ‘with an excessive and an unnecessary number’. He successfully moved for a sub-committee to search the records to establish how many boroughs could make similar claims. However, there is no evidence that his suggestion that the privileges committee should review previous enfranchisements and ‘consider those towns which heretofore were ancient boroughs and are now heaps of stone’ was pursued, and he was unable to prevent the restoration of the boroughs’ representation in Parliament.117

On 27 Feb. Heath successfully moved that consideration of Buckingham’s relation of events in Spain be postponed until after the weekend, thus giving the Lords the opportunity to set the pace.118 That same day he was appointed to the committee to justify the duke against the accusations of the Spanish ambassadors from which body he reported on 1 Mar., when he was also named to assist in drafting the House’s reasons for abandoning the negotiations with Spain, ‘both concerning the marriage and the Palatinate’. The following day he was appointed to manage the conference with the Lords about this subject.119

In the supply debate of 11 Mar. Heath argued that it was not proper for the Commons to determine whether the king should go to war. However, since he did not think the king doubted the need for war he thought that he should instead be approached to make ‘a declaration of his meaning’. He also called on the Commons to issue a declaration of its own in favour of war which, he said, James would need to encourage his allies abroad, and to confer with the Lords ‘to consider of the particulars’. However, he warned the House not to expect to hear the details of the king’s plans ‘because we understand not the particular necessaries for the war; and since this place can better give counsel than keep it’.120 He was subsequently named to the committee to draft the Commons’ declaration of its willingness to support the war ‘in a parliamentary manner’, which he reported the following day.121

Heath reported several conferences during the next four weeks as the two Houses strove to frame a common policy.122 In the supply debate on 19 Mar. he argued that the cause to be defended was ‘religion’, which was as necessary to the subject as to the sovereign. He put forward a formula for the immediate provision of £300,000 in the form of three subsidies and three fifteenths, two-thirds payable in May and the rest at Michaelmas, which proposal was subsequently accepted, though his timetable for payment was ignored. ‘He would not’, he explained, ‘have it reported in the country that we will give six subsidies and 12 fifteenths, lest it should alter the minds of such as have not the means to debate of the reasons of such great sums’. Nevertheless, he moved the House to pledge that more money would be provided later if it were needed. He dismissed the proposal to give recusants the ‘honour’ of paying double, arguing that ‘better blood shall be wrung out of them’, presumably by stricter enforcement of the recusancy laws. He also insisted that fifteenths must not be lost to the Crown through disuse, though he could not deny that they fell most heavily on the poor.123 The following day he unsuccessfully moved for the question to be put and a committee named to draft the bill.124

A motion from Heath on 9 Apr. to proceed with the subsidy bill led to the House to debate whether James had now dissolved the treaties with Spain. Heath hastened to assure the House that the prince of Wales and duke of Buckingham had both said that James had informed the Spanish ambassador that the treaty negotiations were now at an end. He also said that the duke had seen dispatches that were to be sent to the English embassy in Madrid to the same effect.125 The following day Heath, reporting from a conference with the Lords about executing the recusancy laws, stated that the prince had called for the subsidy bill to be drafted, ‘that His Highness may say [to the king] that we are in the way with the bill of subsidies’. He was subsequently appointed to a committee for that purpose.126 He probably chaired this body, as he reported on 13 Apr. that its members wanted to see records belonging to the House of Lords. Two days later he announced that the subsidy bill was ready to be introduced, whereupon Phelips objected that there were ‘divers things’ which still needed to be considered. On 20 Apr. Heath tried again, and this time the committee was ordered to assemble that afternoon to consider ‘the whole frame of the bill’.127 This meeting presumably proved satisfactory as Heath introduced the bill the following day.128 The bill received a first reading on 22 Apr. and Heath moved to fix an early date for the second reading, which was agreed.129 At the second reading on 24 Apr. Heath announced that ‘the king, taking knowledge of our forwardness ... commanded [him] to acquaint the Houses with some heads for the pardon’.130

