ALFORD, Edward (c.1565/6-1631), of Hamsey and Offington, Broadwater, Suss. and the Whitefriars, London

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. c.1565/6, o.s. of Roger Alford† of Hitcham, Bucks. and Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Ramsey of Hitcham, wid. of John Clerke of Hitcham. educ. Trin., Oxf. 1581, aged 15; L. Inn 1583. m. by 1589, Judith, da. of Edmund Downing† of the Whitefriars, London, 6s. 1da. suc. fa. 1580. 1 d. 7 Nov. 1631. sig. Edw[ard] Alford

Offices Held

Steward, manors of Morton, Surr., Taplow and Upton, Bucks. and Pescod Street, Windsor Forest, Bucks., 31 Dec. 1596-1604;2 commr. subsidy, Suss. 1624, 1628;3 j.p. Suss. 1624-6, 1628-?d.;4 commr. impressment, Suss. 1625-6;5 sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1625-6;6 dep. lt. Suss. by 1627;7 commr. martial law, Suss. 1627,8 sewers by 1630-d.9

Commr. trade 1621-2,10 to seize and sell the goods aboard the Dunkirker St. Michael 1628,11 seize the goods aboard a sunken Spanish ship 1628.12


Characterized as one of the few leaders of the Commons who can justifiably be regarded as an archetypal country Member,13 Alford was a talented if bluntly spoken Sussex squire. He never sought office, and even though one commentator has supposed that he was the client of the earl of Bedford,14 he never attached himself to a powerful Court patron, although during the 1620s he was loosely linked to Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, and was an occasional dinner guest of the 2nd earl of Leicester (Sir Robert Sidney*).15 One of the foremost champions of the Commons’ right to free speech, he was also a vocal exponent of legal reform. His surviving parliamentary papers are largely uncatalogued, and are scattered across at least 16 volumes in the British Library. Although part of the collection was mined extensively by the editors of the Commons’ Debates in 1621, much of it remains under-used.16

I. Background and Early Life

Alford’s paternal great-grandfather came from Holt in Denbighshire. Alford’s father, an intimate servant of William Cecil†, Lord Burghley, lived in Buckinghamshire, and hoped that his son would become a lawyer and enter Cecil’s service.17 However, he died in 1580 when Alford was aged about 15. Thereafter Alford probably became the responsibility of his childless uncle, Francis Alford†, who set aside a Gloucestershire manor in 1584 for his benefit.18 Soon after reaching his majority Alford married the daughter of the comptroller of the Pells, Emmanuel Downing. The match was doubtless arranged by lord treasurer Burghley, who must certainly have been responsible for appointing Alford steward of three royal manors in December 1596 and for also granting him a modest annual pension from the Exchequer.19 Despite the help he received, however, Alford seems never to have entered Burghley’s service.

Though educated at Lincoln’s Inn in accordance with his father’s wishes, Alford turned his back on the law. He had no need to earn a living, for by the time he came of age, in about 1587, he had cash to spare. Indeed, in June 1588 he was able to acquire the mortgage on two Buckinghamshire manors for £1,900.20 By then Alford was living in the London parish of St. Dunstan-in-the-West, immediately outside the City’s western wall and near his father-in-law, who lived in the Whitefriars. Following Downing’s death in 1596 Alford acquired the house in Whitefriars, which thereafter became his permanent London residence, as well as several other properties scattered around the country.21 At around the same time Alford also began to accumulate a country estate. In 1594 he bought Hamsey manor, near Lewes, thereby beginning an association with Sussex that was to continue for the rest of his life. He subsequently acquired other properties at Hamsey,22 and two years later purchased Holhurst manor, at Shere in Surrey, at a cost of £1,800.23 His most significant purchase, however, was the Sussex manor of Offington, which he bought for £4,000 in May 1601 from his London neighbour, the 2nd Lord De La Warr (Thomas West†).24 Situated roughly a mile from the coast in the parish of Broadwater, near Shoreham, Offington soon displaced Hamsey as Alford’s principal country seat.25

II. The First Jacobean Parliament, 1604-10

Several members of Alford’s family had previously sat in Parliament: his father had twice sat early in Elizabeth’s reign, and his uncle Francis had been a leading Member in the 1570s and 1580s. Alford himself first entered Parliament in 1593, when he came in for Beverley, presumably on the interest of his second cousin, the Yorkshireman Sir Lancelot Alford†, who had represented the town in 1589. He made no recorded impression in the Commons, and evidently did not seek re-election before 1604, when he was returned as junior burgess for Colchester. Alford had not previously been associated with this Essex borough, and therefore presumably owed his seat there to its high steward, Lord Cecil (Robert Cecil†), son of the late lord treasurer.

Alford played little recorded part in the 1604 session. On 1 June he was named to the joint committee appointed to consider the bishop of Bristol’s book, which had accused the Commons of adopting delaying tactics in respect of the Union, and six days later he criticized John Tey* for opposing the bill to reform abuses associated with the importing and printing of popish books.26 His 14 legislative appointments included the committee for the bankruptcy bill (14 May), a measure sponsored by the corporation of London. Alford, who lived for part of the year in London, may have been the committee’s chairman, as he was given custody of both the bill and the committee list.27 The subjects of his remaining committees included tithes in London (10 May) and the preservation of fish stocks (14 May), a topic which probably interested him as both his house at Offington and parliamentary constituency were coastal. Late in the session (27 June) he was named to the committee for the bill concerning church attendance. Alford remained in the Commons until at least 4 July, by which time most other Members had gone home.28

Shortly before the end of the 1604 session Alford parted with the three manorial stewardships that he had held since 1596.29 There is no evidence that he participated in the brief parliamentary sitting of November 1605, but when the Commons reassembled in January 1606 he certainly attended, being named to 36 committees during the second session. Many of his legislative appointments concerned the capital, and covered such topics as new buildings and overcrowding (24 Jan.); the repeal of a clause in the 1604 Watermen’s Act (28 Jan.); the recovery of small debts in London’s Court of Requests and the relief of the capital’s poor debtors (28 Jan.); the execution of the City livery companies’ ordinances (28 Feb.); free trade (3 Apr.); and the artisan skinners’ complaints against the Eastland Company (2 May).30 Some of Alford’s legislative appointments suggest an interest in religious matters, such as the observance of the Sabbath (29 Jan.), pluralism, non-residence (5 Mar.) and ecclesiastical government (1 April).31 On 6 Feb. Alford was appointed to consider the highways repair bill, and 12 days later, presumably as the committee’s chairman, he was given custody of the measure. Alford’s interest is unclear, but the bill may have been identical to the one introduced in 1607, whose provisions were limited to Kent, Surrey and Sussex, where Alford owned extensive property.32 Among Alford’s remaining appointments were bills to reform parliamentary elections (3 June) and control the fees charged by the law courts (14 Feb.), issues in which he was later to take a considerable interest. During the second reading debate on the legal fees bill he asked for the orders laid down by Chancery governing the fees charged by that court to be brought in.33 He spoke twice more during the session, once on 1 Apr., when he opposed a bill concerning the sale of wares in market towns, and again two days later, when he recommended allowing the surviving Gunpowder plotters counsel.34 His last recorded appearance was on 20 May, one week before the prorogation, when he was nominated to the sanctuary bill committee.35

During the third session, Alford spoke more frequently. On 27 Nov. 1606 Christopher Brooke proposed that the Commons should confer with the Lords and begin drafting bills to bring about the Union desired by the king. Alford was alarmed, and replied that ‘we be neither ready for bill nor conference’. Two days later he ‘impugned’ the bill to explain the Free Trade Act of 1606 when it was reported by Hoskins. The Union continued to hold his attention, and on 10 Dec. he suggested that the committee for conferring with the peers on the question of commerce between the two kingdoms should be given subject headings as a basis for discussion. Alford clearly understood the importance of careful preparation, just as he also appreciated that Members needed to be kept well informed if business was to proceed smoothly. During the previous session the House, presumably in order to save time, had abandoned its former policy of requiring committees to announce their adjournments the next day in the chamber. This meant that Members who missed a meeting were not publicly informed where and when a committee planned to reassemble. Alford was dissatisfied with the altered procedure, which must have affected committee attendance, and on his motion (16 Dec. 1606) the new policy was overturned.36 That same day he opposed the discretion given to magistrates in a bill to prevent groundless divorces and marital separations.37

Alford’s success in overturning the order that had prevented committees from announcing their adjournments to the House may have emboldened him to tackle the more general problem of low attendance. During the previous session many lawyer-Members had deserted the House to go on circuit, leaving those who remained, such as Alford, to carry on regardless. At the end of February 1607 the king asked Members to refrain from leaving in view of the urgency of the Union, but despite this injunction the House began to empty with the approach of the assizes.38 Alford, who had stayed to the end of the first two sessions himself, was unimpressed even though it later became clear that he was no supporter of the Union, and on 4 Mar. he presented a bill to ensure the better attendance of Members. It was immediately given a first reading, and though attacked by the lawyer Sir Henry Montagu as a ‘scandalous, needless bill’, Alford defended it, whereupon it was agreed that it would receive a second reading. In the event, however, this was delayed until 28 May, by which time the outbreak of the Midlands Rising seems to have caused many of the non-lawyers, who were anxious to return home, to look more kindly on absenteeism.39

Although Alford failed to secure the passage of the attendance bill, he had begun to emerge as a key figure in the Commons. On 12 Mar. he was appointed to speak at a forthcoming conference on the ‘conveniency’ of the Union, and on 30 Mar. he strongly advised resisting the Lords’ demands for a meeting to discuss naturalization. At an earlier conference the Commons had been prevented from drawing a distinction between Scots born before and after James’s accession, and as the Lords had not changed their position Alford thought that it would be ‘levity’ to accept another meeting.40 This was bold advice, for the Commons did not normally refuse point blank to co-operate with the Lords, but it was heeded nonetheless. One reason for Alford’s rashness may have been his irritation at the treatment accorded to the Commons at conferences. On 11 Mar. he had vigorously seconded Sir George St. Paul, who complained at having to stand, bareheaded at one of these meetings. Seating should be provided, he said, as ‘divers of this House have after conference found themselves sick and lame long after’.41

During the session Alford, though an occasional resident of the capital himself, emerged as an opponent of London’s legislative interests. On 29 Apr. 1607 he described the bill to confirm the lands of the City livery companies as ‘dangerous’, whereupon his former antagonist, London’s recorder, Sir Henry Montagu, leaped up and ‘satisfied the House amply’. Interestingly, despite his vigorous opposition to the measure, Alford secured a place on the bill committee (4 May).42 Another London bill disliked by Alford aimed to prevent the further expansion of the City. When it came to be reported on 19 June he declared that it was ‘not fit to pass at this time’.43 Alford’s hostility to the capital’s legislative business may have made him a target for the City’s lobbyists, who would have been anxious to win him over. Certainly, among his surviving papers is a list of objections drawn up by the Londoners to the bill for confirming Southampton’s charter, which measure Alford was appointed to help consider on 1 May.44

