HICKS (HICKES), Sir Baptist, 1st Bt. (c.1551-1629), of Milk Street, London; Kensington, Mdx. and Chipping Campden, Glos.

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 - 5 May 1628

Family and Education

b. c.1551, 6th but 3rd surv. s. of Robert Hicks (d.1557), Ironmonger, of Soper Lane, London and Juliana, da. of William Arthur of Clapton in Gordano, Som.; bro. of Michael*.1 educ. ?St. Paul’s g.s.; Trin. Camb. 1568; I. Temple 1573.2 m. 7 Sept. 1584,3 Elizabeth (bur. 11 Aug. 1643), da. of Richard May, Merchant Taylor, of London,4 3s. d.v.p. 3da. (1 d.v.p.).5 kntd. 24 July 1603;6 cr. bt. 1 July 1620;7 Visct. Campden 5 May 1628.8 d. 18 Oct. 1629.9

Offices Held

Freeman, Mercers’ Co. 1577, liveryman 1586,10 warden 1596-7, master 1603-4, 1610-11, 1621-2;11 trustee, Gresham Coll. London 1597-d.;12 cttee. Virg. Co. 1609.13

Capt. militia ft. London by 1588;14 common councilman 1589-1603,15 auditor 1601; churchwarden, St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, London, 1590; gov. St. Bartholomew’s hosp. London 1597-1601;16 j.p. Mdx. by c.1609-d.,17 Glos. 1618-d.;18 commr. oyer and terminer, the Verge 1613-17, Oxf. circ. 1618-d., Mdx. 1627-8,19 musters, Mdx. 1614,20 new buildings, London 1618-at least 1625,21 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1620,22 subsidy, Glos. and Mdx. 1621-2, 1624,23 annoyances, Mdx. 1624;24 dep. lt. Mdx. 1625-at least 1627;25 collector Forced Loan, Brentford division, Mdx. 1626;26 commr. Forced Loan, Mdx. 1626-7, Glos. 1627;27 gov. Chipping Campden g.s. 1627-d.28

Mercer to the queen 1596, to the king 1603-at least 1613;29 contractor for Crown lands 1609, 1611;30 commr. Virg. plantation 1624, poor prisoners 1624, 1628.31


Although free of the Ironmongers’ Company, Hicks’s father was a mercer by trade, whose business was continued after his death by Hicks’ mother. Hicks received the same education as his brother Michael, but started lending money in his mother’s lifetime and probably assisted in the family business.32 In 1577, aged about 16, he was made free of the Mercers’ by redemption, but was not required to pay. Two days earlier one Robert Hicks, presumably a relative, had received the same honour at the request of Richard Barnes, a prominent member of the Company. Barnes subsequently appointed his ‘good and loving’ friend Hicks one of his trustees and bequeathed him a memorial ring in his will.33

From the mid-1580s Hicks started moving up the Company and city hierarchies, becoming a liveryman in 1586 and a common councilman at the end of the decade. After their mother’s death in 1592, Michael agreed that Hicks should take over the mercery business, and thereafter Hicks accumulated one of the greatest fortunes of his time.34 In 1605 an unsuccessful aspirant to his daughter’s hand estimated his fortune at £20,000.35 Through his brother, who served as patronage secretary to lord treasurer Burghley (Sir William Cecil†), he was appointed Mercer to Queen Elizabeth in 1596. As a creditor of the king of Scots,36 he had no difficulty in securing reappointment in 1603, and used the post to obtain exemption from the onerous office of alderman.37 However, he failed to secure precedence over the City fathers after he pleaded that he was senior to them by virtue of his knighthood. In 1607 he was criticized by some of the aldermen for retaining his interest in the retail trade, whereby he was said to clothe the ‘bare Scotch nobility and gentry’. To this jibe he retorted that his shop was kept by his servants rather than himself, that he was seeking to divest himself of this business, and that in any case shop-keeping was morally more acceptable than the money-lending of the aldermen.38 Privately, however, he complained to his brother that ‘I find Scottish men are fair speakers and slow performers; being rid of them, I will cross them out of my books’.39