Heath took the chair when the subsidy bill was committed to the whole House. At a meeting of the committee on 4 May he read a letter from the king containing the names of the members of the Council of War and their proposed powers for inclusion in the bill, and also James’s intention to end the session on the 22nd of that month.131 After a further meeting on 12 May Heath reported that the committee had found ‘many difficulties’. Another meeting was held that afternoon which failed to resolve these problems. On the motion of Sir Edwin Sandys, Heath started to report these to the Commons, only to be stopped after Sir John Savile objected that it was contrary to order to report only part of a bill.132

Heath finally reported the subsidy bill on 14 May. Towards the end of the subsequent debate he suddenly produced three amendments to the preamble, naming the recovery of the Palatinate as the purpose for which taxes were to be voted. He stated that he was acting ‘by direction’, but this merely prompted Edward Kirton to ask from whom the direction came. Heath at first prevaricated, saying ‘a good man’, but he subsequently admitted that his instructions came from the prince and the king. According to the diarist Sir Walter Earle, the amendments were ‘utterly disliked by the House’, because Heath had moved them ‘at the instant of passing to engross, in a thin House and late in the afternoon’. They were also ‘clean contrary to the intent of the House ... it being otherwise resolved ... that the Palatinate should not be named’ in the bill. The chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Humphrey May, Sir Thomas Wentworth and others came to Heath’s defence. However, a motion to recommit the bill was lost and the House resolved to engross the measure without including the amendments provided by Heath.133

As in 1621, Heath was active in promoting the enforcement of the recusancy laws. On 1 Apr. he moved for the recusancy petition to be drafted ‘in plain language’ and for it to include a clause requesting the king not to accept any treaty with a foreign state that would entail abrogating the laws against recusants.134 Further discussion was referred to a committee of the whole House the following day, which appointed a sub-committee to draft the petition. Heath not only chaired this latter body but drafted the petition, which he reported the following day.135 The Lords, however, were not happy with the Commons’ draft, particularly objecting to the request that the king should issue a Proclamation to enforce the existing laws. Heath successfully smoothed over the dispute and, by judicious reporting of remarks made by the prince of Wales, persuaded the Commons to accept the Lords’ alternative version. He allayed fears of the impact of any future marriage treaty by reporting on 6 Apr. that the prince had sworn ‘whensoever it should please God to bestow upon him any lady that were popish’ she would only have religious toleration for herself and her immediate household.136 On 10 Apr. he stated that the prince had argued that James was more likely to issue a Proclamation if one was not specially demanded of him.137

On 28 Apr. Heath delivered a petition from several fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge against their master, Dr. John Richardson, accusing him of having committed various offences against the college’s rules. The details of the accusation are unknown and were not proved, but possibly they owed their origin to religious differences at Cambridge, as Richardson was a prominent anti-Calvinist theologian. Heath’s willingness to promote the petition may indicate that he was becoming concerned by the rise of anti-Calvinism.138 Further evidence that this may have been so is provided by the case of Sir John Lambe, the anti-puritan chancellor of the diocese of Northampton, against whom various charges were levelled. On 22 May Heath assured the Commons that there was no need to omit Lambe from the pardon because this specifically excluded the offences of which Lambe was charged, namely ‘extortions, briberies, and oppressions.139

On 6 Apr. Heath responded to Robert Berkeley’s report to the trade committee on Edmund Nicholson’s patent for the pretermitted customs, arguing that the legality of the levy should be first debated by the lawyers of the House before the economic consequences were considered.140 When the issue came before the Commons a week later Heath asked for more time for the law officers to prepare.141 Three days later Heath delivered a lengthy defence of the levy. Acknowledging that he was ‘sworn to maintain the rights of the Crown’ he nevertheless stated that he would not have defended the pretermitted customs if he thought them an unparliamentary imposition. He claimed that the duty was grounded upon the statute of Tunnage and Poundage, but that statutes should not be interpreted literally. ‘The true rule to examine the meaning of a statute, is to consider the use of it’ and the original purpose of the duty on cloth was to compensate the Crown for the loss of the revenue that would otherwise be received from the export of wool. Because the duty on wool had risen, the Crown could legally raise the duty on cloth. However, John Bankes countered Heath’s arguments and, on 3 May, the Commons resolved that the pretermitted customs were illegal.142