It was not only in the City that Alford may have been considered troublesome. Although he seems to have owed his parliamentary seat to Robert Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, Alford was not afraid to frustrate the interests of the king. On 27 Apr. 1607 he condemned as ‘an unlawful course’ the punishing of men in Star Chamber for failing to obey Proclamations. Under Henry VIII, he claimed, no man had been deprived of his life, liberty or goods for this offence, but now they were subject to fines and imprisonment, and he urged that ‘some course be taken’.45 Two days later he fell in behind Sir Edwin Sandys who, in a transparent attempt to scupper the project entirely, urged the Commons to pursue a ‘perfect’ rather than an ‘imperfect’ Union. Declaring that it was ‘better to proceed in the perfect than unperfect and temporary’, Alford announced that he liked the new proposal, for if the Scots adopted English law ‘they become ourselves’.46 Clearly Alford was not afraid to irritate the king, but he was far from happy when James refused to co-operate with the Commons. On 16 June 1607 he complained that James, who had earlier refused to accept the Commons’ petition supporting the grievances of the merchants trading to Spain, had blocked the House’s petition calling for the implementation of the laws against seminary priests and Jesuits. Hoping to compel James to receive the petition, he vainly urged that precedents should be found.47

Alford was added to the privileges committee when it was expanded to inspect the clerk’s Journal (19 June).48 One of the handful of Members to remain in the chamber during the final days of the session, he opposed the continuance of the Unlawful Assemblies Act on the grounds that a Sussex man had been unfairly condemned under this legislation (2 July).49 Following the prorogation Alford retired to the country, and to his former obscurity. When Parliament reassembled in February 1610 he quickly resumed his seat, for shortly after the opening he was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords, at which Salisbury outlined the parlous condition of the royal finances (15 February).50 Soon the Commons was deeply involved in negotiations for the Great Contract. Alford, however, showed little interest in settling the king’s financial difficulties, for not until the summer did he even mention the subject. When he spoke it was clear that he had little sympathy for James’s plight. On 14 June he bluntly advised telling James that his wants would be relieved only if he agreed to live off his own resources in future. A month later, during the debate on the annual sum James would need in return for the abolition of feudal tenures, he argued that any grant should be conditional, since much of the royal income was wasted on ‘officer’s clerks’ (13 July). The following day, during the subsidy debate, he obliquely criticized the very basis of the Contract negotiations when he observed that ‘ease of grievances’ should not depend upon the voting of supply.51 Like many of his colleagues, he was not inclined to be generous, and supported the smallest possible grant, a single subsidy without fifteenths.52 His views on this matter carried considerable weight, as it was clear that their author was fast becoming established as a leader of the House. Not surprisingly therefore, when Salisbury held a private meeting in Hyde Park with a select number of the Commons to discuss the Contract, he wisely included Alford.53

Alford was evidently more concerned with the economic difficulties of his neighbours and constituents than he was with the financial problems of the king. On 19 Feb. the fishermen of Brighton wrote to him complaining that the townsmen of Great Yarmouth were preventing them from fishing off the Norfolk coast. Some of them had been imprisoned, others fined, and collectively they claimed to have sustained losses amounting to £200 in one night alone. A few weeks later Alford received a similar complaint from the ketchmen of Colchester. Both sets of complainants urged him to support a bill limiting the powers claimed by Great Yarmouth that had been prepared by the town of Lowestoft. In addition, the Brighton men provided Alford with a signed petition to present to the Commons.54 Alford did not hesitate, and on 13 Mar., during the second reading debate, he proposed that the Lowestoft bill be committed. Named to the committee as a burgess of a port town, he subsequently seems to have taken charge of the bill, for on 26 Mar., when the House assigned a time for the committee to meet, the clerk wrote ‘Mr. Alford’ alongside the entry.55

The Lowestoft bill was apparently not the only measure to have been entrusted to Alford. He headed the list of those named on 7 July to the committee for the bill to prevent debtors from attempting to cheat their creditors by assigning their debts to the king, and reported the measure as fit to sleep later that same day.56 On 15 June the reintroduced attendance bill was reported, having been referred to the privileges committee. According to the Journal the reporter was Nicholas Fuller, but Paulet records that it was actually Alford who performed this task.57 This seems more likely, for not only was Alford now a member of the privileges committee he had presented and defended the bill in the last session. At the very least he must have chaired the committee, for the list of its members, annotated to indicate attendance, is among his papers.58 So closely was Alford identified with the attendance bill that it seems likely that he was its author. Certainly he was considered capable of drafting bills, for by mid-June he had penned one against informers, having evidently been instructed to do so by the committee of the whole House.59

Alford unsuccessfully opposed the hunting bill on 21 Apr., the sea-sand bill on 4 May, and the swearing bill on 20 June, but successfully supported the commitment of the bill to repeal the New River Act of 1606. The committee was told to appoint ten of its members to survey the waterway in the next session, and when it reported on 16 July Alford’s name headed the list of surveyors.60 Alford apparently played little part in the poorly recorded fifth session. However, on 3 Nov. he advised the House to demand satisfaction over impositions and the use of Proclamations before deciding whether to accept the Great Contract.61 Alford had not previously mentioned impositions, but in April 1607 he had complained about Proclamations, and was probably their most vocal critic. Among his papers is a list of objections to their use that was drawn up sometime after 12 Oct. 1607.62

III. The 1614 Parliament

Following the announcement of fresh elections in February 1614, Alford was again returned as junior burgess for Colchester, although his former patron, Salisbury, was now dead. On the first full day of business (8 Apr.), the House started to appoint a committee to determine the right of the attorney-general to sit, whereupon Alford interrupted, arguing successfully that the matter should be decided by the Commons as a whole. A committee to search for precedents was nevertheless still needed, to which Alford was named. Shortly thereafter the House established its privileges committee. Alford was included, and the following day he reported its deliberations concerning the Northumberland election.63 On 13 Apr. he was also named to the committee charged with penning a protest against those suspected of having secretly agreed to manage the Commons for the king.64

Like many of his colleagues, Alford was displeased when Secretary Winwood sought an immediate vote of supply (12 April). Demands for subsidies were normally made in the middle of a session rather than at its beginning, and therefore Alford asked that the Commons be ‘no further pressed upon the present, as breeding jealousy’. Rather ominously, however, he also indicated that he saw no case for supply at all, whether now or later, because the country was not at war.65

Many in the Commons shared Alford’s view. Consequently, in order to persuade the House to loosen its purse strings, the king offered a legislative programme aimed at redressing numerous grievances. Alford was evidently unimpressed with these ‘grace bills’, and on 18 Apr. he opposed the passage of one of them. Two days later, when Sir James Perrot pressed for 11 others to be given second readings, he replied that they should proceed alongside the petitions for grievances rather than be accorded preferential treatment. Though careful not to belittle the bills explicitly, he remarked that there were some who considered them to be of little value, including a knight who had said that ‘he would not give 3d. for them’. Later, during the third reading debate on the bill regarding respite of homage (20 May), he commented that if the bill’s only achievement would be to take away the right of certain officers to demand fees ‘he thinketh little grace in it’.66 Alford’s lack of enthusiasm for the grace bills contrasts with his keenness to revive a measure to prevent excommunication for minor offences, which had passed the Commons in 1606 but been blocked by the Lords. On 16 Apr. he urged that this bill be found, as the bishop who had been largely responsible for preventing its passage was now dead. Four days later a measure based upon the former bill was introduced by Nicholas Fuller.67

Following the Easter recess, Alford joined the mounting attack on impositions. On 5 May he complained that duties laid upon corn damaged the interests of farmers, and proposed that consideration of supply should be deferred until the House had received satisfaction. In so doing he recognized that this might mean that ‘we shall not part with the king in love’.68 Sixteen days later the Commons sought a conference with the Lords over impositions, whereupon Bishop Neile replied bitterly that the subject was not open for discussion as it trenched upon the royal prerogative. He added that it was well known that the Commons was composed of turbulent spirits, and that if they were given a hearing the peers would in all likelihood be treated to ‘mutinous speeches’. The Commons was furious, but Alford coolly urged his colleagues not to reply immediately but to seek precedents for guidance. His counsel prevailed and he was subsequently appointed to the committee (25 May). The next day the Lords formally declined the Commons’ request for a conference.69 Alford took notes when their messengers arrived, and continued to keep a record of the dispute.70 The Commons subsequently drafted a reply, but was divided over whether its messenger should leave this with the Lords. Alford advised against doing so (27 May), and three days later he and Nicholas Fuller advocated the appointment of a committee that would decide whether to accuse Neile or clear him.71 Interestingly, this was the second time that Alford had acted in concert with Fuller, the first occasion having been over the excommunication bill before Easter. They appear to have collaborated again on 31 May, when Fuller tendered a bill against Chancery. The Speaker, Ranulphe Crewe, preferred to delay reading this bill until the following day, whereupon Alford, who felt strongly himself about the need to reform Chancery and who had earlier criticized Crewe for trying to read a bill without the House’s permission, protested (16 May).72 However, Alford and Fuller were not always allies, for while Fuller promoted a bill to preserve the Sabbath, Alford evidently tried to sabotage it at its third reading by raising a last-minute objection (21 May).73

The Sabbath bill was not the only measure that Alford tried to torpedo. On 9 May he urged the House to reject Henry Jernegan’s bill to reverse a Chancery decree on the grounds that Jernegan had had so many bills passed that they should not be troubled with any more.74 On 25 May he called the bankruptcy bill ‘the most dangerous bill that ever came into the House’, as the penalty it prescribed – the imprisonment of a wife for the offences of her husband – was ‘greater than for treason’. The trenchancy of this objection is puzzling, but Alford proved so persuasive that the House threw the measure out.75 Alford was less unhappy with the bill to prevent the export of iron ordnance, which received its second reading on 11 May. He favoured its commitment, but disliked the penalties it prescribed and recommended the addition of a clause to prevent imports by foreign merchants.76 He was also critical of a bill to ensure that the statutes for repairing the highways were properly observed, as he was opposed to the idea of taxing one parish to help another. Consequently he argued that the bill should be made temporary until Parliament met again, when it could be decided whether the measure had worked well enough to merit making it permanent.77

Alford supported the bill to prevent overcrowding in London. Although he had recommended allowing a similar measure to sleep in 1607, he was now concerned that unless action was taken the poor would so increase ‘as will draw infection’. Indeed, he suggested (1 June) that the bill would be improved if it also included a provision to prevent the erection of theatres.78 Another London measure which interested him aimed to establish a hospital in the Charterhouse. Named to the committee on 9 May, he subsequently attended its meeting.79 The source of his interest is unclear, but in 1608 he had a reversion to some property next door to the Charterhouse.80 During the debate on the Cockayne Project (20 May), he urged that a bill be given two readings in swift succession the following day, but it is unclear to which particular measure he was referring.81 On 14 May he suggested adding a clause to the bill concerning the Court of Wards which would force feodaries to charge set fees rather than arbitrary amounts, for he knew of one poor man who had been forced to pay £20. Eleven days earlier, he and another Member had also suggested that the fees charged by the officers of the Commons should be ‘limited’.82 The exorbitant fees demanded by minor officials would later become one of Alford’s major parliamentary preoccupations.

