LYNDE, Sir Humphrey (1579-1636), of Twickenham, Mdx. and Sheer Lane, St. Dunstan-in-the-West, Mdx.; later of Cobham, Surr. and Denham, Bucks.

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



aft. 11 Feb. 1626

Family and Education

bap. 24 Aug. 1579,1 1st s. of Cuthbert Lynde, Grocer of King Street, Westminster, and Margery, da. of one Baylie. educ. Westminster sch.; Christ Church, Oxf. 1596, aged 17; BA 1600; M. Temple 1601.2 m. 31 Jan. 1610, Elizabeth (d. aft.1640), da. of Sir Alexander Brett (d.1609) of Whitestaunton, Som. 3s., 6da.3 suc. fa. 1608;4 kntd. 11 Nov. 1613.5 d. 8 June 1636.6 sig. Humfrey Lynde.7

Offices Held

J.p. Surr. 1613-16,8 commr. sewers 1613.9


Described by Anthony Wood as a ‘most learned knight ... a zealous puritan and a grand enemy to such as were called Arminians’, Sir Humphrey Lynde, though descended from the Dorset de la Lynde family, was born and raised in Westminster. His father, Cuthbert, was both a prominent member of the Grocers’ Company and a churchwarden of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, in which parish the future Member presumably cultivated his religious zeal.10 Lynde himself was a precocious student, becoming a queen’s scholar and victor at Westminster School, and one of two collectors at Oxford.11 Wood claims that around the time of taking his degree he was ‘called away to be heir to a fair estate’, but in fact his father lived for another eight years. Between entering the Middle Temple and succeeding to his patrimony in 1608, Lynde’s activities are obscure. A Catholic opponent later suggested that he was placed ‘in the common road of the ministry’ by his father, but in the event Lynde chose a different path.12

On Cuthbert’s death in June 1608, Lynde inherited his father’s lands and goods.13 His new-found prosperity appears to have invited unwelcome attention: in June 1609 three men and a woman were indicted at the Middlesex sessions for stealing linens and clothing from Lynde’s house; one of the accused had his hand cut off for contempt of court before being hanged.14 In 1610 Lynde married into a Somerset family with both Catholic affinities and London links.15 The wedding took place not in Somerset, however, but at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, the residence of the bride’s uncle, the puritan Sir Robert Brett*. In his funeral sermon on Lynde, Daniel Featley recalled that this marriage was ‘made in heaven before it was consummate on earth’, as Lynde ‘affianced his spouse to Christ before he contracted her to himself’.16 In November 1611 Lynde purchased the manor of Clapham, Surrey from Sir Francis Clarke for £5,650, payable in instalments, apparently in order to pursue the life of a pious country gentleman and theologian.17 He was appointed a magistrate and commissioner for sewers in Surrey in 1613, and was knighted towards the end of the year, contemporary gossip claiming that he paid £500 for the honour.18 He also contributed £13 6s. 8d. towards the 1614 Benevolence, a sum which matched that of several other magistrates within the county.19 He did not remain at Clapham for long: in April 1614, he was licensed to alienate 800 acres of his estate to John Hawsley, and moved to a mansion he built on the Thames at Twickenham, Middlesex, where several of his children were baptized.20

