WANDESFORD, Christopher (1592-1640), of Kirklington, Yorks.; later of Castlecomer, co. Kilkenny

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. 24 Sept. 1592, 1st s. of Sir George Wandesford of Kirklington and 1st w. Catherine, da. and coh. of Ralph Hansby of Beverley, Yorks.; bro. of John*.1 educ. Well g.s., Yorks.; Clare, Camb. 1607-11; G. Inn 1612.2 m. 22 Sept. 1614 (with £2,000), Alice (bur. 13 Dec. 1659), da. of Sir Hewet Osborne, 1st bt., of Kiveton, Derbys., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1612. d. 3 Dec. 1640.3 sig. Chr[istopher] Wandesforde.

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Yorks. (N. Riding) 1623-d., alum inquiry, London 1625;4 j.p. N. and W. Ridings 1625-6, N. Riding 1628-d., W. Riding 1629-d., liberty of Ripon, Yorks. 1629-d. (custos rot. 1630-d.);5 commr. oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1625-6, 1628-d.; member, High Commission, York prov. 1628; commr. recusant composition, Northern counties 1629-d.;6 member, Council in the North 1629-d.;7 steward, manor of Ripon 1629; dep. bailiff, Richmond liberty, Yorks. 1630;8 col. militia ft., Yorks. by 1633-d.9

Commr. fees 1630.10

Master of the Rolls [I] 1633-40;11 PC [I] 1633-d.;12 commr. defective titles [I] 1634, fees [I] 1635;13 ld. justice (jt.) [I] 1636, 1639-40;14 ld. dep. [I] 1640-d.15

MP [I] 1634-5.16


Wandesford’s ancestors acquired Kirklington by marriage in about 1370, but had never sat in Parliament. Wandesford’s career took shape at the local free school, where Lord Henry Clifford* and (Sir) Thomas Wentworth* were his schoolmates, and his voluminous correspondence with the latter is filled with the light-hearted banter common among old friends. His time at Cambridge was cut short by his father’s mental illness, which obliged him to pay more than £1,000 to compound for his own wardship. The fifth successive head of the family to inherit as a minor, the expenses of repeated wardships combined with poor estate management to reduce Wandesford’s annual income to £560, charged with £260 annuities. A thrifty lifestyle and a fortunate marriage in 1614 enabled him to pay off debts of £800, to educate his three younger brothers, and to double his income by buying in leases and raising rents. A staunch Protestant, he undertook the guardianship and conversion from Catholicism of his cousin Thomas Danby.17

Wandesford entered local politics at the Yorkshire election of 1614 as a supporter of his great-uncle Sir John Mallory*, who unsuccessfully challenged Wentworth for the junior county seat. Shortly thereafter he married the sister of Sir Edward Osborne, 2nd bt.*, on whose Derbyshire estates he lived for much of the next decade. At the general election of December 1620 he approached Wentworth for a seat, who persuaded Sir Henry Savile* to exchange his interest at Aldborough for a promise of patronage elsewhere. Wandesford also appeared for Wentworth at the hard-fought county election, and was probably the ‘Wanford’ who told the Commons’ privileges’ committee ‘there were not above one hundred freeholders for Sir John Savile*, and that there were two or three thousand freeholders for (Sir) George Calvert* and Sir Thomas Wentworth’. The House confirmed the result, but when two constables were punished for canvassing on Wentworth’s behalf Wandesford called ‘to mix justice and mercy together’.18

Although an active MP, Wandesford was not particularly prominent in Parliament in 1621, and he left no mark at all on the records of the autumn sitting, which he presumably missed. On 19 Mar. he gave evidence of the extortions practised under colour of the patent for dispensations from the 1563 Statute of Artificers, which was of particular interest to the House because it had been approved by Lord Chancellor St. Alban (Sir Francis Bacon*), whose impeachment for corruption was imminent. One of the by-products of Bacon’s fall was a bill to prevent bribery of legal officials; at its second reading on 27 Apr. Wandesford moved ‘that the great lawyers may pay back their fees when they do nothing for it’. On 1 May a heated debate about insults offered to Princess Elizabeth produced a vote to punish their author, a Catholic lawyer; on the following day, when the king asked Members to explain why they claimed jurisdiction, Wentworth called for legislation to confirm their (dubious) rights, but Wandesford urged that the whole House should attend the king for permission to proceed.1920