On 13 Mar. Heath again objected to the bill against purveyance of carts. He argued that justices of the peace could not deal impartially with disputes arising from purveyance because it was their tenants who were charged with foodstuffs for the Court and they were therefore ‘in a sort parties’. He warned that the king was unlikely to assent to the bill.143 Heath reported seven private bills, including those to provide for an exchange of lands between Sir Lewis Watson* and the prince (12 Apr.); to transfer the freehold of York House, Buckingham’s London residence, to the king; and to enable the Crown to levy the fine imposed on the earl of Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*) by extending his estate (28 May).144

On 8 Apr. Heath told the Commons that the king was willing to let a select committee examine the books of the Merchant Adventurers because they contained ‘divers things of great consequence not fit to be published’.145 He was himself appointed to this committee, and on 14 Apr. he delivered a report which detailed the fortunes of the Company since the Cockayne Project.146 When the levies imposed by the Company were debated on 30 Apr. he argued that these exactions, intended ‘for the support of ordinary charges’, were ‘fit still to be allowed.147 On 5 May he argued in favour of continuing the Company’s monopoly over the export of unfinished cloth, stating that ‘trade cannot enlarge without government’ and that unregulated commerce, while it might enrich individual merchants, would impoverish the kingdom.148

When, on 19 May, the Commons decided to petition for a weeks’ extension of the session Heath successfully moved to allow no new business to be introduced in order to allow the House to finish dealing with those matters already in hand. He reported the king’s agreement the following day.149 He was appointed to present the grievances to the king on 28 May, and allowed to compose a preamble at his discretion. There were, he said, ‘not many, but for want of parliaments they were the more’. He reported the king’s somewhat dusty answer the next day, but the House ordered that it be returned to him ‘because a thing only penned by him, and not by the king’s warrant’. He successfully moved that all patents delivered into the House and not examined or condemned should be returned to their owners, ‘for when we meet again we shall have power to call for them and receive them here again’. As for those grants which had been condemned, but which might be recovered by the patentees, he warned that ‘to exceed or to stretch forth our privileges may endanger our liberties, for nothing so soon overthrows power or privilege as the immoderate use and excess of them’. The House took the advice to heart and, without making any order, intimated that the clerk should ‘do with the condemned patents as hath been accustomed’.150

IV. The 1625 Parliament

Re-elected for East Grinstead to the first Caroline Parliament, Heath was named to 22 committees and made about 15 recorded speeches. On 21 June, the first day of business, he effectively countered William Mallory, who called for an adjournment to escape the plague. An immediate adjournment of the first Parliament of the reign, he observed, would cast doubt on the good affections of the king’s subjects, and was inconsistent with the order already made for a day of fasting and prayer. ‘There is danger of all sides, but David in a strait chose rather to fall into God’s hands than into the hands of men. This is our case, if we advise not maturely at this time for the public defence.’151 On the same day he was named to the committee to draft an address for a national fast, which he reported the following day; he delivered the king’s favourable response on 28 June.152

Heath took the chair on 23 June in the grand committee for religion and supply over the protest of Edward Alford that he was unfit ‘because he was sworn to the king and of his fee’.153 At a further meeting of the committee the following day he was appointed to a sub-committee to draw up articles for a petition about religion. At a meeting of the sub-committee on 25 June he disagreed with Sir Benjamin Rudyard, who opposed a proposed article to enable silenced ministers to preach. He desired instead that the offending article should be toned down, and that the king should be asked ‘to propound it by way of advice to the bishops, not by way of injunction’.154 On 28 June he reported the articles to the Commons and was appointed to a committee to draft the petition.155

On 7 July Heath agreed that the notorious anti-Calvinist Richard Montagu was guilty of contempt and should be committed to the custody of the serjeant. He justified the Commons’ authority in matters of religion by quoting the words ‘pro ecclesia Anglicana’ from the writ of summons.156 Two days later, however, he was obliged to deliver Charles’s warning that Montagu was his chaplain and servant and thereby entitled to privilege. Heath did his best to distance himself from his master’s support for Montagu, informing the Commons that he had told Charles that he and his fellow Members had been unaware that Montagu was a royal servant, and that ‘Mr. Montagu did not allege so much for himself’. He was subsequently ordered to assure the king that Montagu was already out on bail.157

On 5 July Heath introduced the Tunnage and Poundage bill, which, on his motion, was committed to the whole House that afternoon. However he was forced to protest against the proposal to limit the grant to one year:

because it had continued so many descents, and might be distasteful to the king, who would be as inclinable to do matters of grace to us as any of his ancestors. Yet he yielded it should be committed, and that some short proviso might be annexed to save our right in those questions.

