PAULET, Sir Richard (c.1558-1614), of Freefolk, nr. Whitchurch, Hants.

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.1558, 1st s. of John Paulet of Herriard, Hants and Catherine, da. and coh. of Richard Andrews of Freefolk.1 educ. New Inn; M. Temple 1579.2 m. (settlement 24 Jan. 1588)3 Anne (with £1,000), da. of Sir Henry Wallop† of Farleigh Wallop, Hants, 2da.4 suc. fa. 1579;5 kntd. c.1591.6 d. 28 July 1614.7 sig. Ric[hard] Poulett.

Offices Held

Collector subsidy, Hants 1586,8 capt. militia ft. 1587, col. 1599-d.,9 sheriff 1590-1,10 j.p. by 1593-c.1608;11 treas. of collection for maimed soldiers 1595-6, hospitals 1599-1600;12 commr. subsidy 1601,13 concealed lands 1604.14


The Paulets of Herriard were a long established and influential Hampshire gentry family, descended from a younger brother of the 1st marquess of Winchester. In 1583 Paulet was granted by his mother the manor of Freefolk, which became his main residence.15 However, he did not consider himself wealthy; at his marriage his estates were valued at £350 p.a., in his view ‘a poor pittance ... to maintain the state of the meanest of gentlemanly calling’.16 A major drain upon his resources was his involvement in almost constant litigation with his neighbours and tenants, as the extensive Herriard archives of accounts, estates papers, and correspondence amply testify. One opponent was his colleague at Whitchurch, Thomas Brooke*, with whom he was in dispute over lands and coppices adjoining Freefolk.17 In 1604 Paulet was accused in Star Chamber of oppressive practices as a landlord.18 A year later he was summoned before his fellow magistrates to render his accounts as treasurer of collections for the relief of maimed soldiers and for various charitable causes dating back over a decade, whereof significant sums remained unpaid.19 In 1607 his enemies cited his ‘parsimony in going riding without man or boy to attend him’, presented evidence that he had refused to relieve the poor, and accused him of misconduct as a muster-master and subsidy collector.20 He was subsequently dismissed from the county bench, and held no local offices after 1608.

Paulet was first elected to Parliament in 1604, when he sat for Whitchurch, which lay less than two miles from Freefolk. His brother-in-law, Sir Henry Wallop*, presided over the election, being sheriff of Hampshire at the time. Like Wallop, Paulet was puritan in sympathy, as his notes on the Hampton Court Conference of January 1604 indicate.21 Paulet left virtually no trace upon the parliamentary records of the first session, but his papers contain various documents that attest to his interest in the proceedings of the House, including copies of the prayers at the opening of the session, and the proposed articles of the Union with Scotland.22 Of the grievances raised in the Commons he was particularly interested in purveyance, on which subject he had collected extensive evidence of recent local abuses.23 His concern was shared by his colleagues on the bench, for early in the Parliament, before purveyance was formally raised as an issue in the House by Sir Robert Wroth I, Paulet received a letter enclosing notes about cart-takers from a fellow Hampshire magistrate, Sir Francis Palmes.24 Paulet was among those who volunteered on 7 May to testify against the abuses of purveyors.25

In the second session Paulet received his first committee appointment, to consider the repeal of the Kerseys Act (5 Feb. 1606).26 Again he was a passive but vigilant observer in the Commons, jotting down lists of grievous monopolies, impositions, and lists of payments to parliamentary officials.27 During the third session he was served with a subpoena from the Exchequer, probably in connection with the lands of his ward and son-in-law Sir Thomas Jervoise*.28 He claimed privilege on 4 May 1607, and the Speaker wrote on his behalf to the chief baron, Sir Thomas Fleming I*, insisting ‘that no further process issue against him until he may have time and leisure to follow his own cause’.29 His two committee appointments were to consider bills for the exchange of Theobalds (30 May), and sewers (12 June).30