Alford favoured showing leniency towards the disgraced chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Thomas Parry, who had been found guilty of exerting undue interference in the Stockbridge election (11 May). Parry had already been dealt with severely by the king, and if the Commons added to his punishment the result would be so disproportionate that any future Parliament would be reluctant to investigate others guilty of the same offence. Alford nevertheless remained alert to the dangers of ‘packing’, in all its forms. Indeed, when Sir Warwick Hele suggested (6 May) that the way to avoid unwieldy committees was to limit their membership to 30, Alford dissented, ‘lest the Privy Council and the king’s counsel at law might make 10 of them’.83 It was probably because he shared the widespread fear of packing and suspected the existence of a secret undertaking that on 9 May Alford proposed that Members take an additional oath in future, so that they ‘may come in freely’.84 Alford played no recorded part in the final six days of the session, and following the dissolution he largely disappears from sight.85

IV. The Spring Sitting of the 1621 Parliament

Alford does not resurface in the records until December 1620, when he was re-elected to Parliament as junior burgess for Colchester. He arrived at Westminster in early 1621 in a considerable state of anxiety, as a Proclamation of 24 Dec. prohibited all discussion of matters of state. Alford not only obtained a copy of this document, but underlined the phrases that most concerned him.86 However, on the first full day of business it fell to Perrot to raise the subject, by asking how Members could debate the Palatinate without discussing foreign affairs. As soon as Perrot had finished Alford rose to speak, as did Secretary Calvert, whereupon the Speaker, Sir Thomas Richardson, vainly urged Alford to give way. Alford began by admitting that in 1614 some had ‘overshot themselves … by minatory speeches unfit for a superior and less for a Prince’, but he laid the blame for these bad tempered outbursts on ‘the undertaker’, whose ‘error’ had been to urge the Commons to vote supply ‘too hastily’. He added, incorrectly, that the Commons had enjoyed free speech since the reign of Henry I, and that until 1513 no attempt had ever been made to curtail it.87 Later that day he suggested holding a vote to decide whether to petition the king to confirm the House’s right to debate freely, and advised that the Commons should act without conferring with the Lords.88 Although Calvert responded by reassuring the House that there was no need to approach the king, Alford remained dissatisfied, and one week later he recommended seeking statutory confirmation. For those who doubted the necessity of such a drastic step, he revealed that he had been told (presumably by a government minister) that he had not yet spoken anything that might be used against him. From this, he concluded darkly, ‘there are eyes over him to observe if he shall speak anything freely which may be distasteful to the king’.89 The Commons was persuaded, and by 15 Feb. a bill had been prepared. Alford, a member of the drafting committee, came to the House intending to defend it. He planned to say that there had never been ‘more cause of freedom of speech’, and that this freedom had never been so absolutely denied, but in the event he did not speak, as Calvert brought word that James promised to allow Members as much freedom as their predecessors had enjoyed.90

Alford had been reluctant to vote supply in 1614, and was scarcely more willing to do so in 1621. On 15 Feb. he suggested giving just one subsidy and two fifteenths.91 The House considered this insufficient, and resolved to vote two subsidies, although it also decided to dispense with the customary fifteenths and tenths because they fell hardest on the poor. Alford seems to have been displeased with this outcome. The next day he asked that care be taken in drafting the preamble to the subsidy bill ‘to give satisfaction to the country’, and he demanded that the traditional method of assessment remain unchanged, although no-one had suggested doing otherwise. Finally, he sharply criticized Calvert, with whom he had already crossed swords, for telling James before the decision had been ratified that the Commons had agreed to vote supply. He had never known, he declared, ‘a young councillor so much forget the orders of the House’.92

Alford’s annoyance with Calvert was not merely an expression of irritation at the size of grant agreed. The secretary’s behaviour undermined the king’s promise to respect the Commons’ right of free speech, for if Members were unable to debate in secret, few would be willing to speak their minds openly. Only three days earlier (13 Feb.), Alford had recommended that anyone found guilty of reporting debates without permission should be sent to the Tower.93 Many of Alford’s colleagues shared his concern, but in reality they were powerless to prevent details of debate from reaching the king. This became only too apparent on 30 Apr., when James indignantly complained that the Hampshire Member Sir John Jephson, a privy councillor in Ireland, had drawn the Commons’ attention to abuses in Ireland before telling him. An unsympathetic Alford advised his colleagues not to ‘give over a business upon the motion of the king’, because ‘I know not how far it may trench upon our liberties’.94 The next day, after James tried to prevent the Commons from discussing the order of baronets, Alford declared that he was ‘sorry the king should be thus daily informed of our consultations’, and proposed that he be asked ‘not thus often to interpose’ as it ‘endangereth the liberties of the House’.95 However, the Commons decided to leave Irish reform to James, much to the disgust of Alford, who accused his colleagues of having ‘infringed our liberty’.96

Just as Alford championed the Commons’ right to free speech, so too he defended its dignity. Early in the Parliament (15 Feb.) he upbraided the Speaker, Sir Thomas Richardson, for showing too much deference at a conference with the Lords, overlooking the fact that Richardson was a newcomer to the Commons and therefore unfamiliar with its procedures.97 The following month he reminded the Commons that it was not permitted to confer with Convocation, whose representatives should be heard in committee instead (7 March).98 He subsequently condemned the suggestion that the lawyer-Members should confer with mere legal assistants to the Lords, even if the latter were senior judges (22 March). His attitude greatly irritated Sir Edward Coke, a former lord chief justice and now a Member of the Commons, who declared that he was not afraid to ‘confer with any’.99

The issue which dominated Alford’s parliamentary agenda between February and June 1621 was not free speech or the dignity of the Commons but Chancery reform. In 1614 he had supported, and perhaps even helped to draft, a bill on this subject introduced by Nicholas Fuller. Now that Fuller was dead it fell to him, among others, to pursue the matter further. His dislike of Chancery stemmed from the fact that he had been a defendant in the same suit for the last 24 years, over the course of which time one of the plaintiffs had actually forgotten that he was involved. As Alford pointed out, during the same period a man could qualify as an apprentice three times over. Yet Alford’s case, though unusual, was far from unique. Sir Edward Coke, no admirer of Chancery himself, proposed that legislation be drafted to bring Chancery and the other equity courts into line with the Common Law courts by limiting the time allowed to each case (13 February).100 Alford warmly approved of this suggestion, and later argued that Chancery should be fined if it allowed cases to drag on for more than three years,101 but over the next few months he also indicated that many more reforms were needed. One of his most bitter complaints concerned the fees charged by Chancery officials. These had risen sharply over the years owing to greed and corruption and their sheer number was excessive, as they were demanded each time a motion was enrolled. Alford advocated that Chancery be required to adopt the practice followed by the Exchequer, which he described as ‘the best of courts’, whose officers were more sparing in their demands and where the procedures were simpler.102 To justify these and other complaints, Alford amassed a large body of evidence concerning the fees charged by the courts. He also acquired a copy of Chancery’s own ordinances regulating its conduct.103

Alford’s campaign to reform Chancery coincided with the Commons’ wider assault on the lord chancellor (Sir Francis Bacon*). Alford himself seems not to have been particularly interested in helping to topple Bacon, as his grievances were of long standing and he would continue to pursue them long after Bacon’s fall. Nevertheless the wider campaign meant that, for the moment, the Commons was willing to listen to him at considerable length. On 26 Mar. Alford laid before the House a wide-ranging, 17-point programme of reform.104 Among the changes he suggested was the imposition of a time limit for all lawsuits and a reduction in both the number and level of fees charged. He also proposed halving the number of masters in Chancery and establishing a commission of review or court of appeal to address the problem of erroneous judgments. Most striking of all, he suggested that a Commons select committee should be appointed to examine the orders regulating Chancery laid down by Bacon, ‘with direction to make such additions and alterations as shall most further justice’.105 In effect, Alford was arguing that the rules governing Chancery should be made the responsibility of the Commons. This was a radical step, but it is doubtful whether Alford saw it in this light as a few weeks earlier, after Cranfield had denied that the Commons could determine the jurisdiction of individual courts, he had argued that Parliament had the power to do anything except alter the succession.106 However, taken alongside his proposal to regulate Chancery, Alford’s claim that the Commons was entitled to alter or limit the jurisdiction of the courts has correctly been seen as ‘a virtual assertion of sovereignty over the entire judicial system’.107

The Commons did not immediately respond to these suggestions. Indeed, it was not until 25 Apr., when Alford repeated his demand, that a committee to regulate Chancery was established. Alford himself was naturally included, and probably served as chairman, as the list of committee members, marked to indicate attendance, survives among his papers.108 Two days later, he was named to a second committee, to investigate the masters in Chancery.109 In the ensuing debate, he launched into a fierce attack on bribery, which he claimed was so widespread that it was impossible to get justice without paying bribes. Indeed, clients were often advised by their lawyers that ‘they must give because the other side hath given’.110 However, Alford kept his main focus on Chancery. When it was learned at the end of May that Parliament would soon be adjourned, he urged his colleagues to use the remaining time to press ahead with their grievances in general and the reform of Chancery in particular. Over the next few days they should consider the matter and then petition the king, as chief judge of Chancery, for permission to draft a bill regulating the court.111 However, few Members shared Alford’s sense of urgency now that Bacon had been toppled, and no progress was made before the adjournment.

Although Chancery reform was uppermost in Alford’s mind, the other Westminster courts were almost as bad, and a bill to regulate their fees was therefore introduced. Many Members were anxious to widen its provisions to include local courts and town corporations, but Alford, fearing that this would merely clog the bill, argued that it should remain unaltered (3 May).112 The exactions of the customs farmers and their deputies were no less grievous than the fees charged by the courts, for according to Alford they raised the price of currants by 50 per cent. Consequently, when Sir Dudley Digges proposed, on 2 June, that each port town be allowed to bid for the right to collect the customs locally themselves, Alford was enthusiastic. The king would benefit, since the farmers would no longer take their cut, as would the merchant, who would no longer need to pay fees.113

Alford seems to have initiated very little legislation himself. However, after hearing about abuses in the Rochester and Minehead elections, and being a member of the committee for privileges and returns, he suggested that a bill to regulate parliamentary elections be prepared (3 March). Hakewill was consequently instructed to draft one, but there was little enthusiasm to take the matter further and Alford had to repeat his demand on 18 May, when it was learned that Star Chamber had received a complaint concerning irregularities in the Radnorshire election. The bill was not finally laid before the House until November, when it disappeared in committee.114 One bill which did gain an earlier hearing was a measure to prevent imprisonment contrary to the provisions of Magna Carta (28 May). Faced with criticism from Secretary Calvert, Alford conceded that an exception should be made in ‘such matters as concern the weal of the state’. However, it was necessary to establish ‘what shall be accounted matters of state’, for if patents and monopolies were included subjects would be no better than villeins and the bill might as well be thrown away.115

Alford continued to be troubled by the use of Proclamations, a subject he had first drawn to the Commons’ attention in 1607. On 22 Feb. he complained that these royal edicts were ‘a troublesome thing to the country’, and cited as proof the recent Proclamation to enforce Lent, which served merely to raise the price of foodstuffs on which the poor depended, such as butter, cheese and herrings. His chief objection to the use of Proclamations, however, was that they usurped the right of Parliament to make law. Those who failed to observe Lent should be punished according to the statute enacted for that purpose, and not by Proclamation, he argued, or else ‘what do we here to make laws?’ His views found a ready audience in a House where the fear that parliaments faced imminent extinction was widespread, and consequently he was seconded by Perrot and Thomas Crewe. Alford’s concern that parliaments were in danger of being replaced by Proclamations resurfaced on 21 Apr. during a debate on the alehouse patent for, like Sir Edward Sackville, he thought that patents should be condemned by Parliament rather than royal decree.116 Towards the end of the sitting, Alford opined that government by Proclamation was one of the main grievances that the country expected the Parliament to remedy.117