Following Essex’s rising in 1601, Hicks sought to salvage his loans to some of the earl’s accomplices.40 Four years later, after the Gunpowder Plot, he served as foreman of the jury that convicted the Jesuit Henry Garnet.41 By 1607 the Crown owed him £24,000, of which £16,000 was due from the wardrobe and the rest ‘advanced to meet the king’s urgent occasions’.42 In 1611 he was ‘very suddenly and very much unexpected’ nominated alderman again, and Sir Thomas Lake I* had to appear in person before the court of aldermen to impose the king’s will for his release.43 In the following year he began to purchase property in Tewkesbury, beginning with the domestic buildings of the abbey,44 and entered into partnership with Sir Dudley Digges* and others to buy the Somers islands from the Virginia Company.45 At about the same time he rebuilt on a grand scale the house he had bought from Sir Walter Cope* in Kensington,46 erected almshouses and a magnificent mansion at Chipping Campden,47 and donated to the magistrates of Middlesex a sessions house, which later became known as Hicks Hall.48

It was presumably the rise of his brother-in-law, (Sir) Humphrey May*, to high government office that inspired Hicks at the age of 70 to enter Parliament in 1621. He may at first have intended to stand for the junior seat at Tewkesbury, where his interest was already formidable, but the 5th Lord Chandos (Grey Brydges†) wanted the place for a kinsman. Instead, he was found a seat at Tavistock, presumably through the mediation of Chandos, whose cousin had married Sir Francis Russell†, the patron of that borough. Once in Parliament, Hicks was appointed to nine committees and made eight recorded speeches. He began badly by failing to keep his hand on the bible when taking the oath, ‘though had his heart’, and had to be sworn again.49 On 16 Feb. he joined in the condemnation of Thomas Sheppard for his outburst against the Sabbath bill, noting ‘his carriage to be so ridiculous and scornful’.50 He urged the committal of (Sir) Giles Mompesson* (28 Feb.), and when one of Mompesson’s fellow-patentees, Matthias Fowle, absconded, Hicks was among the Members ordered to seek him out and have him brought before the House (3 March).51 On 13 Mar. he was appointed to consider a bill to protect creditors against the abuse of bills of conformity.52 These injunctions to defer the collection of debts had been widely issued by the lord chancellor (Francis Bacon*), and on the following afternoon Sir Lionel Cranfield condemned the practice in the committee on abuses in the courts of justice. Hicks did not conceal his personal interest.

One Dorrington owing him £200, being protected by the lord chancellor, is now fled, and so he hath lost his debt. ... Sir Henry Finch*, Serjeant, Mr. John Finch* and Mr. Nathaniel Finch†, owing him likewise £200, have the like protection by the lord chancellor’s means; and so he is also debarred to recover that debt also by any course of justice. ... He desireth not of these men any more than his own principal debt, being lent out of his purse two years since. ... Another called -, owing him £200 more, of which he had judgment against his debtor, yet delayed the execution of it, being unwilling to press too heavy on him, if he might be satisfied otherwise, as the party promised, ... till at length he procured means from the lord chancellor to protect him; on which protection, ... for proceeding in due course of law, [he] was, as he rid in street in London, attached for seeking duly his own.53

He was appointed to consider the naturalization bill for another financier, Philip Burlamachi (19 Mar.) and the Tewkesbury bridge bill (5 May).54 His own bill to reverse a Chancery decree concerning Chipping Campden proceeded no further than a first reading on 4 May.55 He was among those instructed to improve working conditions in the House (26 March).56 In the debate on the proposal to prevent the import of Spanish tobacco on 18 Apr., he criticized Sir Jerome Horsey for speaking twice, and protested against Cranfield’s suggestion of a total prohibition of tobacco: ‘Tis death to some to be barred tobacco’.57 On the same day he provided evidence about Sir John Bennet* in committee on abuses in the courts.58 On 7 May he undertook to produce his son-in-law Sir Charles Morrison* after his quarrel with Clement Coke* on the Parliament stairs.59