The following day he was appointed to a committee to draw up a preamble to the bill and, on 7 July, he reported the bill, despite the fact that it would expire the following March.158

On 6 July Heath reported the bill to vote the king two subsidies.159 This grant was so small that two days later Sir John Coke, speaking for the king, demanded additional supply. Coke’s motion was so unfavourably received that Heath ‘(desperate of bringing it to effect) took care only to lay it aside quietly, which he did in a short speech, that in the Act of Subsidies, and that of Tunnage and Poundage, we had sufficiently expressed our affections’.160

Heath twice spoke in favour of the return of Sir Thomas Wentworth in debates on the Yorkshire election dispute on 4 and 5 July.161 On 6 July he reported the bill to prevent immediate prorogation after the royal assent to legislation and he argued in the third reading debate the following day ‘that if we made it a session, the expectation of the country would be greater than if it were only an adjournment’.162

When the session resumed at Oxford Heath was obliged to explain the pardon for various recusants produced by Sir Edward Giles on 1 Aug., arguing that it had been drawn up before the king’s acceptance of the address on religion. The French ambassador had procured the pardon and consequently Heath moved that ‘this House may take some course to prevent’ the like in the future.163 The following day, he had to remind the House of Montagu’s entitlement to privilege, although he did not doubt that, once properly informed, the king would allow it to send for the offender.164

On 5 Aug. Heath delivered a long speech in support of the renewed appeal for additional supply made by Coke. First he asserted that the Commons were committed to support the war, arguing that it had been pressure from Parliament that had led to the breach with Spain, and that James and Charles had originally supported the Spanish Match, an ‘inclination ... [which] fetched many sighs’. Nevertheless he conceded that the Commons could not give the king a blank cheque and for this reason he proposed that a petition be sent to the king calling upon him to declare Spain the enemy. Arguing that the need for money was genuine, he placed the blame for the Crown’s poor finances on James I’s shoulders, and remarked that it would be wrong to punish Charles for his father’s extravagance. Moreover, it was not the king’s pressing necessities that required additional money to be voted but those of the kingdom. He conceded that the Catholics at home were indeed a threat but argued that they should be dealt with separately. Turning to the scarcely veiled criticism of Buckingham he acknowledged ‘his obligation to the great man intended’ but agreed that if there were charges against the duke they should be investigated. He added that to refuse to vote supply because of the faults laid to the door of Buckingham would be to punish the commonwealth for the faults of an individual and that ‘it is the natural order that those things be first done which are most urgent’. He asserted that Spain presented a worse threat than either the plague or famine, particularly if Ireland were attacked, and he rebutted the argument that it was too late in the year for military action, stating that ‘we know not the design, and therefore cannot judge of the time’. He concluded by conceding that ‘the king’s estate, like a ship, has a great leak’, but stated that if the ship was under attack the first duty of the crew was to defend her, not mend the leak. He unsuccessfully proposed a further grant of two subsidies and two fifteenths.165

On 8 Aug. Heath reported a private bill to enable trustees of the 3rd earl of Dorset’s estate to sell land.166 The following day he reported Buckingham’s speech at the previous day’s conference with the Lords, which again called for further supply.167 On 11 Aug. Heath was put in the chair for a committee of whole House about the question of supply. During the debate he was granted leave to speak when he asked ‘if we were satisfied with our conscience that the design were good, would you not give?’ He then moved the House to ‘propound a way’ how the king could satisfy it, a proposal that was ‘utterly disliked and rejected’.168 While the dissolution was being prepared, Heath ‘in the behalf of the duke’, answered at length the charge brought by Sir Robert Mansell that Buckingham had not followed the advice of the Council of War.169

