SALTER, Edward (?1562-1647), of Richings Park, Iver, Bucks. and Blackfriars, London; formerly of Gray's Inn, London.

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



26 Feb. 1610
by 23 Apr. 1621

Family and Education

?bap. 16 Aug. 1562, ?2nd but 1st surv. s. of William Salter, ?Grocer, of London and Richings Park and Alice Sutton of Hunts.1 educ. Queen’s, Camb. 1577;2 G. Inn 1580, called 1589.3 m. c.1584, Ursula (bur. 11 Apr. 1649), da. of Edward Brockett of Wheathampstead, Herts., 2s. 1da.4 suc. fa. 1606;5 kntd. 21 July 1621.6 bur. 13 Jan. 1647.7 sig. Edw[ard] Salter.

Offices Held

Ancient, G. Inn 1598-1600, honorary bencher 1626;8 master in Chancery (extraordinary), 1621-43.9

Carver, King James’s Household by 1604-bef.1608,10 Prince Henry’s Household by 1609-12,11 Prince Charles’s Household by 1614-25,12 King Charles’s Household 1625-at least 1641.13

J.p. Bucks. by 1608-?d., Herts. and Oxon. 1614, Mdx. 1624-?d.;14 commr. subsidy, Bucks. 1608, 1621, 1624, 1641, assessment 1642,15 sewers, Coln valley, Herts. and Mdx. 1609, 1624, oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1629-d.;16 steward, Berkhamsted manor, Herts. by 1615;17 commr. and collector, knighthood fines, Bucks. 1630-4.18

Patentee, glass manufacture 1609-14.19


Salter’s origins are obscure, perhaps deliberately so, as he apparently came from a humble background. Although his family bore the same arms as the Salters of Oswestry, Shropshire,20 the pedigree registered by the MP’s nephew Thomas, a London Mercer, suggests that they came from Whitchurch in Dorset, where Salter’s own father obtained a lease of the rectory in 1561.21 He can be confused with many namesakes, particularly John Salter, chief clerk to William Cholmeley*, foreign apposer of the Exchequer,22 and William Salter of Stamford, Lincolnshire, whose family came from Norfolk.23

Several pieces of circumstantial evidence suggest that the MP’s father was the William Salter who became a freeman of the London Grocers’ Company in 1556, and later that Company’s master in 1595-6.24 First, Salter’s mother may have been related to Robert Sutton, one of the Grocer’s first apprentices.25 Secondly, Salter’s links with the Bowyer family, who had made their fortune as Grocers under the Tudors, might be explained by William Salter’s Company membership.26 Finally, when Salter and his father were involved in a dispute over encumbrances on a number of London properties in 1593, they referred the matter to a Grocer for arbitration.27

It was William Salter the Grocer whose son Edward was christened at Allhallows’ Bread Street on 16 Aug. 1562, and who was rated at £15 in goods as a resident of the same parish two years later.28 In 1582 a man named William Salter was rated at £70 in goods for the nearby parish of St. Thomas the Apostle. This was certainly Salter’s father, as the subsidy roll states that he had already paid tax on his Buckinghamshire estate, Richings Park.29 William Salter was not the only member of the family to seek his fortune in London: his brother George (to whom he sublet the rectory of Whitchurch in 1591) was one of the clerks of the Rolls at the end of the sixteenth century,30 and the latter’s descendants were Levant merchants.31 The most successful of the MP’s relatives was his cousin Nicholas Salter, who made his fortune in the Levant Company and became one of the farmers of the Great Customs, 1604-21.32

Whatever his origins, Salter was called to the bar in 1589, and probably practised as a barrister during the 1590s: he was certainly able to draft a replication for himself in a lawsuit he was prosecuting in 1599.33 Made an ancient of Gray’s Inn in 1598, he was later deprived of the rank for failing to pay his fees, and does not appear in the records of the Inn again until 1626, when he was made an honorary bencher after becoming a master in Chancery.34 Salter’s abandonment of his legal career is difficult to explain. His father may have wished him to take charge of his Buckinghamshire estates, which he had (most unusually) bought in Salter’s name in 1576, when the latter was still a minor.35 Salter’s improvements to the estate involved him in a lawsuit with one of his neighbours, Sir John Lawrence, in 1612-14. Lawrence, who was harassing one of Salter’s tenants, was accused of rape by one of Salter’s servants, and responded by charging Salter with illegal enclosure; the dispute was apparently arbitrated by two local magistrates, Sir William Bowyer I* and Sir Marmaduke Darrell*.36

