HERBERT, Sir Henry (c.1595-1673), of Ribbesford, nr. Bewdley, Worcs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640 - 20 Aug. 1642
1661 - 27 Apr. 1673

Family and Education

b. c.1595, 6th s. of Richard Herbert (d.1596) of Montgomery Castle by Magdalen, da. of Sir Richard Newport of High Ercall, Salop; bro. of Sir Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirbury, and George Herbert. educ. privately; travelled abroad (France) to 1618. m. (1) c.1625 (with £5,000), Susan, da. of Richard Sleford, Clothworker, of London, wid. of Edmund Plumer, Merchant Taylor, of London, 1s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) by 1653, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Robert Offley of Dalby, Leics., 1s. 2da. Kntd. 7 Aug. 1623.1

Offices Held

Gent. of the privy chamber 1622-5, 1631-46; dep. master of the revels 1623-41, master 1641-2, May 1660-d,; member, council in the marches of Wales 1633-?46.2

J.p. Worcs. by 1636-46, July 1660-d., commr. of array 1642, sheriff 1648-9; commr. for assessment, Worcs. Aug. 1660-d., Mdx. 1661-d., Westminster and Bucks. 1663-d., Salop and Mont. 1665-d., loyal and indigent officers, Mdx. and Worcs. 1662.3


Herbert was the great-uncle of the Hon. Henry Herbert and the youngest of a brilliant family. After marriage to a City widow he bought the mastership of the revels, with a salary of £500 p.a., for £3,000, and in 1627 he acquired the manor of Ribbesford, of which Bewdley had originally formed part. He was returned for the borough at both elections of 1640, but disabled as a royalist commissioner of array. Thereafter he sought, like his eldest brother, to maintain neutrality, but with even less success. He was plundered by both sides, and early in 1644 a Cavalier officer blew open the gates and the doors of Ribbesford with gunpowder, upbraided him as a traitor, and carried him off by force to sit in the Oxford Parliament. At the end of the first Civil War he petitioned to compound for an estate of £415 p.a., though its real value was almost double, and asked for debts of £3,000, loss of office, and four years arrears of salary to be taken into consideration. He was fined £1,332 at one-third. For most of the Interregnum he lived in London and took no part in royalist conspiracy.4

Herbert is unlikely to have stood in 1660, but in 1661 his great-nephew, the 3rd Lord Herbert of Chirbury, proposed him as candidate for the borough seat in Montgomery. As tenant of Kerry rectory, he had some claim to be regarded as a local landowner, but he was not elected. However, he regained his Bewdley seat by defeating the Cavalier, Sir Ralph Clare, and Lord Wharton listed him as a friend to be managed by Sir Richard Onslow. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 90 committees. In the opening session he was named to the committees for the security and corporations bills, for preventing mischief from Quakers, for the bill of pains and penalties, and for the Stour and Salwarp navigation bill. In the course of his prolonged and unsuccessful struggle to reassert the authority of his office over the theatres he was served with a subpoena on behalf of Michael Mohun, the leading man in the Theatre Royal. He claimed parliamentary privilege on 24 Jan. 1662, but the House ordered proceedings to be stayed three days later, and on 3 Feb. the court of common pleas awarded Herbert £48. In the 1663 session he was added to the committee for the regulation of printing and appointed to that for recommending remedies for meetings of dissenters. When he went out of town at the prorogation, one of his staff complained of his ‘much attendance at the Parliament House’. Listed as a court dependent in 1664, he was named to the committees for the bills to cancel the conveyance by Sir John Pakington, 2nd Bt., of his Aylesbury property, and to erect a separate parish of St. James Piccadilly, as well as to that for the conventicles bill. On 20 Jan. 1665 he carried up the bill to enable Samuel Sandys I and his son to sell part of their estate, and he was the first Member appointed to the committees on the bill for the true making of brick and tile and the bill for the Brixton navigation promoted by Lord Loughborough.5

Herbert’s attitude to Clarendon’s dismissal is unknown, and he was appointed to no further committees of political moment, though he took a keen interest in the rebuilding of London. He is recorded as making only four speeches. On 10 Dec. 1669 he opposed the attempt to suspend Sir George Carteret, because he ‘never remembers the suspension of any man but for things arising out of the House’. He argued cogently against double taxation of absentee Members in 1671, because it would condemn them unheard and expose the privileges of the Commons to the scrutiny of the Lords. He opposed the bill for a bridge at Putney on 4 Apr. because it looked like a monopoly and the House was too thin to consider so important a measure. He was on both lists of government supporters at this time as one of the Members who usually voted for supply. His last speech was in the debate on relief for ‘tender consciences’ on 14 Feb. 1673. He strongly opposed the extension of the bill to Papists, ‘for they are not quiet and peaceable men as others are’. He died on 27 Apr. and was buried at St. Paul’s, Covent Garden.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Edward Rowlands


  • 1. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xc), 47; PCC 65 Dale, 67 Byrde.
  • 2. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 132; J. Q. Adams, Dramatic Recs. of Sir Henry Herbert, 8; Arch. Camb. (ser. 6), xvii. 195.
  • 3. J. H. Gleason Justices of the Peace, 217; Townshend’s Diary ed. Bund, ii. 276.
  • 4. VCH Worcs. iv. 308; Keeler, Long Parl. 211; SP23/186/518-43; HMC 5th Rep. 179.
  • 5. PRO 30/53/7/76; L. Hotson, Commonwealth and Restoration Stage, 202-5; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 244; Adams, 129.
  • 6. Grey, i. 213-14, 393, 417; ii. 35.