V. Later Life

In October 1625 Heath was promoted attorney-general. Though now prohibited from serving in the Commons, but he was nonetheless returned again for East Grinstead to the second Caroline Parliament. (In addition he unsuccessfully nominated Sir John Evelyn* at Salisbury). On 9 Feb. 1626 the Speaker raised the question of his eligibility and, on the following day, the House ordered the issue of a new writ. Consequently he played no part in the Commons’ proceedings, although he did appear at the bar of the House on 6 Mar. to explain the second stay of the St. Peter of Le Havre by Buckingham.170

In November 1627 Heath defended the Crown’s power to imprison prominent Forced Loan refusers without showing cause in the Five Knights Case.171 During the third Caroline Parliament he offered a vigorous defence of the prerogative at conferences between the two Houses, pointing out the flaws in the argument drawn from Magna Carta: ‘how far Lex Terrae extends is and ever was the question’.172 In the autumn of 1628 he warned Montagu, now bishop of Chichester, that his pardon might actually provoke Parliament, and advised him at the least ‘to review your book ... and take away the acrimony of the style’.173 During the 1629 session he himself came under attack for drawing such pardons and for his alleged mishandling of the case of the Jesuit college that had recently been discovered at Clerkenwell. At the same time he earned the king’s displeasure for trying to divert the blame to the 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*) and Secretary Dorchester (Dudley Carleton*). He subsequently made his peace at Court, and, observing of the disorders in March that ‘the untoward disposition of a few ill Members of the Commons House of Parliament hath given such a just and such an unhappy occasion’ for the dissolution, he entered with zest on the prosecution of those responsible.174

In October 1629 Heath was granted the American province of Carolina, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, over which he was to exercise palatine power. Nothing came, however, of his plan to colonize the province with Huguenot refugees, and he disposed of his patent in the 1630s.175 In 1631 he was promoted to chief justice of the Common Pleas, but was suddenly dismissed four years later. According to his own account, no cause was shown for his disgrace, then or later. Rushworth subsequently wrote that ‘it was conceived, by common discourse’ that Heath had been removed because it was feared he would oppose Ship Money, but there is no contemporary evidence to support this assertion. Instead it seems clear that he was threatened with prosecution in the Star Chamber over some aspect of his conduct as attorney-general. It has been speculated that the charges related to corruption arising from the sale of former royal forests, and that these may have been levelled because a legal opinion he had drawn up some years earlier ran counter to a suit then being prepared against the City of London concerning the Londonderry plantation. Alternatively it is possible that Archbishop Laud, who was hostile to Heath, brought the corruption charges to Charles I’s attention. Following Heath’s submission the charges against him were dropped.176

Heath was allowed to continue to practise at the bar as a serjeant-at-law, so long as he did not appear against the Crown, and three years later he was advanced to the rank of king’s serjeant. He was nonetheless forced to realize some of his investments as his debts amounted to some £8,500 in 1639. After contesting Reading in an election to the Short Parliament, he rejoined the judiciary, this time in King’s Bench, and in 1642 he became lord chief justice when Sir John Bramston failed to join the king. He adhered to the king until the fall of Oxford in June 1646, after which he chose to go into exile. He drew up his will at Calais on 18 Aug. 1649 and died two days later. As he had wished, his body was brought back to Brasted, which had been his principal residence between 1633 and the outbreak of the Civil War, and buried next to his wife. The will was not proved and consequently there was a grant of the administration of his estate in 1660. His son, John, sat for Clitheroe in the Cavalier Parliament.177

