LENNARD, Sampson (c.1544-1615), of Hurstmonceaux, Suss.; formerly of Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent

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. c.1544, 1st s. of John Lennard, kpr. of the writs in the c.p. 1562-86, of Chevening, Kent and Elizabeth, da. of William Harman of Crayford, Kent; bro. of Samuel†. educ. L. Inn 1564. m. c.Nov. 1564, Margaret (d. 10 Mar. 1612), da. of Thomas, 9th Bar. Dacre of the South, and suo jure Baroness Dacre as h. to her bro. Gregory, 7s. (4 d.v.p.) 6da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1591. d. 20 Sept. 1615.1 sig. Samson Lennard.

Offices Held

Capt. militia ft. Kent by 1588-at least 1596;2 sheriff, Kent 1591-2;3 j.p. Kent 1593-1607, 1613-d., Suss. 1613-d.;4 commr. inquiry into Catholic missionaries, Kent 1592,5 subsidy, Kent 1595, 1603,6 sewers, Suss. 1602-10, Kent and Suss. 1602-11, Kent 1603,7 oyer and terminer, Kent 1615.8


Described by the antiquarian William Camden as ‘a person of extraordinary worth and civility’,9 Lennard is to be distinguished from a cousin of the same name who became Bluemantle pursuivant in 1616.10 His ancestors were living at Chevening, near Sevenoaks in Kent, by the reign of Henry VI, and his father, a successful lawyer, purchased a manor there, part of an estate in five counties.11 His wife was described by a local minister, Edward Topsell, as ‘a Ruth in religion’, whose diligent attendance at the lectures at Sevenoaks was an inspiration to ‘meaner persons’. During the late Elizabethan period they lived at Knole, a mansion near the Chevening let from the Crown, but the reversion had been granted to lord treasurer Buckhurst (Thomas Sackville†), and Lennard sold the residue of his lease to the latter for £4,000 in 1604. Sevenoaks, Topsell said, wept at their departure.12

Lennard had acquired Hurstmonceaux castle in east Sussex on the death in 1594 of his brother-in-law, Gregory, 10th Baron Dacre, and he probably took up residence there at the accession of James I. He had excellent connections among the Sussex gentry through his brothers-in-law Sir Walter Covert* and Edward Neville† (later 1st Lord Bergavenny), but in 1604, for the first time in 30 years, he failed to secure his return to Parliament, possibly because he was a newcomer to the county. It may also have been the case, though, that as he was pursing his wife’s claim to the barony of Dacre he hoped that he would soon be summoned to the Lords. His wife was officially recognized as suo jure baroness in December 1604, and in April 1606 he offered to surrender the reversion to the Dacre lands in Cumbria ‘to be made baron’, or else to pay £4,000. Sir Edward Coke* advised the king to accept cash only, since the reversion was in the Crown; but Lennard failed to raise the money, though his annual income was reckoned at £2,890.13 His lavish hospitality and the expenses of his suit, indeed, forced him to sell lands, and debt may account for his removal from the Kent bench in 1607.14 He had still not attained his ambition when his wife died in March 1612 and the title passed to their eldest son, Sir Henry†; but the following month he received a patent for ‘the place and precedency of the eldest son of the Lord Dacre of the South’.15

Following the death of his wife, Lennard seems to have managed to stabilize his financial situation, and in the following year he was appointed to the Sussex bench. Even so, in late 1614 he had to convey lands in Norfolk to trustees for payment of his debts and those of his eldest son.16 Earlier that same year he was returned as knight of the shire for his adopted county, along with Covert. He made no recorded speeches but was named to six committees, usually in conjunction with Covert, including those for privileges and for continuing or repealing expiring statutes (8 April). They also included the Parliament’s two conferences with the Lords, the first on the Palatine marriage settlement (14 Apr.) and the second on the Sabbath observance bill (4 June). His only legislative committee, on 13 May, was for a private bill to enable a Sussex gentleman to pay his debts by selling land. After the cessation of business following Bishop Neile’s charges of sedition against the Commons, Lennard and Covert were among those ordered to accompany the Speaker to hear the king (29 May).17

Lennard died on 20 Sept. 1615, aged 71, and was buried beneath a magnificent alabaster tomb at Chevening. No will or grant of administration has been found. His great-grandson, Francis 14th Baron Dacre, eligible to sit in the Commons while the Lords was in abeyance during the Interregnum, was returned for Sussex in 1654.18

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. T. Barrett-Lennard, Acct. of Fams. of Lennard and Barrett, 6, 7, 215, 238-9; C142/229/143; LI Admiss.; CP, iv. 10-12.
  • 2. HMC Foljambe, 37; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 306.
  • 3. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 69.
  • 4. Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Eliz. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 343; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Jas. I, 33, 121; Cal. Assize Recs. Suss. Indictments, Jas. I, 50.
  • 5. Staffs. RO, D593/S/3/6.
  • 6. Staffs. RO, D593/S/4/38/16; E115/340/24.
  • 7. C181/1, ff. 27v, 28; 57; 181/2, ff. 134v, 151.
  • 8. C181/2, f. 228.
  • 9. W. Camden, Britannia (1772), i. 248.
  • 10. Oxford DNB sub Lennard, Sampson.
  • 11. E. Hasted, Kent, iii. 108-9; PROB 11/77, ff. 211-12v.
  • 12. E. Topsell, Reward of Religion (1596), unpag.; E. Topsell, House-holder (1610), sig. Av; Hasted, iii. 70; G. Ward, Sevenoaks Essays, 25.
  • 13. HMC Hatfield, xvi. 100, 186; CP, iv. 11-12.
  • 14. Barrett-Lennard, 229-30.
  • 15. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 126.
  • 16. Barrett-Lennard, 229.
  • 17. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 34, 35, 82, 228, 377, 405.
  • 18. Barrett-Lennard, 238-9.