More active on behalf of local interests, Wandesford tabled a bill to establish the validity of the Crown’s title to all ex-chantry property, which would have curbed the impact of Sir John Townshend’s* concealed lands patent, against which his uncle William Mallory* spoke out. Although the bill was reported on 30 Apr. it progressed no further. Wandesford was presumably the ‘Mr. Wynsford’ who welcomed the bill to prohibit importation of grain during years of plenty, warning ‘that ploughing will be laid down in their county if provision not made for the price of corn’. When the same measure was reported on 17 May he brushed aside objections that the Eastland merchants would have nothing else to import in exchange for their cloth. With regulatory confusion in the wool trade causing problems in Yorkshire, he welcomed the report of the wool bill on 13 Mar., supporting a proposal to reduce speculation by requiring buyers to sell only to clothiers.21

In June 1623 Wentworth urged secretary of state Calvert to procure Wandesford’s appointment as a deputy lieutenant, vouching for his ‘discretion and capacities every ways for that employment’. Wandesford was not appointed, however, and he even had to wait a couple of years to be included in the commission of the peace. At the next election, in 1624, he overcame a challenge at Aldborough from Calvert’s servant, William Peasley, who was nominated by the Prince’s Council. In the Commons both he and his brother John, who was returned for Richmond, were active, although the records seldom distinguish between them. However, it is most likely that Christopher was the speaker in a handful of key debates: he had previous parliamentary experience; and Wentworth, ill in Yorkshire for many months, maintained a regular correspondence with his friend in London, hailing him as ‘my diligent and expedite ambassador resident with his Majesty of Great Britain’. A few days into the session, Wentworth wrote to ask whether it would be worth coming up for a week before Easter, and asked for a copy of the king’s opening speech to help him make up his mind.22

In Wentworth’s absence, it is hardly surprising that Wandesford remained silent during the initial debates about war with Spain. He found his voice on 5 Mar., during a debate about the 3rd earl of Southampton’s motion to offer supply in the event of a breach with Spain. Opponents of a precipitate declaration of war objected to this attempt to pressure the Commons into an early subsidy vote, and when Sir John Savile moved to reject the earl’s motion, Wandesford seconded him: ‘there is no reason to tie ourselves to answer a question before it be proposed ... this is not fit until good bills be passed’. He also called to add the words ‘in a parliamentary way’ to Southampton’s proposal, the better ‘to avoid the fear of unlimited entanglements’. Savile, Wentworth’s Yorkshire rival, was doubtless surprised to receive support from this quarter, but Wandesford’s suspicion of those who would rush into a war with Spain was entirely consonant with the opinions Wentworth had expressed in the autumn of 1621. Personal relations between Wandesford and Savile were otherwise frosty: on 17 Mar. MPs rushed out of the House to hear a message from the king which raised fresh hopes of agreement over a breach with Spain. The serjeant-at-arms was dispatched to fetch them back, whereupon Wandesford moved to suspend business in the absence of the mace, the symbol of the House’s authority; Savile retorted, ‘he would say that, that knew not the orders of the House’. While Savile thus spurned an olive branch from his Yorkshire enemies, the rival factions shared, for the moment, the same goal: avoidance of war. Savile’s finest hour came when he nearly wrecked the subsidy debate of 19 May with three simple questions, the first of which called to discuss the purposes for which the money to be voted was required. As the hawks tried to regain control of the debate the following morning, Wandesford proposed ‘that we go to the first question and afterwards a sub-committee for to give the king satisfaction’, a motion which offered limitless possibilities for delay, and was ultimately rejected.23

In the aftermath of the subsidy vote, Wandesford apparently played a role in the committee which investigated Matthias Fowles, the gold and silver thread patentee (13 April). On 8 May ‘Mr. Wandesford’ asked the House for leave to examine one of its own Members, Sir Edward Villiers, the elder half-brother of the duke of Buckingham and promoter of the patent. His report, offered to the House on 22 May, was not heard before the prorogation, perhaps because Villiers had already escaped censure in 1621. On 14 Apr. the Durham enfranchisement bill was reported by John Wandesford; Savile opposed the inclusion of the Bowes family’s manor of Barnard Castle, and the bill was sent back to the committee, with Christopher added to its number as a precaution; it was eventually passed on 4 May. Two days before the end of the session, when Sir Thomas Belasyse called to include the Palatine Benevolence of 1622 in the grievance petition, Sir Robert Phelips urged that such a provocative motion be set aside, but Wandesford gave it a guarded welcome:

had it not come in, considering the strait of the time, it had been well enough; ... it is not now new, but was moved long before and concerns the liberty of the subject so much as it is fit to consider it. Moves to give it the stamp of our judgment and so have it.

