CAREY, Sir Edmund (1559-1637), of Dauntsey, Wilts.; later of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster and Culham, Oxon.

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



13 Jan. 1606

Family and Education

b. 7 Jan. 1559,1 7th but 3rd surv. s. of Sir Henry Carey, 1st Bar. Hunsdon† (d.1596) and Anne, da. of Sir Thomas Morgan of Arkestone, Herefs.; bro. of Sir George†, Henry†, John†, Sir Robert* and William†.2 educ. G. Inn 1580.3 m. (1) aft. May 1580,4 Mary, da. and h. of Christopher Cocker of Croft, Lincs., 3s. 2da.;5 (2) bet. Mar. and Dec. 1598,6 Elizabeth (bur. 24 June 1630), da. and coh. of John Neville, 4th Bar. Latimer, and wid. of Sir John Danvers† (d.1594), of Dauntsey, s.p.; (3) Judith (d. 6 May 1656), da. of Lawrence Humphrey, DD, pres. of Magdalen, Oxf. and dean of Winchester, Hants, and wid. of Thomas Bury (d.1614) of Culham, and Sir George Rivers* (d. 20 Feb. 1630) of Chafford, Kent, s.p.7 kntd. 7 Oct. 1586.8 d. 12 Sept. 1637.9

Offices Held

V.-adm. Lincs. 1585-at least 1591;10 commr. to levy troops, Norf. and Suff. 1586;11 j.p. Northants. by 1592-d.,12 Mdx. 1597-c.1618, 1625-d.,13 Yorks. (N. Riding) 1598-c.1604,14 Glos. 1598-d.,15 Wilts. 1598-1625,16 Bucks. 1599-c.1615,17 Oxon. 1632-July 1637;18 kpr. Grafton park, Northants. by 1596,19 Hyde park, Mdx. 1596-1607;20 commr. oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1602-18, 1629-32,21 subsidy, Wilts. 1608, 1624,22 Forced Loan, Glos. and Northants. 1627,23 sewers, Northants. 1633-4.24

Capt. ft., Neths. 1586-8,25 col. (jt.), queen’s bodyguard 1588.26

Esq. of body by 1598-1603;27 knight harbinger 1603-at least 1614.28


Carey was a first cousin of Elizabeth I through his grandfather’s marriage to Mary Boleyn, the queen’s aunt. His father, one of Elizabeth’s most trusted courtiers, was created Baron Hunsdon in 1559, and the family remained in favour during the following reign, when his brother Robert became Prince Charles’s governor. Robert was rewarded in 1626 with the earldom of Monmouth, while Carey’s nephew, the 4th Lord Hunsdon, became earl of Dover in the following year.29 Carey himself enjoyed a much less distinguished career, despite the tangible benefits of his privileged background. He first entered Parliament in his mid-twenties, relying on his family to provide him with his early seats at Newport, Oxford and Buckingham.30 A brief military interlude in 1586-8 saw him accompany the earl of Leicester to the Netherlands, where he was rewarded with a knighthood and a captaincy. During the Armada campaign he commanded the queen’s bodyguard.31

Carey apparently remained at Court during the following decade, but the minor grants of royal land that he procured failed to offset his expenses. By 1596 he was reduced to selling the property that he had acquired through his first marriage. However, following an appeal for help to Sir Robert Cecil†, he received the keepership of Hyde Park, and by 1598 he had become an esquire of the body.32 If Carey hoped that his second marriage, to the wealthy widow Elizabeth Danvers, would finally resolve his financial problems, he was probably disappointed. The formidable Elizabeth agreed to the match on condition that Carey used his influence at Court to obtain pardons for her sons Sir Charles† and Henry, who had been convicted of murder in 1594. Once this objective was achieved, with £1,500 paid in compensation to the victim’s brother, Sir Walter Long†, Carey was ‘kept ... to hard meat’.33 To make matters worse, Sir Charles Danvers was attainted and executed in 1601 for his part in Essex’s rebellion, and Carey was unable to prevent the confiscation of his stepson’s property by the Crown.34 Nevertheless, the Danvers marriage provided Carey with a country seat at Dauntsey, and in September 1601 he secured election as a Wiltshire knight, on the recommendation of the lord lieutenant, the 1st earl of Hertford, who commended his ‘experience, knowledge and wisdoms’.35

Carey lost his principal Court role upon the queen’s death, but in February 1603 he had also procured the lesser post of knight harbinger, which he retained under the new regime. In April 1604, with the assistance of Sir Robert Cecil, now Lord Cecil, he obtained 1,000 marks as compensation for an earlier Crown lease that had proved defective.36 Even so, Carey’s financial problems continued, and he angered Cecil in 1606 by mortgaging his interest in Hyde Park for £700, in order to fund a dowry for one of his daughters. He was obliged to surrender his keepership in the following year.37

Carey is not known to have stood in the 1604 parliamentary elections. However, in January 1606 he was returned in a by-election at Calne, some six miles from Dauntsey, conceivably again with the earl of Hertford’s backing. His main objective in re-entering the Commons was doubtless to support the bill to restore his stepson Henry Danvers to the estates forfeited in 1601. Although he was not recorded as speaking in the measure’s favour, he was named to its committee on 13 March. The bill received the royal assent at the end of the session.38 In total, Carey received 12 nominations during this session, including three for the committees of other private estate bills (22 Jan.; 1 and 4 April).39 Evidently interested in religious affairs, he was appointed to conferences with the Lords on the recusancy laws and other ecclesiastical grievances (3 Feb., 10 Apr.), and named to consider bills on church government and the avoidance of Anglican sacraments (1 and 7 April).40 He was also nominated on 30 Jan. to help scrutinize John Hare’s radical bill for the reform of purveyance.41