One reason for Alford’s dislike of Proclamations is that by 1621 many of them were ‘annexed to the monopolies which are grievous to the realm’.118 As the representative of an outport, Alford was understandably hostile to the monopoly rights enjoyed by the London trading companies, which he considered so restrictive that they ‘overthrow all other places’. During the debate on the free trade bill (28 Apr.) he argued that London gained its prosperity only at the expense of the other port towns, whose economies and shipping had decayed. As merchant vessels remained essential to the nation’s defence, apologists for the City companies should be required to explain ‘how the kingdom shall be defended if the companies continue long and restrain all trading to London’. In Alford’s opinion, the free trade bill was vital, as it placed the well being of the commonwealth as a whole before the needs of Company members, whose main preoccupation was their own private profit.119 The previous day he had expressed similar views during the bribery debate, when he wondered how many ‘pernicious patents’ had been obtained corruptly. In England, he added, the pursuit of private gain had plunged the country into the depths of a trade recession. By contrast the Dutch, who put the public interest first, continued to flourish, despite enjoying fewer natural resources. Some ‘sharp law’ was needed to prevent bribery, which not only corrupted the judicial system but helped create damaging private monopolies.120

Although Alford vigorously supported the free trade bill, he also favoured a degree of protectionism. Far from opposing Sir Edwin Sandys’s proposal to ban the import of Spanish tobacco, he merely demanded that the right to grow tobacco be granted to those living in England (16 May).121 Furthermore, he backed a measure to prohibit the import of foreign corn, calling for its committal on 8 March.122 Like many supporters of free trade, Alford was primarily concerned to preserve markets for local produce rather than create openings for foreigners. In this particular case, he was also anxious to limit the malign influence of London, whose merchants were the main importers of foreign corn. On 17 May Alford accused the capital’s merchants of flooding the market with cheap grain, so forcing down the price of corn in his native Sussex. If this continued, he went on, ‘London will beggar the whole kingdom’.123

London’s commercial interests were difficult to defeat, however, not least because they were bound up so closely with those of the king. On 14 May Alford was incensed when Calvert implied that James would not allow the Commons to investigate a complaint against the City-based Merchant Adventurers, whose alleged offences included laying impositions on cloth. Indeed, he was so angry that James had once again interfered with the Commons’ right to discuss a matter that had been brought to their attention that he recommended that all further business should cease. If Members did not defend their right to debate this topic, and so preserve an essential element of their free speech, they might as well say ‘farewell parliaments and farewell England’. It was left to Sir Henry Vane to defuse this potentially explosive crisis by denying that James had prohibited an investigation into abuses committed by the Merchant Adventurers. James’s only concern was that the House should avoid discussing those ‘private things’ that ‘concerned him merely and the State’.124

Just as Alford favoured prohibiting some foreign imports, so too he wanted to ban the export of certain sorts of goods, such as ordnance (30 April). When Calvert replied that this was would prevent the king from arming his friends and allies, Alford retorted that special dispensations might be granted, but only by Parliament.125 On 18 May he argued that the practice of exporting sheep to Ireland in return for Irish cattle should cease. Exporting sheep allowed the Irish, whose rents and labour costs were lower than in England, to export wool cheaply to continental cloth merchants, thereby depriving English clothmakers of their foreign markets.126 Alford also approved of the bill to prevent the export of wool-fells (26 May), which he regarded as a serious problem in his native Sussex, although he noticed that there were two loopholes that needed to be closed.127 Nevertheless, Alford was not in general opposed to exports. Indeed, during the debate on the bill to prohibit the import of foreign corn, he argued that the plight of English farmers had been made worse by an illegal ban on corn exports.128

Farmers who exported their corn in spite of the ban ran the risk of being exposed by ‘informers’, whose evidence was rewarded by the king. Informers were widely hated, and early in the Parliament a bill was introduced to outlaw their activities. Alford enthusiastically supported this measure, and on 8 Feb. revealed that he and some officers of the Exchequer (perhaps friends of his late father, a former teller) had inspected the financial records together. They had discovered that informers made £50,000 each year but netted the king just £1,000 over the same period.129 The reason informers thrived, he went on, was that they were experts at extorting considerable sums for minor offences. He was subsequently named to the committee, and kept an eye on the bill’s progress, opposing the addition of an amendment on 7 Mar. and dispensing advice before a joint conference with the Lords on 19 April.130 Alford’s support for this bill sits oddly alongside a letter he wrote sometime during the early 1620s recommending that rewards be given to anyone who provided information to local magistrates concerning the illegal export of wool-fells. Equally difficult to comprehend, given his hostility to their use, was his suggestion that the king should issue a Proclamation.131

Many of Alford’s speeches on trade reflected his desire to protect the interests of his Sussex neighbours. Similar motives may explain his intervention in the debate on the bill to enable Prince Charles to lease out lands belonging to the duchy of Cornwall on 28 Feb., when, thinking perhaps of those who dwelt on the Duchy manor of Shoreham, he requested that the rights of tenants who had previously compounded be confirmed.132 However, Alford’s local interests were not confined to Sussex alone. As well as his Offington property he also owned a Surrey manor close to the River Wey. A bill to make the Wey navigable was laid before the Commons in 1621, but Alford protested on 2 Mar. that he was not satisfied that it would benefit local residents, many of whom provided him with signed petitions against the bill.133 Another place with which Alford was closely associated was the area around his London house. Early in the Parliament the warden of the Fleet prison, which lay near the Whitefriars, was accused of maltreating his prisoners. Alford advised the establishment of a committee of inquiry, to which he himself was named (14 February).134 He continued to take an interest in this matter, and in early June lamented that nothing had been done.135 Alford’s general concern for local interests informed his contribution to the debate over the bill to make the arms of the kingdom serviceable (12 May). War with Spain seemed increasingly likely, yet Alford seems to have been mainly worried about the cost to the local community of equipping the trained bands.136

While the interests of his neighbours were never far from his mind, Alford did not forget his Colchester constituents. In February they preferred a bill to give them the right to levy taxes on local shipping to fund the paving of their town and repair of the harbour. Many in the Commons were appalled, and demanded that the bill be thrown out after only one reading (21 February). Among the measure’s sternest critics was Sir William Strode, who thought that there were ‘too many impositions already’. Alford may have secretly sympathized with this view, having previously attacked the impositions levied by the king. Nevertheless, he mounted a robust defence, pointing out that Colchester’s prosperity was essential to the local economy.137 Thanks to his efforts the bill received a second reading on 5 May, when he again defended it from fierce criticism. However, it disappeared in committee soon thereafter.138 It may have been on behalf of both his Colchester constituents and his Sussex neighbours that Alford also kept an eye on the lighthouses bill, contributing to the debate and taking notes on Winterton lighthouse.139

Alford emerges from the records of the 1621 Parliament as a voice of moderation where individual misconduct was concerned. On 21 Mar. he and a handful of others argued that Robert Lloyd, Member for Minehead, should not be ejected for instigating an objectionable patent, as his fault was error of judgment rather than malice.140 When Mallory, taking aim at Sir Edward Villiers, later proposed that any Member found to be a monopolist should automatically be disqualified from sitting, Alford was again the voice of reason. Members should instead quietly discover whether the Lords had uncovered any incriminating evidence against Villiers, and if they had not they should let him take his seat (2 May).141 During the debate on the punishment most suitable for the Catholic barrister Edmund Floyd, who had disparaged the king’s daughter and her husband, Alford recommended fining rather than whipping. The lash, he explained on 1 May, was not fitting for gentlemen, and if it were applied in this case, ‘we know not how far it may be extended against us and our posterity’.142 Nevertheless, he was not always inclined to be so charitable. When it was resolved to send the alehouse monopolist Sir Francis Michell to the Tower (23 Feb.), Alford malevolently proposed that the lieutenant of the Tower be reminded to charge the prisoner £10 for leg-irons.143

On 28 May the king announced that Parliament would rise for the summer on 4 June. Alford was aghast, as much still needed doing. That afternoon he proposed seeking permission to sit three weeks longer, ‘so we may perfect somewhat’. The following day he declared in desperation that, according to the Modus Tenendi Parliamentum, the king could not dissolve a Parliament that had not finished debating its grievances.144 James, however, was immoveable. The next day (30 May) Alford reflected gloomily that God was punishing them for failing to remedy the sins of bribery and extortion. The country’s complaints, against impositions, monopolies and Proclamations, would go unredressed, while trade would continue to decay ‘and run ruin to the king’, who had initially smiled upon them but had grown frosty since Easter, perhaps through the intervention of ‘private persons’. Both Houses, he proposed, should ask James for a guarantee that they would reassemble that autumn,145 for like many he was worried that the king would not recall them, but would seek to govern without parliaments, as he had done after 1614. This was not the first occasion on which he expressed his concern over the possible extinction of England’s representative assembly, for at the end of April, during the debate on the export of ordnance, he had asserted that the king was legally obliged to summon a parliament once every year.146

As the sitting neared its end, Members recalled the events that had followed the dissolution in 1614, when Hoskins and several others had been arrested for making inflammatory speeches in the Commons. Sir Edwin Sandys was particularly nervous, and therefore, on 2 June, Alford asked the House to clear him from ‘imputations of speaking’.147 Alford himself was also fearful of arrest, for he had clashed with Calvert several times and had more than once complained that the Commons’ right to free speech was being stifled. He also knew that his speeches were being monitored. However, he declared that he had not, to his knowledge, said anything that ‘might not become an honest man and a good subject to say’. He added that, as the Commons also had the king’s promise guaranteeing them the right of free speech, he saw no reason for his colleagues to exonerate him. His logic was so impressive that Sir Edward Coke told the Commons that he, too, had no wish to be cleared.148 Alford continued to show moral courage later that day, when it was learned that the king had sought the advice of the judges regarding his right to adjourn Parliament by commission. ‘The judges’, announced Alford, ‘are judges of the law, not of the Parliament’. They were answerable to Parliament for their conduct, and therefore Parliament could not be regulated by them. Besides, some of them were ‘dependent and timorous’. If Parliament were to be subordinated to the judges, ‘what will become of us?’149

Alford was appointed to help present the Commons’ grievances to the king the next day. On the final day of the sitting (4 June) he was instructed to help draft the Commons’ declaration which pledged the ‘lives and fortunes’ of Members in the defence of the Palatinate.150 He alone in the chamber considered this Protestation ‘too great an engagement’.151

V. The Winter Sitting of the 1621 Parliament

Following the adjournment Alford was not, in fact, arrested. On the contrary, shortly before Parliament reassembled the Privy Council, perhaps hoping to keep him happy, appointed him to the commission for balancing trade. On the first day of the new sitting (20 Nov.) Alford immediately put himself into the driving seat, proposing that the Commons wait for a day or two before putting any of the bills held over from the summer to the question so as to give themselves time to refresh their memories, ‘to which the House inclined’.152 He seems to have returned to Westminster in combative mood, for when Sir John Strangways queried whether Sir Thomas Thynne was entitled to retain his seat, having been pricked as sheriff of Wiltshire, he tartly observed that ‘there is no Parliament-man but knoweth that sheriffs have usually served here’.153 Three days later, after expressing his approval of the bill against scandalous ministers, he took a swipe at the bishops, claiming that if they were not watched ‘they will encroach upon all men’s rights and lands in England’.154

