HERRYS (HARRIS), Christopher (1599-1628), of Islington, Mdx. and Lincoln's Inn, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1628 - 1 July 1628

Family and Education

b. 1599, o. s. of Sir William Herrys (d.1632) of Shenfield, Essex and Frances, da. of Thomas Astley of Shaxton, Writtle, Essex. educ. Trin. Coll. Camb. 1614; L. Inn 1617, called 1623. m. lic. 20 July 1620, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Harbottle Grimston, 1st. bt.* of Bradfield Hall, Essex, 1s. 3da.1 d. 1 July 1628.2

Offices Held


Herrys came from a long-established Essex family. His father, an Essex sheep farmer, was knighted in July 1603, served as a captain in the militia c.1608-20, and sat on the county bench from 1614 until his death in 1632.3 Herrys himself was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, but chose not to proceed to a BA. Instead he entered Lincoln’s Inn and qualified as a barrister. In 1620 he married the 15-year-old4 daughter of Sir Harbottle Grimston of Bradfield Hall, a north Essex magnate whose electoral patronage over the nearby borough of Harwich gained Herrys a seat in Parliament at each of the general elections held between 1624 and 1628. By May 1627 he was living at Islington,5 although during the 1626 Parliament he lodged with one of the canons of Westminster, Dr. Thomas Mountford, at Mountford’s house in the Little Cloister.6

Herrys’ surname is variously recorded in the Commons Journal as Herrys, Herris and Harrys. He made his most conspicuous contribution at Westminster during a debate on the conduct of the war with Spain on 27 Feb. 1626. Taking his cue from Sir John Strangways, who deplored the neglect of the country’s coastal fortifications, and undoubtedly well briefed by his father-in-law, who had recently taken charge of the defence of Harwich, Herrys told the House that the forces assembled at Harwich ‘had neither bullets, guns nor powder’ and that the new fortress at Landguard Point lacked both gunners and munitions. He added, quite correctly, that the king’s ships were too sluggish to defend merchant shipping against an enemy whose vessels were ‘quick of sail’.7 Apart from this brief intervention, Herrys addressed the Commons only once more during his parliamentary career. This was on 3 June 1626, during a debate on John More II’s remark earlier that same day which had implied that the continued existence of the monarchy depended on the king’s preservation of the liberties of the subject. Whereas most speakers were quick to condemn More, Herrys claimed that More had made it clear that the king was not a tyrant and that he had been speaking hypothetically.8

Herrys was not named to a single committee in 1625, and was appointed to only five in 1624. Of these, perhaps only the committee for examining a coal patent (24 May) directly concerned his constituents, whose ships were heavily involved in the coal trade. His membership of the committee for the bill to enable Sir Toby Palavicino to sell a 600-acre estate near Ilford, Essex (among others) undoubtedly reflected a more personal concern, as his father’s property at Shenfield lay seven or eight miles to the north-east of Ilford. The same may probably be said of his appointment to the joint conference with the Lords concerning the conduct of the former rector of Shenfield, Samuel Harsnett, as bishop of Norwich (15 May). His remaining two nominations dealt with the sale of Rampton manor, Cambridgeshire (6 Apr.) and the naturalization of David Stanniere (24 April).9 Although not one of its named Members, Herrys attended the committee for a decree issued by the Court of Requests, having been appointed to it as a lawyer.10

In 1626 Herrys was named to eight committees. One dealt with the bill to punish Sir Robert Sharpeigh for reviving a duty upon Newcastle coals, a matter which undoubtedly concerned Herrys’s constituents (1 June). His appointment to the committee for drafting a bill to increase the wages paid to mariners employed by the Navy (22 Mar.) may also have interested the Harwich corporation. It was presumably because he was an Essex resident that Herrys was named to the committee for the bill to permit Edward Altham to sell land (18 March). His remaining committees were concerned with the Vincent Lowe land bill (1 Mar.); the fees levied by under-sheriffs and bailiffs for outlawries (1 Mar.); clerical magistrates (10 Mar.); the Giles Sewster land bill (13 Mar.); and subscription by ministers to the Canons of 1604 (6 May).11

