LOVELL, Henry (1576-1653), of Bletchingley, Surr.; later of 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. 15 Feb. 1576, 3rd s. of Gregory Lovell (d.1597) of Merton Priory, Surr., being 2nd s. with 2nd w. Dorothy, da. of Michael Greene, yeoman of the stirrup.1 m. (1) by 1608, Anne, da. of James Mascall, wid. of Richard Miller, at least 2da.;2 (2) by May 1621, Frances, da. of Edward Snelling of East Horsley, Surr., wid. of Richard Newdigate of Newdigate, Surr., s.p.3 bur. 7 Jan. 1653.4

Offices Held

Capt. ft. 1598.5

Trustee to Anne, Lady Howard of Effingham, 1615-?1631.6


Lovell’s father, a younger son of the Norfolk family which had produced the first Tudor Speaker (Sir Thomas Lovell), made his way at Court and became cofferer of the Household in 1582. In the same year he leased Merton Abbey in Surrey from the Crown, where he settled.7 The main branch of the family was Catholic, and Lovell’s mother was listed among ‘relievers and favourers of Jesuit and seminary priests’ in 1592.8 Lovell himself commanded recruits for the Low Countries in 1598, apparently his only public office. After his father’s death the 1st earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†) took over the Merton Abbey lease, and Lovell seems to have entered the service of Nottingham’s eldest son William, Lord Howard of Effingham (Sir William Howard†). In August 1615, shortly before he died, Lord Howard settled the manor of Bletchingley on Lovell and Sir Oliver St. John* as part of his wife’s jointure. Lovell subsequently administered the manor on the widow’s behalf, describing himself before the Commons in 1624 as ‘lord of the manor, in trust to my Lady Howard’.9

Lovell’s decision to seek election in 1620 may have been motivated by his courtship of a widow, Frances Newdigate, who was involved in a dispute over her son’s inheritance in the Court of Wards, which was situated near the House of Commons. The marriage probably did not take place until the middle of May 1621, when an answer entered on behalf of the son was altered to state that Lovell was his guardian. He was almost certainly nominated at Bletchingley by Lady Howard.10

Lovell was named to only two committees in the 1621 Parliament, assuming he was the ‘Mr. Liddall’ appointed to consider the bill for duchy of Cornwall leases on 28 Feb.;11 but he made half a dozen speeches. On 8 Feb., while debating the bill against informers, he moved for the inclusion of ‘prosecutors of concealed titles of wardship’, and in detailing the abuses he instanced the case of Henry Dorrell, the opponent of Frances Newdigate in the Court of Wards. The master of the Court of Wards, Sir Lionel Cranfield, endorsed the motion, protesting that ‘if any wrong had been done to any man by himself or by his procurement, he was ready to make satisfaction in his person or estate or both’, whereupon the House agreed that this and other proposed amendments should be considered in committee.12 Four days later Lovell complained that Dorrell had threatened him with imprisonment ‘if not during the Parliament yet presently after’ for his speech on the 8th. Coming at a time when many in the Commons were concerned to protect their freedom of speech, the incident attracted the attention of prominent Members such as Sir George More and Edward Alford. Summoned before the bar of the House, Dorrell at first denied having made the threat, but when Lovell produced witnesses, Dorrell was committed to the serjeant’s custody and ordered to acknowledge his fault before the House. One of the witnesses was Mrs. Newdigate, whose evidence had to be taken by committee as there was no precedent for a woman to be heard in the House.13

Lovell’s connection with the Howards explains his interest in Dungeness lighthouse. The patent for erecting the lighthouse had been granted to Sir Edward Howard, Lord Howard of Effingham’s cousin, in 1615. Sir Edward died in 1620, whereupon his interest in the patent had passed to his brother and executor, Sir Francis Howard*. On 27 Feb. Lovell spoke against a bill promoted by Trinity House to bring Dungeness lighthouse under their control. Lovell complained that Trinity House ‘deal not fair’, arguing that before the lighthouse had been erected shipping losses had been as much as £40,000 in a single year.14 Lovell again defended the lighthouse on 21 Mar. and tried in vain to stop the patent being voted a grievance on 18 April.15 When a second bill concerning lighthouses was committed on 7 May, Lovell was among those named to consider it, but he does not seem to have attended the committee’s one recorded meeting.16

On 24 Mar. Lovell complained about a sewer in St. Giles-in-the-Fields, where he owned property, that had been stopped up by Sir Lewis Lewknor*. The Commons referred his complaint to the local sewer commissioners.17 On 18 Apr. he gave evidence of a bribe taken by Sir John Bennet* from an ecclesiastical lawyer called Willet.18 During the Parliament, Lovell signed the deed of jointure for Lady Howard’s daughter before her marriage to John, 5th Lord Mordaunt.19

