SEARLE (SERLE), John (1569-1622), of Newport , I. o. W. and Lincoln's Inn, London; later of Townhill, South Stoneham, Hants.

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

bap. 1 Nov. 1569,1 1st s. of John Searle, yeoman, of Cossam, Carisbrooke, I.o.W. and w. Parnell.2 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1586, BA 1590; Staple Inn; L. Inn 1595, called 1603.3 m. (1) 24 June 1609 (with £500),4 Anne (bur. 24 Oct. 1611),5 da. of Edward Bulstrode of Hedgerley, Bucks., s.p.;6 (2) Oct. 1619,7 Frances, da. of Sir Bowyer Worsley of Ashey, I.o.W., s.p.8 suc. fa. 1605.9 d. 5 Nov. 1622.10

Offices Held

Freeman, Newport 1586,11 town clerk 1586-1614,12 constable 1595-6,13 bailiff 1598-9,14 common councilman 1608-8 Apr. 1610, c.1611-d.15

Steward, reader’s feast, Lincoln’s Inn 1610.16


Searle’s ancestors, although of non-gentry status, held land in the Isle of Wight as far back as 1346.17 Newport marked Searle’s matriculation at Oxford University by admitting him to the freedom of the borough. He thereafter combined municipal office with an expensive education, which culminated in his call to the bar in 1603. When Newport was incorporated in 1608 Searle was appointed a common councilman and retained his position as town clerk.18 The following year he took lodgings in Southampton, perhaps with his brother-in-law John Major*, and married a ‘very modest religious gentlewoman’ whose sister was wife to James Whitelocke*.19 Despite her ‘most godly and virtuous life’, Searle’s wife suffered from ‘distraction of her mind, which held her with a kind of mopishness and religious desperateness’. After only two years’ marriage she died in a Sussex asylum, ‘crying out of her sins, and showing fear of God’s judgments against her’.20

Searle was appointed steward of the Lincoln’s Inn reader’s feast in 1610, but never attained the bench. Granted a lease of Crown lands in Newport, his attempt to enlarge his holding at the expense of the borough led to his temporary expulsion from the corporation.21 However, in the absence of an effective recorder the town needed a qualified lawyer, and in 1611 he was readmitted, perhaps through the mediation of his friend and mentor Sir Thomas Fleming I*.22 On 30 Mar. 1614 the common council agreed ‘by a general consent’ that he should ‘absolutely stand burgess’ at the general election, but although returned he left no trace on the records of the Addled Parliament.23 In the same year he became a neighbour of his patron’s heir, Sir Thomas Fleming II*, by the purchase of a small estate on the mainland, and retired from municipal office.24 By 1616 he was incapacitated by gout, and in his will, drawn up in 1620, there is a suggestion that he suffered from long term ill-health.25 Before his death he subscribed to the foundation of Newport free school, for which Fleming had given the land, and added to the endowment with a tenement in the town to augment the schoolmaster’s salary.26

Searle’s illness contributed to the breakdown of his second marriage, which in turn resulted in several lawsuits. He was accused of mistreating his wife, disparaging the island gentry, and even reported to High Commission for denying the validity of clerical marriage. In retaliation he sued his father-in-law in Star Chamber for conspiring to defraud him of his estates.27 Searle died, having fathered no children by either of his wives, on 5 Nov. 1622, bequeathing £50 to the poor of Carisbrooke and Newport and £10 to the building fund for Lincoln’s Inn chapel.28 His inherited property on the island went to his brother Daniel; his acquisitions on the mainland were left, either outright or in trust, to his nephew Richard Major†, who was also to have his books and writings.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. I.o.W. RO, Newport par. reg.
  • 2. PROB 11/105, f. 227v.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks, ii. 79.
  • 4. Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx), 18.
  • 5. Hants Fam. Hist. ii. 1.
  • 6. Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 503.
  • 7. STAC 8/266/5.
  • 8. PROB 11/140, f. 287.
  • 9. PROB 11/105, f. 227v.
  • 10. C142/685/98.
  • 11. I.o.W. RO, NBC 45/2, f. 195v.
  • 12. I.o.W. RO, 45/22, ff. 2, 167; STAC 8/71/11.
  • 13. I.o.W. RO, 45/22, f. 170.
  • 14. Ibid. f. 234v; I.o.W. RO, NBC 45/2, f. 2v.
  • 15. C66/1735; I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, ff. 5, 21v.
  • 16. LI Black Bks, ii. 124.
  • 17. VCH Hants, v. 166
  • 18. C66/1735.
  • 19. Liber Famelicus, 18.
  • 20. Ibid. 25.
  • 21. Hants RO, Wriothesley Coll. 1509; I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, f. 5.
  • 22. I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, f. 21v; Royal 17.B.xlii, ff. 12v, 17.
  • 23. I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, f. 37.
  • 24. VCH Hants, iii. 483.
  • 25. LI Black Bks, ii. 191.
  • 26. VCH Hants, v. 264.
  • 27. STAC 8/266/5.
  • 28. C142/685/98; PROB 11/140, f. 287.
  • 29. PROB 11/140, f. 287.