It soon became clear why Alford was so tetchy. Over the summer Sir Edwin Sandys had been arrested, despite having been cleared by the Commons at the end of the previous sitting. Moreover, the king had published a second Proclamation prohibiting licentious speech in matters of state. Alford was incensed, for it now appeared that the king’s earlier promise to allow the Commons free speech was worthless. On 23 Nov. he complained bitterly that James, having summoned Parliament with the express aim of seeking its advice over the Palatinate, now wished to prevent it from discussing matters of state, which necessarily included the fate of the Palatinate and a host of other matters, among them religion. He admitted to being uncertain whether Sandys had been arrested for ‘Parliament business’, but if this were not the case ‘it were good it were cleared’. In any event, it was now apparent that the Commons had been made ‘subject to the Council table’, and unless Members asserted their rights they would ‘lose the privilege of a free Parliament’. He also complained that, despite having previously earned the king’s praise for voting two subsidies, the Commons had been traduced as cunning and malicious. In a thinly veiled reference to the councillors in the House, he added that ‘a mistaking sewer’ was responsible. Alford was answered by Calvert, who accused him of being more fearful than was necessary. The recent Proclamation had merely sought to forbid idle chatter in alehouses, he said, while it was absurd to suppose that the king had issued contradictory commands, ‘as though His Majesty meant to ensnare and take advantage of us’. Indeed, were James to learn that Alford had suggested otherwise ‘he will not endure it’. Despite this barely concealed threat, Calvert added that there was no need for Members to fear imprisonment for speaking their minds. Alford, however, was unmoved, and after asking to be forgiven if he had said anything ‘undutiful’, insisted that the offending Proclamation be read. When this was done Sir Dudley Digges announced that Alford ‘hath erred’, whereas Mallory, who shared Alford’s dismay at Sandys’s arrest, declared that he had ‘moved well’.155 As the inconclusive debate drew to its close, Alford, perhaps fearing that he was now in deep trouble and seeing the need to have a text that could be produced on demand, committed to paper the substance of his speech.156 Sometime later (10 Dec.) he asked that if anyone could charge him with having spoken disloyally they should do so now. Calvert, at whom the challenge was clearly directed, was still simmering, and replied guardedly that ‘it is not material whether himself be satisfied or no’. It was left to Calvert’s fellow privy councillor, Sir Thomas Edmondes, to try to smooth things over. He claimed that the earlier disagreement had been based on a misunderstanding and that ‘all men are satisfied’.157

Far from feeling chastened after his bruising clash with Calvert, Alford continued to make difficulties for the government. On 24 Nov. he grumbled that ‘we daily lose our privileges’.158 Three days later, when the Commons debated the Palatinate, he moved to defer the question of supply, as other matters closer to home were more pressing: ‘ … let us remember that England sent us … We must not leave England miserable and look only to the Palatinate’.159 The next day he reluctantly consented to add one subsidy to the two already granted, but advised that the size of the grant should not be made a precedent, and pointed out that ‘the farmers will say that if you will have three taxes in one year we must have three harvests in one year’.160 Finally, on 30 Nov., Alford attempted to reawaken the dispute with the king over impositions by widening the complaint of the London Brewers, who for the last six years had been forced to pay 4d. on every quarter of malt to a royal agent in lieu of purveyance. Wentworth proposed referring the Brewers’ petition to a select committee, but Alford disagreed, saying that the cause ‘concerneth the whole kingdom’, for ‘if the king may impose such taxes, then we are but villeins, and lose all our liberties’.161

As one of the foremost defenders of the Commons’ right to free speech, Alford favoured petitioning the king to have Prince Charles marry a fellow Protestant rather than a Spanish infanta. When Bevill expressed concern ‘lest we should be too bold’, Alford retorted (1 Dec.) that Elizabeth had been petitioned to grant permission to discuss her marriage, ‘and took it well, though it was feared she would dissolve the Parliament’.162 However, Bevill’s fears proved well founded, for three days later James forbade any discussion of his son’s marriage. Alford was enraged, for once again the king had demonstrated that he had no intention of honouring his earlier promise to guarantee free speech. During the ensuing debate (5 Dec.), Alford echoed the proposal he had made seven months earlier under similar circumstances by calling for a cessation of all business in protest ‘until we shall be a free Parliament’.163 Although the Commons disregarded this advice, the issue of freedom of speech continued to poison the atmosphere. On 17 Dec., and again on the 18th, Alford fretted over whether Members were permitted to discuss the royal prerogative, for ‘monopolies, impositions, etc.’ were ‘the principal business of the House’ and ‘he had ever heard that Parliamentum omnia potest’.164

VI. The 1624 Parliament

Following the dissolution Alford’s fear that he would be arrested proved groundless, although a handful of other Members were certainly imprisoned. In May 1622 he and his fellow commissioners for trade were criticized for failing to complete their report.165 Four months later the Council established another commission, this time to investigate exacted fees, the issue which had preoccupied Alford for much of the first parliamentary sitting of 1621. However, Alford was not included on this body, nor was he appointed one of its assistants.

When a fresh Parliament was summoned in 1624, Alford was re-elected as Colchester’s junior burgess. Shortly after taking his seat he was reappointed to the committee for privileges (23 Feb.), and helped rebuff competing calls for the committee to be thrown open to all Members or restricted to knights of the shire.166 Two days later he moved that the 1621 elections bill, which had been drafted at his suggestion, be found and given ‘a speedy reading’.167 He again badgered his colleagues on 5 Mar., and ten days later a committee was established to reduce this bill and another presented by Sir Henry Poole into a single measure. As in 1621, however, there was only a limited appetite for reform among Members, and after 9 Apr. nothing more was heard of the matter.168

Alford seems to have arrived at Westminster in 1624 in a more conciliatory mood than he had in 1621. When Eliot proposed, on 27 Feb., that the Commons petition the king to confirm its privileges, Alford did not express wholehearted agreement but instead intervened to prevent a confrontation with James. ‘When time serves’, he quietly announced, he would ‘concur with this gentleman’, but in the meantime he suggested appointing a select committee to draft a bill in the form of a declaration.169 According to Pym, Alford, like many others present, feared that unless Eliot were stopped in his tracks his motion would ‘disturb the great business’.170 This was a reference to the fact that James had summoned Parliament for its advice as to ‘whether he should proceed any further in his treaties with Spain about the match of the Prince or concerning the restitution of the Palatinate’.

Many Members were not only eager to advise James to end the marriage negotiations but also to persuade him to embark upon a war to recover the Palatinate. Alford shared the widely held desire to break off the Spanish Match, but he was less enthusiastic about a war. On 27 Feb. he suggested that the Commons should first consider the marriage, so as ‘to take away all fears and rubs’, rather than the Palatinate, because ‘if we once leave England [we are] not good Englishmen’.171 One week later, when Sir Edwin Sandys and his ally the 3rd earl of Southampton attempted to speed up the progress towards a war, Alford persuaded the House to slam on the brakes. Sandys had come from the Lords with a resolution drafted by Southampton, which stated that if James broke off the marriage negotiations the Commons would pledge their persons and fortunes in a war with Spain. This resolution was little more than a reheated version of the Commons’ Protestation of June 1621, but Sandys and Southampton had committed a cardinal error, as it was the responsibility of the Commons rather than the Lords to initiate supply. As Alford pointed out, were the Commons to adopt the resolution it would be the Lords who ‘will have the thanks for our bounty’. Alford was also quick to observe that the resolution should have been delivered by the Lords’ own messengers rather than by Sandys, who had exceeded his brief. He added that before they even considered financing a war they should first ‘do somewhat for the country’, as he did not wish to repeat the mistake made in 1621, when the House had voted two subsidies ‘and had nothing’.172

In the short term the rebuff delivered to Sandys helped to slow the headlong rush to war. However, Alford seems to have recognized that conflict was inevitable and that his best course of action was not to oppose a war but to try to minimize its economic impact on the country. This became apparent on 11 Mar., when Heneage Finch proposed telling James that if he took the Commons’ advice and broke off the negotiations they would be ready to assist him with their bodies and goods ‘to the uttermost’. While Alford agreed that it was necessary to decide how to pay for a war, he objected to the size of commitment implied by the word ‘uttermost’.173 Six days later the king announced that he would require a grant of six subsidies and 12 fifteenths for the war. Alford was aghast. No one dissented from the need to give, he remarked, but the last time Parliament met it had decided not to vote any fifteenths at all because they would fall on the poor. ‘What cause have they since to grow richer?’, he asked. He was equally dismissive of Vane’s suggestion, that the Commons should pass one subsidy bill now and order another to be enacted in future. The Commons had never voted subsidies in principle, he said, and were they to do so now it would be necessary to insert a clause into the first subsidy bill stating that if the war ended suddenly the remaining money would not be raised. In his view it was unwise to enter into any such contractual arrangement, not least because ‘our hearts and affections bind us better’.174 The next day he reminded the House that in previous parliaments Members had consulted their constituents before voting money. Although he did not consider that this was necessary now, he continued to advise caution about promising to vote additional funds.175 Yet if Alford was only a lukewarm supporter of war, he was even less enthusiastic about voting separate subsidies to pay off the king’s debts. On 11 Mar. he announced that settling James’s debts was ‘less necessary’ than supplying money for a war.176 In all likelihood he continued to believe, as he had in 1610, that the king should live off his own resources.

Like many of his colleagues, Alford feared that subsidies would be misapplied. On 19 Mar. he drew attention to fourteenth-century precedents that allowed the Commons to entrust the money to men accountable to Parliament, and on 24 Apr. he recommended the appointment of eight treasurers rather than four, ‘for some may die’.177 Alford was appointed to help confer with the Lords concerning the Commons’ reasons for advising the king to break off the marriage negotiations (3 Mar.), and on 10 Apr. was ordered to help draft the preamble to the subsidy bill.178 That same day his colleagues made a noise, ‘as not allowing of his speech’, when he opposed Savile’s suggestion that the subsidy bill should proceed in tandem with the petition against Catholics.179

Alford described the issue of funding the war as ‘the greatest matter he ever spake in, in Parliament’.180 However, there were other topics which he regarded as almost equally important, such as Chancery reform. Despite the fall of Bacon the abuses he had complained of in 1621 remained, and therefore on 15 Mar., during a debate over a bill to reverse incorrect judgments in the equity courts, he recommended that seven bills which had been laid before the House in 1621 be found.181 Two days later he complained that the lord keeper’s recent practice of amending Chancery orders in his own chambers was ‘both dangerous and grievous to the subject’,182 and in the following month he suggested that in future Chancery decrees be certified in the Exchequer, which he continued to regard as the better managed court (14 April).183 However, many Members had lost interest in Chancery reform on the fall of Bacon, and even the parliamentary attack on lord keeper Williams failed to rekindle their interest. As the weeks wore on Alford, sensing that the chance for reform was once again slipping away, made one last attempt. On 26 Apr. he complained that Chancery had become ‘much swollen’ in recent years, for whereas it had once issued only 400 writs each year it now sent out 16,000. ‘The king himself’, he added, ‘hath shown by Proclamation his dislike of bills of conformity and chamber orders, yet nothing hath been done in this Parliament’. In his view Chancery should be brought under parliamentary control, and therefore he recommended that many of the rules governing its management be given statutory authority, even though ‘some of them are not good’. Furthermore, a select committee should consider the abuses in all the equity courts, so that the king might be petitioned before the session ended.184