The motion was eventually dropped at the behest of Sir Francis Seymour. On the following morning Savile and Wandesford paired as tellers in opposition to the bill allowing Buckingham to acquire a grand London residence from the archbishop of York. Wentworth, fearing such provocation of the duke to be ill-advised, recounted the progress of the building works to Wandesford a few weeks later, reminding him that ‘the bill in conclusion passed, sir, in spite of your nose’.24

Wandesford returned to London in expectation of a fresh session on 2 Nov., but in the event the Parliament never met again. After the prorogation he was given leave by the Privy Council to remain in the capital because of his wife’s sickness. Following her recovery, he returned to his own home in Yorkshire rather than his brother-in-law’s Derbyshire estates. At the 1625 election the seat at Aldborough for which he had previously been returned went to the local squire, Richard Aldeburgh*; Wandesford found another seat at Richmond, in place of his brother. While no indenture survives for the county election, he was almost certainly present to see Wentworth beat Savile once again. However, the validity of Wentworth’s return was sure to be tested, for during the election the sheriff abandoned the poll. Consequently, on the first day of business, Mallory, citing the plague as a pretext, moved to adjourn until Michaelmas, while Wandesford urged ‘removal to another place’; both of these ploys were brushed aside. For his own reasons, Wentworth aimed to foster discontent over grievances, and Wandesford was happy to assist: on 29 June he was named to a committee investigating a complaint about wine impositions which Wentworth had endorsed; and two days later, when Wentworth promoted a petition for the reimbursement of press money from the treasurers for the 1624 subsidies, Wandesford demanded the censure of those magistrates who had issued the relevant warrants without statutory authority. When the Yorkshire election dispute was reported to the House on 4 July, Wandesford played for time by moving that witnesses be sent for, but Savile managed to wrong foot his enemies on the following morning. Wentworth’s call for counsel was put to a vote, with Wandesford as one of the tellers, the loss of which vote ensured Wentworth’s ejection from the House. The two men may have left Westminster together, as Wandesford did not reappear in the records of debates until 8 Aug., when he moved for Wentworth’s readmission following his second election victory over Savile. Both men spoke in the subsidy debate of 10 Aug., when Wentworth rejected supply in favour of bills and grievances and Wandesford called for the establishment of ‘a committee of the whole House to take consideration of all the business propounded in general’, a proposal which sounds suspiciously like Savile’s wrecking motion of 19 Mar. 1624.25

Wentworth’s pricking as sheriff in November 1625 rendered him ineligible for Parliament at the general election called the following month. Wandesford considered standing for the shire in his stead, but Wentworth urged him to look to Richmond, ‘wherein, if the sheriff can any ways further you ... you have him sure on your side’. His stature within the House grew rapidly in his friend’s absence, for shortly before the dissolution Wentworth’s father-in-law John Holles*, 1st earl of Clare commended him as ‘one of the chief, ablest and honestest labourers in that vineyard’.26 His new-found authority was illustrated on the opening day, when he abruptly resolved an absurd dispute over the choice of preacher at the Members’ communion: ‘to end the question, Mr. Wandesford offered to go out first; and so did’. During the first two weeks of the session, most of the duke’s enemies within the House proceeded with caution, trying to establish promising lines of enquiry for an attack on Buckingham without exposing themselves to counter-attack. The one dissenter from this approach was (Sir) John Eliot, who sprang to his feet on 10 Feb. and demanded an immediate investigation into misgovernment. Wandesford attempted to avert this eventuality, insisting that Eliot’s motion was made ‘too soon, because the House not full; grave bodies must go slowly’. Eliot discovered another incendiary cause on 17 Feb., when Sir Robert Howard* petitioned against his excommunication by High Commission while under parliamentary privilege; Wandesford consigned the investigation to a select committee, where it lay a month, and subsequently took pains to ensure that it did not become a privilege dispute. Buckingham’s Achilles heel was his conduct of naval affairs. Wandesford supported complaints about the depredations of Spanish privateers on 16 Feb., but it was another week before Eliot raised the case of the St. Peter, a French ship, whose seizure on Admiralty orders had quickly resulted in reprisals against English shipping in Normandy. Secretary of State Sir John Coke warned the House against exacerbating international tensions, but Eliot was adamant, and in a speech which oozed contempt for the duke’s diplomacy, Wandesford recalled ‘the time when we might not speak of the king of Spain, and now we having matched with the French it is much fitter to [?light] upon the [?French] nation’. On 23 Feb., learning that the duke had been personally responsible for a second seizure of the St. Peter, he insisted that ‘the honour of the King, the justice of the House and the good of the kingdom [was] concerned in this case’. He was thereupon named to the investigating committee.27

While Eliot busied himself with the conduct of the St. Peter investigation, Wandesford, on 24 Feb., broached the subject of supply: ‘it is the King’s modesty that he has forborne to demand supply. This should quicken us’. Supply came, of course, at a high price, namely,

that we may enter into a serious consideration [of] the freeing ourselves from those manacles and fetters of our liberty, of impositions, of the king’s revenues, and take off the blemishes of the king and kingdom. That we may hear the people; he hopes the king may hear us, and God all.

