NEWBERY, Humphrey (c.1574-1638), of Waltham St. Lawrence and New Windsor, Berks.

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.1574, 1st s. of Henry Newbery of Waltham St. Lawrence and his w. Margaret.1 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1592, aged 17; L. Inn 1595, called 1603.2 m. ?by 1608, Mary (d. 14 Aug. 1640), da. of Thomas Weldon of Shottesbrooke, Berks., 7 ch. of whom at least 1da. d.v.p.3 suc. fa. 1611.4 d. 13 or 14 July 1638.5 sig. Humfr[ey] Newberie/Newbery.

Offices Held

Under-steward, New Windsor 1608-13, 1624-d.; steward, Maidenhead, Berks. by 1623.6

Estate steward to Sir Henry Neville III* by 1619; commr. sewers, Berks. and Bucks. 1626.7


Of a modest gentry family, Newbery trained as a lawyer, becoming a barrister in 1603. Not long thereafter he married into the Weldon family of Berkshire, two of whom had previously sat in Parliament for New Windsor, for which borough he became under-steward or recorder in 1608. On the death of his father in February 1611, Newbery inherited £100 in cash and some copyhold land held of the manor of Waltham, whose owner was Sir Henry Neville I* of Billingbear.8 To this modest inheritance he acquired by purchase the 56 acres bequeathed by his father to one of his younger brothers, including the 40-acre manor of Yeldhall.9 Newbery acted as a trustee for Neville,10 on whose death in 1615 the Crown laid claim to some of the Neville estate as part of Windsor Forest. Newbery, who served Neville’s son Sir Henry Neville III as manorial steward, helped defend the Neville title, but in 1619 he and his fellow trustees felt obliged to compound for these lands with the commissioners for assarts.11

Returned for Windsor to the 1626 Parliament, during his second term as under-steward, Newbery proved surprisingly voluble for an inexperienced Member, making no less than 14 recorded speeches in addition to delivering one report from committee. He was also named to 30 committees, the first of which, on 14 Feb., concerned a bill to preserve the rights of ecclesiastical patrons, in which measure he had a personal interest as he controlled at least one advowson.12 The following day he spoke in support of the bill against ‘scandalous and unworthy ministers’, which he described as aiming ‘at the very root of profaneness and popery’. Though parish clergy were sometimes the victims of unscrupulous recusants who, he claimed, got them drunk in order to discredit them, ministers should, he declared, be ‘lights to light us to heaven’ rather than ‘dark lanterns to light us to hell’. The bill was needed because existing remedies were ‘too costly’, and the sentences handed down by the ecclesiastical courts were ‘so arbitrary that little good comes of it’. After moving a commitment he was himself appointed to consider the bill in committee.13 When the bill was reported ten days later, it was announced that the king’s advocate, Dr. Thomas Ryves, disliked the measure because it would permit clergymen to be tried by laymen. Moreover, Richard Spencer attacked the bill’s title. These criticisms brought Newbery to his feet once more. ‘If whoredom, drunkenness [and] fornication be scandalous’, he declared in answer to Spencer, ‘why should we not so call them?’ As for Rvyes’s objection, did not Bracton state that incontinency fell within the purview of the Common Law, in which case ‘this is but a restoring of the ancient jurisdiction’.14

On 20 Feb. 1626 Newbery attacked the imposition on wine, urging ‘a Remonstrance to His Majesty, that the people that execute these unjust warrants may be sent for’. He was subsequently the third named member of the committee appointed to consider the matter. On the following day he returned to religion, reporting that there were 400 recusants in Berkshire alone. He was later appointed to help draft a new bill on recusants’ children (24 Mar.), and to consider bills ‘to direct the true and real conformity of popish recusants’ (8 May) and to provide better stipends for curates (9 May).15 On 28 Feb. Newbery was the first named member to the committee for a bill to restrain abuses in the levying of private debts in the king’s name. Three days later he condemned the actions of Pitcairn, the master of the king’s hawks, who had been using his authority to take up pigeons, hens and sheep’s hearts to feed his hawks, as ‘against both common law and statute law’. That same day he was named to the committee for the bill to stamp out bribery.16 Newbery was appointed on 6 Mar. to the grand committee of religion’s sub-committee for considering the published writings of the Arminian cleric Richard Montagu. Two days later he protested vigorously at the reluctance of the Council of War to answer the House’s questions. If the councillors did not prove more co-operative, he declared, ‘we must proceed with them upon a nihil dicit’. In a subsequent debate, on 10 Mar., he proposed that the Council should give up its accounts for inspection. On 15 Mar. Newbery defended Clement Coke*, who had announced that it was better to die by a foreign hand than to suffer at home, saying that ‘if King David made a seditious psalm, the gentleman made a seditious speech’.17 The next day, during a debate in grand committee about the offences supposedly committed by Buckingham, Newbery poured cold water on Sir Walter Earle’s suggestion that consideration be given to wasting the king’s revenue. Later that day, Newbery was among those appointed to consider the petitions of merchants treating with France regarding the embargo placed on their goods. He reported on these petitions from committee the following morning and was named to help prepare for a conference with the Lords on the matter.18

Despite having been appointed to consider a bill against adultery (4 Mar.), Newbery spoke on 21 Mar. for Sir Robert Howard* against the High Commission, which, being ‘but a new court’, ought ‘not to control this ancient court’ but rather ‘to be subject to this’. He was interrupted at this point, for not speaking to the question, but later in the debate he proposed that those members of the High Commission who were MPs should ‘be excluded and sent to the Tower’. A day later he was one of those ‘lawyers and others’, ordered to prepare a bill for the better payment of the Navy’s sailors, a matter moved by (Sir) Robert Pye and of particular concern to Newbery’s fellow Member for Windsor, Sir William Russell, the treasurer of the Navy.19

