WRIOTHESLEY, James, Lord Wriothesley (1605-1624), of Titchfield, 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



1624 - 5 Nov. 1624

Family and Education

b. 1 Mar. 1605,1 1st s. of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd earl of Southampton and Elizabeth, da. of John Vernon of Hodnet, Salop.2 educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1619; L. Inn 1621; embassy, Paris 1621; travelled abroad (Low Countries) 1623.3 unm. styled Lord Wriothesley; cr. KB 3 Nov. 1616.4 d. 5 Nov. 1624.5

Offices Held

Freeman, Southampton, Hants 1623,6 Winchester 1624.7

Capt. ft., 3rd earl of Southampton’s regt., 17 Aug. 1624-d.8


Originally descended from a Wiltshire attorney, the Wriothesley family acquired a peerage when Thomas Wriothesley† became lord chancellor in 1544. Wriothesley’s father, best known as Shakespeare’s patron, was imprisoned for his part in the Essex rising, but released on the accession of James I.9 The new king stood godfather in person to Wriothesley, and dubbed him a knight of the Bath at the creation of Charles as prince of Wales in 1616.10

At Cambridge Wriothesley became close friends with Sir Simonds D’Ewes†.11 Although he had not yet completed his formal education, with his father’s backing Wriothesley was returned for Callington to the third Stuart Parliament at the age of only 15. On 15 Feb. 1621 he was ordered to attend a conference on the recusancy petition.12 His other appointments included committees to draft a bill to improve the militia (7 Mar.) and to consider the subsidy bill (7 March). He was also named to attend the monopolies conference on 13 March.13 Although appointed, he did not attend the committee for a private bill of Viscount Montagu (15 March).14 After the Easter recess he was named to the joint committee to consider how to punish the Catholic lawyer Floyd for slandering Elizabeth of Bohemia (8 May), and to help manage a conference on the Sabbath bill (24 May).15 His final committee appointment was on 25 May for a bill against foreign bribes.16 In July he accompanied the Scottish favourite Viscount Doncaster to France, and so may not have attended the winter sitting.17

Having been rejected by Lord Treasurer Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*) as a potential match for his daughter,18 Wriothesley travelled abroad again in 1623 with his tutor William Beeston*, visiting the exiled Bohemian Court at The Hague.19 At the next election he was returned for Winchester, where his father was high steward. In the last Jacobean Parliament Southampton led a campaign against the duke of Buckingham in the Upper House, but if Wriothesley shared his father’s political ambitions his activity in the Commons reveals little trace of it. On 27 Feb. 1624 he was named to a committee to vindicate Buckingham’s account of the mission to Spain, and two days later he was among those ordered to manage a conference on the address for breaking off the prince’s marriage negotiations.20 Wriothesley’s other appointments included five private estate bills, of which he attended at least one, concerning the manor of Prees in Lancashire (14 Apr.); a committee to examine the petition of the Virginia Company, of which his father was a leading member (26 Apr.); and a conference with the Lords on bills for limitations and pleadings in the Exchequer (30 April).21 On 28 May he was named to the delegation to present the grievances to the king.22

The main business of the Parliament had been to consider whether England should enter the Thirty Years’ War, and after the dissolution Wriothesley was keen to get involved in the military preparations. Refused the command of a volunteer regiment in the Low Countries because of his youth, he had to be content with a captaincy under his father.23 The two men crossed over to the Continent in September, but Wriothesley succumbed to a convulsive fever on 5 Nov., his father surviving him by just five days.24 They were buried at Titchfield on 28 December. The double tragedy inspired a collection of verse in which their chaplain extolled Wriothesley’s ‘pious cares, his studious nights, his thrifty days, his innocent delights’.25 On the death of his brother, the 4th earl, in 1667, the family became extinct without further Commons service.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C.C. Stopes, Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton, 291.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 391; Stopes, 448.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 159.
  • 5. Carleton to Chamberlain ed. M. Lee, 308, 317.
  • 6. HMC 11th Rep. III. 24.
  • 7. Hants RO, W/B1/4, f. 33v.
  • 8. Stopes, 460; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 248; SP84/121, f. 266
  • 9. Stopes, 206-65.
  • 10. J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, iii. 219.
  • 11. Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 147.
  • 12. CJ, i. 522b.
  • 13. Ibid. 543a, 544a, 511a.
  • 14. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 187.
  • 15. CJ, i. 614b, 626a.
  • 16. Ibid. 626b.
  • 17. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 391.
  • 18. Stopes, 448.
  • 19. Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes, ii. 166; D’Ewes Diary, 1622-4 ed. E. Bourcier, 105, 153.
  • 20. CJ, i. 676b, 722a.
  • 21. Ibid. 691a, 695a, 766a; Kyle, 206.
  • 22. CJ, i. 714a.
  • 23. CSP Ven. 1623-5, p. 333; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 248.
  • 24. Carleton to Chamberlain ed. Lee, 308, 317.
  • 25. W. Jones, Treatise of Patience in Tribulation, 42-3.