LAKE, Sir Arthur (1598-1633), of Canons, Little Stanmore, Mdx. and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.

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

bap. 26 Nov. 1598,1 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Lake I* and Mary, da. of Sir William Rider, Haberdasher and alderman of London; bro. of Sir Thomas II* and Lancelot†.2 educ. M. Temple 1610; New Coll. Oxf. 1610, BA Hart Hall, Oxf. 1613, MA Camb. 1617;3 travelled abroad (France) 1615-17.4 m. (1) by 1618, Letitia (bur. 2 May 1619), 1s. d.v.p.;5 (2) Anne, da. of Francis Plowden of Shiplake, Oxon., 1da.6 kntd. 18 Aug. 1617.7 bur. 19 Dec. 1633.8

Offices Held

Member, E.I. Co. 1617.9

Commr. sewers, Essex 1627, Kent 1631.10


The son of one of James I’s principal administrators, Lake was well-educated, completing an Oxford degree, and travelling on the Continent for two years ‘to attain the languages’. Shortly after his return to England in 1617, he received a knighthood, and began to attend the Court. In January 1618 he performed in a play before the king at Theobalds, in Hertfordshire, though the occasion was marred by the inclusion of a particularly scurrilous song which offended James.11

This was a minor mishap, however, compared with the disaster which engulfed Lake’s family over the next 18 months, following the breakdown of his sister Anne’s marriage to William Cecil, Lord Roos. Eager to defend Anne’s wounded honour, Lake had already assaulted Roos in mid-1617, and shortly afterwards it was reported that the two men would settle their differences abroad in a duel. This was certainly Roos’s intention, but Lake failed to oblige him.12 Meanwhile, Anne falsely accused Roos of committing incestuous adultery with his own step-grandmother, the young countess of Exeter, who retaliated by suing the Lake family in Star Chamber for defamation. This scandal became the talk of the Court, and in February 1618 Lake was almost drawn into a duel with the marquess of Hamilton and Lord Hay, whom he overheard joking about his sister’s reputation.13 During the Star Chamber hearings, it emerged that the Lakes had resorted to forgery and intimidation to support their allegations, but the blame was fixed on Anne and her parents when the case came to judgment in February 1619. Although the court considered Lake himself to be his sister’s ‘chief abettor and accessory’, he avoided censure through lack of direct proof.14

Despite this narrow escape, Lake did not emerge from this episode entirely unscathed. Shortly after the trial’s conclusion, one of the key witnesses, Sarah Swarton, claimed that incest had indeed been committed, but between Anne and Lake. While unfounded, this rumour further damaged Lake’s reputation, and when his wife died in the following May, shortly after giving birth, it was cruelly reported that she had actually succumbed to syphilis, contracted either from her husband or a lover.15 At around the same time, Lake was imprisoned, apparently on suspicion of perjury, but he was released again without charge in July 1619.16 In addition to these scandals, Lake was widely assumed to share his parents’ Catholic sympathies. Accordingly, the Spanish ambassador, Gondomar, recommended him in 1622 for service with the Habsburg forces in Flanders, commenting: ‘he is not yet a Catholic, but he will be, as he has always been well inclined, and his father is one’.17

Lake sat in the 1624 Parliament as a Member for Minehead, presumably through the influence of his uncle and namesake, the bishop of Bath and Wells, who secured the borough’s other seat for his diocesan chancellor, Arthur Duck.18 In 1625 and 1626 Lake represented Bridgwater, perhaps again nominated by Bishop Lake, but more likely backed by the Rodneys, an important Somerset gentry family into which his sister Anne had married after the death of Lord Roos. Lake’s brother-in-law Sir Edward Rodney* was certainly well placed to approach two of the borough’s patrons, Edward Popham* and Sir Nicholas Halswell*, as all three men were Somerset deputy lieutenants. Despite attending three consecutive Parliaments, Lake left no trace on the Commons’ records.19

In 1630 Lake inherited the Essex manor of Little Thurrock from his father, but he is not known to have lived there. When he died in December 1633, he was buried at Little Stanmore, his family’s principal seat. No will or administration grant has been found. His younger brother Lancelot represented Middlesex in the 1660 Convention and Cavalier Parliament.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: George Yerby / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Regs. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. xxv), 28.
  • 2. Mdx. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxv), 152; A.B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, i. 64.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.; Al. Ox.
  • 4. APC, 1615-16, p. 340; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 460.
  • 5. Clifford Diary ed. V. Sackville-West, 88, 95; Regs. St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 179.
  • 6. C7/426/73, f. 1; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 277.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 164.
  • 8. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 76.
  • 9. CSP Col. E.I. 1617-21, p. 99.
  • 10. C181/3, f. 233v; 181/4, f. 100v.
  • 11. APC, 1615-17, p. 340; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 129, 131.
  • 12. S.R. Gardiner, Hist. of Eng. from Accession of Jas. I, iv. 189-90; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 481, 542-3.
  • 13. Gardiner, iv. 191; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 145.
  • 14. Gardiner, iv. 191-3; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 13; Birch, ii. 139.
  • 15. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 217-18, 220; Clifford Diary, 98.
  • 16. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 238, 251.
  • 17. A.J. Loomie, ‘Gondomar’s Selection of Eng. Officers in 1622’, EHR, lxxxviii. 576, 579.
  • 18. Oxford DNB sub Arthur Lake; OR.
  • 19. The Gen. n.s. xvii. 101-2; T.G. Barnes, Som. 1625-40, p. 317.
  • 20. C142/589/97; Lipscomb, ii. 76.