RUDHALE, John (c.1587-1636), of Rudhall, Brampton Abbots, Herefs.

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.1587, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of William Rudhale of Rudhall and Margaret, da. of Sir James Croft† of Croft Castle, Herefs.1 educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1602, aged 15, BA 1605; M. Temple 1608; travelled abroad 1613-14 (Low Countries, France), 1614-17.2 m. 1628 (with £2,400), Mary, da. of (Sir) William Pitt* of Westminster, wid. of (Sir) Alexander Chocke II* of Shalbourne, Wilts., 3da. suc. fa. 1609.3 d. 30 Mar. 1636.4 sig. J[ohn] Rudhale.

Offices Held

J.p. Herefs. c.1609-d.;5 commr. sewers, Wye valley 1621,6 subsidy, Herefs. 1621-2, 1624-6,7 sub-commr. exacted fees 1623,8 dep. lt. by 1624-at least 1626;9 collector, Privy Seal loan 1626;10 member, Council in the Marches of Wales 1626-at least 1633;11 commr. Forced Loan, Herefs. 1627,12 knighthood fines 1631,13 oyer and terminer, Glos. 1631-2;14 sheriff, Herefs. 29 Jan. 1636-d.15


Rudhale’s ancestors were in possession of the property from which they took their name, situated two miles north-east of Ross-on-Wye, by the reign of Richard II; but the family history was undistinguished before William Rudhale, a Crown lawyer, represented Herefordshire in the Parliament of 1492. Rudhale’s father was deputy custos rotulorum in Elizabethan Herefordshire and an active supporter of the Croft faction in the county’s strife ridden politics. Succeeding to his estate shortly after coming of age, Rudhale subsequently travelled abroad ‘to attain the languages’, returning home in 1617. He subsequently failed to find a wife, and was still a bachelor ten years later, by which time he was aged about 40. However, he seems to have distinguished himself by a hospitality beyond his means, which kept him on good terms with all the leading figures in the county.16

Rudhale was one of the Herefordshire gentlemen who attended the meeting at Hereford on 7 Dec. 1620 that drew up an agreement to prevent electoral contests for the county seats.17 His candidature in 1625 had the support of his brother-in-law (Sir) Walter Pye I* and the sheriff of Herefordshire, Francis Pember.18 He was appointed on 8 July to attend the conference with the Lords about the prisoners for debt in the Fleet, who had petitioned the Lords seeking release to avoid the plague, and was among those named on the same day to deliver the petition to the king protesting against the defiance of parliamentary authority displayed by the Arminian cleric Richard Montagu in his book Appello Caesarem. The following day he was appointed to the committee to consider a bill to facilitate the passing of sheriffs’ accounts in the Exchequer and, after the conference with the Lords about the Fleet, he moved that debtors in other London prisons might also be released. He left no trace on the parliamentary records after the adjournment to Oxford.19 Returning to Herefordshire he wrote to Sir John Scudamore* on 24 Nov. about the king’s demand for Privy Seal loans, stating that ‘we have done nothing, but left every man to make his own excuse’. However he was appointed collector of the Loan and paid £350 into the Exchequer in the following May and June.20

Rudhale probably owed his seat at West Looe in the second Caroline Parliament to his brother-in-law Sir Robert Pye*, who was a client of the duke of Buckingham. He attended the meeting of justices at Hereford that nominated Sir Robert Harley and (Sir) Walter Pye I for the county seats, and mediated between the two to settle the dispute over who would take the first place. He was among those ordered to draft a militia bill (14 Mar.) and to hear a petition from merchants suffering from the French embargo (16 Mar.). His absence from a call of the House on 5 Apr. 1626 was excused on grounds of sickness. After Harley had reported reasons for a general fast, Rudhale was added to the committee to prepare for a conference with the Lords (9 June); but on the following day he obtained leave to go into the country to attend the sick-bed of his only surviving brother William.21

Rudhale may have tried to evade his responsibilities for collecting the Forced Loan because at the meeting of the commissioners on 13 Feb. 1627 he was noted as having ‘gone to London’. He was the only Herefordshire commissioner who refused to pay the Loan, and in the following September was returned as a defaulter.22 His failure to find a seat in 1628 may have been due to personal preoccupations, for this was the year that he finally married. Although appointed a commissioner for knighthood compositions when the commission was renewed in June 1631, he does not seem to have been active in collecting the fines.23 He relied on his official connections to keep him off the list of sheriffs in 1631, his father-in-law being a former Exchequer official. However, his luck ran out during the collection of Ship Money, even though his predecessor’s term of office was prolonged for three months. On 14 Mar. 1636 he wrote to Secretary Coke (John Coke*) that he conceived it to be contrary to his oath of office to accept the Ship Money writ, since it had come to him unsealed. But six days later the Privy Council formally conveyed to him the king’s pleasure that he should proceed with the execution of the writ.24 His office, however, had already been attended with fatal consequences, for he contracted typhus at the assizes. He drew up his will on 28 Mar., naming as his trustees his father-in-law Pitt, his cousin John Fettiplace*, and Pye’s brother and son, Robert* and Walter II*. He died two days later, and was buried in the family chapel at Ross-on-Wye. His widow erected a memorial to him, despite her father’s advice that ‘in a state so burthened with debts ... all decent sparing and saving must be used’. None of his daughters survived childhood, and the family became extinct in 1651 on the death of his brother, a royalist adherent in the Civil War. On the partition of the estate in 1668 among coheirs, Rudhall fell to his great-nephew Herbert Westfaling, who was then representing Hereford in the Cavalier Parliament.25

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Cooke, County of Hereford, iii. 165.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.; APC, 1613-14, p. 476; HMC Downshire, iv. 91, 181, 346.
  • 3. Cooke, iii. 163, 173.
  • 4. C142/535/15.
  • 5. C66/1822; C193/13/2, f. 30v.
  • 6. C181/3, f. 33.
  • 7. C212/22/20-1, 23; Add. 11051, ff. 19, 141.
  • 8. Add. 70001, unfol. (7 July 1623).
  • 9. Salop RO, 151/2903; SP16/33/51.
  • 10. APC, 1625-6, p. 419.
  • 11. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 251; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 4, p. 8.
  • 12. Add. 11051, f. 33v.
  • 13. E178/5333, f. 10.
  • 14. C181/4, ff. 88v, 121.
  • 15. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv), 367.
  • 16. Cooke, iii. 152, 161, 164, 167; R.B. Ham, County and the Kingdom, 48.
  • 17. FSL, Scudamore ms V.b.2(21).
  • 18. Hereford City Lib., L.C. 929.2, p. 109 (ex inf. Dr. Ian Atherton).
  • 19. Procs. 1625, pp. 347, 239, 358, 360.
  • 20. C115/107/8523; E401/1913, unfol.
  • 21. Procs. 1626, ii. 279, 297, 431; iii. 405, 415; iv. 239.
  • 22. SP16/54/2.I; 16/79/81; Atherton, 106.
  • 23. Ibid. p. 108.
  • 24. Add. 29974, ff. 130, 166, 260; HMC Cowper, ii. 109; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 313; PC2/46, f. 45.
  • 25. Cooke, iii. 125, 163, 164, 167; PROB 11/171, f. 65; C.J. Robinson, Hist. of the Mansions and Manors of Herefs. 244; CCC, 1996.