JAMES, Sir Roger (1589-1636), of Reigate, Surr.

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. 23 Aug. 1589, 1st s. of Roger James, brewer, of Lower Thames Street, London and Upminster, Essex and Sarah, da. of John Smith, merchant, of London. m. 30 Jan. 1611, Margaret (d. Apr. 1662), da. of Anthony Aucher of Bishopsbourne, Kent, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1596;1 kntd. 12 Mar. 1613.2 d. 26 Mar. 1636.3

Offices Held

J.p. Surr. 1620-5, 1634-d;4 commr. subsidy, 1622, 1624.5

Gent. of the privy chamber extraordinary by d.6


James’s grandfather was born near Utrecht and migrated to London in or about 1540, perhaps in the train of Anne of Cleves. He changed his named from Van Haestricht, became a prosperous brewer, and was possessed of extensive properties in London and the home counties by the time of his death in 1592. His father, also a brewer, purchased the manor of Upminster in Essex in 1596.7 James was still under-age when his father died later that year. His wardship was purchased by his maternal grandfather for £43.8

James retained some links with the London commercial world; in 1615 he recommended one Richard Turner as a potential employee for the East India Company,9 but he seems to have been primarily intent on establishing himself as a country gentleman. In 1611 he married a sister of Sir Anthony Aucher* and received a grant of arms.10 Two years later he secured a knighthood and settled at Reigate, where he purchased the rectory manor in 1614 and rented the castle from the earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†).11 He was added to the Surrey bench in 1620. Four years later his property in Surrey and London was said to be worth £500 p.a.12

It was perhaps to finance his purchase of property at Reigate that James entered into a contract with the scrivener and money broker Thomas Frith to sell the manor of Upminster. However, Frith went bankrupt in 1614 with a substantial part of the purchase money unpaid. James, together with his brother-in-law Aucher, who had also sold property to Frith, sued Frith in Chancery and obtained a decree restoring his rights to the manor, whereupon Frith committed suicide. In 1621 a group of Frith’s former clients, who had lost money as a result of the bankruptcy, promoted a bill in Parliament to sell the scrivener’s lands and divide the proceeds between them. Given a first reading on 18 Apr., it sought to reverse the result of James’s Chancery suit and so led to the introduction of a cross bill to confirm the decree. The original bill was committed on 28 May but no further proceedings are recorded. James and Aucher were subsequently forced to resort to Chancery again in order to prosecute Frith’s widow.13

In early 1622 James was summoned before the Privy Council for failing to contribute to the Palatinate Benevolence.14 In 1624 he was mentioned as being a surety for the debts of his brother-in-law Aucher in a parliamentary bill promoted by Aucher’s creditors, who were hoping to secure repayment by forcing the sale of James’ lands as well as those of Aucher. The bill was given two readings and committed on 7 Apr., but though the committee met at least once there is no evidence of any further proceedings.15

It was perhaps in order to prevent a revival of the 1624 bill that James sought election in 1625. He was returned for Reigate in 1625, probably with the aid of the earl of Nottingham’s widow, who possessed a moiety of the manor as part of her jointure. He was named to a single committee, to consider a bill for the naturalization of Sir Daniel Deligne, of Harlaxton Lincolnshire (11 August). Deligne had been born in Frankfurt but was of Walloon ancestry, and he had married the daughter of Erasmus de la Fountaine, whose widow had been a party to James’s suit against Frith.16

James was removed from the Surrey bench in late 1625 or early 1626. By 1628 he had established his title to Upminster manor, which he was finally able to sell. He was restored to the Surrey bench in 1634 and, possibly around the same time, obtained appointment as a gentleman of the privy chamber in extraordinary. He made his will on 24 Mar. 1636 and died two days later. His only surviving son succeeded him at Reigate and sat four times for the borough between 1661 and 1689.17

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. C142/249/49; Morant, Essex, i. 109; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 4), v. 105-6.
  • 2. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 153.
  • 3. C142/541/106.
  • 4. C231/4, f. 103; 231/5, p. 136; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 16; C193/13/2.
  • 5. C212/22/21, 23.
  • 6. LC3/1, unfol.
  • 7. LCC Survey of London, xv. 62; PROB 11/89, f. 37; VCH Essex, vii. 151.
  • 8. WARD 9/159, f. 46.
  • 9. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 429.
  • 10. Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 136.
  • 11. VCH Surr. iii. 232, 239.
  • 12. Harl. 6847, ff. 35v-6.
  • 13. C2/Jas.I/A3/15; J.P. Feil, ‘James Shirley’s Years of Service’, Rev. Eng. Stud. n.s. viii. 413; CD 1621, iv. 380-1; v. 331; CJ, i. 598b, 628a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 363.
  • 14. SP14/127/80.
  • 15. Harl. 6847, ff. 35v-6; CJ, i. 757a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 111; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 199.
  • 16. Procs. 1625, p. 457; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. l), 293; Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in Eng. and Ire. ed. W.A. Shaw (Huguenot Soc. of London xviii), 41.
  • 17. VCH Essex, vii. 151; PROB 11/173, f. 72.