PAULE, Sir George (1563/4-1635), of Lambeth, Surr.

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. 1563/4,1 2nd s. of Richard Paule (d.1614) of Bridgnorth, Salop by Dorothy, da. of Fulk Lee of Langley, Salop. m. (1) Joan, da. of Nicholas Oldman of Berks., 3s. (at least 1 d.v.p.), 1da.;2 (2) Rachel, da. of Sir Edward Michelborne† of Brookhurst, Suss. 1s.;3 (3) Margaret (d. 24 Jan. 1630), da. of Charles Sonnibanks DD, Canon of Windsor, Berks. ?s.p.4 kntd. 5 July 1607.5 d. 6 Apr. 1635.6 sig. Geo[rge] Paule.

Offices Held

Servant to Abp. Whitgift 1584-1604, comptroller c.1596-1604;7 commr. duke of Buckingham’s estates, by 1623-8.8

Registrar, Ely dioc. (jt.) 1588-1600, Ct. of High Commission 1603-d., Ct. of Delegates by 1613-d.9

Commr. sewers, London 1606, Surr. 1632;10 j.p. Kent 1608-d., Surr. 1614-d.;11 vestryman, Lambeth 1610-d.;12 commr. oyer and terminer, the Verge 1611-17, 1632-d., Home circ. 1622-d., subsidy, Surr. 1621-2, 1626, piracy, Thames estuary 1623-5, new bldgs., London 1625, Admlty. causes, London, Mdx., Essex, Kent and Surr. 1625.13

Chief clerk of enrolments (jt.), k.b. 1621-9.14


Paule’s father was originally from Norfolk, but following his marriage into a Shropshire family he moved to Bridgnorth, where he served as junior bailiff in 1574, and died in 1614.15 While one of his younger brothers remained at Bridgnorth, Paule found employment in the household of Archbishop Whitgift, through whose patronage he acquired a lease of a Kent rectory and a career in ecclesiastical administration. Whitgift also found parliamentary seats for Paule at the end of Elizabeth’s reign, but neglected to do so in 1604, perhaps because he was preoccupied by the Hampton Court Conference. He died suddenly, shortly before the opening of the Parliament, before he could rectify his omission.

Paule kept his house at Lambeth after Whitgift’s death, while his newly acquired position as registrar of High Commission gave him an income, but despite a knighthood in 1607 he remained without a patron for more than a decade. Indeed, his decision to publish a biography of his former master in 1612, which he dedicated to the newly appointed Archbishop Abbot, was an obvious plea for preferment. He commended Whitgift’s scholarship and charity, and stressed his ‘mild and moderate carriage’ towards puritan dissent. This was not a view the late archbishop’s adversaries would have endorsed, but Paule was probably trying to establish his suitability for employment under Abbot, whose relations with puritan ministers were notably less abrasive than Whitgift’s.16

In the event it was not Abbot but the archbishop’s young protégé, George Villiers, later duke of Buckingham, in whom Paule found a patron. The two first became formally linked from 1621, when Paule and Sir Robert Heath* were jointly appointed chief clerk of enrolments in King’s Bench, a sinecure held in trust for Buckingham, with the grantees taking a one-twelfth share of the profits. Paule subsequently became a commissioner for Buckingham’s finances, perhaps on the basis of his experience as Whitgift’s comptroller. However, except for the King’s Bench post he did not have access to the duke’s purse-strings, and though he married his eldest son to Anne Brett, one of the Villiers’ Leicestershire relations, he was never one of Buckingham’s innermost circle.17 None of this inhibited him from bombarding his patron with advice on affairs of state: in July 1621 he asked for leave to complain to Parliament about the alleged misconduct of lord treasurer Mandeville (Sir Henry Montagu*) in a Star Chamber case, a move he recognized might lead to the instigation of impeachment proceedings and destroy the king’s parliamentary timetable. Eight months later he offered precedents to show why the Palatine Benevolence then being raised ‘cannot conveniently be done without a Parliament’; made the improbable suggestion of an excise tax as an acceptable alternative; and concluded with an astonishing plea for the release of the parliamentary firebrand Sir Robert Phelips* from the Tower. The conversion of Buckingham’s mother to Catholicism in the autumn of 1622 earned her a six-page missive from Paule explaining the error of her ways, and his commentaries continued unabated during the duke’s sojourn in Madrid, to the point where a weary Sir Robert Pye* noted that ‘Sir George Paule sent me this letter which he said was of great importance’.18