During the summer recess Hicks joined with Peter Vanlore and Sir William Cockayne to raise a £30,000 loan for the defence of the Palatinate.60 In the second sitting he was appointed to consider a bill for the committal of rogues to such houses of correction as Hicks Hall (22 Nov.),61 and a private land bill concerning Vanlore (1 December).62 He was also named on 1 Dec. to attend the conference with the Lords on the bill against informers.63

In 1623 Hicks secured the advowson of Campden from the Crown.64 The following year he was returned to Parliament for Tewkesbury, as by now Chandos was dead and his family interest there was in abeyance. He was appointed to nine committees and made four recorded speeches. His legislative concerns included the repression of drunkenness (26 Feb.),65 the foundation of the Charterhouse hospital (13 Mar.),66 free fishing (15 Mar.)67 and apprentices’ premiums (3 April).68 On 8 Mar. he asked that copies of the king’s reply to the address on relations with Spain ‘might be had at a reasonable rate’.69 On the following day he complained that a division over the supersedeas bill had been so conducted as to give the noes an unfair advantage.70 On 19 Mar. he supported the grant of supply to ‘the uttermost’, remarking that he had had ‘some occasion heretofore to give credit to His Majesty, and hath been satisfied’. He added that ‘though all we have be at the stake’, at least it was not yet ‘at the stake our enemies would have us.71 A month later, in committee on the subsidy bill, Sir Edward Coke recommended that Hicks should be one of the treasurers appointed by the Commons to receive the subsidies, but his view was not more widely shared.72 Hicks showed little sympathy for the beleaguered lord treasurer, the earl of Middlesex, for during the impeachment proceedings his chief concern was to secure the repayment of £10,000 advanced to the Crown on the security of the lord treasurer’s bond and seal.73 On 1 May he was named to attend the conference with the Lords on limitations and the abuse of privilege in the Exchequer.74 On 26 May it was ordered that, according to his own motion, he should bring in ‘a prayer and thanksgiving to be said at the parting of the Parliament’.75

At the next general election in 1625 Hicks defeated Sir Robert Tracy* at Tewkesbury. It seems to have been Hicks’s wealth that proved decisive. Not only did Tracy complain that ‘tis not he who brings most in his truest love, but brings most in his purse, shall be accepted’, but also Hicks’s bequests to the town in his will were subsequently entered in the corporation records with a note that the borough’s electoral loyalty was ‘the only cause ... of his great bounty towards us’.76 Hicks’s only committee before the adjournment to Oxford was for the bill to restrain the granting of writs of habeas corpus (27 June);77 but on 9 July 1625 he was one of the Members ordered to accompany Ignatius Jourdain with a list of ‘places of open bawdry’ in the suburbs of London, and to ask the lord chief justice to take steps for their reformation.78 At Oxford, on the day before the dissolution, he was appointed to consider the Lords’ order for the relief of the London poor.79

Re-elected at Tewkesbury in 1626, Hicks was appointed to 17 committees but made only one recorded speech, and that an unhelpful response in committee on 25 Mar. to the allegation that his son-in-law Edward Noell† had bought a peerage from Buckingham.80 His legislation committees included those for the revived Charterhouse bill (11 Feb.),81 bills against scandalous and unworthy ministers (15 Feb.) and against recusants (23 Feb. and 8 May),82 and a bill for the suppression of unlicensed alehouses (25 Mar.)83 as well as one to facilitate the sale of white cloth (5 June).84 He was ordered to attend the defence conference of 7 Mar.,85 and at the end of the Parliament he was appointed a collector of the Commons’ Benevolence (13 June).86 Outside the House, in May 1626, he raised a further £10,000 for the Crown, possibly by way of ensuring repayment of the 1621 loan, but also against a warrant for arrears of a customs annuity made over to him by the 1st earl of Montgomery (Sir Philip Herbert*).87 Later in the year he was named collector of the Benevolence in Middlesex. Although subsequently appointed a commissioner for the Forced Loan in Gloucestershire he failed to attend the meeting on 16 Feb. 1627 with the 1st earl of Northampton and Sir John Bridgeman, who had been sent by the Council to prod the commissioners into action.88 In January 1628 he lent the Mercers’ Company £2,700 towards their assessment of £3,720 on the Ditchfield purchase of Crown lands, charging them interest of only six per cent.89