Salter began a new career in 1604 when he became a carver in the royal Household, a post he was to hold (as his monumental inscription declared) for ‘full forty years’.37 He quickly transferred to Prince Henry’s Household, a move which suggests that his patron was his wife’s half-brother, Sir Thomas Chaloner*, the prince’s governor from 1603.38 Henry and Charles were perhaps regular visitors at Richings, as Lady Salter’s will, drawn up many years later, referred to ‘the prince his chamber’.39 Chaloner was high steward of Evesham, and was undoubtedly responsible for Salter’s return for that borough in February 1610 at a by-election to replace Robert Bowyer, a cousin of Sir William Bowyer I.40 Salter left little trace upon the records of the 1610 sessions: his legal experience probably explains his nomination to committees for bills to confirm Magna Carta (3 Mar.) and regulate the fees charged by legal clerks for engrossing bills (13 Mar.).41 He was also included on the committee for the naturalization bill for Henry Gibb, a gentleman of Prince Henry’s Household, and was presumably the ‘Mr. Psalter’ who was named attend a conference with the Lords on 5 July to discuss the Commons’ refusal to exempt peers from arrest in cross-border quarrels with Scotland.42

Besides his parliamentary seat, Chaloner may also have helped Salter make a success of the glass foundry he established at Southwark in 1608 to manufacture ‘plates, cruets, salts and stills’.43 This unusually precise brief neatly evaded Sir Jerome Bowes’s* patent for the manufacture of Venetian-style stemmed drinking glasses, which had been run by two London Salters, William Robson and William Turner, until the latter left the consortium in 1606 to join Chaloner’s project for a Yorkshire alum refinery.44 It is likely that Turner both advised Salter of the legal loophole and helped him to hire Venetian labourers. Salter was swiftly prosecuted by Robson, but was confident of victory, and even began manufacturing straight-sided beer glasses, which his workers assured him were not made in Venice. The suit was dropped after Salter secured a separate patent to cover his output in February 1609, and Robson eventually bought him out for an annuity of 250 marks.45

Salter assigned his Southwark glassworks to Sir Edward Zouche and Bevis Thelwall, who initially proposed to make window glass using coal instead of charcoal as fuel, but quickly started making drinking glasses as well. Robson complained to the Privy Council, which upheld the rights allowed him under Bowes’s patent but left the parties to come to a private composition for the exercise of Salter’s: Zouche bought his rivals out and secured a general monopoly in March 1614.46 This was condemned in the Commons by an alliance of lawyers and merchants two months later, a development the patentees had apparently not anticipated, as none had a seat in the House.47 In Salter’s case this was probably because Chaloner’s influence at Evesham waned after the death of Prince Henry in 1612. Robson did not close his Blackfriars glasshouse until he was arrested under a Privy Council warrant in October 1614. In the final settlement of December 1615, Salter received a life annuity of £150.48 This was a slight reduction on the sum he had agreed with Robson, but had the advantage of being charged on the Exchequer, and was thus unaffected by any future revocation of the patent.49 In practice, the annuity was paid only intermittently, and in November 1622 Salter recruited his fellow carver Patrick Murray to lobby lord treasurer (Sir Lionel) Cranfield* for his arrears.50

