STARESMORE, Francis (1578-1626), of Frolesworth, Leics.
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Family and Education
bap. 9 Nov. 1578, 1st s. of Sabine Staresmore of Frolesworth and Elizabeth, da. of Walter Stanley of West Bromwich, Staffs.1 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1596.2 m. (1) by 1597, Christian, da. of John Chippingdale†, DCL, of Humberstone, Leics., 2s. 1da.; (2) by 1611, Frances (d. 2 June 1657), da. and coh. of William Brocas of Theddingworth, Leics., wid. of Edward Hezilrige of Arthingworth, Northants., 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1621. d. 8 May 1626.3
Staresmore’s great-grandfather acquired the manor and advowson of Frolesworth by marriage in the early sixteenth century. Situated in south-west Leicestershire near the Warwickshire border, Frolesworth was described by the early seventeenth-century Leicestershire antiquarian William Burton as ‘large, [with] exceeding good soil, … , and was enclosed not long since’. The Staresmore family itself was prolific and long lived: Staresmore’s father, who reached the age of 82, was the eldest of a family of 13, all but two of whom were married. Staresmore’s eldest uncle also lived to a ripe old age, and for 70 years held the family living.8
Staresmore’s cousin Sabine was a prominent separatist, but there is no evidence that Staresmore himself inclined to radical puritanism.9 In 1615 the deputy lieutenants of Leicestershire recommended him to their lord, the 5th earl of Huntingdon, as a suitable candidate for the command of a militia company, ‘being a gentleman of good sufficiency and one that hath ever duly respected your lordship and your whole house’. In the event, however, Staresmore was not appointed for another three years, when he was also added to the bench.10
Staresmore became one of the earl of Huntingdon’s deputy lieutenants in 1625, in which year he was also elected as knight of the shire for Leicestershire to the second Caroline Parliament, presumably on Huntingdon’s nomination. Although not mentioned in the surviving parliamentary records Staresmore clearly took a keen interest in the business of the Commons. On 26 Feb. 1626 he addressed a long report to Huntingdon, craving pardon that he had not written since the beginning of Parliament, and presenting as an excuse ‘that as yet it has not produced anything which is come to a conclusion’. He listed 18 public bills that had been read, including the bill against scandalous ministers which, incorrectly, he feared the Commons would not pass. He also reported proceedings concerning the St. Peter of Le Havre and complained that his colleague Sir Henry Hastings, who had been arrested at his election, had not appeared at Westminster. ‘I am wholly alone’, he wrote, ‘and shall have not assistance from him’. Finally, he asked Huntingdon to send him the accounts the expenses incurred by Leicestershire in levying soldiers so that he could obtain reimbursement from the Exchequer.11
Staresmore may have taken the opportunity of being in London to correct his apparently accidental omission from the first commission of the peace of the new reign. He was restored on 20 Mar., and three days later he wrote again to his patron with full details of the charges against Buckingham, and of the king’s demands for ‘justice’ against Clement Coke* and Samuel Turner*. Having reported (Sir) John Coke’s speech of that day outlining Charles’s financial demands Staresmore stated that ‘complaints come in daily against the duke, but the king shows him all favour, having himself warned the House not to meddle with his dear and near servant; yet some think he will not break with the House for any occasion’.12
Staresmore died on 8 May and was buried at Frolesworth five days later. The memorial put up by his widow records that, as well as being a justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant he expired while serving in Parliament. In his will, made on the day of his death, he disinherited his eldest son, Francis, to whom he left an annuity of just £30, to be increased to £50 after four years provided that he did not challenge the will. The estate was to be divided instead between Francis’ younger brother Henry and his half-brother William. This division marked the beginning of the family’s decline, which was hastened by a long lawsuit and losses sustained during the Civil War. No other member of the family sat in Parliament.13
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. A. Herbert and G.F. Farnham, ‘Frolesworth’, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xii. 191; Nichols, County of Leicester, iv. 187.
- 2. Al. Ox.
- 3. Herbert and Farnham, 191; Nichols, County of Leicester, iv. 190.
- 4. HEHL, HAM53/6, ff. 32v, 77.
- 5. C231/4, ff. 57, 199; Procs. 1626, iv. 263.
- 6. C212/22/21, 23.
- 7. HEHL, HAM53/6, f. 127; Nichols, iv. 187.
- 8. Herbert and Farnham, 187, 190; W. Burton, Description of Leicester Shire (1622), p. 110; Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 5-6.
- 9. C.E. Welch, ‘Early Nonconformity in Leics.’, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xxxvii. 31-2.
- 10. HEHL, HA8531.
- 11. Procs. 1626, iv. 98, 317-18.
- 12. Ibid. 319-21.
- 13. Herbert and Farnham, 182, 191-2; PROB 11/149, ff. 289-92; Nichols, iv. 182.