He was thereupon appointed chairman of a grand committee for supply, which resolved, upon Eliot’s motion, to begin by debating the evils of the kingdom, their causes and remedies. Wandesford was appointed chairman of this second committee on 27 Feb., and while this reduced his impact upon individual debates, he remained in charge of the Commons’ agenda over the crucial issues of supply and grievances for the remainder of the session, reducing Speaker Heneage Finch to an almost helpless cipher. He launched his first attack on 28 Feb., summoning the Council of War to answer for their expenditure of the 1624 subsidies, an issue which had received only brief attention during the 1625 session. This proved to be a dead end, and following a report on 11 Mar. he moved to discharge the Council pending further investigation. Meanwhile the Lords, keen to put supply back on the Commons’ agenda, called a conference on 7 Mar., at which the 3rd earl of Pembroke, one of Wentworth’s Court contacts, outlined the king’s needs and obligations. Wandesford was one of those charged to take notes, and as soon the conference was reported in the Commons, he moved to negate its impact: ‘He never heard that the Lords put us in mind of supply. That we should not give them any answer for the thing itself of supply, but appoint a select committee to consider of an answer to the other things’. A snap vote, in which Wandesford acted as one of the tellers, duly consigned the task of drafting an answer to a select committee. On 10 Mar. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Richard Weston*, made the first serious attempt to inaugurate a supply debate, but most speakers, even those such as Savile who were trying to ingratiate themselves with the duke, were not interested. Wandesford unhelpfully recalled that ‘the form of three or four last Parliaments has been to give first and afterward think of other things, which has produced no good effect’. Weston tried again three days later, when Wandesford insisted that it was ‘not the course of a Parliament to give monies only and doing nothing else go home’, suggesting that revenue reform should take priority over supply.28

Wandesford’s dismissal of supply was followed by a speech by the Pembroke client Dr. Samuel Turner, who outlined an agenda for the investigation of Buckingham’s conduct. Weston complained about this speech on 14 Mar., but Wandesford seized upon Turner’s proposals (16 Mar.), reported them to the House (18 Mar.), ensured their adoption as a formal agenda for debate (22 Mar.) and made an interim report on the findings (25 March). Meanwhile, after Secretary Coke laid out the king’s needs of just over £1 million on 23 Mar., Wandesford persuaded the House to postpone the debate, observing that ‘as much as is desired we cannot possibly give’. With the king’s patience expiring, the long-awaited subsidy debate finally took place on 27 Mar.: three subsidies and three fifteenths (the balance of the sum king James had called for in 1624) was offered. Wandesford approved of this grant, but warned that taxpayers would be ‘unable to give this unless the king likewise help us’, and moved ‘to desire redress of our grievances before the bill be read’.29 On 29 Mar. Charles responded by threatening to dissolve Parliament if the attacks on the duke continued, and registering his disgust at the link which had been made between supply and grievances. Next morning Wandesford introduced a defiant speech by Eliot, but further debate was rendered unnecessary by a capitulation on the king’s part: Buckingham informed the Commons that they would be allowed to proceed with their grievances.30

Wandesford’s committee resumed its work on 17 Apr., developing detailed impeachment charges against the duke, the ‘cause of causes’, which took two weeks to complete. The question of supply inched forward in tandem: chancellor Weston delivered a contrite message asking for an increase in the subsidy grant; Wandesford moved for a vote on the general principle of increased supply on 25 Apr.; and on the following morning the House parted with a single subsidy more. Echoing widespread concern over declining subsidy yields, Wandesford suggested that the knights of the shire for every county bring in their subsidy rolls for scrutiny, but nothing was formally agreed. In the same manner, Wandesford announced on 5 May that he was prepared to allow the nomination of a committee to draft the preamble to the subsidy bill, but insisted that it should not meet before Buckingham’s impeachment charges had been delivered to the Lords. Before this could happen, outstanding allegations had to be considered: the St. Peter investigation was revived on 1 May, and while the duke’s men mounted a vigorous defence, Wandesford and Eliot insisted on dividing the House in order to include this allegation among the charges; another allegation about the duke adoring the Host in Spain was laid aside.31

On 9 May, having presented his share of the impeachment charges concerning the duke’s alleged poisoning of King James on his deathbed, Wandesford confessed ‘that the duke sat yesterday hearing his charge with more confidence than I could deliver it’, and called for Buckingham to be detained pending trial; the motion passed on a voice vote, but the duke’s opponents insisted on a division (in which Wandesford acted as one of the tellers), which revealed that two-thirds of the House were against the favourite. Impeachment proceedings were suspended when Charles arrested Eliot and Sir Dudley Digges for dwelling upon the poisoning charge in their concluding remarks. Wandesford, obviously concerned that he might be the next Member to take up residence in the Tower, called for

a Remonstrance to His Majesty and therein to deliver plainly whom we think to be the cause of this, and to let His Majesty know that he is the cause of all our grief and that we expect justice from him; he [Buckingham] is the man that interposes between the king and his people.