For much of the Parliament Newbery displayed an ambivalent attitude towards the king’s chief minister, the duke of Buckingham.20 When attention turned to Buckingham’s decision to detain the St. Peter of Le Havre, Newbery proved reluctant to proceed in the case, declaring on 23 Feb. that the lord admiral had done ‘well as a good minister of state’ in staying the ship a second time. On 1 May he repeated his earlier criticism of the investigation, this time pointing out that, even if the duke were found guilty, the merchants who had brought the complaint ‘can receive no good at home or abroad’. Nevertheless, on 28 Apr., when the House discussed the role played by Buckingham in hastening the death of James I through his administration of medicines, Newbery felt obliged to observe that ‘good intentions will not excuse in an act done against the king’.21 Following the arrests of (Sir) John Eliot and Sir Dudley Digges, about which he felt so strongly that he advocated joining the two men in prison with the rest of the House if they were not returned, his attitude towards Buckingham became more openly hostile. On 12 June, in committee of the whole House, he deplored the manner in which the war against Spain was being conducted, and declared that only when Buckingham had been convicted or acquitted would subsidies be voted. Nevertheless, Newbery never aligned himself with Buckingham’s fiercest critics, for like John Pym he opposed the drafting of a Remonstrance against the duke on 22 May.22

Newbery remained in the Commons until the dissolution. Indeed, the day before the Parliament was brought to an end, his name headed the committee for a bill ‘for the better continuance of peace and unity in the church and commonwealth’.23 His conduct in the Parliament had evidently not done him any harm in the eyes of the Crown, for in July 1626 he was appointed to his first (and last) royal commission. However, he found himself in trouble the following year, for in February 1627 he and the mayor of Windsor were summoned before the Privy Council for having arrested one of the king’s servants within Windsor Castle ‘for the payment of parochial duties’. The mayor was discharged, partly for his diligence over ‘the late business of the loans’, but Newbery was reprimanded for having directed the mayor, as he ‘should better have known what was fit to be done’, and for using extraordinary language ‘against persons of great place and quality’. He was accordingly ordered to be examined by the solicitor general and to keep himself available. Four months later he was again hauled before the Council, this time upon the complaint of Christopher Simmes of Windsor. Allowed in July to return into the country ‘in regard of some urgent occasions, which much concern him in his estate’, he was ordered to be back by October. On failing to obtain satisfaction from the Council, Simmes, whose quarrel with Newbury concerned possession of some land in Berkshire, resorted to Star Chamber, whereupon the Council ordered, in April 1628, that Newbery be discharged.24

In the autumn of 1630 Newbery escaped being fined for having failed to take up the order of knighthood at the Coronation after pleading with the commissioners for knighthood fines to take pity on him. For the last seven years, he claimed, he had endured ‘an incurable rupture in his body, which breedeth great infirmities’. Moreover, his means were severely limited: his annual income was only £20, he had recently had to pay the costs associated with ten lawsuits and he also had ‘a great charge of seven children, four of them being marriageable’.25 Nothing more is known of Newbery, who died on 14 July 1638 at Waltham St. Lawrence, where he was buried, and where his younger son was already vicar. No will has been found. His monumental inscription calls him one ‘who for his great learning and knowledge in the law of this land was much esteemed by them that knew him and his worth’. It was an echo of the description given of him by Sir Henry Wotton* a year earlier - ‘no obscure lawyer’.26

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. PROB 11/117, f. 233.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; L. Inn Admiss.; LI Black Bks. ii. 79.
  • 3. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 140; Ashmole, Berks. ii. 434; E178/7154, ff. 308, 310.
  • 4. C142/324/145.
  • 5. C142/581/118; Ashmole, ii. 433.
  • 6. R.R. Tighe and J.E. Davis, Annals of Windsor, ii. 47, 85; Vis. Berks. 64.
  • 7. STAC 8/276/27, f. 3; C181/3, f. 203.
  • 8. PROB 11/117, f. 233.
  • 9. Newbery deeds (current whereabouts unknown; photocopies held by the History of Parliament Trust); VCH Berks. iii. 194.
  • 10. Berks. RO, D/EN/F/6/1/18.
  • 11. SP14/200/18; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 421; 1619-23, p. 99; VCH Berks. iii. 229.
  • 12. Procs. 1626, ii. 34; Coll. Top. et Gen. vi. 181.
  • 13. Procs. 1626, ii. 44, 47, 49.
  • 14. Ibid. 128.
  • 15. Ibid. 73-4, 82, 356.
  • 16. Ibid. 147, 186, 188.
  • 17. Ibid. 206n, 221, 230, 251, 290.
  • 18. Ibid. 290, 297, 299, 306, 308.
  • 19. Ibid. 331-2, 334, 339.
  • 20. Cf. Russell, who described Newbery as one of the ‘firm opponents of the duke’: C. Russell, PEP, 281n.
  • 21. Procs. 1626, iii. 91, 115.
  • 22. Ibid. 245, 249, 304-5, 425.
  • 23. Ibid. 444.
  • 24. APC, 1627, pp. 66, 70, 114, 359, 373, 416; 1627-8, p. 372; STAC 8/276/27.
  • 25. E178/7154, ff. 308, 310; 178/5153.
  • 26. Ashmole, ii. 433; Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton ed. L. Pearsall Smith, ii. 368.