Having transferred to prince Charles’s Household after Henry’s death,51 Salter was put forward for a seat at Plymouth by the Prince’s Council in December 1620. If the corporation received such a nomination, they ignored it, continuing their normal practice of choosing local men.52 Salter eventually secured a seat at Lostwithiel in the spring of 1621 after Sir Henry Vane, the prince’s cofferer, opted to sit for Carlisle on 6 February.53 Salter was first noticed in the House on 23 Apr. when, perhaps in recognition of Vane’s favour, he seconded the latter’s call for the arrest of Sir John Bennett*, who had been accused of corruption and was suspected to be planning to seek refuge in Holland.54 Salter’s motive in seeking election in 1621 is open to various interpretations. He may have feared censure for his involvement in the glass patent, though when the issue was raised by the committee for grievances on 14 May he loudly declared his indifference to its fate.55 He also took an interest in a bill to reverse a Chancery decree settling a dispute between the heirs of Jacob Verzelini (17 May), who had held the glassmaking patent before Bowes.56 However, the most likely reason for his return was a desire to safeguard the interest held by his cousins, Sir Nicholas and George Salter, in the patent for importation of gold and silver thread, which came under attack on 6-7 March. It was presumably at this time that Salter began pressing for election at Lostwithiel, though his efforts were wasted, as the patent was repealed by Proclamation on 30 March.57

Although elected on a fruitless errand, Salter had a significant impact on the Commons in the last six weeks of the spring sitting. He made a widely reported speech at the second reading of the free trade bill, a measure promoted by the outports to attack the privileges of the London trading companies. Londoners found it very difficult to present their case without being accused of partiality, but Salter, though connected the City through his cousins, was able to pose as a disinterested observer. Having reminded the House ‘that the king gave charge that we should commend no bill but that he might grant’, he highlighted two of the bill’s most glaring flaws: that it undermined the Crown’s unquestioned right to grant charters to corporations, and that its provisions made a nonsense of another bill before the House which sought to restrict the importation of tobacco.58 He may have hoped to delay the progress of this bill by supporting the proposal for an immediate adjournment of the session on 31 May, ignoring a rival motion for a two-week delay to allow important legislation to complete its passage. His speech apparently annoyed both Sir Thomas Barrington, who recorded that he spoke at length to no effect, and Sir Edwin Sandys, who supported the motion for a present adjournment but disliked Salter’s glib assurance that he would be able to satisfy his constituents’ misgivings over the lack of legislation.59

Salter attempted to defend another unpopular patent, for the drafting of bills submitted to the Council in the North, when it came before the committee of grievances on 7 May. He probably knew the patentee, John Lepton, who had been a student at Gray’s Inn at the end of the 1580s,60 and who may have briefed him. Salter countered the patent’s critics by recalling that it had been drafted in 1606 by the then attorney-general, Sir Edward Coke*, one of the leading opponents of monopolies in 1621. Salter also correctly observed that the fees charged by Lepton were not an innovation, claiming that lord president Scrope could confirm this. While true, his assertion was decidedly misleading, as Lepton’s fees had hitherto been collected by the attorneys of the court, who were forced to levy extra fees to augment their lost income. The patent was investigated by royal command, though it ultimately escaped censure through the efforts of Cranfield and (Sir) Arthur Ingram*.61

Two further speeches by Salter touched upon the interests of the royal family. First, he joined in the general condemnation of the Catholic lawyer Edward Floyd, who had mocked Princess Elizabeth on receiving news of the Catholic victory at White Mountain in 1620. On 1 May 1621, Salter seconded Sir Francis Seymour’s motion to have Floyd whipped and sent to the most unpleasant dungeon in the Tower, and urged that he should then be handed over to the Lords for further punishment.62 Secondly, on 14 May, he sought to protect the duchy of Cornwall’s mining revenues by joining Sir Robert Killigrew and Sir George More in opposing a bill to confirm the London Pewterers’ right of pre-emption over 250 tons of tin a year, which would, he claimed, have created a glut on the market.63 More significantly, it would have disrupted the negotiations to renew the monopoly of tin supplies which was granted to a consortium of London merchants later the same month.64

Although Salter was planning to revive his legal career, having been granted the reversion of a mastership in Chancery in January 1620,65 he was only involved with one bill for law reform in Parliament in 1621, supporting the committal of a bill to allow creditors to claim payment of sums owed from the estates of attainted persons; he was included on the bill committee (28 April).66 He also urged that those outlawed for debt be included in the provisions of the bill, on the grounds that ‘many let themselves be outlawed for to defeat creditors’, but this proviso was removed during the committee stage.67 Salter’s efforts in the Commons during the spring sitting of 1621 earned him a knighthood during the summer recess. He left no trace on the records of the autumn sitting, probably because the issues of foreign policy and parliamentary privilege under debate did not come within his sphere of expertise, and his secondment to the Lords as a legal assistant from 1624 rendered him ineligible for election to the Commons thereafter.68