Lynde devoted himself to theological study and the writing of anti-Catholic tracts, cultivating relationships with godly clerics in the circle of Archbishop Abbot, such as Daniel Featley and Thomas Gatacre. Amid the religious controversies which accompanied negotiations for a Spanish Match for Prince Charles in the early 1620s, Lynde contributed to the debate about whether Rome was a true Church. In 1623 he published The Book of Bertram the Priest, a translation of an 800 year-old text which denied the doctrine of transubstantiation.21 At the same time, he became involved in public controversy with the Jesuit John Fisher, who had persuaded his cousin, Edward Bugges, to convert to Catholicism while ill. Lynde sparred with Fisher himself, and subsequently invited Fisher and Featley to his London house in Sheer Lane to dispute the antiquity and visibility of the Protestant Church before the time of Luther. Also present were the puritan Sir Henry Hastings*, the 4th earl of Lincoln, the 2nd earl of Warwick (Sir Robert Rich*), Thomas Gatacre and Richard Chamberlain, clerk of the Court of Wards.22 Featley published an account of the debate in The Fisher Catched in his Own Net (1623), and another at much greater length in The Roman Fisher Caught (1624). Lynde produced his first original work - Ancient Characters of the Visible Church - in 1625, in which he attacked Rome’s claim to authenticity with the argument that it had betrayed the truths of the apostolic church through practices such as the veneration of images.

Such matters were increasingly controversial in the face of rising Arminian influence at Court, and it was probably Lynde’s perception of this threat which encouraged him to stand for Parliament in 1626. Returned for Brecon, where he had no known ties, he was probably nominated by (Sir) Walter Pye I*, chief justice of the Brecon circuit, who had been elected for the borough at the general election but had chosen to serve for his native Herefordshire. Like Lynde, Pye was a Middle Templar, and Lynde dedicated The Book of Bertram the Priest to Pye in 1623, describing him as ‘my much honoured friend’.23

Lynde’s first appearance in the parliamentary record occurs on 6 Mar. 1626, when he was nominated by the committee for religion to a select committee to consider the publication of the Arminian Richard Montagu’s notorious tract, Appello Caesarem.24 He was subsequently appointed to committees charged with examining various bills on religion, including the subscription of deprived ministers (6 May), the true conformity of church papists (8 May), and peace and unity in the Church (14 June).25 He was also nominated to the committee of 9 June for the general fast moved by Sir Robert Harley.26 Lynde was named to several committees for estate bills, the outlawry bill (27 Mar.), and also to select committees appointed to examine the disbursement of the 1624 subsidies (22 Mar.) and to draft a bill to prevent contagion (29 April).27

Lynde continued to publish tracts asserting the primacy and antiquity of the Church of England after the dissolution of the 1626 Parliament. Via Tuta: The Safe Way appeared in 1628, and was dedicated to ‘the religious and well-affected gentry of this kingdom ... that the world may know it is no difficult matter for a mean layman to prove the ancient visibility of the Protestant profession’.28 One Jesuit opponent acknowledged this work ‘gained you much fame among some of your own sect’, and it was translated into Latin, Dutch and French, as well as going though a number of English editions.29 Via Tuta occasioned replies from Catholic polemicists including John Floyd [alias Robert Jenison] in A Pair of Spectacles for Sir Humphrey Linde(1631) and an anonymous satire, A Letter of S[i]r Humfrey Linde (1634). Floyd used Lynde’s humble beginnings to disparage his abilities as a writer. After recalling ‘the honest grocer, your father, who dwelt next door to the George in King’s Street, he declared that Lynde, by his birth, seemed ‘ordained to have to do with a pestle and mortar than a sword or pen’.30 Lynde published a rejoinder to Floyd, entitled Via Devia, in 1632. He wrote another tract, A Case for the Spectacles, or, a Defence of Via Tuta, but William Prynne later claimed that Archbishop William Laud - while pretending friendship with Sir Humphrey - had refused to license this work on the pretext that Lynde was a layman; Featley ensured that it was completed and published in 1638, two years after Lynde’s death.31