If Buckingham had valued Paule’s political advice, he would undoubtedly have used his extensive patronage to secure him a seat in Parliament. Paule took a lively interest in parliamentary proceedings, and, perhaps in 1624, he submitted a lengthy petition to the Commons about the defects of the legal system, particularly the way in which Chancery poached business from the ecclesiastical courts, an approach hardly calculated to kindle the crusading zeal of the common lawyers who handled the investigation. When Paule finally secured a parliamentary seat at Bridgnorth in 1625, it was almost certainly through his family’s local influence rather than the duke’s intercession. Unfortunately for him, he was involved in a double return with the Cheshire lawyer George Vernon, and the case remained undecided at the dissolution. Neither man left any trace upon the session, although Paule later claimed to have attended the Oxford sitting. If so, the ‘calmness and judgment’ which he remembered as having characterized the subsidy debates seems to have eluded most other commentators.

Vernon was returned for Bridgnorth again at the next election, and Paule was mentioned only tangentially during the session, when one of his King’s Bench clerks attempted to claim parliamentary privilege.19 However, Vernon’s appointment as an Exchequer baron in November 1627 left the field open for Paule, who was returned unopposed at Bridgnorth four months later. The Commons’ determination to confront the Crown over its actions during the previous 18 months left government supporters like Paule with little room for manoeuvre. In the subsidy debate of 4 Apr. he spoke to unknown effect, though it is likely he erred on the generous side and called for a grant of five subsidies, while on 6 May, at the start of a crucial debate about the king’s offer to resolve matters with a confirmation of Magna Carta and other key constitutional statutes, he attempted to speed matters along with a motion for a committee of the whole House. Finally, at a debate on the fine print of the subsidy bill on 10 June, when the House cried down a proviso to set a minimum subsidy rating for baronets, Paule loyally volunteered ‘that he would cry so too, if it were not to hinder the king’s profit’.20 A handful of committee nominations apart, Paule made his only other intervention during a debate on the bill against scandalous clergymen (16 May), when he was one of many who expressed misgivings about a bill which potentially allowed j.p.s to persecute ministers. He left no trace on the records of the 1629 session.21

In 1631 Paule bewailed his age and ill-health, but for all his protests he survived another four years, dying on 6 Apr. 1635. In his will of March 1635 he asked to be buried at Lambeth without heralds, feasting or wide distribution of funeral blacks. He assigned his leases to his nephew, John Oldbury, in trust for 10 years, charged with a jointure for his widowed daughter-in-law and other small legacies; his heir was his three-year-old grandson George. Oldbury proved the will at the end of the year, by which time he had also taken up the reversion as registrar of High Commission. No subsequent family member sat in Parliament.22

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Aged 68 in 1631: CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 540.
  • 2. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 205.
  • 3. PROB 11/167, f. 273.
  • 4. J. Pote, Windsor Castle, 383.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 142.
  • 6. C142/517/6.
  • 7. J. Strype, Whitgift, i. 414; ii. 418, 507.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 37; 1628-9, p. 44.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1598-1601, pp. 388-9; 1603-10, p. 8; C66/2105/2.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 20; 181/4, f. 126.
  • 11. SP14/33.
  • 12. Lambeth Churchwardens’ Accts. ed. C. Drew (Surr. Rec. Soc. xx), 210-11, 232.
  • 13. C181/1, ff. 158, 287; 181/3, f. 64, 79v, 176; 181/4, ff. 116, 175v; C212/22/20-22; E115/47/113; C193/8/58; HCA 1/32/1, f. 13v.
  • 14. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 241; 1629-31, p. 103.
  • 15. Vis. Surr. 205; Mercers’ Hall, London, Bridgnorth Mercers’ Order Bk. f. 26; Salop RO, St. Mary Magdalen par. reg. transcript.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1598-1601, pp. 388-9, 527; C66/1608; G. Paule, Life of ... John Whitgift (1612), quote at sig. A3/ii.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 241; 1623-5, pp. 37, 353; C2/Chas.I/B160/73; Vis. Surr. 205.
  • 18. SP14/122/20; 14/128/68; Harl. 1581, ff. 124v, 244; Stowe 743, f. 39.
  • 19. Harl. 6803, ff. 38-41; BRIDGNORTH; SP16/8/34; Procs. 1626, i. 245-6.
  • 20. CD 1628, iii. 279-80; iv. 228-9; vi. 63; C. Russell, PEP, 368-9.
  • 21. CD 1628, iii. 438-9; cttee. nominations, CD 1628 iii. 70, 300; iv. 337, 345.
  • 22. CSP Dom., 1629-31, p. 540; 1635, pp. 187-8; PROB 11/167, f. 273; C142/517/6.