HICKS (HICKES), Michael (1543-1612), of St. Peter's Hill and Austin Friars, London and Ruckholt, Low Leyton, Essex

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




Family and Education

b. 21 Oct. 1543, 1st s. of Robert Hicks, Ironmonger, of Soper Lane, London and Juliana, da. of William Arthur of Clapton in Gordano, Som.;1 bro. of Sir Baptist Hicks, 1st Bt.* educ. ?St. Paul’s g.s.; Trin. Camb. 1559; L. Inn 1565, called 1577.2 m. Dec. 1594 (with £5,000+), Elizabeth (bur. 14 Feb. 1635), Gabriel Colston, Grocer, of London, wid. of Henry Parvish (d. Aug. 1593), merchant, of London and Ruckholt, 2s. 1da.3 suc. fa. by 22 Feb. 1558;4 kntd. 6 Aug. 1604.5 d. 15 Aug. 1612.6

Offices Held

Servant to Lord Burghley (Sir William Cecil†) 1573, sec. 1580-98; dep. for compositions (jt.), Alienations Office 1609-?d.7

Feodary, Essex 1598-1601; recvr.-gen. of Crown lands, Essex, Herts., London and Mdx. 1603-4; dep. steward, Barking and other manors, Essex 1603-8, steward 1608-d.;8 commr. inquiry regarding damage to G. Inn Fields, Clerkenwell Fields, Finsbury Fields and Moorfields, Mdx. 1603, inquiry, lands of Henry Brooke†, 11th Lord Cobham, Essex 1603, sewers, Lea Valley 1604-9, Mdx. 1604, London and Mdx. 1606-11, Essex 1611-12, Westminster 1611;9 j.p. Essex 1605-d., Mdx. 1609-d.;10 commr. oyer and terminer, the Verge 1606-10,11 subsidy, Essex 1606, 1608,12 annoyances, Surr. 1611, to bring fresh water to London 1611;13 kpr. of Enfield park, Mdx. by 1608.14


Hicks’s father, Robert, of Gloucestershire yeoman stock, migrated to London and became a member of the Ironmongers’ Company.15 On his mother’s death in 1592, Hicks inherited Robert’s shop in Cheapside and land in his native county, but by then he was well established as patronage secretary to Lord Burghley, and gladly made over the business to his younger brother, Baptist.16 His musical tastes and cynical humour brought him a wide circle of friends.17 He became an intimate of Burghley’s younger son and political heir, Sir Robert Cecil†, and worked closely, and not always honestly, with him in the minister’s last years.18 On Burghley’s death in 1598 he left the Court for Ruckholt, the country house which he had acquired through his late marriage,19 where he could indulge his passion for bowls, ‘which I confess I love better than my book’.20 He could never altogether turn his back on London, however, ‘the only place of England to winter in’,21 and he remained in close touch with his brother, acting as intermediary for needy courtiers in search of financial assistance.22

Hicks, a veteran of five Elizabethan parliaments, was re-elected for Horsham in 1604, probably on the nomination of lord treasurer Dorset (Thomas Sackville†). During the course of the first Jacobean Parliament he made no recorded speeches but was named to 21 committees. In the opening session, however, his only committee appointment was for an unsuccessful bill ‘for the due receiving of homage and fealty by the great chamberlain’ (26 Apr. 1604), a matter about which he would have acquired some knowledge in Burghley’s service even before he became a local official of the Court of Wards.23 In June 1604 Ruckholt was visited by the king, who at about the same time granted Hicks 600 acres belonging to the dissolved priory of Lenton in Nottinghamshire. Most of Hicks’ land transactions at around this time were merely speculative, but Lenton was to pass to his heirs. Two months after the royal visit Hicks was knighted, having already twice refused the honour.24

In the second session Hicks was appointed to consider four bills. Two concerned London, and dealt with the regulation of housing (24 Jan. 1606) and the provision of fresh water (31 Jan.), while the remaining appointments concerned bills to confirm the Cecilian Sir Thomas Lake I* in his wife’s estate (25 Jan.) and to repeal the Unlawful Games Act of 1542 (26 April).25 Hicks was named in a bill that received its first reading on 13 Feb. to facilitate a sale of land to the money-lender and philanthropist Thomas Sutton, in which he had engaged himself as intermediary. With his friends and fellow-Cecilians, Sir Hugh Beeston and Sir Walter Cope on the committee, the measure had an easy passage.26 In the third session Hicks was appointed to nine legislative committees, three of which concerned London and related to the estates of the corporation and livery Companies (4 May), the city’s water supply (1 May), and the regulation of the Thames watermen (13 March).27 Another two appointments were for Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, and were to confirm him in possession of Cheshunt vicarage (12 Dec.) and enable him to exchange Theobalds for Hatfield (30 May).28 Hicks was among those instructed to prepare for the Union conference of 25 Feb. 1607.29