Returned a last time for Tewkesbury in March 1628, Hicks was named to only three committees and made two recorded speeches before being raised to the peerage. He offered a ‘very short’ speech in the committee for grievances (26 Mar.) on the case of a London merchant who had refused to subscribe to the Ditchfield purchase agreement, but to what effect is not known,90 and he favoured the grant of five subsidies (4 April).91 He was named to the committee for the bill against adultery and fornication (22 Apr.),92 and he was again among those ordered to collect the Commons’ Benevolence (24 April).93 In May he was raised to the peerage, possibly in return for writing off some of the debts he was owed by the Crown. Since his sons were all dead, his grant included a special remainder to Noell. His nephew, Sir William Hicks, took his seat in the Commons.

After a long illness, during which ‘his bed was but as his rack’,94 Hicks died at his London house on 18 Oct. 1629, aged 78. He was buried on 4 Nov. at Chipping Campden, where his monument states he ‘disposed to charitable uses, in his lifetime, a large portion, to the value of £10,000’; this may be an exaggeration, a modern estimate suggests a total of about £7,000.95 His will, made on 12 Oct. 1629, was remarkable not only for these charities, which included provision for the poor and a preacher at Tewkesbury, but also for his failure to mention his younger daughter, then recently married to her second husband, Sir John Cooper, 1st bt.*. Both daughters had of course already received generous settlements, but there were several bequests to the elder and her family, including portions of £9,000 to his Noell granddaughters, as well as a rent-charge to his nephew and £500 to a great-nephew.96 One reporter ascribed this neglect to the influence of Lord Noell, who ‘hath so carried the business that he and his and the old lady have gotten most part of the estate’.97 ‘The old lady’, who was named sole executrix, was said to have received £1,000 p.a. in lands and £60,000 in money and movables.98 The Tewkesbury property and interest, however, passed through Hicks’s younger daughter. Her third husband Sir Edward Alford and her stepson Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper were returned for Tewkesbury to the Short Parliament, and her grandson, Henry Capel, to six Parliaments between 1660 and 1690.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. J. Stow, Survey of London ed. J. Strype, i. pt. 1, p. 288; A.G.R. Smith, Servant of the Cecils, 16; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 80-1.
  • 2. M. McDonnell, Regs. St. Paul’s Sch. 45; Al. Cant.; I. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. All Hallows Bread Street ed. W. Bruce Bannerman (Harl. Soc. Reg. xliii), 100.
  • 4. CP.
  • 5. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 80-1; St. Mary Magdalen Milk Street ed. A.W. Hughes Clarke (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxxii), 21-23.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 127.
  • 7. C66/2235/4.
  • 8. C66/2494/7.
  • 9. Stow, i. pt. 1, p. 288.
  • 10. Mercers’ Hall, London, Acts of Ct. 1560-95, ff. 309, 418.
  • 11. Mercers’ Hall, London, Acts of Ct. 1595-1629, ff. 6v, 51, 109, 224v.
  • 12. Ibid. f. 17; Mercers’ Hall, London, Gresham Repertories, ii. 1626-69, p. 13.
  • 13. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iv. 369.
  • 14. HMC Foljambe, 39.
  • 15. F.F. Foster, Pols. of Stability, 166.
