QUARLES, Sir Robert (1581-1639), of Stewards, Romford, Essex

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



16 Feb. 1626

Family and Education

b. 12 May 1581,1 1st s. of James Quarles of Stewards, clerk of the Greencloth and surveyor of marine victuals, and his 2nd w. Joan, da. and h. of Edward Dalton of Moor Park, Much Hadham, Herts.2 educ. privately (Thomas Foster, by 1589),3 Emmanuel, Camb. 1599, L. Inn 1600.4 m. (1) 2 Sept. 1601, Hester (bur. 9 Sept. 1612), da. of Sir Edward Lewkenor I* of Denham, Suff. 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 8 Apr. 1614, Anne (bur. 14 Oct. 1616), da. of William Brewster of Castle Hedingham, Essex, wid. of Sir Thomas Seckford (d.1610) of Great Bealings, Suff., 1da. d.v.p.; (3) 6 May 1617, Mary (bur. 3 Mar. 1665), da. of Henry Parvish, Haberdasher of London and Ruckholts, Leyton, Essex, 2s. 1da.5 suc. fa. 1599; kntd. 5 Mar. 1608.6 d. 2 Feb. 1639.7 sig. Rob[ert] or Rob[er]t Quarles.

Offices Held

Coroner, Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower, Essex 1607-8;8 commr. gaol delivery, Havering-atte-Bower 1610-at least 1618, sewers, Havering and Dagenham levels, Essex 1612-at least 1622, Chipping Ongar bridge to Ilford bridge, 1620, Rainham bridge to Mucking Mill 1627,9 inquiry, Waltham Forest 1616;10 j.p. Essex 1622-d.;11 commr. oyer and terminer, Essex (highways’ repair) 1622,12 Home circ. 1638-d.,13 subsidy, Essex 1624, 1625, 1628,14 Forced Loan 1626-7,15 charitable uses, 1629-at least 1637;16 kpr. Leyton, Wanstead and W. Hainault Walks, Essex 1634-at least 1638.17


Quarles’s brother, the royalist poet Francis Quarles, claimed an English ancestry stretching back to before the Conquest, but the family’s earliest known ancestor lived at Ufford in Northamptonshire during the reign of Henry V.18 Quarles’s paternal grandfather, an auditor to Henry VIII, also resided at Ufford. It was probably Quarles’s father, James, who, sometime after November 1561, obtained the Essex manor of Stewards, in the liberty of Havering-atte-Bower.19 In 1587 James Quarles, clerk of both the Kitchen and Greencloth, became victualler of the navy. Rising prices dented his profits in the early 1590s, when he allegedly spent £3,172 more than he was contractually allowed to claim. His resources were further depleted in 1594-5, when his expenditure apparently exceeded his receipts by £5,300.20 Following his death in 1599 his widow Joan pressed for reimbursement, but she sensibly dropped her demands after lord treasurer Buckhurst (Robert Sackville*) agreed to waive payment of more than £2,800, the sum the Exchequer claimed it was still owed on her late husband’s accounts.21

The eldest of four sons, Quarles was under-age when his father died in 1599. It was initially unclear whether he was subject to wardship, but by 1602 the matter had been settled in the affirmative, and Joan purchased the wardship for £300.22 Although Quarles and two of his brothers were sent to university, Joan was forced to reduce the allowances provided by her late husband for the two younger sons’ education.23 In October 1600, less than a year after entering Lincoln’s Inn, Quarles married Hester Lewkenor, one of the daughters of the Suffolk puritan Sir Edward Lewkenor I. This match hints strongly at Joan’s religious inclinations, as does the fact that Quarles’s brother Francis was godson to the local puritan Sir Francis Barrington*.24 Quarles initially lived with his wife’s family at Denham, Suffolk, and remained there after Hester’s parents succumbed to smallpox in 1605 and after the death of his own mother in 1606. Perhaps only his service as Havering’s coroner in 1607-8 required him to spend much time at Stewards before Hester’s death in 1612.25

Early in 1608 Quarles was prosecuted in Star Chamber for hunting the king’s deer, but he pleaded that the land over which he had hunted was disafforested.26 It seems unlikely that he was punished as he was knighted two months later. Ten years later Quarles was again in trouble, this time for encroaching on Havering manor.27 At around the same time, in June 1618, he borrowed £600 from a London widow, having earlier taken up (and repaid) at least £350 from two other lenders and sold or mortgaged property for £2,000.28 The purpose of these financial dealings is unclear, but Quarles may have been engaged in improving Stewards, which stood in a large park.29 The estate was the smallest of the properties owned by Havering’s five leading families, comprising just 397 acres, but Quarles was also seised of Thundersley manor in south Essex as well as his mother’s former property in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire.30