After a tense few days during which Wandesford remained silent (and perhaps in hiding), first Digges and then Eliot were released and cleared by the Commons. The House went further on 22 May, when John Pym called for a law covering freedom of speech, and Wandesford, in a curious precursor of a motion pursued in the next Parliament, suggested a bill ‘for the preservation of our liberties’.32

Having delivered the impeachment charges to the Lords, Wandesford’s chief role in the final weeks of the session was to ensure that the subsidy bill remained stalled in his committee, an undemanding task which left him free to intervene elsewhere. On 1 June he suggested that a petition asking the king to work towards the lifting of the French trade embargo be laid aside for a few days. Two days later, the preamble to the subsidy bill was reported, and nothing now stood in the way of its first reading except for the Lords’ obvious reluctance to pursue the Commons’ impeachment charges. Wandesford moved to submit a justification of the Commons’ proceedings to the Upper House: ‘if we go on with the matter of the money and the Lords do nothing above in the business of the country, what account shall we give our country?’ At this point the Hampshire MP John More II rashly implied that Charles was a tyrant, whereupon Wandesford and his colleagues, having cleared Digges and Eliot only days earlier, moved to commit More to the Tower in order to establish that they were as solicitous of the king’s privileges as their own. On 8 June evidence was produced to show that Sir John Savile, a thorn in the flesh of Buckingham’s enemies throughout the session, had written a letter to the Yorkshire clothiers criticizing the Commons’ efforts. Wandesford helped to cross-examine the witnesses, but Savile undermined his own credibility by losing his temper. Next day, the king gave the Commons a week to pass the subsidy bill or face dissolution; the House preferred to add to their catalogue of the duke’s shortcomings, and when Sir George Goring, the favourite’s favourite, claimed that Charles rather than Buckingham had instigated the pricking of Wentworth and six others as sheriffs in November 1625, Wandesford insisted that ‘it trenches not upon the king’s honour at all, for he was misinformed by the duke of the proceedings and intentions of Parliament’. In a final act of defiance, Wandesford helped to persuade the House to let the Remonstrance against Buckingham take precedence over the subsidy bill, a decision which guaranteed a swift dissolution.33

Two days after the end of the Parliament, Wandesford was summoned before attorney-general Sir Robert Heath* as one of the 12 MPs who had presented the impeachment charges against Buckingham. They were asked to surrender their papers so that the case against Buckingham could be pursued in Star Chamber, but Eliot, acting on their behalf, declined to do so. Both Wandesford and Wentworth were summarily dismissed from the commission of the peace in July 1626, and Wandesford was sent a punitive Privy Seal for £100. There is no evidence that he paid it, though he did not disapprove of loans in principle, for when expecting an even larger Privy Seal a year later, he observed that ‘the king’s wants must be supplied, and since he declines the ordinary way, what can be more warrantable for the subject than this?’ While Savile singled Wentworth out for persecution over the Forced Loan, Wandesford escaped payment by hiding away in his own house whenever the collectors appeared, although he remained in constant touch with Wentworth. ‘I do not think it fit for me to desire to give my answer at the [Council] table’, he claimed, but he disapproved of those who refused to give the councillors due deference: ‘the fewer [William] Corytons* and [George] Catesbys the better, it is no time now to play at sharp with the Crown’. As early as September 1627 he was looking for indications of a fresh Parliament, and when the expected summons failed to come he correctly deduced the yield of the Loan ‘to be greater and more valuable towards the charge of this war than we have heard’. He warned Wentworth of Savile’s growing popularity among Catholics, following the success of the commission to compound for recusancy fines, and in January 1628, upon fresh reports of an election, he met with Mallory and Sir Ferdinando Fairfax* to arrange an electoral alliance between Wentworth and Henry Belasyse*: ‘you must join with a man gracious with the papists, which only Henry is’. During the 1628 election his interest at Richmond was undermined by his uncle Bowes’s financial problems and the lord president’s determination to secure the return of his secretary, James Howell*. He asked Wentworth to sound out Coryton or Sir Francis Seymour* about a seat in the south-west, but was eventually returned at Thirsk on the Belasyse interest.34

Wentworth returned to the Commons with a determination to serve as an honest broker between Crown and subject, and his stance had a striking impact on Wandesford, erstwhile troublemaker, but a voice of reason in 1628. This became obvious to all on 25 Mar., when Eliot raised objections to the use of foreign employment as a punishment for opponents of Crown policy. Wentworth made light of this grievance, and was seconded by Wandesford: ‘moderation is the best way to wind us out of this dark labyrinth. No question deserves more the wisdom of this House than those where the king’s prerogative and the subject’s liberty jostle together’. Secretary Coke rehearsed a list of the Crown’s military requirements on the following day, whereupon Wandesford insisted that liberty of the subject came first, but in terms more conciliatory than most were prepared to use:

every man was willing to hear these propositions, and I hope every man is as willing to dispatch them. Yet I think there ought to be a time of deliberation, for it is not giving money that will set all right, but the true understanding upon what terms we give it. We will give it with duty, and what we deny we will deny with duty. And we believe His Majesty in point of love will deal the like with us.

