MILDMAY, Henry (1619-92), of Graces, Little Baddow, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. 25 Nov. 1619, 1st s. of Sir Henry Mildmay of Graces by 2nd w. Amy, da. of Brampton Gurdon† of Assington, Suff. educ. Felsted (Martin Holbeach); G. Inn entered 1632. m. (1) Cicely, da. and coh. of Walter Barker of Haughmond, Salop, 2da.; (2) 30 June 1657, Mary (d. 15 Apr. 1715), da. of Robert Mildmay of Overton, Northants., 4s. d.v.p. 5da. suc. fa. 1639.2
Capt. of horse (parliamentary) 1642, col. 1643; gov. of Cambridge Castle 1645.3
Commr. for levying money, Essex 1643, defence, eastern assoc. 1643, execution of ordinances 1643, assessment, Essex 1644-52, 1657, Jan. 1660, 1689-90, Salop 1650-2, Mdx. Aug. 1660-3, militia, Mdx. 1644, Essex 1648, 1659, Essex and Mdx. Mar. 1660, new model ordinance, Essex 1645, defence, Ely 1645; j.p. Essex by 1645-July 1660, 1664-72, Apr. 1688-d., Salop 1650-3; commr. for scandalous ministers, Essex 1654.4
The prolific Mildmay family acquired monastic property in Essex in early Tudor times as officials of the court of augmentations, and one of them sat for Maldon in the last Parliament of Edward VI. Mildmay’s father, a younger son, was knighted in Ireland by the second Earl of Essex, and he himself was in arms for Parliament in the Civil War. He was nominated to the high court of justice for the trial of Charles I, but he did not sit. An opponent of the Protectorate, Mildmay was arrested after Booth’s rising but almost immediately released.5
At the general election of 1660 Mildmay stood for Maldon, of which his cousin, Sir Henry Mildmay of Wanstead, was high steward. He was involved in a double return with Edward Herrys but allowed to take his seat. He was appointed only to the committee for the assessment ordinance before his election was declared void. With his cousin in captivity as a technical regicide, he is unlikely to have stood at the by-election or in 1661. The forfeited stewardship of Maldon was given to John Bramston, for whom Mildmay conceived an implacable hatred. In 1672 he suborned a Portuguese Jew to accuse his enemy of acting as a papal emissary. But the Privy Council had no difficulty in breaking down the evidence and Mildmay was ‘turned out of all commissions whatsoever’.6
Mildmay was returned for Essex to the three Exclusion Parliaments. A member of the Green Ribbon Club, he was marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list. He was moderately active in 1679, being appointed to 11 committees and speaking twice. When Edward Sackville was charged with ‘vilifying the King’s evidence’ in the Popish Plot, Mildmay declared:
The danger of England is not so much by Papists as by Protestants in masquerade. Some professed Protestants hold dangerous correspondence with Papists; and [the question is] whether this gentleman be not such a correspondent as disparages the Protestants, and King, and Parliament? I would therefore address the King to let him see the sense of the House of the danger the kingdom is in, of any man thus mixed and touched, to be in any employment, and humbly desire his Majesty that he may be dismissed from all his employments.
Among his committees were those for examining the disbandment accounts, removing Papists from London and examining naval miscarriages. He voted for exclusion. In the autumn election Mildmay and his partner John Lamotte Honeywood owed much to the support of Lord Grey of Warke. Nevertheless, at the hustings his nose was pulled and he was ‘otherwise affronted’,
for which he said he would complain in Parliament; and he further said that, since he was hated by all the gentlemen in the country, he would make them fear him.
He was returned at the head of the poll, and together with Honeywood and others presented a petition for the meeting of Parliament in the following winter. The king
told Colonel Mildmay it was the old business of 1641, and asked him if he had not forgot it. He answered that he had not, and hoped his Majesty could not forget the year 1660 when their petition was the cause of his Restoration. Upon which his Majesty went away not well pleased.
A moderately active Member of the second Exclusion Parliament, Mildmay was appointed to six committees, none of much importance, and made three speeches. He served as teller for the election of Algernon Sidney at Amersham. He urged the appointment of a committee to inspect the works of (Sir) Matthew Hale prior to publication ‘that it may be done in a safe way’. He defended Sir Robert Peyton, enumerating his services in the previous Parliament, and supported the Lords bill for regulating the trial of peers. His committees included those to consider a petition against ecclesiastical courts and to prepare the impeachment of the Bristol clergyman Thompson. Barrillon considered him one of the most considerable Members in the Commons, a Presbyterian ‘of much credit and strongly opposed to the Court’. In the Oxford Parliament Mildmay spoke in favour of printing the resolutions of the House, declaring:
By experience we have found that when former Parliaments have been prorogued or dissolved, they have been sent away with a declaration against them. If our actions be naught, let the world judge of them; if they be good, let them have their virtue. It is fit that all Christendom should have notice of what you do, and posterity of what you have done, and I hope they will do as you do; therefore I am for printing the votes.