In 1609 lord treasurer Salisbury appointed Hicks one of his deputies in the Alienations Office. The first of his seven committees in the fourth session was for the revived bill to prevent the double payment of debts (20 Feb.), in which Beeston was particularly interested. Both men were appointed to consider bills for the protection of the Horners’ Company from foreign competition (23 Feb.), and for the restoration in blood of the children of Salisbury’s brother-in-law, George Brooke (31 March). Hicks was also named for a bill to regulate purveyance (26 Feb.), and for an explanatory bill on highways (30 March).30 During the summer recess Sir Francis Bacon* solicited his company at his mother’s funeral to help him ‘pass this mournful occasion with more comfort’. At about this time another old friend, Sir Vincent Skinner*, successfully appealed to him for help in his financial difficulties, while Hicks enlarged his Gloucestershire property by the purchase of the manor of Beverstone.31 Hicks played no recorded part in the fifth and final session of the Parliament.

In the spring of 1612 Hicks accompanied the dying Salisbury to Bath, and was one of the official mourners at his funeral. His own health was already poor, as he had been receiving treatment for a kidney complaint, and he died at Ruckholt on 15 Aug. ‘of a burning ague, which came, as is thought, of his often going into the water this hot summer’.32 He had previously made several drafts of his will, one at least under the threat of plague, but his last and nuncupative will was not made till the day before his death. Though an erstwhile intimate of John Stubbe and admirer of Thomas Cartwright, his brief testament gives no indication of puritanism. He entrusted the disposition of his movable estate to his wife, his brother Baptist, and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Lowe*, asking the two men ‘to have a care of my said wife, whose love, care and tender affection towards me I have great cause to respect’. On the following day he further named his elder son William an executor, and ordered that a wardship should form part of his daughter’s portion of £2,000. He was buried at Low Leyton.33

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Regs. St. Mary Le Bow, Cheapside, All Hallows, Honey Lane, and St. Pancras, Soper Lane, London ed. W. B. Bannerman (Harl. Soc. Reg. xliv), 128; PROB 11/40, f. 72v; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 80-1.
  • 2. M. McDonnell, Regs. St. Paul’s School, 41; Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks. i. 402.
  • 3. A.G.R. Smith, Servant of the Cecils, 102, 163; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 466; Lansd. 93, f. 56v; VCH Essex, vi. 195.
  • 4. PROB 11/40, f. 73.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 135.
  • 6. Smith, 174.
  • 7. Ibid. 28, 36, 131.
  • 8. Ibid. 111, 128.
  • 9. C181/1, ff. 50v, 71v, 89v, 100v; 181/2, ff. 20, 50, 97v, 137, 140v, 153v, 165v.
  • 10. Smith, 111.
  • 11. C181/2, ff. 13, 108v.
  • 12. Eg. 2644, f. 171; SP14/31/1; Smith, 123.
  • 13. C181/2, ff. 142v, 149v.
  • 14. Lansd. 90, f. 210v.
  • 15. Smith, 15.
  • 16. Ibid. 42, 100.
  • 17. Ibid. 49; L. Hulse, ‘Sir Michael Hickes (1543-1612): A Study in Musical Patronage’, Music and Letters, lxvi. 220-7.
  • 18. Smith, 33, 46-50, 73-4.
  • 19. Ibid. 102, 162.
  • 20. Lansd. 107, f. 162.
  • 21. Smith, 107.
  • 22. Ibid. 88-91, 150-1.
  • 23. CJ, i. 186a.
  • 24. J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, i. 439; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 125; Lansd. 1217, ff. 20v, 41v; Smith, 169, 175.
  • 25. CJ, i. 259a, 260a, 262b, 301a.
  • 26. Ibid. 267b, 270a, Bowyer Diary, 61; Smith, 149.
  • 27. CJ, i. 352b, 365b, 368b.
  • 28. Ibid. 330a, 377a.
  • 29. Ibid. 340a, 1021a.
  • 30. Ibid. 397b, 399a, 400a, 416b, 417a.
  • 31. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, iv. 217-18; Smith, 153-4, 175.
  • 32. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 346, 379; Smith, 146-8.
  • 33. Lansd. 88, ff. 147-52; PROB 11/120, f. 402; Smith, 93-6, 174.