The debate merely provoked a vote condemning the Forced Loan and a resolution to petition the Crown, at which Wandesford insouciantly remarked, ‘I hope well of the petition, but it’s yet early days’. On 29 Mar. solicitor-general Sir Richard Shilton began a half-hearted attempt to argue precedents for imprisonment without cause shown; while not exactly supportive of Shilton’s efforts, Wandesford was at least prepared to allow him to make his case in an otherwise hostile environment.35

The Crown made its first serious bid for supply on 2 Apr.: Wentworth offered supply following satisfaction of grievances, but called to put the debate off for two days; his motion was repeated by Wandesford, and on 4 Apr. both men spoke in favour of a grant of five subsidies, an offer which matched the Forced Loan and was probably the least the Commons could offer to avert a dissolution. The House then returned to the task of cataloguing recent breaches of the liberties of the subject. On 9 Apr., when a heated debate was provoked by the discovery that John Baber* had issued warrants for billeting troops without any legal authority, Wandesford attempted to pour oil on troubled waters: ‘that we may proceed as we have begun, with temper and moderation. I look not so much what concerns this man, as what may guide us in our peaceable ways’. He was more concerned about the Hampshire commission for martial law two days later:

While soldiers are in the army let be done what is fit in that place, but when they are here in times of peace, either it is fit justices of peace should have power over them, or else I shall have cause to fear something is meant more than is intended for us to know.

He deplored the interruption to business when John Selden* was accused of falsifying precedents by the 2nd earl of Suffolk (Theophilus, Lord Howard*), but confessed ‘it cannot stand with our honour, nor the honour of that Lord whom it concerns, to have it thus passed over’; and when Secretary Coke pressed the House for progress over supply, it was Wandesford who reminded him that ‘the proceeding now with our grievances shall open the stop that hinders His Majesty’s affairs’. Late in its investigations, the Commons uncovered the case of a man imprisoned for refusing to contribute to a levy imposed by the London corporation: Wandesford claimed ‘I hear no proof of any custom’, and was seconded by Wentworth.36

By the end of April a bill for preservation of liberties had been drafted, but it still had to be confirmed by Lords and king. When John Griffith III proposed to lay the bill aside and rely solely upon the king’s word, he was called to order by Wandesford on the technical grounds that the motion to draft a bill had already been approved. The king subsequently made a similar offer, a personal guarantee to uphold the medieval statutes the bill aimed to confirm: Wandesford claimed ‘that we want no more than former laws’, but insisted that the bill be passed; like many other Members his views altered over the next few days, and on 6 May he joined in widespread calls for the bill to be replaced by a Petition of Right. He played no part in the negotiations over attempts to add a saving clause to the Petition in order to preserve the prerogative, but on 23 May, when the Lords moved for a joint committee to devise some other form of compromise, he ventured to say that ‘if this motion had been made six weeks hence, I should have yielded’. Instead, he moved to defer the debate to the following day, by which time the Lords had capitulated. Some semblance of normality was restored once agreement was reached on the Petition: on 30 May Wentworth and Wandesford joined as tellers in a vote to condemn Sir Thomas Monson’s* patent for the drafting of bills at the Council in the North, and while the House awaited the king’s answer to the Petition, Wandesford joined the inconsequential debate on the precedence of Oxford and Cambridge universities in the subsidy bill: ‘if Oxford had good cause they would stand upon reason, not numbers’.37