He was named to the committee of elections and privileges and to those for the impeachment of Fitzharris and for drawing up the third exclusion bill.7
Mildmay’s name was mentioned in the depositions taken after the Rye House Plot. One informant alleged that he was for a commonwealth. Lord Grey described him as
a formal, timorous blockhead, who desired nothing in the world but to be a knight of the shire, and would never venture his person beyond a riot, nor in that neither but to carry his election.
In February he was obliged to enter into a recognizance for £1,000 and find two securities for £500 ‘to be of good behaviour’. Nevertheless he was nominated as Whig candidate for the county in 1685. At the Maldon election he supported Sir William Wiseman, but he was balked by the manoeuvres of his old enemy, Bramston, who told him that ‘he would find himself disappointed too for the county’, as proved to be the case. But in 1687 Mildmay was listed among the opposition to James II as ‘considerable for interest’ in Essex, and during the succeeding year strenuous efforts were made to win him over to the Court. His supporters were restored to the commission of the peace, ‘the King judging that, out of hatred to the Church of England, and out of desire to have the Penal Laws abrogated, they will also promote the taking away the Test’. The King’s electoral agents correctly judged his election to be certain, but strove vainly to elicit from him some public commitment to the new religious policy, although he relied on the support of the dissenters.8
At the general election of 1689 Mildmay was not only returned for the county but also superintended a Whig triumph at Maldon. In the Convention he was moderately active, being appointed to 15 committees and making six recorded speeches. He was named to the committee to draft an address for stopping shipping to France, and in the debate on the settlement of the monarchy on 7 Feb. proposed that no person who had been or should be a Papist should inherit the crown. He was named to the committee to bring in a bill for regulating elections. He demanded immediate action against the Ipswich mutineers by the despatch of ‘letters to the sheriffs to stop their march’ and the speedy settlement of the militia, especially that of London. ‘The militia of England is a great body’, he declared; ‘150,000 men that serve you gratis. They bear their own charges and you are safe in them.’ He was named to committees for examining the cases of the prisoners in the Tower, for the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and for reversing Sidney’s attainder. On 22 May he supported, with reservations, the motion for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act:
This Act will shackle the King you have confidence in. ... It will not be for your service to deny this bill now. We desire to be at home, and it is fit we see these laws put in execution that we have made, and we may in the interim be in danger. Therefore let us pass this bill, not for a long time, but a necessary time, for six months.
Mildmay’s later committees included those for reversing the judgments against Titus Oates, securing the Government against Papists, and reversing Walcot’s attainder. He supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, and was re-elected in 1690. He died on 13 Dec. 1692, and was buried at Little Baddow, the last of this branch of the family to sit in Parliament.9
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: Gillian Hampson / Geoffrey Jaggar
- 1. Excluded.
- 2. Vis. Essex ed. Howard, 66; Wards 7/93/295; Morant, Essex, ii. 24-25; Misc. Gen. et Her. i. 277; (n.s.), ii. 515.
- 3. E. Peacock, Army Lists, 51; H. A. St. J. Mildmay, Brief Mem. Mildmay Fam. 30-34; CSP Dom. 1644, p. 66; 1645-7, p. 28.
- 4. Essex RO, 0/0A/16, 23-27; Q/SR 447/108; T 2/26; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 154.
- 5. Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. xv. 5-9; Mildmay, 13-18; Keeler, Long Parl. 274.
- 6. CJ, viii. 3, 25; Bramston Autobiog. 152-8; CSP Dom. 1671-2, p. 610.
- 7. Grey, vii. 53-54; viii. 106, 143, 173, 294; EHR, xlv. 557-60; HMC Lindsey 26; 7th Rep. 474; Lady Newdigate-Newdegate, Cavalier and Puritan, 132; Luttrell, i. 32; PRO 31/3, bdle. 166, f. 27.
- 8. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 368; EHR, xlv. 561; HMC Portland, iii. 378; Essexian Triumviri (1684); Bramston Autobiog. 172-8, 304;
- 9. Bramston Autobiog. 345-6; Grey, ix. 72, 167, 266; Mildmay, 34.