PUREFOY, Michael (c.1562-1627), of Nottingham, Notts.; formerly of Caldecote, Warws.

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.1562, o.s. of Thomas Purefoy of Caldecote and Elizabeth, da. of Robert Bradshaw of Morborne, Hunts.1 educ. Peterhouse, Camb. 1576; BA (Magdalene) 1582, MA 1585; incorp. Oxf. 1598.2 unm. d. 25 Aug. 1627.3

Offices Held

Dep.-official, archdeaconry of Notts. 1598-d.; member, Convocation, York prov. 1624.4


Purefoy’s grandfather was a younger son of the Leicestershire family who acquired land in Warwickshire, including the manor of Caldecote where he settled, through the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It has been suggested that Purefoy started his legal career in the service of his uncle, Humphrey Purefoy, a lawyer employed by the Council in the North. His uncle was closely associated with the puritan 3rd earl of Huntingdon, president of the Council from 1572 to 1595, which may explain Purefoy’s return for Clitheroe in 1584. William Purefoy*, the militant puritan and future regicide who sat for Coventry in 1628, was this Member’s first cousin.5

As deputy-official for the archdeaconry of Nottinghamshire, Purefoy was the principal ecclesiastical judge in Nottinghamshire for most of this period. As such he was reluctant to enforce conformity to ecclesiastical ceremonies provided ministers and laymen remained within the church. However, this stance perhaps reflected the policy of his superiors, as the two archbishops of York during his period in office, Matthew Hutton and Toby Matthew, were both moderate Calvinists. By contrast, the conformist element in Nottingham claimed Purefoy’s support in a public attack on puritanism, which culminated in a Star Chamber case in 1617. They recalled his decisive action against separatist activities; and they alleged that the puritans had distributed libels describing him as a ‘licentious slave’ and demanding his removal. One of the conformist leaders Thomas Nix, dismissed as alderman on the orders of Star Chamber in September 1620, was to be remembered in Purefoy’s will.6

Purefoy was elected to the third Stuart Parliament despite competition from four other minor country gentlemen.7 He was probably the ‘Mr. Burphry’ who spoke in committee concerning the alehouse patent on 25 Apr. 1621, when he expressed Nottingham’s concern that the patentees had employed ‘base fellows’ to execute the patent, who ‘did extremely offend’. Indeed, these individuals had taken ‘the upper hand of the mayor, made men fine and compound, and when there was a hostess they took her’.8 On 29 Nov. Purefoy was named to the committee for the bill on intestacy,9 but played no other recorded part in the Parliament.

Purefoy was one of the commoners who endorsed the Nottingham election return of 1624.10 In the same year he represented the clergy of his archdeaconry in the Convocation held at York. Unmarried, he made his will on 23 Aug. 1627, added a codicil on the 24th and died the following day, aged 65. He was buried at Caldecote.11

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: George Yerby / Ben Coates


  • 1. Nichols, County of Leicester, iv. 601.
  • 2. Al. Cant.
  • 3. Dugdale, Warws. (1730), ii. 1099.
  • 4. R.A. Marchant, Puritans and the Church Cts. in Dioc. of York, 167-8.
  • 5. Dugdale, Warws. ii. 1097; Marchant, 167-8; HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 263; A. Hughes, Pols. Soc. and Civil War in Warws. 167.
  • 6. Marchant, 156, 167-8, 171-2, 185; K. Fincham, Prelate as Pastor, 270, 283; STAC 8/303/8; Recs. of Bor. of Nottingham ed. W.H. Stevenson, iv. 365; PROB 11/152, f. 273v.
  • 7. Recs. of Bor. of Nottingham, iv. 375.
  • 8. CD 1621, iii. 83.
  • 9. CJ, i. 650b.
  • 10. C219/38/178.
  • 11. PROB 11/152, ff. 273-4.