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Mems. of C.J. Heath ed. E.P Shirley, (Philobiblon Soc. Misc. i), 7, 18; W.R. Prest, Rise of the Barristers, 367-8; Reg. Tonbridge Sch. from 1553 to 1820 ed. W.G. Hart, 121; Al. Cant.; I. Temple database of admiss.; J. Cave-Brown, Hist. Brasted, 36; Oxford DNB.
  • 2. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 176.
  • 3. Cave-Brown, 37.
  • 4. List of Escheators comp. A.C. Wood (L. and I. Soc. lxxii), 71.
  • 5. Harl. 354, f. 68v.
  • 6. Cal. Assize Recs. Surr. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 76; ASSI 35/83/5.
  • 7. Cal. Assize Recs. Suss. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 50; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 16.
  • 8. C231/4, ff. 73, 102; 231/5, f. 77; Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 235; SP16/212; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Chas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 421; C193/13/2.
  • 9. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 66, 75-6; Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 94.
  • 10. C181/5, ff. 216-17.
  • 11. C181/2, f. 324; 181/4, ff. 122, 160, 171; 181/5, ff. 186, 207.
  • 12. C181/2, ff. 323v, 326; 181/3, ff. 28v, 64v, 217; 181/4, ff. 109v, 171-v, 175v, 182v; 181/5, ff. 105, 186, 191, 203, 207, 213, 218, 222; Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6, pp. 90-1.
  • 13. C181/2, ff. 325, 327, 347v; 181/2, f. 18v, 104, 213v, 255v; 181/3, ff. 63, 114v, 136v, 158v, 161v, 214v, 220v; 181/4, ff. 63v, 76, 126, 128v, 136; 181/5, ff. 142v, 214.
  • 14. Rymer, vii. pt. 3, p. 83; vii. pt. 4, p. 96; viii. pt. 1, p. 70, pt. 3, p. 114; CD 1621, vii. 336.
  • 15. C181/2, ff. 336, 357
  • 16. Ibid. f. 357.
  • 17. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 18. C181/3, ff. 49v, 126v.
  • 19. Ibid. f. 95.
  • 20. Ibid. f. 97.
  • 21. C66/2296.
  • 22. G.S. Davies, Charterhouse in London, 352; LMA, Acc/1876/G/02/02, f. 72.
  • 23. C181/3, f. 157.
  • 24. Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 144; C193/12/2, f. 26v.
  • 25. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 350.
  • 26. C181/4, ff. 37, 138v.
  • 27. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 6.
  • 28. C181/4, f. 161.
  • 29. Readers and Readings in Inns of Ct. and Chancery ed. J.H. Baker (Selden Soc. suppl. ser. xiii), 96, 199; STAC 8/198/3; G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 305-6; Mems. of C.J. Heath. 19; Oxford DNB.
  • 30. Surr. Hist. Cent. BR/OC/1/2, ff. 81v, 89.
  • 31. Remembrancia ed. W.H. and C.H. Overall, 50.
  • 32. List of Eng. Law Officers comp. J.C. Sainty (Selden Soc. suppl. ser. vii), 18, 46, 62; Sainty, Judges, 11, 32, 49; Order of Sjts.-at-Law, 517.
  • 33. J.S. Cockburn, Hist. of Eng. Assizes, 271-2.
  • 34. Kopperman, 29.
  • 35. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, i. 302; Kopperman, 191.
  • 36. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 352.
  • 37. CD 1621, vii. 410, 442.
  • 38. HMC Rutland, i. 458.
  • 39. Rymer, vii. pt. 3, pp. 210, 239, 248, pt. 4, pp. 11, 31, 144; viii. pt. 1, pp. 33, 59.
  • 40. CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 154, 160.
  • 41. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 142; 1628-9, p. 205; Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 185.
  • 42. C181/4, f. 186.
  • 43. C66/2891/37, 39.
  • 44. L.J. Reeve, Charles I and the Road to Personal Rule, 126, n. 29.
  • 45. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 58; Kopperman, 1-3.
  • 46. C115/108/8632.
