PAULET, Lord John (c.1598-1675), of Hackwood House, Basing, Hants; later of Englefield House, Englefield, 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.1598,1 3rd but 1st surv. s. of William Paulet, 4th mq. of Winchester and Lucy, da. of Thomas Cecil†, 1st earl of Exeter.2 educ. ?Exeter Coll., Oxf.; travelled abroad (France) 1612-15.3 m. (1) lic. 18 Dec. 1622, Jane (d. c. Apr. 1631), da. of Thomas Savage, 1st Visct. Savage, 1s.;4 (2) 27 Aug. 1633, Honora (d. 10 Mar. 1662), da. of Richard Bourke, 4th earl of Clanricarde and 1st earl of St. Albans, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.); (3) by 30 Apr. 1669, Isabella (d. 2 Sept. 1691), da. of William Howard, visct. of Stafford, s.p. styled Lord St. John of Basing 1621; summ. to Lords in fa.’s barony 10 Feb. 1624; suc. fa. as 5th mq. of Winchester 1629. d. 5 Mar. 1675. 5

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Hants 1624,6 gaol delivery, Winchester 1624-32, 1633-at least 1635, Southampton 1629-at least 1635,7 Forced Loan, Hants 1626,8 piracy, Southampton from 1636.9

Capt., Netley Castle, Hants by 1626;10 col. ft. and horse, Basing House, Hants 1643-5.11


Paulet’s ancestors acquired the manor of Basing through marriage in 1428. His great-great-grandfather, the 1st marquess of Winchester, for whom the ancient barony of St. John of Basing was revived, served as lord treasurer from 1550 to 1572, and greatly enlarged the partially fortified Basing House. This remained the family’s official seat until the mid-seventeenth century. However, Paulet’s father the 4th marquess, who inherited substantial debts and a long-running battle with his illegitimate siblings over the Paulet estates, demolished one section of Basing House to save on costs, and moved to Hackwood House, a nearby park lodge. One of England’s highest-ranking noblemen, but also a leading Catholic, the 4th marquess took little part in public life.12 Consequently Paulet, despite being from an early age second in line to the Winchester title, grew up in comparative seclusion. Wood believed that he spent some time at Oxford, though no evidence of matriculation survives. He was granted licence in 1612 to undertake three years’ foreign travel, and while abroad enrolled at the riding school at Angers, France. Chamberlain’s report in January 1619 that Paulet was intended for marriage with the widow of his cousin Lord Roos came to nothing, and must be open to doubt, since the lady in question, Sir Thomas Lake I’s* daughter, was then awaiting judgment in Star Chamber over scandalous accusations which she had levelled against her husband’s family.13

Paulet could rely on nomination by his own father for a burgess-ship at St. Ives in 1621. Given his comparative youth, experience of the Commons was probably intended as a stage in his education, though he presumably showed interest in a bill then in Parliament which partly concerned the dowry of his elder brother’s wife.14 Employed in the Commons almost exclusively on business conducted jointly with the Lords, in the first sitting he was named, perhaps maliciously, to a committee preparing an anti-recusant petition from both Houses (15 Feb.), and to conferences concerned with monopolies (12 Mar.) and sabbath observance (24 May). On 10 Mar., during a Commons’ debate on false imprisonment by the patentees of gold and silver thread, he reported that one Mr. Twitty (probably Henry Tweedy, a gold and silver thread commissioner) had told him that he would threaten with gaol any pretty woman who resisted his advances.15 During the summer recess Paulet’s elder brother died, and accordingly he attended the second sitting as Lord St. John of Basing. On 1 Dec. he was again named to a conference with the Lords, this time to deal with abuses by informers. Two days later he was nominated to help present the king with a petition opposing a Catholic marriage for Prince Charles, which James then refused to read. After the messengers were recalled in disarray, the same group was dispatched with a revised version of the petition on 7 December.16

For the 1624 Parliament Paulet was summoned to the Upper House as Lord St. John, attracting attention by his opposition to a bill reviving anti-Catholic legislation. Around the same time he began to take part in local government, but his own recusancy and marriages with Catholics doubtless helped to exclude him from the most significant roles, even after he succeeded to the marquessate in 1629. His next significant foray into public affairs was not until 1640, when he joined Charles I at York during the Second Bishops’ War, becoming his regular chess partner; a jest during one game about the trouble which the king was having with his bishops failed to provoke mirth.17 Although during the 1630s Paulet had enjoyed social ties with the 3rd earl of Essex, his second wife’s half-brother, he more than established his royalist credentials during the First Civil War by his stubbornly heroic defence of Basing House.18 Following his capture there in October 1645, Paulet was confined to the Tower of London for two years, suffered the loss of his estates, and until 1649 faced the prospect of trial for treason. His debts rendered him a prisoner once more by 1656, and although by this time his son was challenging the government’s right to dispose of his entailed lands, he was not finally restored to his estates until 1660, and received only limited compensation from Charles II for his losses.19 Paulet spent his final years in retirement at Englefield, a property which he had purchased in the 1630s, and at his own request, contained in his will of 26 Dec. 1671, he was buried in the local church in March 1675.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Paulet was aged 24 in Dec. 1622: Bp. of London Mar. Lics. 1611-1828 ed. G.J. Armytage (Harl. Soc. xxv), 118.
  • 2. CP.
  • 3. Ath. Ox. iii. 1005; SO3/5.
  • 4. Bp. of London Mar. Lics. 118; HMC Rutland, i. 490; CP.
  • 5. C115/105/8210; E. Ashmole, Berks. i. 18-20; CP; Oxford DNB.
  • 6. C212/22/23.
  • 7. C181/3, f. 130v; 181/4, ff. 23, 104v, 139v, 202; 181/5, f. 26.
  • 8. C193/12/2.
  • 9. C181/5, f. 43v.
  • 10. Procs. 1626, iv. 211.
  • 11. P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 288.
  • 12. VCH Hants, iv. 115-17, 119, 122-3; CP sub 1st mq. of Winchester; HMC Hatfield, xi. 410-11, 584; C2/Jas.I/W30/28; CSP Ven. 1610-13, p. 438; APC, 1625-6, p. 228.
  • 13. CP; Ath. Ox. iii. 1005-6; A. Joubert, ‘Les Gentilshommes Étrangers ... à L’Academie D’Equitation D’Angers’, Revue d’Anjou, xxvi. 14; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 207; S.R. Gardiner, Hist. of Eng from Accession of Jas. I, iii. 191-3.
  • 14. C2/Jas.I/W23/16; CD 1621, v. 269.
  • 15. CJ, i. 522b, 549b, 551a, 626a; CD 1621, vii. 366.
  • 16. CJ, i. 654b, 657b; CD 1621, vi. 224, 482; C. Russell, PEP, 134- 6.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1623-4, p. 199; 1631-3, p. 475; 1640-1, p. 156; CP; Lismore Pprs. (ser. 2) ed. A.B. Grosart, iii. 146.
  • 18. Add. 46188, f. 156; Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, iii. 409, 414, 427, 441; iv. 153.
  • 19. CSP Dom. 1645-7, p. 202; 1655, p. 259; 1655-6, pp. 105, 384; 1661-2, p. 91; CJ, iv. 408a, 710b; v. 294b, 617b; vi. 165a; LJ, vii. 649b; xi. 128b.
  • 20. VCH Berks. iii. 408; PROB 11/347, ff. 224v-5.