Carey left no trace on the records of the 1606-7 session. However, during the first session of 1610 he was named to consider bills concerned with the estates of a Huntingdonshire gentleman, and the liability of entailed lands to debt payments (22 Feb., 30 June). He also acted on 2 May as a teller in a vote concerning the Commons’ latest message to the Lords about the Great Contract. Ostensibly he sided with many Members’ preference for a limited bargain relating only to the Crown’s powers of wardship, but in the absence of any speeches, his precise attitude towards the Contract is unclear. On 2 July he was granted privilege in relation to the arrest of one of his servants.42 He represented Calne once more in the 1614 Parliament, but again made no known contribution to its proceedings.

Carey was still knight harbinger in October 1614, but vacated the post shortly afterwards. Despite losing his formal role at Court, he was resident in the nearby parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in 1625, and ceased to serve as a Wiltshire magistrate around that time.43 Following his final marriage in the early 1630s, he settled on his wife’s property at Culham, and was duly appointed an Oxfordshire magistrate. However, he was removed from the bench in July 1637 for failing to take his oath of office.44 Carey drew up his will on 26 Aug. following, leaving his entire estate to his wife, Judith, whom he named as his executrix. Already ‘sick in body’, he died less than three weeks later, and was buried in Culham church, where a strikingly inaccurate epitaph preserves his memory. None of his descendants served in the Commons, but his great-grandson, Sir Robert Carey, gained a seat in the Lords when he succeeded to the barony of Hunsdon in 1677.45

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. BL, 596.H24 [J. Froissart, Le Premier Volume ... des Croniques de France, Dangleterre (Paris, 1513)], ms note at end of vol.
  • 2. Her. and Gen. iv. 40.
  • 3. GI Admiss.
  • 4. PROB 11/62, f. 140v.
  • 5. Her. and Gen. iv. 42.
  • 6. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 329; CSP Dom. 1601-3, p. 293.
  • 7. Her. and Gen. iv. 42; WARD 7/79/161.
  • 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 85.
  • 9. Her. and Gen. iv. 42.
  • 10. Vice Admirals of the Coast comp. J.C. Sainty and A.D. Thrush (L. and I. Soc. cccxxi), 34.
  • 11. APC, 1586-7, p. 56.
  • 12. Hatfield House, ms 278, unfol.; SP16/405, f. 47.
  • 13. C231/1, f. 43; 231/4, f. 185; C66/2147; SP16/405, f. 43.
  • 14. C231/1, f. 55; C66/1620.
  • 15. C231/1, f. 55v; SP16/405, f. 28v.
  • 16. C231/1, f. 57; C66/2367.
  • 17. C231/1, f. 75; C66/2047.
  • 18. C231/5, pp. 75, 253.
  • 19. HMC Hatfield, vi. 280.
  • 20. SO3/1, f. 610v; HMC Hatfield, xix. 53.
  • 21. C181/1, f. 31; 181/2, f. 307v; 181/4, ff. 14, 107v.
  • 22. SP14/31/1, f. 46v; C212/22/23.
  • 23. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; C193/12/2, ff. 20, 37v.
  • 24. C181/4, ff. 140, 180.
  • 25. CSP For. 1586-7, pp. 300, 327; July-Dec. 1588, p. 224.
  • 26. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 519.
  • 27. E179/70/107; LC2/4/4, f. 47v.
  • 28. C66/1603; SP14/7/6.
  • 29. B. Burke, Dormant ... and Extinct Peerages, 102-3.
  • 30. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 545.
  • 31. R.C. Strong and J.A. Van Dorsten, Leicester’s Triumph, 112.
  • 32. CPR, 1590-1 ed. S.R. Neal (L. and I. Soc. cccviii), 49; SO3/1, f. 305; Eg. 2146, f. 17v; HMC Hatfield, vi. 280-1, 286.
  • 33. Aubrey’s Brief Lives ed. O.L. Dick, 78; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 329; Wilts. Arch. Mag. i. 305-21; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, pp. 67, 78.
  • 34. APC, 1600-1, p. 489; CSP Dom. 1601-3, pp. 293-5; HMC Hatfield, xiv. 193- 4.
  • 35. Longleat House, Thynne mss vii. f. 212.
  • 36. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 100; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 122; SO3/2, unfol. (Sept. 1604); C66/1557.
  • 37. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 384-5, 417; xix. 53.
  • 38. CJ, i. 283b; HLRO, O.A. 3 Jas.I, c. 35.
  • 39. CJ, i. 258a, 291b, 293b.
  • 40. Ibid. 263a, 291b, 294b, 296b.
  • 41. Ibid. 261b.
  • 42. Ibid. 398b, 424a, 444b-5a.
  • 43. Lansd. 273, f. 34; E115/77/162.
  • 44. PROB 11/124, f. 465v; C142/350/60; C231/5, p. 253.
  • 45. PROB 11/176, f. 130 r-v; Parochial Collections ed. F.N. Davis (Oxf. Rec. Soc. ii), 108; Burke, Dormant and Extinct Peerages, 102.