  • 47. VCH Surr. iv. 299.
  • 48. Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx), 27, 46, 58, 59, 66; Kopperman, 11, 13-16; Eg. 2978, ff. 5, 7-9; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 606.
  • 49. Liber Famelicus, 63-9; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 180, 182; Suss. Manors ed. E.H.W. Dunkin (Suss. Rec. Soc. xix), 13, 437; APC, 1618-19, p. 313; Kopperman, 34-7; Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 156.
  • 50. CJ, i. 513b.
  • 51. Ibid. 524b; CD 1621, v. 501-2.
  • 52. CD 1621, v. 303; vi. 71.
  • 53. CJ, i. 616a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 50.
  • 54. Nicholas, i. 217; CJ, i. 571a-b.
  • 55. CD 1621, iii. 129.
  • 56. CD 1621, iii. 141; iv. 293; v. 134, 129, 363; Nicholas, ii. 8 CJ, i. 604b.
  • 57. CJ, i. 608b; Nicholas, ii. 22; CD 1621, iii. 168-9; iv. 304.
  • 58. CJ, i. 614a-b; CD 1621, iii. 207, 211.
  • 59. CD 1621, iii. 274-5
  • 60. CJ, i. 624a-b; CD 1621, iv. 360.
  • 61. CJ, i. 629b.
  • 62. CD 1621, vi. 251.
  • 63. Ibid. 19.
  • 64. CJ, i. 572a; CD 1621, iv. 191.
  • 65. CJ, i. 578a-9a.
  • 66. Kopperman, 189, 211, 237.
  • 67. CD 1621, v. 60; CJ, i. 566b; Nicholas, i. 209.
  • 68. CD 1621, ii. 27, n. 31; CJ, i. 522b.
  • 69. CJ, i. 534a; CD 1621, v. 18
  • 70. CD 1621, ii. 262.
  • 71. CJ, i. 575a
  • 72. CD 1621, ii. 275-7.
  • 73. CD 1621, ii. 285; iii. 267; iv. 214-15; CJ, i. 578a, 588b, 592a, 607a-b.
  • 74. M.A.R. Graves and C.R. Kyle, ‘The Kinges most excellent majestie oute of his gracious disposicion’: the evolution of grace bills in English parliaments, 1572-1642’, PER, xviii. 47-8.
  • 75. CD 1621, ii. 94, 122, 144; CJ, i. 529a.
  • 76. CD 1621, v. 265, 532.
  • 77. CJ, i. 537b-8a, 533a-4b.
  • 78. Ibid. 546a-b.
  • 79. Ibid. 549b.
  • 80. Ibid. 625b-6a; CD 1621, iii. 296.
  • 81. CJ, i. 631a.
  • 82. CD 1621, iv. 144; vi. 3; CJ, i. 537b; 544a.
  • 83. CJ, i. 523b, 542b; CD 1621, vi. 257-8.
  • 84. Nicholas, i. 90; CJ, i. 537b. 563b, 627a; CD 1621, iii. 303.
  • 85. CD 1621, iii. 112.
  • 86. CJ, i. 531b, 532b.
  • 87. CD 1621, v. 503, 506-7.
  • 88. CJ, i. 552a-553b.
  • 89. Ibid. 564a, 575a; CD 1621, iv. 174
  • 90. CD 1621, iii. 305-6.
  • 91. CJ, i. 628b; CD 1621, iii. 324; vi. 172.
  • 92. CJ, i. 525b; CD 1621, iv. 67; Kopperman, 23.
  • 93. CD 1621, vi. 253, 255.
  • 94. Ibid. ii. 123.
  • 95. Ibid. vi. 271.
  • 96. Ibid. 278.
  • 97. CJ, i. 564a; Nicholas, i. 200.
  • 98. CJ, i. 575b, 619a; CD 1621, iv. 263.
  • 99. CJ, i. 566b, 603a.
  • 100. Ibid. 538b-9a, 543b; CD 1621, ii. 175-6.
  • 101. CD 1621, ii. 283-4, 395; CJ, i. 628a, 636a; Nicholas, ii. 156; CD 1621, vi. 179.
  • 102. CD 1621, v. 166; E.S. Godfrey, Development of Eng. Glassmaking, 112.
  • 103. CD 1621, iv. 390.
  • 104. CJ, i. 631b; Nicholas, ii. 126; CD 1621, iii. 352-3.
  • 105. CD 1621, iii. 360-1.
  • 106. CJ, i. 637a-b; CD 1621, iii. 401; v. 198.
  • 107. CJ, i. 1639a; CD 1621, ii. 429.
  • 108. Kopperman, 212-13.
  • 109. CJ, i. 648a-b.
  • 110. Nicholas, ii. 242; CD 1621, ii. 466; vi. 329.
  • 111. CJ, i. 657a; CD 1621, ii. 497-8
  • 112. Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. i), 171.
  • 113. Nicholas, ii. 278-9, 304; CD 1621, ii. 509-10.
  • 114. CD 1621, vi. 239, 335-6; CJ, i. 665b, 668a.
  • 115. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 418.
  • 116. PROB 11/126, f. 23; Suss. Manors, 13.
  • 117. CJ, i. 671b, 673a; ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 51v; J. Glanville, Reps. of Certain Cases (1775), pp. 88, 94.
  • 118. CJ, i. 721b; R.E. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, p. 175.
