BROMFEILD, Arthur (-d.1650), of St. Margaret's, Titchfield and Southampton, Hants; later of Heywood, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Family and Education

2nd s. of William Bromfeild (d.1582),1 gent. pens., of Monkton Farleigh, Wilts. and Katherine.2 m. (1) c.1605, Lucy (d. 4 July 1618),3 da. and h. of Edward Quinby of Farnham, Surr., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 7da. (2 d.v.p.);4 (2) 1624, Mary (d.1654), da, of Sir William Oglander of Nunwell, Brading, I.o.W., wid. of Thomas Kempe of Ginnes, Beaulieu, Hants, s.p.5 d. 26 May 1650.6

Offices Held

Servant to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd earl of Southampton by 1594, steward 1614-c.20;7 freeman, Newport, I.o.W. 1611;8 j.p. Hants 1617-25, 1630-42;9 commr. subsidy Hants 1621, 1624,10 disarming recusants 1625,11 survey drainage, Hants and Suss. 1627;12 mayor, Southampton 1637-8;13 commr. sewers, Hants and Suss. 1638,14 assessment, I.o.W. 1641, Hants 1641-1644, defence 1643.15

Member, Somers Is. Co. 1615,16 Virg. Co. 1618.17


As the younger son of a minor Elizabethan courtier, Bromfeild seems to have had no formal education, and inherited a patrimony of only £6 13s. 4d. a year.18 He took service with the 3rd earl of Southampton, and in 1594 helped the earl’s close friends Sir Charles Danvers† and his brother Henry, who had been involved in a murder scandal, to escape to France.19 Briefly imprisoned for his master’s complicity in the Essex rising, Bromfeild was pardoned in 1602 on payment of a £40 fine.20

Southampton, as captain of the Isle of Wight, had Bromfeild returned for Yarmouth to the first three Stuart parliaments, but Bromfeild made no impact upon the parliamentary records. In around 1605 he leased part of the grounds of Somerset House for the erection of a tennis court, at the cost of £200.21 He also took a lease of Crown woodland in Northamptonshire in 1613, and was authorized in 1624 to requisition timber for the repair of the Channel Islands’ fortifications.22 In 1614 he succeeded his father-in-law as steward to the earl of Southampton, and in partnership with the earl invested in ironworks on the Wriothesley estate.23 He also shared his master’s interest in the colonies, and was active in the affairs of the Virginia and Somers Island companies until 1623,24 by which time he had acquired various properties in and near Southampton.25

Perhaps as a result of the failure of the ironworks venture Bromfeild seems to have lost favour with the earl of Southampton, who declined to nominate him to the next Parliament and evicted him from St. Margaret’s.26 He ceased to act as his steward, but nevertheless assisted, following the earl’s unexpected death later that year, in the administration of his estate.27 Bromfield’s second marriage brought him the manor of Heywood, but thereafter his fortunes began to be adversely affected by litigation. He was accused of trying to defraud his new stepchildren by his brother-in-law Sir John Oglander*.28 His assessment of £20 towards the Privy Seal loan of 1625 was discharged after a hearing before the Privy Council, but he was dismissed from the Hampshire bench and was not reinstated for another five years.29 In 1631 he pleaded poverty after Hampshire’s commissioners ordered him to compound for having failed to take up knighthood. He claimed that he had been ruined because he had been required to lodge and entertain the officers belonging to the regiment of Sir Peregrine Bertie*, both before their embarkation in 1627 and after their return. Moreover, on both occasions, he added, he had been robbed and spoiled by the soldiers, to whom he had been forced to advance £10 for their removal, ‘they wanting shoes to travel in that dead time of winter’. Although he had spent ‘much time, travail and charge’ in pursuing repayment, his efforts had hitherto all been in vain. He was particularly incensed that, having just been reappointed to the magistracy, he was expected to find £25, a flat rate imposed on all justices of the peace, who ‘do travail and take pains at their own charge’. In his case the cost ‘would arise at least to 30 subsidies, too great to be paid out of his small estate, having 15 children to take care for’.30

In 1635 Bromfeild secured exemption for life from the shrievalty, and in the following year he brought an action against his son-in-law William Beeston*, the earl of Southampton, and his erstwhile colleague Thomas Risley* over the ironworks.31 There is no evidence that he supported either side during the Civil War, although he apparently suffered hardship, for in his will of 1 Aug. 1649 he complained of ‘these distracted times and my many crosses and losses’. Having already settled his estate on his eldest son, he provided portions for his other children, and left his wife plate to the value of 20 marks, although he regretted that ‘I cannot ... express my love and her merits more fully’. His wife and her son by an earlier marriage, John Kempe†, were appointed overseers of his will.32 He died on 26 May 1650, and was buried at Boldre.33 His son Henry sat for Lymington in the Convention.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. PROB 11/65, f. 54v; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xx. 92.
  • 2. Harl. 1473, ff. 206-v.
  • 3. Titchfield Par. Reg. ed. K. Hayward, 90.
  • 4. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. n.s. x), 55; PROB 11/221, f. 376; Hants RO, 37M73, unfol.
  • 5. I.o.W. RO, OG/EE/51; PROB 11/234, f. 62.
  • 6. W.F. Perkins, Boldre, 18.
  • 7. Hants RO, 5M53/224; PROB 11/123, f. 142; 11/137, f. 6.
  • 8. I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, f. 21v.
  • 9. C231/4, f. 46; 231/5, pp. 35, 523; SP14/177/6.
  • 10. I.o.W. RO, OG/BB/36; C212/22/20, 21, 23.
  • 11. Add. 21922, f. 38.
  • 12. APC, 1627, p. 203.
  • 13. J.S. Davies, Soton, 178.
  • 14. C181/5, f. 115v.
  • 15. SR, v. 66, 88, 155; A. and O. i. 335, 540.
  • 16. A. Brown, Genesis of US, ii. 770.
  • 17. Ibid. ii. 833; Virg. Co. Recs. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, i. 393, ii. 159, 175, 484.
  • 18. PROB 11/65, f. 54v.
  • 19. HMC Hatfield, v. 86.
  • 20. APC, 1600-1, pp. 160, 194, 261, 488; T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 2, p. 42.
  • 21. Harl. 781, f. 41.
  • 22. C66/2000; APC, 1623-5, p. 388.
  • 23. C2/Jas.I/B15/19.
  • 24. Virg. Co. Recs. ii. 159, 175, 484.
  • 25. Soton Assembly Bks. 1602-8 ed. J.W. Horrocks (Soton Rec. Soc. xix), 85; Examinations and Depositions 1634-9 ed. R.C. Anderson (Soton Rec. Soc. xxxiv), 10; REQ 2/408/39; C78/444/10; Hants RO, 8M56/26.
  • 26. SP14/177/6.
  • 27. C.C. Stopes, Life of Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton, 473.
  • 28. Perkins, 56; C.F.A. Oglander, Nunwell Symphony, 66-69; I.o.W. RO, OG/EE/51, 97.
  • 29. APC, 1625-6, p. 371.
  • 30. Add. 21922, ff. 16, 179, 183.
  • 31. C66/2650; C3/397/58, 59.
  • 32. PROB 11/221, f. 376.
  • 33. Perkins, 18.