Quarles was first appointed to serve on a local commission in May 1610, but was not named to the Essex bench until 1622. In February 1626 he was returned for Colchester after Sir Harbottle Grimston plumped for the county seat. His decision to seek election is undoubtedly explained by the interests of his younger brother Francis, who belonged to an Essex syndicate which aimed to obtain parliamentary authority to manufacture saltpetre using a new method. However, as the bill failed to emerge from the House of Lords, where it was introduced, Quarles proved unable to further the syndicate’s interests.31 He made no recorded speeches, but was named to several committees, none of which are known to have interested either him or his constituents. They concerned the sale of Barrington manor, Somerset (27 Feb.); the lands of Giles Sewster (13 Mar.); Sir Edward Fisher (23 Mar.); a Chancery decree regarding Feltwell manor (6 May); the naturalization of Sir Daniel Deligne of Harlaxton, Lincolnshire (9 May) and the sons of Sir Jacob Astley (11 May); and two provisoes in a deed regarding the 2nd earl of Exeter (William Cecil†; 24 May). Quarles received only two other mentions in the Parliament’s records. On 7 Mar. he was appointed to a joint conference with the Lords concerning defence, and on 5 Apr. it was ordered that he should not be fined for being absent from a call of the House as he was sick.32

Following the dissolution the government considered demanding £200 from Quarles by way of a Privy Seal loan, but the money was probably never raised.33 He was subsequently named to the commission for the Forced Loan, to which he contributed £20, but played no part in its collection.34 Much of the remainder of his life is obscure. His assessment for Ship Money in 1637 was set at the surprisingly low figure of £3.35 In April of that year, while still in good health, he drew up his will, describing himself as one of the elect and requesting burial in the chancel of Romford’s ‘chapel’.36 He died on 2 Feb. 1639 and was interred the same day. His eldest son James, whom he appointed as his sole executor, followed him to the grave less than four years later, leaving only an infant daughter.37 An elegy praising Quarles for his ‘piety and hospitality’ was composed by his brother Francis and published shortly after his death.38 No other member of the family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. C142/262/106.
  • 2. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 474.
  • 3. Essex RO, D/AEA 14, f. 157.
  • 4. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
  • 5. E. Anglian, iii. 173, 203, 242, 243; n.s. iv. 230-1; Vis. Essex, 474; Add. 19086, f. 63; PCC Admons. 1609-19 ed. M. Fitch (Brit. Rec. Soc. lxxxiii), 113.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 144.
  • 7. C142/623/51.
  • 8. M.K. McIntosh, A Community Transformed: the Manor and Liberty of Havering, 1500-1620, p. 425.
  • 9. C181/2, ff. 114, 168, 313; 181/3, ff. 19, 43, 233v.
  • 10. C66/2090, dorse.
  • 11. C231/4, p. 284; HMC 10th Rep. iv. 502, 506.
  • 12. C181/3, f. 68v.
  • 13. C181/5, f. 141.
  • 14. C212/22/23; E115/101/33; 115/87/14.
  • 15. Bodl. Firth C4, p. 257.
  • 16. C192/1, unfol.
  • 17. W.R. Fisher, Forest of Essex, 384; CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 328.
  • 18. F. Quarles, Memorials upon the Death of Sir R. Quarles (London, 1639), unpag.; E. Anglian, iii. 171.
  • 19. P. Morant, Essex, i. pt. 2, p. 67.
  • 20. M. Oppenheim, Admin. of RN, 142, 144.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 220, 222.
  • 22. WARD 9/159, f. 105v; 9/160, ff. 42v-3; 9/526, f. 497.
  • 23. PROB 11/109, f. 149; 11/96, f. 146.
  • 24. Barrington Letters ed. A. Searle (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xxviii), 1 n. 5.
  • 25. For his residence at Denham, see the baptismal records for his children and the ded. by R. Pricke in The doctrine of superioritie, and of subjection (London, 1608), sig. A3. His brief return to Stewards is suggested by HMC Hatfield, xix. 362.
  • 26. STAC 8/10/9.
  • 27. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 589.
  • 28. LC4/198, ff. 87, 257v; 4/199, f. 33; C54/2251/16; 54/2252/17; 54/2258.
  • 29. VCH Essex, vii. 72.
  • 30. McIntosh, 376; C142/623/51.
  • 31. HMC 4th Rep. 10; Procs. 1626, i. 300, 319.
  • 32. Procs. 1626, ii. 134, 214, 271, 348, 431; iii. 180, 199, 227, 317.
  • 33. E401/2586, p. 462.
  • 34. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 281; SP16/52/64.
  • 35. SP16/358, p. 151.
  • 36. PROB 11/180, f. 42.
  • 37. McIntosh, 399; D. Lysons, Environs of London, iv. 199.
  • 38. Quarles, sig. B.