PAYNE, Sir Robert (1573-1631), of Midloe, Hunts.

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. 29 Sept. 1573,1 1st s. of Robert Payne, Grocer of London and St. Neots, Hunts. and Mary, da. of Sir Robert Waterton of Waterton, Yorks.2 educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1589, BA 1593, MA 1596.3 m. by 1598, Elizabeth, da. of George Rotheram of Someries, nr. Luton, Beds. 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da.4 suc. fa. 1603;5 kntd. 22 May 1605.6 d. 18 June 1631.7 sig. Robert Pane.

Offices Held

Commr. depopulations, Hunts. 1607,8 collector tenths (jt.), 1607, 1610, (sole) 1624, aid, 1609, 1612, Privy Seal loans 1625-6;9 sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1607-8;10 j.p. Hunts. 1608-d.;11 commr. swans, Cambs. and Hunts. 1616, oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1616-d.,12 subsidy, Hunts. 1621-2, 1624, 1628;13 dep. lt. Hunts. 1625.14


Payne was probably related to John Payn, a Lancastrian Household official who sat in the Commons as knight of the shire for Norfolk in 1401.15 His grandfather, a yeoman of the privy chamber in the 1540s, received Crown leases of various ex-monastic properties in St. Neots, Huntingdonshire.16 This man’s son, a London Grocer, served as master of his Company in 1601, made his fortune as a money-lender, and purchased a country estate at Midloe, Huntingdonshire from Sir Henry Darcy† in 1590; he built a house there, and installed his second son John as vicar of nearby Southoe in 1600.17

Payne should not be confused with two cousins, one of whom lived at Wintringham near St. Neots, while the other was a London Grocer, neither should he be mistaken for Alderman Robert Payne of London, a Salter who may have been an uncle. A fourth namesake, of Barton Stacey, Hampshire and Highgate, Middlesex, was probably no relation.18 Payne inherited one-third of the 1,000-acre Midloe estate when his father died in 1603, and succeeded to the remainder at his mother’s death a year later.19 In July 1609 a quarrel broke out at his house during a discussion of the Oath of Allegiance controversy, which formed the basis of a Star Chamber suit in the following year. One of Payne’s guests, Thomas Bedell, questioned the loyalty of all Catholics, thereby provoking a fight with another guest, the recusant John Brudenell.20 Payne, who intervened to separate the two men, was not implicated in the affray, but his willingness to entertain a known recusant suggests that he was less godly than many of his neighbours.

At the 1614 election Payne paired with Sir Robert Bevill against Sir Oliver Cromwell and Sir Robert Cotton, who had served as knights of the shire in the previous Parliament. He was probably encouraged to do so by Sir Henry Darcy’s son-in-law Sir Gervase Clifton†, who harboured a grudge against Cromwell for denying him the senior county seat in 1604. The pair were perhaps also supported by the lord lieutenant, Oliver, Lord St. John†, a third cousin of Payne’s wife, whose son (Sir) Oliver St. John I* was, like Bevill, a trustee of Clifton’s estates.21 Payne or his supporters managed to persuade Sir James Wingfield, who was related to Cotton through the Montagu family, to allow his tenants a free vote for the senior seat, thereby threatening Cromwell, who was forced to seek an agreement with his rivals.22 As a result, Bevill stood aside, allowing Cromwell to take the first seat without a contest. His supporters then either sided with Payne or abstained in the vote for the second seat, allowing the latter to defeat Cotton.23 While at Westminster, Payne improved his relations with Cromwell, standing surety for one of Cromwell’s creditors.24 He made only one speech during the brief session, supporting a proposal ‘to have a double penalty upon the alehouse-keeper and offender [tippler]’ in the Sabbath bill; he was later included on the committee for the bill preventing the appointment of brewers and tipplers as magistrates (31 May).25

Cromwell probably secured his county seat in 1614 by undertaking not to stand at the next election, and in 1620 he secured a nomination for the duchy of Cornwall borough of Saltash.26 However, Bevill and Payne were not afforded a clear run at the county election on this occasion, being challenged by Cotton’s relative (Sir) Sidney Montagu*, who they defeated at a poll.27 Much of Payne’s recorded activity during the 1621 Parliament is traceable to his local interests, particularly a speech of 26 Feb. in which he attacked the inns’ patentee, (Sir) Giles Mompesson*, for abusing a patent for the sale of timber from the royal forests in Northamptonshire; he also warned that Mompesson had secured a commission to compound for concealed Crown lands.28 On 7 May he joined the chorus of opposition to a bill to facilitate the enclosure of common lands, citing a local example as a warning that such haphazard enclosure could do serious damage to the drainage system of the fens.29 He also had an interest in the committee for the bill to facilitate the sale of Temple Newsam manor, Yorkshire to (Sir) Arthur Ingram*, to which he was named on 1 May, as the vendor, Lord Aubigny, had inherited Clifton’s Huntingdonshire estate.30

The interests underlying Payne’s other speeches are harder to divine. On 30 Apr. he called for the Channel Islands to be exempted from the bill prohibiting the export of wool, yarn and fuller’s earth; this was perhaps at the behest of the governor of Jersey, Sir John Peyton†, a Cambridgeshire landowner.31 On 17 Mar. he successfully urged that the bill to allow the branding of women convicted of minor felonies be enacted on a trial basis until the next Parliament, warning that ‘this law will fill their gaols with women’.32 During the debate of 14 Mar. on the Durham enfranchisement bill, he rejected the argument that Hartlepool’s status as a port town gave it the right to parliamentary representation.33 Finally, he may have opposed an estate bill sponsored by his neighbour Sir William Dyer, who had been involved in a feud with one of Payne’s cousins some years earlier: the bill received a first reading on 8 Mar. but never progressed any further.34

