HERNE, John (c.1594-1649), of Lincoln's Inn, London and Hendon, Mdx.

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



1628 - 14 Apr. 1628

Family and Education

b. c.1594,1 2nd s. of Richard Herne (d.1625) of London, alderman and Merchant Taylor, and Alice, da. of John Paske of Camb.2 educ. ?Clare, Camb. 1608; L. Inn 1611, called 1618.3 m. 4 Aug. 1618, Susan, da. of John Woodward of St. Bartholomew by the Exchange, London, Grocer, 5s. 6da. (?1 d.v.p.). admon. 17 Oct. 1649.4 sig. John Herne.

Offices Held

Member, E.I. Co. by 1624.5

Reader, Furnivall’s Inn c.1624; bencher, L. Inn 1636-d., Lent reader 1639, kpr. of Black Bk. 1649.6

J.p. Mdx. 1629-at least 1641,7 commr. oyer and terminer 1634-8, 1641,8 abuses by brickmakers and bricklayers, ?London 1638,9 ?prevention of ordnance exports 1638,10 assessment, Mdx. 1641-2.11


Herne was frequently referred to as Hearne or Heron by his contemporaries. His father, Richard, came from Tibenham, Norfolk, made his fortune as a Merchant Taylor in London, and rose to the rank of alderman. As a sheriff of London in 1618-19 he helped to supervise the execution of Sir Walter Ralegh†. On his death in 1625, Richard owned several London properties, including his shop in Cheapside, besides a suburban retreat at Hendon and a few hundred acres in East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.12 As a younger son, Herne stood to inherit little of this estate, and trained instead as a lawyer at Lincoln’s Inn. Called to the bar in May 1618, he married the daughter of another London merchant three months later, apparently securing a substantial dowry. Around six years later, he was appointed reader at Furnivall’s Inn, the inn of Chancery attached to Lincoln’s Inn, though he was fined in 1626 for neglecting his duties.13

In March 1628 Herne was returned to Parliament for Newport in a disputed election. There is no evidence to support J.K. Gruenfelder’s assertion that he was nominated by the duke of Buckingham. Herne lacked connections at Court, and probably relied on the support of another Lincoln’s Inn lawyer, Richard Estcott*, whose brother was then one of the borough officials known as vianders who served as Newport’s returning officers. Thomas Estcott returned Herne unilaterally, however, having failed to win the backing of his fellow viander, and on 14 Apr. the Commons ruled that this departure from the borough’s normal practice invalidated Herne’s election.14

Herne was already living at Hendon by 1628, when he inherited the family home there from his mother. In the following year he was added to the Middlesex bench.15 During the 1630s he consolidated his legal reputation, frequently appearing as counsel in Star Chamber hearings. He defended two critics of the government, Henry Sherfield* and William Prynne†, during high-profile trials in 1632 and 1634, but his later sympathies lay with the Crown. Although he declined to represent the bishops impeached by Parliament in 1641, he acted for two of the Ship Money judges who were similarly arraigned that year. He also played a leading role in defending Archbishop Laud in 1644.16 Appointed a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn in 1636, Herne remained an active member of that body until his death.17 He made his will on 12 Apr. 1649, lamenting his physical decay: ‘the roof of my earthly tabernacle is unthatched, the groundsells fail, and ... I am ... made sensible of many obstructions in the middle structure’. Though evidently a devout man, Herne was unreconciled to Parliament’s liturgical reforms. He requested a simple funeral, ‘yet wouldst not it should be like the burial of an ass or a dog, which the blackish men of these times have barbarously obtruded upon the people under a pretence of avoiding popery and superstition’. Much of his personal fortune had been expended in bailing out his elder brother, whose business had gone bankrupt, but he was gradually redeeming lost estates, and expected to leave his wife an annual income of £300. He also bequeathed her their Hendon home, though another house in Chancery Lane, London was included in his eldest son’s inheritance. Herne’s burial place has not been located. His will was proved on 17 Oct. 1649.18 Two of his nephews, Joseph and Sir Nathaniel Herne, sat in the Commons after the Restoration.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to L. Inn.
  • 2. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), i. 378; C142/418/84; A.B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, i. 5.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks. ii. 202.
  • 4. GL, ms 4374/1; PROB 11/155, f. 253; 11/209, ff. 216-7.
  • 5. CSP Col. E.I. 1622-4, pp. 487-8.
  • 6. LI Black Bks. ii. 265-6, 339, 349, 380.
  • 7. C231/4, f. 266; CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 580.
  • 8. C181/4, f. 189; 181/5, ff. 57v, 114, 213v.
  • 9. C181/5, ff. 117v, 118v-19.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, ix. pt. 2, p. 183 (as Heron).
  • 11. SR, v. 63, 86, 153.
  • 12. Vis. London, i. 378; Beaven, i. 5; HMC Downshire, vi. 566; C142/418/84; PROB 11/145, f. 469; 11/155, f. 253r-v.
  • 13. PROB 11/209, f. 216; LI Black Bks. ii. 265-6.
  • 14. J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 148; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 159; C219/41B/116; CD 1628, ii. 54, 447.
  • 15. E179/142/299; PROB 11/155, f. 253.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1634-5, pp. 373, 577; 1637-8, p. 399; 1639, p. 22; State Trials ed. T.B. Howell, i. 377, 824, 917; Documents relating to William Prynne ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. xviii), 15; LJ, iv. 401b, 405a-b, 428b; Autobiog. of Sir John Bramston ed. P. Braybrooke (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 78.
  • 17. LI Black Bks. ii. 343, 349, 366, 368, 373-4, 377.
  • 18. PROB 11/209, ff. 215v-17.