Paulet kept a journal during the two sessions in 1610, possibly for the use of his brother-in-law Wallop, with whom he was lodging in Holborn.31 The diary consists of loose sheets that may once have been bound in quires, and seems to have been compiled from notes and memory rather than written in situ during debates. Paulet sometimes wrote up several days at a time, including accounts of sermons he heard outside the House. Together with his correspondence and accounts, the diary provides a vivid picture of Paulet’s social life and movements beyond the Commons. He took the opportunity to catch up with numerous friends in the capital, hear a variety of preachers, attend to legal business, and make purchases for his wife and daughters.32 His shopping lists included books, clothing, cards, chess pieces and dice, exotic foods, a picture of Queen Elizabeth, and two portraits of himself.33 In committee of the whole House on 30 Apr. he requested a proviso for Hampshire in a bill for woods ‘that commoners might herbage the woods there as heretofore’, and the following day he delivered this in writing to William Hakewill.34 Paulet returned to Freefolk at least once during the session, being absent from 24 Feb.-20 Mar., during which time the House was called. He also returned home for Easter (3 Apr.-17 Apr.) and Whitsun (27 May-4 June). He excused himself for being absent without leave at the call on the grounds that his wife had been taken ill, and produced a certificate to this effect; however, he was fined 30s. on 13 June, despite protesting that this was ‘against all reason’.35 He nevertheless absconded again on 29 June during the momentous impositions debate in order to attend a Court of Wards hearing relating to his son-in-law, Jervoise.36 Paulet’s committee appointments in the fourth session were for bills for highways (30 Mar.) the naturalization of Sir George Keere (24 April), and a private measure enabling the 1st earl of Bergavenny to sell certain lands (7 July).37

After the recess, Paulet arrived late for the fifth session, which opened on 16 Oct. 1610. On 21 and 24 Oct. he received notice of ‘much complaint of burgesses’ absence’ from two friends, Roger Hyde and Sir Nicholas Halswell, at which point Paulet had not yet left Hampshire.38 Indeed, he did not resume his diary until 30 Oct., when all attention was focused upon the Great Contract negotiations, which were now close to collapse. In early November he reported to Wallop that ‘for the great matter in Parliament we are almost at a stand, the burthen so heavy and our strength weak to move it ... I think we shall a little move it out of the place it standeth or heave ourselves out of breath’.39 He himself presumably regarded the Contract with mixed feelings, for on 7 Nov. he bluntly noted that it had been abandoned, ‘and so a mannerly answer to be made to the king, and so an end’.40 Paulet’s diary provides a valuable insight into the fifth session, as the Commons Journal is not extant for this period and other sources are thin on the ground. Indeed, it includes details of at least three bills not mentioned in any other sources, namely those concerning elections and attendance (6, 8 Nov.), and a private land sale bill for ‘Mr. Ewes’ (14 November).41

Paulet’s health may already have been failing when he was re-elected for Whitchurch in 1614.42 His accounts reveal that the election cost him 20s., in addition to the 28s. he had spent a week earlier attending the county election, in which Wallop had stood unsuccessfully as a knight of the shire.43 Paulet supported Wallop after the latter decided to sue the sheriff in Star Chamber for misconduct, and it was perhaps in the hope of advancing Wallop’s petition in the Commons that Paulet’s gratuities to various officers of the Lower House included a ‘sugar loaf’ to the Speaker.44 While in London he again used his spare time socializing, listening to sermons, and shopping; among the ‘necessaries’ he purchased were a pair of spectacles for 12d.45 His only contribution to the Addled Parliament was to point out in the debate on the Lord’s Day observance bill that the Sabbath was commonly taken to mean Sunday (7 May).46 He does not appear to have played any recorded part in the furore over the Stockbridge election, which also involved Wallop, though his papers contain the only extant copies of the borough’s petition and poll lists, and Wallop’s subsequent letter to the Speaker.47

Not long after returning to Hampshire, on 28 July 1614, Paulet died. He was buried at Freefolk, where a fine monument was erected.48 His widow was the main beneficiary of his will, dated 1611, but an annuity of £50 for 12 years was also left to provide for a preacher at Freefolk. Among the will’s overseers was Sir Richard Gifford*. Paulet stipulated that Wallop should be accepted as arbiter in any dispute, but he hoped that Wallop’s services would prove unnecessary, as he charged his family to avoid litigation.49 His widow and his younger daughter died soon afterwards, whereupon the whole estate passed to Jervoise, who went on to sit for Whitchurch in every Parliament until his death in 1654.50