There is no evidence that either Bevill or Payne stood for election in 1624; if they did, they were squeezed out by Cromwell and Edward Montagu*. In the following year, a letter from one of Cromwell’s supporters indicates that Cromwell partnered himself with Payne, who must have yielded the second seat to Cromwell when Montagu took the first.35 Cromwell and Payne probably paired against Montagu again in 1626, when Cromwell stood aside to allow Payne the junior seat. Payne sensibly maintained a low profile during this controversial session. His recorded involvement in the attempt to impeach the duke of Buckingham was confined to the practical observation that a witness to the Catholic sympathies allegedly exhibited by the duke in Spain had left the House before he could be cross-examined. In his only other speech, on 3 May, he seconded Sir Edward Peyton’s opposition to a bill for fen drainage.36 He was named to two committees, one for the simony bill (14 Feb.), the other to draft a list of the grievances to be presented to the king at the end of the session (25 May).37

Neither the Montagus nor the Cromwells fielded a candidate at the 1628 election, and Payne was probably returned unopposed. He left no trace on the records of his last Parliament, during which he may have been preoccupied with his debt problems. Since 1619 he had borrowed heavily from Sir Robert Bevill’s brothers-in-law Thomas and Nicholas Hampson, and in May 1628 he mortgaged Midloe to them for £4,000.38 His troubles were compounded by his involvement in the tangled finances of his son-in-law Sir James Evington of Southoe, and after his death other liabilities amounting to £1,500 were discovered.39 These burdens were a considerable encumbrance on an estate which Payne valued at only £650 a year in 1631, and therefore, just before his death on 18 June 1631, he sold Midloe to the London alderman Sir Martin Lumley for £11,000.40 His eldest son Robert, who secured administration of his estate, inherited a small amount of property near St. Neots, most of which he left to his younger brother Gervase at his own death in November 1632.41 While the Wintringham branch of the family continued to serve as magistrates, Payne’s own descendants vanished into obscurity.42 The Lumleys quickly sold the Midloe estate to Abraham Burrell, who was returned to the Commons as recruiter MP for Huntingdon in 1645.43

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. C142/281/53.
  • 2. Vis. Hunts. ed. H. Ellis (Cam. Soc. xliii), 64.
  • 3. Al. Cant.
  • 4. Vis. Hunts. ed. Ellis, 64; Hunts. RO, Acc. 2533/1, ff. 20-9.
  • 5. C142/281/53.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 138.
  • 7. Vis. Hunts. (Harl. Soc. n.s. xiii), 109.
  • 8. C205/5/1.
  • 9. E179/283, vols. marked ‘TG 10806’, ‘TG 28398’; SP14/43/107; E403/2732, f. 87v; E401/2586, p. 73.
  • 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 14.
  • 11. SP14/33, f. 32.
  • 12. C181/2, ff. 257v, 258.
  • 13. C212/22/20-23; E179/122/211.
  • 14. Add. Ch. 33168B.
  • 15. HP Commons, 1386-1421, iv. 28-9. We owe this point to Patrick Payne.
  • 16. CPR, 1563-6, pp. 45, 502; 1566-9, pp. 253, 359; 1575-8, pp. 289-90, 340.
  • 17. Ibid. 1578-80, p. 173; C2/Chas.I/M66/36; GL, ms 11588/2, pp. 248, 253; Hunts. RO, Acc. 2533/1, f. 21; VCH Hunts. ii. 318-19.
  • 18. Vis. Hunts. ed. Ellis, 64; PROB 11/101, f. 289, 11/104, ff. 172-3; C2/Jas.I/P23/46; Shaw, ii. 200.
  • 19. PROB 11/101, f. 289; 101/104, ff. 172-3; C142/281/53; Hunts. RO, Acc. 38/1.
  • 20. STAC 8/11/23; M.E. Finch, Five Northants. Fams. 152-3 and Ped. V.
  • 21. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 50-1, 53-4.
  • 22. C142/555/83; Harl. 7002, f. 308.
  • 23. Cott. Julius C.III, f. 115; K. Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, 161-2.
  • 24. Add. Ch. 33157.
  • 25. CJ, i. 476b, 503b.
  • 26. DCO, Letters and Warrants 1620-1, f. 39v.
  • 27. STAC 8/47/7.
  • 28. CD 1621, v. 520; vi. 12-13, 628.
  • 29. Ibid. iii. 186; CJ, i. 611b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 33.
  • 30. CJ, i. 598b; Nicholas, i. 363.
  • 31. CJ, i. 597a.
  • 32. CJ, i. 560a; CD 1621, ii. 236.
  • 33. CJ, i. 553a.
  • 34. Ibid. 544b; STAC 8/239/7.
  • 35. Add. 33461, f. 61 (dated to 1625 from internal evidence).
  • 36. Procs. 1626, iii. 146, 163.
  • 37. CJ, i. 819a, 865a.
  • 38. LC4/199, f. 105; 4/200, ff. 135v, 331v; C2/Chas.I/L15/2.
  • 39. LC4/200, f. 4; C2/Chas.I/B150/39, 2/Chas.I/P49/6.
  • 40. Hunts. RO, Acc. 38/1; Vis. Hunts. (Harl. Soc. n.s. xiii), 109; C2/Chas.I/L15/2; 2/Chas.I/P49/6.
  • 41. C2/Chas.I/P35/64, 2/Chas.I/P49/6; PROB 11/162, ff. 330-1.
  • 42. HMC 4th Rep. 85a; C220/9/4.
  • 43. Hunts. RO, Acc. 38/2-4.