  • 119. CJ, i. 675b, 722a, 724a, 725b.
  • 120. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 106; ‘Holland 1624’, i. 46v; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 75v; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 70v.
  • 121. CJ, i. 683a, 684a-b.
  • 122. Ibid. 735a-b, 736b, 738b, 750a. 762a.
  • 123. Ibid. 743a; ‘Spring 1624’, pp. 137-8; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 64v; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 94v-5.
  • 124. Holles 1624, p. 49.
  • 125. ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 56v; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 113v.
  • 126. CJ, i. 762a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 137-8.
  • 127. CJ, i. 765b, 771b-2a; ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 30.
  • 128. CJ, i. 688b.
  • 129. Ibid. 772b-3a; ‘Holland 1624’, ii. ff. 43v-4.
  • 130. CJ, i. 774b.
  • 131. ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 169v-70; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 190v-1.
  • 132. CJ, i. 788a-b; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 181v-2.
  • 133. ‘Hawarde 1624’, pp. 290-1; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 184-v; CJ, i. 704b.
  • 134. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 166.
  • 135. CJ, i. 752a, 754b; ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 47-v; SP14/162/12.
  • 136. CJ, i. 756b, 757b; Holles 1624, pp. 63-4.
  • 137. ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 137-8.
  • 138. ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 81-v; CJ, i. 791b; Oxford DNB, (translators of the Authorized Version of the Bible).
  • 139. ‘Earle 1624’, f. 190v.
  • 140. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 116.
  • 141. Holles 1624, p. 79.
  • 142. CJ, i. 768b, 782a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 158-9v; Holles 1624, pp. 83-4.
  • 143. ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 28v; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 113.
  • 144. CJ, i. 714a, 763a.
  • 145. ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 88.
  • 146. CJ, i. 758b, 766b-767a.
  • 147. Pym 1624’, i. f. 85v.
  • 148. ‘Pym 1624’, iii. f. 36.
  • 149. CJ, i. 706a, 791b-2a.
  • 150. Ibid. 714b, 715b; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 242-5.
  • 151. Procs. 1625, p. 211.
  • 152. Ibid. 205, 218, 257.
  • 153. Ibid. 234.
  • 154. Ibid. 248.
  • 155. Ibid. 258, 260.
  • 156. Ibid. 334.
  • 157. Ibid. 358-9, 361-2, 364.
  • 158. Ibid. 314, 316-18, 324, 330, 336.
  • 159. Ibid. 322.
  • 160. Ibid. 352-3.
  • 161. Ibid. 296, 315.
  • 162. Ibid. 322, 341.
  • 163. Ibid. 375.
  • 164. Ibid. 379, 381.
  • 165. Ibid. 393, 401-2, 405-7.
  • 166. Ibid. 422.
  • 167. Ibid. 430, 433-9.
  • 168. Ibid. 463, 465, 467.
  • 169. Ibid. 476.
  • 170. Procs. 1626, ii. 8, 14, 201-2.
  • 171. Kopperman, 161-4.
  • 172. C. Russell, PEP, 363-7; Lords Debates 1628, pp. 268-9
  • 173. SP16/118/33.
  • 174. CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 468-70, 472; CSP Ven. 1628-9, p. 551; SP16/138/45.
  • 175. N. Carolina Chs. and Constitutions ed. M.E.E. Parker, 62-6.
  • 176. Mems. of C.J. Heath, 21; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, ii. 253; Kopperman, 231-44; T.G. Barnes, ‘Cropping the Heath’, HR, lxiv. 331-43.
  • 177. C115/106/8437; Eg. 2983, f. 29; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 186; Mems. of C.J. Heath, 23, 24; Kopperman, 255, 291, 300-2; PROB 6/36, f. 90.