As in previous parliaments, local interests were never far from Alford’s mind, as his contributions to the debates on war funding showed. During the discussion of the purveyance and cart-taking bill (13 Mar.), he complained that counties which had not compounded for purveyance, such as his own native Sussex, were forced to bear an unfair share of the burden. In his view only composition agreements made in Parliament should be tolerated.185 Concern for the welfare of his Sussex neighbours, particularly its poorest inhabitants, must also explain his brief intervention in the debate on the export of barley (12 Apr.), which was one of the county’s major exports.186 As in 1621, Alford showed an interest in legislation concerned with the relation between the duchy of Cornwall and its tenants. This was undoubtedly because of the proximity to Offington of the Duchy manor of Shoreham. Thus he attended three of the nine meetings of the committee for the Goathland manor bill.187

Alford may also have been active on behalf of some of his London neighbours. The Carpenters’ Company, which like Alford owned property in the Whitefriars,188 petitioned the Commons over the king’s recent Proclamations concerning new buildings. On 25 May Alford succeeded in getting a committee appointed to consider the Carpenters’ grievances. He presumably became its chairman, as a copy of the committee list is among his papers, and he reported the petition the next day.189 Direct evidence that the Carpenters approached Alford is lacking, but their accounts for 1621 show that they had previously enlisted his help to promote a bill.190 Alford certainly furthered the interests of his Colchester constituents, who insisted on reintroducing their harbour repair bill in 1624. As in 1621 Alford swallowed his principles, and following the third reading (4 May) defended the impositions that the bill sought to introduce, claiming that they were to be ‘laid by consent’. Others were quick to point out that ‘consent’ in this case meant only Colchester’s inhabitants and not other users of the harbour or river.191 Alford’s defence of the Colchester imposts perhaps explains why, on 15 Apr., he suggested omitting the impositions levied by the Crown from the Commons’ Protestation.192

Alford remained busy right up until the end of the session. On 28 May he called for the deputation responsible for presenting the Commons’ grievances to the king to be appointed, and in anticipation of a second session later that year moved that those petitions which had not yet been dealt with be handed to the clerk of the Commons. The next day, just before the Parliament was adjourned, he suggested that those patents that had been condemned be given to the king. His colleagues, unsure whether this was sound advice, instructed the clerk of the Commons to do whatever his predecessors had done.193

VII. The 1625 Parliament

Throughout the 1624 Parliament, and in marked contrast to his behaviour in 1621, Alford had given the king no cause for offence. His new-found docility seems not to have gone unnoticed, for on 19 June, three weeks after the session ended, he was appointed to the Sussex bench. In the following spring, when preparations for war with Spain had begun in earnest, he was also instructed to help press seamen for the Navy in his native Sussex. By that time he had again been elected junior Member for Colchester. Despite competition from another candidate, the commonalty had insisted on choosing him ‘in respect of his long and loving service to this corporation’.194

In the 1625 Parliament, the first of Charles’s reign, Alford was active from the first full day of business (21 June). As well as being appointed to the committee for privileges, he also suggested establishing a grand committee to consider ‘all the weighty business concerning the king and kingdom’. Furthermore, along with Sir Arthur Ingram, he again proposed a bill to regulate the conduct of elections.195 A measure answering this description subsequently received a first reading on 27 June, on which day Alford was present as he was named to two bill committees.196 However, the measure failed to progress any further. On 23 June Alford annoyed the privy councillors in the House when he opposed the appointment of solicitor general Heath as chairman of the grand committee for religion and supply ‘because he was sworn to the king and of his fee’. Sir Humphrey May, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, ‘disliked that exception’ because it set ‘marks of distrust upon the king’s servants’, and therefore Heath was permitted to take the chair.197 Five days later Alford called in vain for an account to be rendered concerning the spending of the subsidies voted in 1624. He subsequently indicated (1 July) that he hoped the spending of the 1624 subsidies would be debated when the Commons considered the king’s request for a further vote of supply.198 Like most other Members he was not inclined to be generous because of the economic effects of the plague epidemic. Indeed, on 30 June he followed Sir Robert Phelips in suggesting that the Commons should vote just two subsidies.199 The 1625 plague outbreak, the most serious since 1603, caused many Members to leave Westminster early, but Alford remained until the final day of the sitting (11 July), when he was appointed to hear Charles’s answer to Both Houses’ request for a recess.200

When Parliament reassembled at Oxford at the beginning of August, Alford was again deeply involved in its business. On 2 Aug. Heath reminded the Commons that Charles had said he would personally deal with his servant, the Arminian cleric Richard Montagu, who had offended the House by describing Calvinists in print as puritans. In reply, Alford, whose papers include a list of errors committed by Montagu in his A New Gagg of 1624, observed that all magistrates and deputy lieutenants were also the king’s servants, ‘so that if we admit this we shall take the way to destroy parliaments’.201 Two days later the king and the two secretaries of state addressed both Houses and demanded a fresh grant of supply. Alford, who was present, took detailed notes of their speeches. The next day, during the ensuing Commons’ debate, he continued his scribbling,202 only to break off to declare his opposition to further subsidies because the money granted at Westminster had not yet been collected.203 He continued to take this view on 11 Aug., when he remarked, quite incorrectly, that only in 1606 had Parliament ever given three subsidies before. On that occasion the Commons had insisted that a clause be inserted into the subsidy bill to ensure that their generosity should not be made a precedent; yet, as Alford ruefully observed, ‘it has been’. If Charles wanted additional funds he should call another Parliament next year. Indeed, he added mischievously, the law required him to summon Parliament annually anyway.204 The following day the Parliament was dissolved, though not before Alford suggested sending a message of thanks and a profession of love to the king.205

VIII. The 1628 Session

Alford’s refusal to countenance further supply, and his insistence on bringing Montagu before the Commons, showed that he could still be a thorn in the government’s side. Over the autumn the king resolved to summon a fresh Parliament, but to exclude from its ranks known troublemakers such as Alford by pricking them as sheriffs. Consequently, Alford played no part in the 1626 assembly, although he may have gained detailed knowledge of its activities, for as sheriff of Surrey and Sussex he helped his son to a seat at Shoreham. He remained in disfavour after the dissolution, when orders were given to remove from the bench leading opponents of the lord admiral, the duke of Buckingham (8 July 1626).206 Alford was included among them, but his removal did not take effect before the end of October, when his shrievalty ended. Despite his dismissal as a magistrate, Alford’s local standing remained high. By July 1627 at the latest he had been made a deputy lieutenant for Sussex. He almost certainly owed his appointment to the county’s joint lord lieutenant, the earl of Arundel, one of Buckingham’s most implacable enemies, with whom he had been linked since at least February 1624, when the Commons had selected him to speak with the earl regarding preparations for a joint conference.207

It is not known whether Alford contributed to the Forced Loan, but on the back of a copy of the instructions sent to the commissioners responsible for its collection he indicated that he was fundamentally opposed to the levy. ‘The subject’, he wrote, ‘hath such a propriety in his goods as it cannot be taken from them [sic], or any part of them, without assent in Parliament’.208 In December 1627 Alford was made a commissioner for martial law in Sussex, an appointment he found just as distasteful as the Loan. Indeed, four months later he told the Commons that he was ‘not in love with this martial law’.209

Following the issue of fresh writs of election in February 1628, Alford again stood for Parliament. He was no longer guaranteed a seat at Colchester, where the 2nd earl of Warwick (Sir Robert Rich*) was attempting to extend his influence, and therefore later that month got himself returned for the junior place at Steyning, a borough roughly five miles north-east of Offington. He still hoped that he would also be chosen at Colchester, for as late as mid-March he promised its bailiffs that he would not desert the borough ‘till you leave me’,210 but the seat eventually fell to Warwick’s friend Sir William Masham. In the records of the Parliament Alford was not distinguished from his son John, who was returned for Arundel. Most if not all the references to ‘Mr. Alford’, however, probably relate to Edward rather than John, who is not recorded to have said anything when he first sat in 1626.

As well as taking care of his own election, Alford may have helped other candidates hostile to Buckingham find places. In 1629 Sir Allen Apsley recalled that in 1628 his son had been offered a seat by Alford, whom he described as ‘one of the faction’, on condition that he ‘should have given his voice against the duke’.211 Buckingham, however, showed no outward sign that he regarded Alford as an enemy. On the contrary, by the end of 1627 he was anxious to involve him in Admiralty affairs. In November a captured French vessel had been brought into Shoreham, whereupon Buckingham instructed Alford and the deputy vice admiral of Sussex, William Marlott*, to sell her contents.212 The following January a Dunkirker was driven ashore at Worthing, and Buckingham ordered Alford and Marlott to seize her goods.213 Marlott was displeased at having to share these duties with Alford, who held no formal office within the Admiralty administration, and following the wreck of a Spanish vessel off Shoreham in mid-March 1628 he asked Buckingham to send him and several others a commission to gather up the cargo. Buckingham agreed, but insisted that the commission should be headed by Alford, whom Marlott had neglected to include.214 As if to underline his confidence in Alford, the duke subsequently appointed a man nominated by Alford collector of Admiralty tenths in Sussex.215

By involving Alford in local Admiralty administration Buckingham may have hoped to gain him as an ally in the Commons, or at least to induce him to moderate his criticism of the handling of naval affairs. In the short term this policy perhaps paid off, for while Alford was certainly fiercely critical of the inadequacy of the country’s naval defences – he complained on 23 Apr. that ‘the seas are not guarded’, that timber was in short supply and that powder was so scarce ‘we cannot get it’ – he did not initially blame Buckingham.216 On the contrary, he criticized inadequate funding, demanding to know, on 2 Apr., what had become of Tunnage and Poundage, which was supposedly earmarked for naval defence.217 Buckingham himself had put this question to the lord treasurer two years earlier, when he had discovered that much of this money was actually being used to subsidize the royal Household.218 By 7 May Alford had also learned how the money was being spent, and told the Commons.219 He may have been fed this information by Buckingham, who perhaps also persuaded Alford to introduce a bill at the end of April to reform the abuses in the manufacture of sails. It seems likely that Alford chaired the committee, as the committee list survives among his papers.220

If there was a rapprochement between Alford and the duke it did not survive the king’s initial answer to the Petition of Right, which many Members, including Alford, regarded as unsatisfactory and evidence of Buckingham’s malign influence. On 11 June Alford complained that the seas were unguarded and that it was ‘impossible one man should manage so many offices’. Though he did not hold Buckingham directly responsible for the nation’s ills, he thought he had abused his power and therefore charges should be laid.221 The claim that Buckingham enjoyed too much power and had misused his position subsequently formed one of the central planks of the Commons’ Remonstrance. Alford continued to support the attack on the duke over the next few days, but after hearing Sir Humphrey May on 14 June he reluctantly changed his mind. Time was now pressing, he argued, and the king’s second answer to the Petition of Right had given the Commons everything it had asked for. Though Buckingham remained villainous, the attack on him should now be dropped in the hope of finding ‘a better world at our next meeting’.222

