PORTMAN, Sir Henry, 2nd Bt. (1596-1621), of Orchard Portman, Som.

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



1621 - 24 Feb. 1621

Family and Education

b. 31 Oct. 1596,1 1st s. of Sir John Portman, 1st bt., of Orchard Portman and Anne, da. of Sir Henry Gifford† of King’s Somborne, Hants; bro. of Sir Hugh, 4th bt.* and Sir William, 5th bt.†2 educ. M. Temple 1614.3 m. 20 July 1615 (with £5,000), Anne, da. of William Stanley, 6th earl of Derby, s.p.4 suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 4 Dec. 1612. d. 24 Feb. 1621.5

Offices Held

Gov. of Huish’s almshouses, Taunton, Som. 1616;6 kpr. Roche forest, Som. by 1618-d.;7 j.p. Som., Devon and Dorset 1620-d.8


The Portman family was first recorded at Taunton in the thirteenth century, and regularly represented the borough from 1302. In the 1400s they acquired an estate two miles away at Orchard, which ‘well brooks the name, for it is seated in a very fertile soil for fruit’. By the seventeenth century this property included ‘a large fair house, well befitting the possessions of the owners’.9 Portman’s father, a ‘great landed baronet’, died in 1612 owning land in eight counties. The 16-year-old Portman’s wardship was sold for £2,300 to his mother, his uncles Sir Richard Gifford* and Sir Nicholas Halswell*, and several other trustees appointed by his father.10 In 1614 Portman became a trustee of a lectureship at White Lackington, Somerset. He was inaccurately reported three years later as having broken his neck. At about that time he succeeded his father as keeper of Roche forest, obtaining grants from first Anne of Denmark and then Prince Charles. An active officer, he even prosecuted poachers in Star Chamber in 1620.11

Portman, the first of his family to sit for Somerset, was returned to the 1621 Parliament without a contest. On 15 Feb. he was appointed to attend the conference with the Lords on the proposed joint petition against recusants. He was also named that day to consider the bill on sabbath observance.12 However, his Commons’ service was cut short nine days later, when he died ‘of the smallpox or purples’.13 In his will, drafted in November 1617, he left a third of his estate to his brother and heir John ‘for satisfaction of the law’, assigning the residue to trustees for payment of his other legacies and debts. The latter included £347 9s. owed to London tradesmen, and in particular a silkman. Portman’s widow subsequently married Sir Robert Kerr*, the future earl of Ancram.14

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Sales of Wards ed. M.J. Hawkins (Som. Rec. Soc. lxvii), 137.
  • 2. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 127.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 323; B. Coward, The Stanleys 1385-1672 (Chetham Soc. ser. 3. xxx), 57.
  • 5. Sales of Wards, 47, 137.
  • 6. J. Toulmin, Taunton, 219.
  • 7. STAC 8/237/18; Harl. 781, f. 29v.
  • 8. C231/4, f. 109.
  • 9. A.W. Vivian-Neal, ‘Orchard Portman’, Som. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. lxxxix. 46; OR; Particular Description of Som. ed. E.H. Bates (Som. Rec. Soc. xv), 61.
  • 10. HMC Downshire, iv. 8; Sales of Wards, 137-43; PROB 11/121, f. 47.
  • 11. HMC Wells, ii. 368; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 484; Harl. 781, f.29v; STAC 8/237/18.
  • 12. CJ, i. 522b-3a.
  • 13. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 347.
  • 14. PROB 11/143, f. 417; T.G. Barnes, Som. 1625-40, p. 23n; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 404.