Charles’s first answer to the Petition was a bare confirmation of the text, an entirely inadequate response which seems to have shattered Wandesford’s assumption that the king would do right by his subjects. The first to rise from his seat, he initially retained come degree of composure: ‘I am one of those that are full of this general apprehension. But wished all of us to recollect our spirits and to do that which shall be fit for Englishmen and honest men’. At this point he was swept away by a torrent of emotion: ‘Why should we do anything till we be righted? If we must not speak of ministers, what must we do?’ It was ‘a dangerous time when bitter are called sweet, and sweet sour, good were ill and ill good’. He added that ‘we are taxed with puritanism, faction, popularity’ and moved ‘to go to the king and acquaint him what we are about; to tell him that which none else dared’. This speech set the tone for the hysterical debates of the next two days, but exhaustion eventually set in, allowing the king to deliver a second answer on 7 June, which, Wandesford claimed, ‘joyed every man’s heart’. He moved to register the House’s gratitude in the preamble to the subsidy bill, but his own misgivings were hardly quieted. On two separate occasions he called for the cancellation of an excise commission drafted for use in case of an angry dissolution: ‘though we had a great expression of His Majesty’s grace, yet let us use all means to prevent these projects’. He gave evidence against auditor (Sir) Edmund Sawyer*, author of a new book of customs rates, and he even endorsed the Remonstrance against Buckingham in the warmest terms: ‘the excessive power and the abuse of that power is the principal cause of these evils’.38

When Wentworth was raised to the peerage in July 1628, Howell reported that both he and Wandesford

are grown great courtiers lately, and come from Westminster Hall to Whitehall ... The Lord Weston tampered with the one, and my Lord Cottington took pains with the other, to bring them about from their violence against the prerogative.

Wandesford was swiftly restored to the commission of the peace, but in the 1629 parliamentary session his new loyalties undermined his effectiveness. One of the few committees to which he was named dealt with a petition against Savile’s recusancy commission (16 Feb.), but the frantic pace of the session left him with little opportunity to make trouble for others. On 6 Feb. the House investigated the role of attorney-general Heath and Bishop Neile in procuring pardons for several notorious Arminian clergymen. While Eliot condemned them as traitors, Wandesford joined with the government’s spokesmen in confessing the justice of the case and calling for further investigation: ‘this grieves us, when His Majesty’s grace goes swiftly to these malignant persons and slowly towards his best subjects, who have as good an interest’. He was later sent to hear the rather evasive testimony of chief justice Sir Thomas Richardson* about the release of a dozen priests arrested in the Jesuits’ college at Clerkenwell during the previous year. Urging caution in dealing with the Crown’s seizure of London merchants’ goods for refusal of customs duties, he warned ‘I would not have this House move anything in vain. If the judges give us not satisfaction [we] are no nearer our ends, or the merchants their goods’. He added that he hoped that if they proceeded temperately ‘there would be a course taken to repair this wound by removing and cancelling all records and such orders as prejudiceth us’. Nor did he approve of Eliot’s intention to punish the customs farmers: ‘we should forbear and decline at this time to consider of the delinquency of these men, and would have us first to take a course to establish the merchants in possession of their goods’, and then pass the Tunnage and Poundage bill. One of the few Members who made a serious effort to allay the tumult of 2 Mar., he argued that ‘if it be free for any man here to lay aspersions upon any great person, I know not why it should not be as lawful to speak anything freely in excuse of him until that which he is charged with be proved against him’. He moved for an adjournment, but Eliot ignored him and swept on to disaster.39

Wandesford was offered the Madrid embassy in 1630, but he declined on the grounds that his stalwart Protestantism was unsuited to a Catholic Court. Indeed, he later declared to Bishop Bramhall that the Church of England was ‘the most pure, most holy and most conformable to Christ’s institution of any on earth’. It was, he claimed, personal loyalty rather than ambition, that induced him to take up office in Ireland under Wentworth in 1633, although he acquired a lucrative estate at Castlecomer in 1636, where he planted settlers and ran an ironworks. He was returned to the Irish Parliament for Kilkenny in 1634, helping Wentworth to secure a grant of six subsidies, but was less successful in dealing with the 1640 Parliament in his friend’s absence. In failing health, his will, drafted on 2 Oct. 1640, provided for his unmarried children. He died on 3 Dec. and was buried in Christ Church, Dublin, greatly mourned by the Irish, who ‘set up their lamentable keen ... for him in the church, which was never known before for any Englishman done’. His grandson Christopher sat for Ripon in two of the Exclusion Parliaments.40