Salter retained his post in the royal Household when Prince Charles became king in 1625, and was joined as carver by his eldest son, Sir William.69 However, he passed much of his later life in relative obscurity. He incurred considerable costs in assisting Thomas Chaloner†, later a supervisor of his will, in a dispute with the latter’s brother-in-law, Sir Edward Fisher,70 and in 1632 he became a trustee for half the profits of the king’s printer, apparently to allow a neighbour to reorganize his finances rather than for his own profit.71 He later signed a petition against the alleged over-rating of his local area for Ship Money.72 Salter’s allegiance during the Civil War is unknown. He was removed as a master in Chancery in 1643, but this may simply have been due to his age. While not fined for delinquency, he made no voluntary contributions to the parliamentarian cause, although his Buckinghamshire estates lay only four miles from Windsor Castle, which served as the headquarters for Lord General Essex’s army for much of the war.73 Salter’s will of 20 Apr. 1646 made generous provision for his wife. He was buried at Iver on 13 Jan. 1647, and his wife proved his will in the following month.74 His monumental inscription, described him as ‘nigh an hundred year [old]’ at his death, and ventured that

His worth (if known to the world) would be alone

More monumental than a tomb of stone.75

None of his descendants sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Allhallows, Bread Street (Harl. Soc. Reg. xliv), 6, 61; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 107.
  • 2. Al. Cant.
  • 3. GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 86.
  • 4. Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 524; Coll. Top. et Gen. iii. 279; PROB 11/208, f. 86v; Vis. Bucks. 107.
  • 5. Coll. Top. et Gen. iii. 279.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 177.
  • 7. Coll. Top. et Gen. iii. 279. The correct year date is supplied by PROB 11/199, f. 318.
  • 8. PBG Inn, i. 137, 148, 273.
  • 9. C216/1/76; T.D. Hardy, Principal Officers of Chancery, 91.
  • 10. LC2/4/5, p. 87; E179/70/122; SP15/40/28; LC2/6, f. 38v.
  • 11. SO3/4, unfol. (Feb. 1608/9); Govt. of Royal Household (Soc. of Antiqs. 1790), p. 323; SP14/67/147.
  • 12. STAC 8/262/9, f. 2; LC2/5, f. 43v; SC6/Jas.I/1685-6; LC2/6, f. 69v.
  • 13. E115/349/21; 115/383/41; LC3/1, unfol.
  • 14. C231/4, f. 164.
  • 15. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23; SR, v. 81, 149.
  • 16. C181/2, f. 90; 181/3, ff. 116, 257.
  • 17. DCO, Letters and Warrants, 1615-19, ff. 7v, 25.
  • 18. E178/5165; 178/7154, f. 107c; E198/4/32, f. 1.
  • 19. C66/1751/9; APC, 1613-14, pp. 497-8, 659-60.
  • 20. Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 221; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 428.
  • 21. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xvii), 223; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xcii), 119; C2/Chas.I/S53/40.
  • 22. C2/Chas.I/S70/6; 2/Chas.I/S71/16; 2/Chas.I/S99/25.
  • 23. CSP Dom. 1631-3, pp. 194-5. His ancestry is explained in C2/Eliz./S24/31, f. 1.