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. VCH Hants, iv. 210; Collins, Peerage, ii. 270-1.
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. Hants RO, 44M69/D12/2/4.
  • 4. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 26.
  • 5. C142/191/79.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 88.
  • 7. C142/401/109.
  • 8. Hants Lay Subsidy Roll 1586 ed. C.R. Davey (Hants Rec. Ser. iv), 122.
  • 9. Hants RO, 44M69/G5/20/1, 63, passim.
  • 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 56.
  • 11. Whithed Letter Bk. (Hants Rec. Ser. i.), 15, 74.
  • 12. Hants RO, 44M69/G3/156.
  • 13. STAC 8/204/13; Hants RO, 44M69/E4/125.
  • 14. C181/1, f. 101.
  • 15. Add. 33278, f. 121; Hants RO, 44M69/D1/5/19.
  • 16. Hants RO, 44M69/D12/2/4; G5/20, 90-4; G3/27-57; VCH Hants, iii. 367, iv. 283.
  • 17. Hants RO, 44M69/F2/14/31, 32, 33.
  • 18. STAC 8/204/13.
  • 19. Hants RO, 44M69/G3/156, 157.
  • 20. Hants RO, 44M69/F2/14/18, 25, 26.
  • 21. Hants RO, 44M69/G2/486-8.
  • 22. Hants RO, 44M69/G2/7, 8.
  • 23. Hants RO, 44M69/G3/113/1-4; 44M69/G3/155/1-14; 44M69/G3/155/15-18.
  • 24. Hants RO, 44M69/G3/155/19-20; E. Lindquist, ‘Early Jacobean Purveyance’, HJ, xxxi. 549-70.
  • 25. CJ, i. 202a.
  • 26. Ibid. 264a.
  • 27. Hants RO, 44M69/G2/9, 10.
  • 28. HMC Hatfield, xix. 452; Hants RO, 44M69/F2/16/5; 44M69/F4/18/4-8.
  • 29. CJ, i. 368a, 369a; CD 1604-7, p. 112.
  • 30. CJ, i. 377a, 382b.
  • 31. Hants RO, 44M69/F2/15/1; all further refs. to this ms are to ‘Paulet 1610’ ed. E. Lindquist. We are grateful to Dr. Lindquist for making available his unpublished introduction and transcripts of the diary and other Paulet documents.
  • 32. P. Croft, ‘Capital Life: MPs Outside the House’, Pols. Religion and Popularity in Early Stuart Britain ed. T. Cogswell et al. 74-83.
  • 33. Hants RO, 44M69/E4/40, 41, 74, 132.
  • 34. ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 8v.
  • 35. CJ, i. 428a, 437a; ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 16.
  • 36. ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 19; Hants RO, 44M69/F4/18/4-8, 35-42.
  • 37. CJ, i. 416b, 420b, 447a.
  • 38. Hants RO, 44M69/F2/11/26; 44M69/F2/6/1.
  • 39. Hants RO, 44M69/F2/5/4.
  • 40. ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 29; Lindquist, ‘Intro. to Paulet 1610’, pp. 12-16.
  • 41. ‘Paulet 1610’, ff. 29-v, 30.
  • 42. PROB 11/127, f. 366v.
  • 43. Hants RO, 44M69/E4/28, f. 39v.
  • 44. STAC 8/293/11; Hants RO, 44M69/G2/45; 44M69/E4/28, f. 40v.
  • 45. Hants RO, 44M69/E4/28, f. 44.
  • 46. CJ, i. 476b.
  • 47. Hants RO, 44M69/G2/42-4, 154; 44M69/F2/5/7.
  • 48. VCH Hants, iv. 210; Hants RO, 44M69/F2/16/4.
  • 49. PROB 11/127, ff. 366v-369.
  • 50. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 548; PROB 11/132, f. 309v; Hants RO, 44M69/F4/18/14, 17.