One of the key issues before the Commons in the spring of 1628 was how best to secure the rights and liberties of the subject. Like the rest of the House, Alford was pleased when the king declared on 25 Apr. that he would be willing to confirm Magna Carta and declare that every subject had a ‘fundamental propriety’ in his goods and a ‘fundamental liberty’ in his person.223 However, like many others he realized that a bare confirmation would not suffice, as the king had disregarded Magna Carta and the six statutes guaranteeing the rights of the subject, even though these were still in force. The difficulty facing the Commons was how to achieve more, as the king would not consent to a bill and the Commons would not settle for verbal promises. Over the next ten days or so the Commons agonized over what to do. On 6 May Alford hit upon a way of breaking the deadlock. The Commons, he argued, should petition the king, who would almost certainly respond positively because he needed subsidies. Moreover, Charles’s reply could be incorporated into the preamble to the subsidy bill. This would give it statutory authority without actually requiring the king to consent to a separate bill and also allow it to be widely circulated.224 Sir Edward Coke, however, was scornful of the idea that the king’s answer could be included in the subsidy bill, saying ‘did you ever know the king’s messages come into a bill of subsidies?’ Nevertheless, he eagerly seized upon the main part of Alford’s suggestion that the House should proceed by petition. This, he advised, should take the form of a Petition of Right, an idea that had in fact first been suggested by Sir Dudley Digges on 26 April.225 In the aftermath of these exchanges Alford was content merely to follow the progress of the Petition, and only became alarmed when it became apparent that the Commons was treating the Petition as a surrogate bill. On 27 May he warned that ‘the Lords may take it ill, and somebody else too’.226

The Petition of Right focused on recent grievances, but Alford had not forgotten the Commons’ long-running campaign against impositions. On 22 Mar. he reminded the House of the petition against impositions that it had received in 1625. Two months later he called for a copy of the impositions bill to be brought into the House. On 13 June, Alford condemned the commissions for raising additional impositions and an excise duty, declaring them to be of the ‘greatest consequence’ and designed ‘to overthrow all our liberties’. Eleven days later, during the third reading debate on the bill to prevent impositions from being laid on merchandise, he observed that before 1603 no king had claimed the right to impose before adding that the king was entitled to take ‘nothing’ from his subjects except by way of subsidy. Another longstanding grievance which Alford sought to revive was his own complaint against the use of Proclamations.227 Speaking on 11 June, he pointed to the recent edict for the enforcement of Lent, which threatened offenders with punishment in Star Chamber, and pointedly asked, ‘what need we be here?’228 His question reinforced the widely held fear, that he himself shared, that England’s Parliament was facing extinction.

Alford objected when the king, having already forced the Commons to sit over Easter, also refused to allow it to rise over Whitsun. If Members were to be denied these customary short breaks, he declared, it ‘may much trench upon our liberty’ (29 May). However, despite these misgivings he had always advocated the virtue of regular attendance, and consequently he himself remained at Westminster. Nevertheless, during the debate on fining the absentees (2 June) he proposed fixing the penalty at 10s. per Member rather than the 20s. that was finally agreed, arguing that ‘if we sit when we need not, let us be temperate in punishing’.229 The following day he defended the right of Members to meet privately to co-ordinate their activities after Buckingham’s client Sir William Beecher claimed that they were not entitled to do so. ‘In ancient times’, he observed, referring to his own early career in the Commons, ‘14 of us or more usually went privately and had conference together what was fit to be moved. If you will now single us’, he added, ‘you will take away parliaments’.230

Although he had attacked Richard Montagu three years earlier, Alford took no part in the 1628 debates on Arminianism. Nevertheless he was appointed to consider a bill for maintaining the peace and unity of the church (7 Apr.), and on 6 June he urged the Commons to include the danger to religion in the Remonstrance.231 Another matter he wanted included was the decay of coastal defences, particularly those near his Sussex home. On 11 June he complained that Portsmouth’s fort was in such disrepair that ‘it is not able to stand three hours’ fight’.232 Alford was equally concerned at the authority given to saltpetremen to take up money and carts, as was his nephew, John Fettiplace, Member for Berkshire. On 27 May Fettiplace complained to the Commons, while Alford produced copies of the commission issued to his local saltpetreman for inspection. The matter was subsequently referred to the saltpetre committee, to which Alford belonged.233 Alford was also a member of the committee for the bill to make the Medway navigable (12 May).234 This measure was of no intrinsic concern to him, but he was a friend of the Sidneys of Penshurst, for whom it was certainly a major concern. In early February Alford dined three times at the London house of the 2nd earl of Leicester.235

Alford remained at Westminster until at least three days before Parliament adjourned on 26 June.236 In July he and another of Sussex’s deputy lieutenants complained that the money needed for billeted troops had not been paid by the Exchequer, a grievance which he had raised in the Commons some weeks earlier.237 The assassination of Buckingham in August paved the way for Alford’s return to the Sussex bench on 19 Dec., but it also meant that he was no longer accorded a role in Admiralty affairs on his stretch of the Sussex coast.238 When Parliament reassembled in January 1629, Alford certainly attended, but he played almost no recorded part in its proceedings. He was named to seven committees and made just one speech, on 10 Feb., when he suggested that the charges against John Rolle* in Star Chamber be examined to discover whether any of them related to his refusal to pay Tunnage and Poundage, as this was a matter under consideration by the Commons.239

Following the dissolution, or perhaps earlier, Alford began to compile a journal of the 1628-9 Parliament, but though he collected numerous separates and a copy of the ‘True Relation’ of 1629 he never completed the project.240 A similar attempt to construct an account of the 1621 Parliament also petered out after covering only the first few days of the session.241 Had Alford persisted with these enterprises, he would probably have supplemented his account with his own pencilled jottings, taken in the chamber or in committee. These notes seem not to have been taken systematically, and were scribbled on loose pieces of paper, such as the back of petitions, rather than in a journal. Many are now so faint as to be illegible, while others are undated and rather cryptic.242

Alford drafted his will on 11 Feb. 1631, in which he left the lion’s share of his property to his only daughter Elizabeth rather than his eldest son John, who was returned for New Shoreham to both the Short and Long Parliaments.243 He died in the following November, and was interred in the chancel of Hamsey church.244

