SONDES, Sir George (1599-1677), of Lees Court, Sheldwich, Kent
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Family and Education
b. Nov. 1599, 1st s. of Sir Richard Sondes† of Throwley, Kent and Susan, da. of Sir Edward Montagu† of Boughton, Northants.1 educ. Queens’, Camb. 1615; M. Temple 1619; travelled abroad 1624.2 m. (1) 17 Sept. 1621,3 (with 10,000 marks),4 Jane (d.1637),5 da. and h. of Ralph Freeman, Clothworker, of Aspenden, Herts., ld. mayor of London 1633-4, 3s. 2da. d.v.p.;6 (2) 25 Feb. 1656, Mary, da. of Sir William Villiers, 1st bt., of Brooksby, Leics., 2da.7 KB 1 Feb. 1626;8 suc. fa. 1632;9 cr. earl of Feversham 8 Apr. 1676.10 d. 16 Apr. 1677.11
Commr. sewers, Kent 1621, 1637, 1639, Tisehurst, Suss. 1639;12 j.p. Kent 1636-7, 1660-d.,13 sheriff 1636-7;14 dep. lt. Kent by 1639-?43, 1660-d.;15 commr. assessment, Kent 1641-3, 1660-1, 1664-74,16 array 1642,17 sequestration 1643, levying money 1643,18 oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1660-1,19 corporations, Kent 1662-3.20
Sondes was the grandson of Sir Michael Sondes* and heir to extensive estates in Kent and Surrey.21 He received a strict religious upbringing, and his tutor at Cambridge was the eminent puritan divine Dr. John Preston. He married the only daughter of a rich London merchant of Northamptonshire origin, and in 1624 they augmented the endowment of Northampton grammar school.22 Sondes probably owed his return for Higham Ferrers in 1626 to his uncle Lord Montagu (Sir Edward Montagu*). He was appointed to two committees, one for a private bill for the sale of a Somerset manor (27 Feb. 1626), the other a joint committee of both Houses to consider the Commons’ message to lord admiral Buckingham (4 March).23 Re-elected in 1628, he was appointed to three private bill committees in the first session, concerning the Charterhouse hospital (8 Apr.), James Freese’s naturalization (7 May), and the confirmation of a Chancery decree for Lawrence Lownes (23 June).24 His only appointment in the 1629 session was to consider William Nowell’s* petition accusing (Sir) Edward Moseley*, attorney of the duchy of Lancaster, of corruption (7 Feb. 1629).25
In 1631 Sondes obtained a reversion to succeed (Sir) Thomas Fanshawe II* in the lucrative post of king’s remembrancer of the Exchequer; however, he may have sold it on as he never took up the office, either while Fanshawe was disbarred in 1641, or after his death.26 Sondes instead relied upon his wife’s fortune, and was able to rebuild Lees Court with £20,000 inherited from his father-in-law in 1634.27 In paying out the latter’s charitable bequests he gave priority to St. Paul’s Cathedral over the poor of Northampton, who complained to the Privy Council; and Sondes was also later sued by the Clothworkers’ of London for defaulting on legacies to the Company.28 As a Ship Money sheriff he was said to have ‘carried himself ... with much moderation and temper; neither was there anything you could easily find fault with, if it were not a desire [of] too great contenting all men’.29 He contemplated standing as a knight of the shire for Kent in the Short Parliament, but withdrew before the election took place.30 Although he later claimed that ‘when it came to Parliament against king, then I boggled, I knew not what to do’, he broadly sympathized with the royalists during the Civil War. As a result he suffered several years’ imprisonment in the Tower and a fine of £3,450, and he reckoned his total loss at over £37,000.31
Deeper tragedy struck in 1655, when the elder of Sondes’s two surviving sons, George, was murdered by the other, Freeman, who was subsequently sentenced to death, leaving Sondes childless. Disconsolate at this loss, it was perhaps in the hope of having further offspring that Sondes married again in the following year.32 The fratricide attracted great publicity, and Sondes himself felt compelled to write an apologia, justifying not only the manner in which he had raised his family, but his religion, conduct during the war, treatment of his tenants, and general world view. He especially denied that he was a rapacious landlord, or that his household was ungodly, and recounted at length the argument over a borrowed doublet that he blamed for his sons’ quarrel.33 Sondes sat again in the Cavalier Parliament, until being raised to the peerage in 1676. He died intestate on 16 Apr. 1677 and was buried at Throwley.34
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. Berry, Kent Peds. 244.
- 2. Al. Cant.; M. Temple Admiss.; APC, 1623-5, p. 389.
- 3. C142/493/110.
- 4. PROB 11/165 f. 226.
- 5. HMC Montagu, 118.
- 6. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 343-4.
- 7. Berry, 244.
- 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 163.
- 9. C142/493/110.
- 10. CP, v. 364-5.
- 11. C.V. Collier, ‘Coats of Arms in Kent Churches’, Arch. Cant. xxiii. 119.
- 12. C181/3, f. 45, 181/5, ff. 68, 144v, 146v.
- 13. C231/5, p. 213; C220/9/4, f. 41.
- 14. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 69.
- 15. SP16/417/112; Twysden Ltcy. Pprs. ed. G.T. Thomson (Kent Recs. x), 13; SP29/42, f. 116; SP44/35A, f. 4v.
- 16. SR v. 152, 214, 332, 533, 761; A. and. O. i. 92.
- 17. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 18. A. and. O. i. 113, 149, 231.
- 19. C181/7, pp. 7, 94.
- 20. Eg. 2985, f. 66.
- 21. C142/493/110.
- 22. Northampton Bor. Recs. ii. 351.
- 23. Procs. 1626, ii. 134, 195.
- 24. CD 1628, ii. 360; iii. 300; iv. 425.
- 25. CJ, i. 927b.
- 26. CSP Dom. 1631-3, pp. 100, 102.
- 27. E. Hasted, Kent, vi. 484; HMC Buccleuch, iii. 351; J. Newman, Buildings of Eng.: N. and E. Kent, 366-7.
- 28. PROB 11/165 f. 226; CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 7; 1635-6, p. 71; 1636-7, p. 139; PC2/46, ff. 337, 420; Northampton Bor. Recs. ed. J.C. Cox, ii. 350; SP16/498/11.
- 29. CSP Dom. 1637, pp. 253, 465; A.M. Everitt, Kent and the Gt. Rebellion, 64, 70-1.
- 30. Procs. in Kent ed. L.B. Larking (Cam. Soc. lxxx), 6.
- 31. CCC, 867; Harl. Misc. x. 56.
- 32. CSP Dom. 1658-9, p. 292.
- 33. Harl. Misc. x. 23-67.
- 34. Collier, 119.