Lovell sought re-election at Bletchingley in 1624, again, it would seem, with the support of Lady Howard. However, a meeting of the burgage-holders on 22 Jan. elected Sir Miles Fleetwood and John Hawarde. Supported by the local minister, Dr. Nathaniel Harris, who may have been related to the Newdigates, Lovell subsequently convened a general meeting of inhabitants of the borough which, on 9 Feb., elected Fleetwood and himself.20 When Parliament met, Lovell petitioned the Commons to overturn Hawarde’s election, but after John Glanville reported from the privileges committee on 22 Mar. it was upheld by the Commons. Lovell was accused by Glanville of a variety of misdemeanours in procuring his own election, including bribery and threatening the withdrawal of Lady Howard’s charity to the poor of the borough. However, perhaps of greatest importance in determining the Commons’ decision were revelations about Lovell’s religion. He had confessed he had not received communion for over a year, which he sought to excuse on the grounds that he was ‘out of charity’, although apparently ‘he knew not with whom’. In addition, Glanville reported that Lovell’s mother was a recusant, his brother a Roman Catholic priest and his daughter a nun.21 On 3 Apr. the Commons committed him to the Tower for his misdemeanours at the election, and ordered that he was ‘not to be enlarged till he make his petition and submission to the House’. He was also declared ineligible to stand in the election in the borough occasioned by the decision of Fleetwood, who had been double returned, to waive his seat.22 On 9 Apr. the solicitor general, Sir Robert Heath, presented a petition on Lovell’s behalf, which was read the following day, in which Lovell promised to submit to the House. He was brought to the bar two days later and, after making his submission, was released.23

Lovell does not seem to have stood in 1625, but he was returned to the second Caroline Parliament, apparently without difficulty, though he left no trace on the surviving parliamentary records. He is not known to have stood again, or to have played any further part in public affairs. In 1631 he quarrelled with Lady Howard over the terms of his trusteeship, and presumably left her employment.24 Three years later his marriage to Frances Newdigate, possibly Catholic and clandestine, was unsuccessfully challenged before the High Commission.25 He then went to Ireland, where at least one of his brothers had served, ‘to manage and attend matters and businesses of very great consequence, some of which concerned him much in his own estate’. However, he came back to England in about 1643, and settled in Westminster. He appeared in 1652 as a defendant in a Chancery suit over the lease of his property in St. Giles,26 and was buried there, having apparently died intestate, on 7 Jan. 1653.27

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Surr. Hist. Cent. Merton par. reg.; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 69.
  • 2. Soc. Gen. Lovell mss U, 82-96; W, 21-44; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 550.
  • 3. WARD 13/109, unfol.; CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 50; Vis. Surr. 27, 161.
  • 4. St. Giles-in-the-Fields par. reg. (LMA mic.).
  • 5. APC, 1598-9, p. 391.
  • 6. C142/352/122; Soc. Gen. Lovell mss Chanc. W, pp. 8-15.
  • 7. VCH Surr. iv. 66; E351/1795.
  • 8. ‘Cecil Pprs.’ Misc. ed. C. Talbot and H. Aveling (Cath. Rec. Soc. liii), 124.
  • 9. CJ, i. 753b.
  • 10. WARD 9/95, f. 417; 13/109, unfol.
  • 11. CJ, i. 531b.
  • 12. CD 1621, ii. 44; iv. 31-2; CJ, i. 514b.
  • 13. CJ, i. 517a, 520a; CD 1621, ii. 55-6, 59; vi. 45; vi. 347-8; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 32.
  • 14. CJ, i. 529b.
  • 15. Ibid. 568a, 581a.
  • 16. Ibid. 611b; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 188.
  • 17. CJ, i. 572a
  • 18. CD 1621, iii. 15.
  • 19. R. Halstead, Succinct Genealogies, 643.
  • 20. J. Glanville, Reps. of Certain Cases Determined and Adjudged by the Commons in Parliament (1775), pp. 32-3; U. Lambert, Bletchingley, 424.
  • 21. CJ, i. 745b-6a; ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 37r-v.
  • 22. CJ, i. 753b-4a; Holles 1624, p. 60; Glanville, 41.
  • 23. CJ, i. 760b, 761b, 763a.
  • 24. Soc. Gen. Lovell mss Chanc. W, pp. 8-15.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1634-5, pp. 50, 122.
  • 26. Soc. Gen. Lovell mss Chanc. J, pp. 51-60; W, pp. 21-44.
  • 27. Soc. Gen. Lovell mss Chanc. J, pp. 51-60; W, pp. 8-15, 21-44.