  • 24. GL, ms 11592A (William Salter); 11588/1, unfol. (2 Oct. 1577, 24 July and 22 Sept. 1584, 16 July 1585, 11 July 1586); 11588/2, pp. 80-85.
  • 25. Vis. Bucks. 107; GL, ms 11592A (Robert Sutton).
  • 26. Vis. Bucks. 14; GL, ms 11592A (Thomas, Francis and Robert Bowyer, Henry Boyer [i.e. Bowyer]).
  • 27. C2/Eliz./H17/58, 2/Eliz./S24/57.
  • 28. Allhallows’ Bread Street, 6, 7, 161; Index to London Citizens ed. R.M. Benbow, 764.
  • 29. Tudor Subsidy Rolls (London Rec. Soc. xxix), 203.
  • 30. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xvii), 223; C2/Eliz./S13/45; 2/Chas.I/S19/3; HMC Hatfield, xxiii. 167.
  • 31. CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 89; HMC Hatfield, ix. 102-3; Vis. Lond. (Harl. Soc. xcii), 119; PROB 6/7, f. 101v; PROB 11/58, ff. 55-6; 11/158, f. 311.
  • 32. R. Ashton, Crown and the Money Market, 1603-40, pp. 87-92.
  • 33. C2/Eliz./S24/57, f. 4.
  • 34. PBG Inn, i. 86, 137, 148, 273.
  • 35. C2/Chas.I/S37/41, f. 1.
  • 36. STAC 8/21/13; 8/73/1; 8/199/20; 8/262/9.
  • 37. Lipscomb, iv. 524.
  • 38. LC2/4/5, p. 87; SO3/4, unfol. (Feb. 1608/9); SP14/67/147.
  • 39. PROB 11/208, f. 86.
  • 40. Evesham Bor. Recs. ed. S.K. Roberts (Worcs. Hist. Soc. n.s. xiv), pp. xiii-xiv.
  • 41. CJ, i. 400-1, 404b, 410a.
  • 42. Ibid. 439b, 445b; ‘Paulet 1610’, p. 55.
  • 43. E133/25/21.
  • 44. R.B. Turton, Alum Farm, 70-4.
  • 45. E112/126/112; E133/25/21; E.S. Godfrey, Development of Eng. Glassmaking, 40-6; C66/2061/9.
  • 46. Godfrey, 64-8; APC, 1613-14, pp. 61-2, 162-3, 173, 192-3, 250, 269.
  • 47. Godfrey, 70-1; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 110-11, 130-1, 134-5.
  • 48. Godfrey, 71-2; APC, 1613-14, pp. 497-8, 545-6, 659-60; 1615-16, pp. 95-6; C66/2061/9.
  • 49. Godfrey, 102, 112; CD 1621, iii. 258; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 72.
  • 50. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/OE996.
  • 51. STAC 8/262/9, f. 2; LC2/5, f. 43v.
  • 52. DCO, Letters and Patents, 1620-1, f. 39v; PLYMOUTH.
  • 53. CJ, i. 510b.
  • 54. CD 1621, ii. 314; iii. 55; CJ, i. 587-8.
  • 55. Nicholas, ii. 72; CD 1621, iii. 258.
  • 56. CJ, i. 623b; CD 1621, ii. 378; Godfrey, 35-41.
  • 57. CJ, i. 541-2; CD 1621, v. 276-7; vii. 367-70.
  • 58. CD 1621, vi. 107; Nicholas, i. 345-6. See also CJ, i. 595b; CD 1621, iii. 106; Kyle thesis, 132-3, 164-8.
  • 59. CD 1621, iii. 372, 374; CJ, i. 633b.
  • 60. GI Admiss. (22 Jan. 1587/8); PBG Inn, i. 87.
  • 61. CD 1621, iii. 193-4; R. Reid, Council in the North, 384-5, 390-2.
  • 62. CJ, i. 601a; CD 1621, v. 360.
  • 63. CJ, i. 619-20; Nicholas, ii. 64.
  • 64. G. Haslam, ‘Jacobean Phoenix’, Estates of Eng. Crown 1558-1640 ed. R.W. Hoyle, 286-8.
  • 65. C216/1/76.
  • 66. CJ, i. 595b; CD 1621, v. 110.
  • 67. CD 1621, iii. 107; vii. 129-32; Kyle thesis, 279-80.
  • 68. LJ, iii. 208a, 436b, 493b, 688b; iv. 48b, 82a.
  • 69. E115/383/41; LC2/6, f. 69v.
  • 70. PROB 11/199, f. 318; C2/Chas.I/F32/8; 2/Chas.I/S60/54; 2/Chas.I/S70/59.
  • 71. C78/307/4.
  • 72. Ship Money Pprs. (Bucks. Rec. Soc. xiii), 34.
  • 73. R. South, Royal Castle, Rebel Town, 31-53.
  • 74. PROB 11/199, ff. 316-18; 11/208, ff. 85v-86v; Coll. Top. et Gen. iii. 279-80.
  • 75. Lipscomb, iv. 524.