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. J.G. Alford, Alford Fam. Notes ed. W.P.W. Phillimore, 25, 27, 33, 36, 46; Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.
  • 2. E315/309, f. 97v; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 126.
  • 3. E115/5/122; 115/2/138.
  • 4. C231/4, ff. 167v, 210v, 261v.
  • 5. APC, 1625-6, pp. 29, 180; 1626, p. 13.
  • 6. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 138.
  • 7. SP16/70/89.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 461, name misprinted ‘Edmund’.
  • 9. C181/4, ff. 38, 74.
  • 10. APC, 1621-3, pp. 80, 208.
  • 11. HCA 14/44, pt. 1, ff. 51, 53.
  • 12. Ibid. ff. 3, 5.
  • 13. C. Russell, PEP, 34, 88, 413.
  • 14. D. Hirst, Representative of the People?, 84.
  • 15. For the evidence relating to Arundel, see below. On Alford as a dinner guest of Leicester, see Sidney Letters, ed. A. Collins, i. 125; Cent. Kent. Stud. U1475/A28/1, unfol.
  • 16. Harl. 6799, 6800, 6803, 6806, 6808, 6811, 6838, 6842, 6847, 7607-9, 7614- 17. Some vols., such as Harl. 6806, contain considerable quantities of Alford pprs.; others, notably Harl. 6811 and Harl. 7607, include only a few.
  • 17. R. Zaller, ‘Edward Alford and the Making of Country Radicalism’, JBS, xxii. 61.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 179.
  • 19. Lansd. 83, f. 215.
  • 20. C2/Eliz./A3/52.
  • 21. PROB 11/87, ff. 194-5.
  • 22. VCH Suss. vii. 85; C54/1569, m. 24.
  • 23. C54/1572, mm. 21-2.
  • 24. C2/Jas.I/S26/26, f. 1. For the residence of the lords De La Warr in St. Dunstan-in-the-West, see GL, ms 2983, f. 10; ms 2968, f. 502.
  • 25. The last known occasion on which Alford gave Hamsey as his place of residence was April 1608: REQ 2/391/13.
  • 26. CJ, i. 230a, 233b, 986b.
  • 27. Ibid. 209a, 973a.
  • 28. Ibid. 247b, 252a.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 126.
  • 30. CJ, i. 295b, 260b, 275b, 292b, 304a.
  • 31. Ibid. 261b, 277b, 291b.
  • 32. Ibid. 264a, 270a. For the 1607 evidence, see ibid. 1054b-55a.
  • 33. Ibid. 268b, 293a.
  • 34. Ibid. 292a; Bowyer Diary, 100.
  • 35. CJ, i. 310b.
  • 36. Bowyer Diary, 207. For the earlier order of 24 Feb. 1606, see CJ, i. 273b. When the Commons reassembled after the Christmas recess, both Alford and Sir Herbert Croft reminded the House of the revised policy: CJ, i. 333a.
  • 37. CJ, i. 1011b.
  • 38. See SURVEY.
  • 39. CJ, i. 376a, 1025b.
  • 40. Ibid. 351b; Bowyer Diary, 251.
  • 41. Bowyer Diary, 232-3; CJ, i. 1030b.
  • 42. CJ, i. 365a, 368b, 1037a, 1040a.
  • 43. Ibid. 1053b.
  • 44. CJ, i. 365b; Harl. 6806, f. 208.
  • 45. CJ, i. 1035b.
  • 46. Bowyer Diary, 267.
  • 47. Ibid. 332; CJ, i. 1053a.
  • 48. CJ, i. 386a.
  • 49. Bowyer Diary, 366.
  • 50. CJ, i. 393b.
  • 51. Ibid. 339a, 449a-b.
  • 52. Ibid. 448b.
  • 53. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 122-3.
  • 54. Harl. 6838, ff. 215v-16, 219, 221, 226v-7.
  • 55. CJ, i. 410a, 414b.
  • 56. Ibid. 447a.
  • 57. Ibid. 440a; ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 16v.
  • 58. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 184-5.
  • 59. ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 16v; CJ, i. 442a.
  • 60. CJ, i. 419b, 424b, 441b, 442a-b, 450a.
  • 61. Procs. 1610, ii. 307.
  • 62. Harl. 6842, f. 146; R.W. Heinze, ‘Proclamations and Parliamentary Protest’, Tudor Rule and Revolution ed. D.J. Guth and J.W. Mckenna, 242.
  • 63. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 31, 33-4, 40.
  • 64. Ibid. 76.
  • 65. Ibid. 66. For further evidence that Alford believed there was a secret undertaking, see CD 1621, iv. 13.
  • 66. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 101, 115, 295.
  • 67. Ibid. 89, 109.
  • 68. Ibid. 152.
  • 69. Ibid. 341, 346, 350.
  • 70. Harl. 6806, f. 249v (unpublished notes).
  • 71. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 366, 380.
  • 72. Ibid. 260, 264, 388.
  • 73. Ibid. 309, 314.
  • 74. Ibid. 175.
  • 75. Ibid. 339, 347; C. Russell, ‘Bp. Berkeley at Westminster’, The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parl. ed. S. Clucas and R. Davies, 18.
  • 76. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 200, 207.
  • 77. Ibid. 170.
  • 78. Ibid. 401.
  • 79. Ibid. 176; LMA, (Acc)/1876/G/01/16/1.
  • 80. REQ 2/391/13.
  • 81. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 300.
  • 82. Ibid. 128, 235. The other Member was either Robert Middleton or Hugh Myddelton.
  • 83. Ibid. 205, 167.
  • 84. Ibid. 176, 181.
  • 85. For odd sightings of him between 1614 and 1620, see GL, ms 23737/119, no. 8; Mus. of English Rural Life, KEN/6/6/15; H. Hornyold, Strickland of Sizergh, 117-18; W.D. Springett, ‘Durington Chapel’, Suss. Arch. Colls. xli. 74.
  • 86. Harl. 7614, f. 220.
  • 87. CJ, i. 508b; CD 1621, iv. 12-13; v. 433; Zaller, ‘Alford’, 68.
  • 88. CJ, i. 510b; CD 1621, ii. 25.
  • 89. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 32; R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 40.
  • 90. CJ, i. 518a; CD 1621, ii. 83, n. 11; Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 41; Harl. 7609, f. 128.
  • 91. CD 1621, ii. 91.
  • 92. CJ, i. 523b; CD 1621, ii. 92n; vi. 351-2; Zaller, ‘Alford’, 68.
  • 93. CJ, i. 518b.
  • 94. CD 1621, v. 119.
  • 95. CJ, i. 599a; CD 1621, iii. 112; Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 101.
  • 96. CD 1621, iii. 164; Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 119.
  • 97. CD 1621, ii. 80; Zaller, ‘Alford’, 65.
  • 98. CJ, i. 543a. See also CD 1621, iv. 257.
  • 99. CD 1621, iii. 72; Zaller, ‘Alford’, 66.
  • 100. CJ, i. 519a; CD 1621, iv. 43; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 35.
  • 101. CJ, i. 574a.
  • 102. CD 1621, ii. 65, 316; iii. 63; v. 265; 531-2; vi. 275. For his admiration of the Exch. see also Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 111.
  • 103. Most of this evidence is to be found in Harl. 6808. For Alford’s copy of the ordinances, see ibid. ff. 9-21, 129v-40.
  • 104. CJ, i. 573b-74a; CD 1621, iv. 193-4.
  • 105. Alford was especially anxious to dispense with the last of these orders, which permitted the ld. chan. to revise and expand all the others: Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 225.
  • 106. CD 1621, v. 20, 534; CJ, i. 535a-b.
  • 107. Zaller, ‘Alford’, 72.
  • 108. CJ, i. 590b; Kyle, 194-5.
  • 109. CJ, i. 594b.
  • 110. CD 1621, ii. 328.
  • 111. Ibid. iii. 326; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 111.
  • 112. CJ, i. 606a.
  • 113. Ibid. 636a, 638b-39a; CD 1621, iii. 395; iv. 415.
  • 114. CJ, i. 507a, 537a, 569a, 650a; CD 1621, iii. 286.
  • 115. CJ, i. 628b; CD 1621, ii. 397; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 109.
  • 116. CJ, i. 586a; CD 1621, iii. 44; v. 87.
  • 117. CD 1621, ii. 409.
  • 118. Ibid. 120.
  • 119. CJ, i. 595b; CD 1621, iii. 106; v. 109; vi. 107; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 346.
  • 120. CD 1621, iii. 98; v. 103; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 334.
  • 121. CJ, i. 622a.
  • 122. Ibid. 545a.
  • 123. CD 1621, ii. 379; iii. 282; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 88.
  • 124. CJ, i. 620b; CD 1621, iii. 247; vi. 155; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 67.
  • 125. CD 1621, v. 115-16.
  • 126. CJ, i. 625b; CD 1621, iv. 363; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 92-3.
  • 127. CD 1621, ii. 395; iii. 321; vii. 254-6.
  • 128. CJ, i. 583a; CD 1621, iii. 27-8.
  • 129. CJ, i. 514a; CD 1621, ii. 43; iv. 31. Nicholas records the benefit to the king as £8,000 p.a.: Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 27.
  • 130. CJ, i. 514b, 542b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 277.
  • 131. CD 1621, vii. 256.
  • 132. CJ, i. 513a-b; CD 1621, v. 529; vi. 18-19. For the Duchy’s ownership of Shoreham manor, see Suss. Arch. Colls. xxxviii. 154; D. Tyssen, Parl. Surveys of Suss. 1649-53, p. 227.
  • 133. CJ, i. 539b; Harl. 6803, ff. 30, 32-7. See also M. Nash, ‘Early Seventeenth-Cent. Schemes to make the Wey Navigable, 1618-51’, Surr. Arch. Colls. lxvi. 35-6.
  • 134. CJ, i. 521a-b.
  • 135. Ibid. 526a, 622b, 635b; CD 1621, ii. 42; vi. 186.
  • 136. CD 1621, iii. 237.
  • 137. Ibid. ii. 111; iv. 83; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 72-3.
  • 138. CD 1621, iii. 250; iv. 306; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 25.
  • 139. CJ, i. 529b; Harl. 6806, f. 233v. See also CD 1621, vii. 15-17.
  • 140. CD 1621, iv. 179; v. 60-1; CJ, i. 566b.
  • 141. CJ, i. 603a; CD 1621, iii. 131; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 3.
  • 142. CD 1621, v. 129; iii. 126.
  • 143. Ibid. ii. 132.
  • 144. CJ, i. 630b; CD 1621, ii. 400; iii. 332, 340.
  • 145. CJ, i. 632a; CD 1621, ii. 409; iii. 353-9.
  • 146. CD 1621, v. 116.
  • 147. Ibid. ii. 421.
  • 148. Ibid. iii. 392; iv. 407; v. 392; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 153.
  • 149. CD 1621, ii. 425; iii. 402; iv. 410-11; v. 195; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 159-60; CJ, i. 637a.
  • 150. CJ, i. 637b, 639a.
  • 151. Zaller, ‘Alford’, 63; CD 1621, iv. 415.
  • 152. CJ, i. 640a; CD 1621, vi. 311; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 176.
  • 153. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 178; CJ, i. 640b. Alford was correct, as Thynne’s selection as sheriff post-dated his election. However, his dismissal of Strangways, who had served in only one previous parliament, was harsh.
  • 154. CD 1621, iii. 433.
  • 155. Ibid. ii. 441; iii. 434-6; iv. 433; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 197-8.
  • 156. CD 1621, iii. 435, n. 16; Harl. 6806, ff. 150-1.
  • 157. CD 1621, v. 414; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 304-5.
  • 158. CD 1621, ii. 443.
  • 159. Ibid. v. 219, 409.
  • 160. Ibid. vi. 208. See also ibid. ii. 466-7.
  • 161. CJ, i. 652b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 253.
  • 162. CD 1621, v. 228.
  • 163. Ibid. vi. 226. See also ibid. v. 234; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 283.
  • 164. CD 1621, v. 241; vi. 342.
  • 165. APC, 1621-3, p. 208.
  • 166. CJ, i. 671b; ‘Pym 1624’, f. 4v.
  • 167. CJ, i. 673b, 718a’ ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 20.
  • 168. CJ, i. 678a, 686a, 750b, 759a.
  • 169. Ibid. 719b.
  • 170. ‘Pym 1624’, f. 8v.
  • 171. CJ, i. 721b.
  • 172. Ibid. 729a; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 84; Holles 1624, p. 22; Rich 1624, p. 41; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 452v.
  • 173. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 107; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 73v.
  • 174. CJ, i. 743a; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 63v; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 94; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 136.
  • 175. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 149; Holles 1624, p. 49.
  • 176. ‘Lowther 1624’, f. 29.
  • 177. CJ, i. 741a; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 127; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 95; CJ, i. 690a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 173v.
  • 178. CJ, i. 676b, 762a.
  • 179. Holles 1624, p. 74.
  • 180. CJ, i. 741a.
  • 181. Ibid. 686a; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 86v. Nicholas recorded that Alford’s motion was ‘well liked of but not ordered’, but the clerk made a note in the Journal to look up the bills: ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 80v; CJ, i. 737a.
  • 182. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 86.
  • 183. Ibid. f. 151.
  • 184. ‘Earle 1624’, f. 162v; ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 49r-v; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 177.
  • 185. ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 51; ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 81v-2; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 77v.
  • 186. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 142v.
  • 187. Kyle, 197.
  • 188. Survey of Documentary Sources for Property Holding in London ed. D. Keene and V. Harding (London Rec. Soc. xxii), 15.
  • 189. CJ, i. 794b, 796a; Harl. 6806, f. 275.
  • 190. GL, ms 4326/6, f. 567r-v.
  • 191. CJ, i. 679b; ‘Pym 1624’, f. 87.
  • 192. ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 28v.
  • 193. ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 236v-7, 246; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 196.
  • 194. Procs. 1625, p. 680.
  • 195. Ibid. 206-7.
  • 196. Ibid. 252.
  • 197. Ibid. 234.
  • 198. Ibid. 257, 283.
  • 199. Ibid. 276.
  • 200. Ibid. 368.
  • 201. Ibid. 379, 381; Harl. 7608, ff. 48-53v.
  • 202. Harl. 6803, ff. 53v-4. These notes are unpublished.
  • 203. Procs. 1625, pp. 393, 407.
  • 204. Ibid. 463, 465, 467, 470.
  • 205. Ibid. 475.
  • 206. Harl. 286, f. 297.
  • 207. CJ, i. 717a.
  • 208. Harl. 6800, f. 397v.
  • 209. CD 1628, ii. 416.
  • 210. Procs. 1628, vi. 138.
  • 211. SP16/139/19.
  • 212. CSP Dom. 1627-8, pp. 429, 441, 540, 572.
  • 213. SP16/145/20; HCA 14/44, pt. 1, f. 51.
  • 214. HCA 14/44, pt. 1, ff. 3, 5.
  • 215. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 79.
  • 216. CD 1628, iii. 45.
  • 217. Ibid. ii. 244.
  • 218. A. Thrush, ‘Naval Finance and the Origins and Development of Ship Money’, War and Govt. in Britain, 1598-1650 ed. M.C. Fissel, 141.
  • 219. CD 1628, iii. 316.
  • 220. Ibid. 146, 151; Harl. 6806, f. 268.
  • 221. CD 1628, iv. 165, 250, 266-7.
  • 222. Ibid. 320.
  • 223. Ibid. ii. 74-5, 99.
  • 224. Ibid. iii. 274-5, 279, 285, 288, 291; vi. 87.
  • 225. Ibid. iii. 102. Zaller has argued, unpersuasively, that Alford deserves the credit for suggesting a Petition of Right: Zaller, ‘Alford’, 76.
  • 226. CD 1628, iii. 632.
  • 227. Ibid. ii. 66; iii. 454; iv. 300, 447.
  • 228. Ibid. iv. 270.
  • 229. Ibid. 16, 53.
  • 230. Ibid. 65-6, 73.
  • 231. Ibid. 156; ii. 323.
  • 232. Ibid. iv. 244.
  • 233. Ibid. iii. 70, 629, 631. See also Harl. 6806, f. 4.
  • 234. CD 1628, iii. 367.
  • 235. Sidney Letters, i. 125; Cent. Kent. Stud. U1475/A28/1, unfol.
  • 236. CD 1628, iv. 429, 438.
  • 237. HMC Cowper, i. 359; CD 1628, iv. 283.
  • 238. He was not instructed to help look to the wreck of a Dutch ship off Arundel in Dec. 1629: CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 119.
  • 239. CD 1629, pp. 136, 187.
  • 240. Harl. 6799, ff. 287-95, 335-9; 6800, ff. 35-71v; CD 1628, i. 4.
  • 241. Harl. 6799, ff. 15-23.
  • 242. For published e.g.s of his notes, see CD 1621, iii. 259, n. 83; vii. 508. For his unpublished notes on the heads of the 1628 Remonstrance, see Harl. 6806, f. 148v.
  • 243. PROB 11/161, f. 15.
  • 244. Alford, 36.