It is impossible to state precisely the number of committees to which Herrys was named in 1628 because he is not distinguished in the Commons Journal from the Member for Liskeard, John Harris II. He may have been the Mr. Harris named to the committee to consider the petition against the charges levied by London in metage and portage, as its members included Sir Harbottle Grimston (25 June).12 Moreover, the editors of Yale’s Proceedings in Parliament are probably correct to assume that the Mr. Harrys who was appointed to the committee for the continuance of expiring statutes was Herrys (13 June) as John Harris II was not a lawyer.13 However, they are probably wrong to suppose that it was John Harris who was named to the committee appointed on 5 May to draft an answer to the king’s offer to confirm Magna Carta, as this was only his first Parliament, whereas Herrys, who was serving in his fourth, would not have felt out of place alongside his fellow committeemen, the veterans Sir Edward Coke, Pym and (Sir) Nathaniel Rich.14 It seems equally improbable to suppose that the House would have included the inexperienced John Harris on the select committee established to inspect the orders made by the House since the beginning of the session (7 May).15 Similar reservations must also be expressed about identifying John Harris as the man who was appointed to the committee to prevent the buying of judicial places (23 April).16 It remains unclear which Member was named to the remaining committees, whose subjects were the better discovery and suppression of recusants (23 Apr.); the naturalization of Sir Robert Dyell and George Kirke* (25 Apr.); the liberties of Parliament (28 Apr.); the hindering of bullion imports by patentees (13 June); John Peck’s patent (17 June); old grievances (13 June); the naturalization of Giles Vanbrugh of London (13 June); and the saltpetre patent (20 June).17

Herrys may have been the author of a diary of public events, which is now located among the State Papers. It has been plausibly argued that it was written by an Essex lawyer, and it is clear from internal evidence that whoever wrote it was a Member of the Commons in 1628.18 Unfortunately, it is impossible to compare the handwriting of the diary with Herrys’s known script as no examples of the latter have survived. Two fragments of the diary only now remain. The first part covers the period 10-25 Apr. 1627, and mentions Herrys by name, while the second commences on 29 Apr. 1628 and ends on 23 June, four days before a fatally ill Herrys drew up his will. The fact that Herrys is mentioned by name in the first portion is not evidence that he was not the diary’s author, as he may have been anxious to record for posterity a conversation which took place at Chelmsford in April 1627 involving himself, Lord (Sir William) Maynard*, (Sir) Thomas Fanshawe II* and the sheriff of Essex. In the course of this conversation Herrys declared that the offer made by the attorney-general (Sir) Robert Heath* to release seven Essex Loan refusers if they paid press money ‘was against the law, and K. H.8 dared not or could not do it, or words to that effect’.19

Herrys did not live to inherit his father’s estate. The main provision in his brief will, apart from the appointment of his widow as his executrix, was to order the payment of £360 to James Butler, who had sold him 46 acres of land near Shenfield in the previous year for £760.20 He died in Islington on 1 July and was succeeded by his 19-day-old son Christopher, whose wardship was bought by Herrys’s widow for £80.21 No other member of this family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 207, 411, 415; Allegations for Mar. Lics. issued by Bp. of London 1611-1828 ed. G.J. Armytage, 89; Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks. ii. 247.
  • 2. C142/445/58.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 122; Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 162, 175; Maynard Ltcy. Bk. ed. B.W. Quintrell, 12, 347.
  • 4. The lic. issued by the bp. of London puts her age at 17, but she was b. 28 Mar. 1605: Add. 19090, f. 161.
  • 5. C54/2702/24.
  • 6. Essex RO, microfiche D/P 173/1/1, unfol., entry of 10 May. For Mountford, see Al. Ox.
  • 7. Procs. 1626, ii. 136, 140, 144.
  • 8. Ibid. iii. 358.
  • 9. CJ, i. 705a, 755b, 774a, 794b; Oxford DNB sub ‘Harsnett’.
  • 10. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 205.
  • 11. Procs. 1626, ii. 158, 246, 271, 312, 339; iii. 180, 340.
  • 12. CD 1628, iii. 467.
  • 13. Ibid. 289.
  • 14. Ibid. 252.
  • 15. Ibid. 301.
  • 16. Ibid. 44.
  • 17. Except for the cttee. for Peck’s patent, Yale identifies the Member who was named to all of these cttees. as John Harris: ibid. 43, 70, 122, 289-90, 292, 345, 389.
  • 18. Procs. 1628, vi. 110, n.1.
  • 19. Ibid. 111.
  • 20. PROB 11/154, f. 60; C54/2702/24. Despite the wording of the conveyance, which indicated that Herrys had already paid for the land in full, the £360 was probably the residue of the purchase price.
  • 21. Essex RO, microfiche D/P 173/1/1, unfol., entry of 12 June 1628; WARD 9/163, f. 5v.