Lynde made his will on 6 June 1636 at Cobham, Surrey, bequeathing his lands and goods to his wife Elizabeth and to Richard Chamberlain, clerk of the Wards, both of whom were instructed to sell such land as was required to pay his debts and raise portions for his unmarried daughters.32 The residue of the estate was then to be passed to his son, Alexander, who variously described himself as being ‘of Twickenham’ and ‘of Rickmansworth’, Hertfordshire, a few miles from Denham, Buckinghamshire (where Sir Humphrey had lived in the 1630s).33 Lynde suffered from ‘violent fits’ in his last illness and died on 8 June 1636. He was buried at Cobham on 14 June, where Featley, preaching the funeral sermon, lamented the loss of ‘so general a scholar, so accomplished a gentleman, so gracious a Christian, so zealous a patriot, so able a champion of the truth’. He suggested that Lynde might have aspired to higher offices and public employments, but that preferred instead ‘a private, contemplative life, which was his heaven on earth’.34 Lynde’s daughter, Margaret, married Vincent Gavell of Cobham, while two other daughters married puritan clergymen who were ejected at the Restoration.35 Margaret’s son, Robert, married the heiress of Alexander Lynde.36 No member of the family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Lloyd Bowen


  • 1. WAM, St. Margaret’s, Westminster, par. reg. (WCA microfilm)
  • 2. Recs. Old Westminsters, ii. 601; Al. Ox.
  • 3. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxv), 92; Ath. Ox. ii. 603; Surr. Hist. Cent., 181/15/1; VCH Som. iv. 233.
  • 4. PROB 11/112, f. 61v.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 153.
  • 6. Ath. Ox. ii. 602.
  • 7. E214/1154.
  • 8. Cal. Assize Recs., Surr. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 91, 134; C231/4, f. 30.
  • 9. C181/2, f. 191v.
  • 10. Ath. Ox. ii. 601; List of Wardens of Grocers Co. ed. W.W. Grantham, 23; J. Merritt, The Social World of Early Modern Westminster, 126.
  • 11. D. Featley, A Sermon Preached at Funeral of ... Sir Humphrey Lynd in Stricture in Lyndomastigem (1636), p. 215.
  • 12. John Floyd [Robert Jennison], A Pair of Spectacles for Sir Humphrey Linde (Saint-Omer, 1631), sig. F4.
  • 13. PROB 11/112, f. 61v; C54/2146/2.
  • 14. Mdx. Co. Recs. ed. J.C. Jeaffreson, ii. 53-4.
  • 15. VCH Som. iv. 233, 237; Som. Rec. Soc. lxvii. 91-2.
  • 16. Featley, 215.
  • 17. C54/2100/14; 54/2147/11.
  • 18. C181/2, f. 191v; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 484.
  • 19. E351/1950.
  • 20. C66/2047/66; VCH Surr. iv. 39; D. Lysons, Environs of London (1795), iii. 577, 589.
  • 21. This was answered by John Floyd [Robert Jennison], A Plea for the Reall Presence (Saint-Omer, 1624).
  • 22. D. Featley, The Roman Fisher Caught (1624), p. 46; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, ii. 408.
  • 23. Sir Humphrey Lynde, The Book of Bertram the Priest (1623), sig. A2.
  • 24. Procs. 1626, ii. 206.
  • 25. Ibid. iii. 180, 190, 444.
  • 26. Ibid. 405.
  • 27. Ibid. ii. 305, 341, 374; iii. 97, 189, 340.
  • 28. Sir Humphrey Lynde, Via Tuta (1628), sig. A2.
  • 29. Floyd, A Pair of Spectacles, sig. A3.
  • 30. Ibid. sig. A4v.
  • 31. W. Prynne, Canterburies Doome (1646), p. 185; Ath. Ox. ii. 602.
  • 32. PROB 11/171, ff. 220v-1v.
  • 33. Glos. RO, D2957/302/141; PROB 11/305, ff. 73-4v; C2/ChasI/L64/176; 2/Chas.I/L23/2; Surr. Hist. Cent., 212/95/7; LMA, ACC 0312/138.
  • 34. Featley, Sermon, 215-16.
  • 35. J. Gurney, Brave Community, 3; Surr. Hist. Cent., 181/15/1; Calamy Revised ed. A.G. Matthews, 86, 391.
  • 36. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. lx), 47.