  • 16. R.M. Benbow, ‘Tables of London Citizens’ (typescript in IHR), 248.
  • 17. C66/1822, 66/2527.
  • 18. C231/4, f. 62; C66/2527.
  • 19. C181/2, ff. 179, 287, 315; 181/3, ff. 207, 219, 243; 181/4, f. 12.
  • 20. APC, 1613-14, p. 566.
  • 21. C66/2165; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 70.
  • 22. B. Woodd Smith, ‘Sir Baptist Hicks’, Mdx. Co. Recs. ed. J.C. Jeaffreson, iv. 339.
  • 23. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 24. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 96.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 508; 1627-8, p. 188.
  • 26. APC, 1626, p. 353.
  • 27. Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 144; C193/12/2, ff. 20, 30.
  • 28. P.C. Rushen, Chipping Campden, 159.
  • 29. APC, 1596-7, p. 329; Foster, 143.
  • 30. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 513; 1611-18, p. 55.
  • 31. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, pp. 136, 144; C66/2454, m. 93d.
  • 32. Smith, 15, 88, 98.
  • 33. Mercers’ Hall, London, Acts of Ct. 1560-95, ff. 307v, 319v, 418; PROB 11/91, ff. 220v-1.
  • 34. Smith, 100; L. Stone, Crisis of the Aristocracy, 534-5.
  • 35. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 57, 58.
  • 36. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 408-9.
  • 37. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 435.
  • 38. Stow, i. pt. 1, 287; ii. pt. 5, pp. 389-91.
  • 39. Lansd. 89, f. 60.
  • 40. Lansd. 88, f. 8.
  • 41. T. Fuller, Church Hist. of Britain ed. J.S. Brewer, v. 359.
  • 42. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 365.
  • 43. Lansd. 107, f. 179; Remembrancia ed. W.H. and H.C. Overall, 5-6.
  • 44. VCH Glos. viii. 136, 239.
  • 45. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 594.
  • 46. LCC Survey of London, xxxvii. 55.
  • 47. Rushen, 151, 153.
  • 48. Co. of Mdx: Cal. to the Sessions Recs. n.s. i. 1612-14 ed. W. Le Hardy, 5, 11.
  • 49. CJ, i. 515a; CD 1621, ii. 53.
  • 50. CD 1621, v. 500.
  • 51. CJ, i. 532b. 536a.
  • 52. Ibid. i. 551b.
  • 53. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 157-8.
  • 54. CJ, i. 562b, 609b.
  • 55. Ibid. 606b.
  • 56. Ibid. 573a.
  • 57. CD 1621, iii. 11.
  • 58. Ibid. 16.
  • 59. Ibid. 188.
  • 60. APC, 1621-3, pp. 83, 99.
  • 61. CJ, i. 641a
  • 62. Ibid. 654a.
  • 63. Ibid. 654b.
  • 64. HMC Cowper, i. 171.
  • 65. CJ, i. 674b.
  • 66. Ibid. 685b.
  • 67. Ibid. 737a.
  • 68. Ibid. 754b.
  • 69. Holles 1624, p. 25.
  • 70. Ibid. 27.
  • 71. CJ, i. 742b.
  • 72. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 176v.
  • 73. Ibid. f. 238.
  • 74. CJ, i. 695a.
  • 75. Ibid. 713a.
  • 76. Glos. RO, D760/36; TBR A1/1, f. 48.
  • 77. Procs. 1625, p. 253.
  • 78. Ibid. 360.
  • 79. Ibid. 459.
  • 80. Procs. 1626, ii. 371.
  • 81. Ibid. 20.
  • 82. Ibid. 44, 102; iii. 190.
  • 83. Ibid. ii. 366.
  • 84. Ibid. iii. 368.
  • 85. Ibid. ii. 216.
  • 86. Ibid. ii. 432.
  • 87. APC, 1625-6, pp. 466-7; R. Ashton, Crown and the Money Market 1603-40, pp. 24, 158.
  • 88. SP16/54/28i.
  • 89. Mercers’ Hall, London, Acts of Ct. 1625-31, f. 132v.
  • 90. CD 1628, ii. 139.
  • 91. Ibid. 308.
  • 92. Ibid. iii. 22.
  • 93. Ibid. 60.
  • 94. J. Gaule, Defiance to Death (1630), pp. 42-3; CP.
  • 95. Stow, i. pt. 1, 288; CP; W.K. Jordan, Charities of London, 343.
  • 96. PROB 11/156, ff. 330-2.
  • 97. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 344.
  • 98. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 418.