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Karen Bishop / Simon Healy


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. i. 344-5.
  • 2. Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4 xii), 319; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 3. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. i. 344-5.
  • 4. C181/3, f. 96; R.B. Turton, Alum Farm, 141.
  • 5. Som. RO, Phelips DD/PH/219/66; C231/4, ff. 190, 260; 231/5, p. 12; C181/3, f. 265.
  • 6. C181/3, f. 181; SP16/123/46; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 48; ix. pt. 2, p. 162.
  • 7. R. Reid, Council in the North, 498.
  • 8. H.B. M’Call, Fam. of Wandesford, 75.
  • 9. Add. 28082, f. 81; HMC Cowper, ii. 204.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 236.
  • 11. Rymer, viii. pt. 4, p. 61.
  • 12. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 84.
  • 13. CSP Ire. 1633-47, pp. 56-7, 191.
  • 14. Ibid. 139, 222.
  • 15. Ibid. 244.
  • 16. H. Kearney, Strafford in Ire. 229.
  • 17. J.T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 44, 130-1, 186; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 400; Wentworth Pprs. 277.
  • 18. W. Yorks. AS (Bradford) 32D86/38/2, f. 14v; T. Comber, Mems. Ld. Dep. Wandesford (1778), p. 39; Strafforde Letters, i. 8; Beaumont Pprs. ed. W.D. Macray (Roxburghe Club cxiii), 43-4; Surr. Hist. Cent. LM 1331/25; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 175; CJ, i. 571a.
  • 19. CD 1621, ii. 328; iii. 144; v. 53, 311; CJ, i. 595a, 605a.
  • 20. W. Yorks. AS (Bradford) 32D86/38/2, f. 14v; T. Comber, Mems. Ld. Dep. Wandesford (1778), p. 39; Strafforde Letters, i. 8; Beaumont Pprs. ed. W.D. Macray (Roxburghe Club cxiii), 43-4; Surr. Hist. Cent. LM 1331/25; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 175; CJ, i. 571a.
  • 21. CD 1621, ii. 217; iii. 281; v. 316; vii. 23-8; SIR JOHN TOWNSHEND; CJ, i. 545a, 553a, 597b; P.J. Bowden, Wool Trade in Tudor and Stuart Eng.
  • 22. Wentworth Pprs. 188-92, 204-5; DCO, ‘Prince Charles in Spain’, f. 34.
  • 23. ‘Lowther 1624’, f. 24; Ferrar 1624, p. 62; Holles 1624, p. 38; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 69; T. Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, 184-6, 203-17; C. Russell, ‘Wentworth and anti-Spanish sentiment’, Pol. World of Thomas Wentworth ed. J.F. Merritt, 60-2.
  • 24. CJ, i. 701a, 708b, 714a, 765-6, 782b; R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, pp. 63-5, 124-5; ‘Pym 1624’, iii, f. 33v; ‘Spring 1624’, pp. 217, 248-9; Strafforde Letters, i. 21.
  • 25. APC, 1623-5, pp. 392-3; Comber, 45; Wentworth Pprs. 230; Procs. 1625, pp. 211, 268, 283, 297, 315, 423, 446.
  • 26. Strafforde Letters, i. 32-3; Holles Letters ed. P.R. Seddon (Thoroton Soc. rec. ser. xxxv), ii. 331.
  • 27. Procs. 1626, ii. 8, 18, 56, 63, 98, 103, 110, 332; iii. 142; C. Russell, PEP, 278-81.
  • 28. Procs 1626, ii. 114, 119, 127, 148, 227-9, 250, 256, 259, 272; Russell, PEP, 281, 285-9.
  • 29. Procs. 1626, ii. 272, 282, 299, 312-15, 342-4, 349-52, 368, 380; Russell, PEP, 289-91.
  • 30. Procs. 1626, ii. 397-8, 403; Russell, PEP, 291-3.
  • 31. Procs. 1626, iii. 31, 66, 74-80, 108, 111-16, 156-64, 194; Russell, PEP, 303-4.
  • 32. Procs. 1626, iii. 140, 183-4, 201-8, 213-14, 243, 250, 237-9, 292, 298, 302-5; Russell, PEP, 304-7.
  • 33. Procs. 1626, iii. 342, 353-5, 362, 399-401, 423, 426-30; Russell, PEP, 307, 319-22; SIR JOHN SAVILE.
  • 34. Eliot Letter Bk. ed. A.B. Grosart, 6-8; Som. RO, Phelips DD/PH/219/66; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 38-9; Wentworth Pprs. 266-8, 276-8, 283-7; J. Howell, Epistolae Ho-Elianae (1727), pp. 199-200.
  • 35. CD 1628, ii. 103, 128-9, 131, 198, 218.
  • 36. Ibid. ii. 263, 385, 421, 481; iii. 77; vi. 63; Russell, PEP, 346-8.
  • 37. CD 1628, iii. 155-6, 161, 210-11, 273, 278, 586; iv. 22-3, 48; Russell, PEP, 368-70, 373-4.
  • 38. CD 1628, iv. 124, 185, 200, 268, 300, 398; Russell, PEP, 378-89.
  • 39. Howell, 215-16; C231/4, f. 260; CJ, i. 930b; CD 1629, pp. 156, 176, 197, 218, 266.
  • 40. M’Call, 122, 314-15; CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 294; CSP Ire. 1633-47, pp. 131, 247; N. Canny, Making Ire. British, 396-9; Life of Mrs. Thornton (Surtees Soc. lxii), 26; Strafforde Letters, i. 277-9; ii. 249-51.