DANIEL, Richard (1561-1630), of Truro, Cornw.

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. 5 Oct. 1561,1 7th s. of Alexander Daniel of Kenwyn, Cornw. educ. appr. Draper, London 1579-87. m. (1) 8 Feb. 1599, Jaquelina (d. 21 Nov. 1601), da. of Jan Van Hoegaerden of Antwerp, Spanish Neths. and wid. of Reynold Copcot of Middelburg, Utd. Provinces, 1s.; (2) 9 Nov. 1608, Margaret, da. of Peter Van Geneghen of Dordrecht, Utd. Provinces, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.). d. 11 Feb. 1630.2 sig. Richard Daniell.

Offices Held

Freeman, Drapers’ Co., London 1587, liveryman 1614;3 freeman, Merchant Adventurers’ Co. by 1597-9, 1611-14, dep. gov. of Middelburg by 1613-14;4 alderman, Truro by 1619, mayor 1621-2.5


The Daniel family were well-established at Kenwyn, a parish adjacent to Truro, by the early sixteenth century, and supplied one of the borough’s burgesses in the 1601 Parliament.6 While Daniel’s five eldest brothers were provided with property for their livelihood, he himself was apprenticed in 1579 to the London Draper Charles Bond, ‘yet it pleased Almighty God ... that he acquired by his adventures in merchandise beyond the seas a greater estate than any of his brethren’. His earliest recorded voyage was to Emden, north Germany, in 1584. Two years later he visited Zeeland, which became his base in 1590 when he took up residence for three years with the Middelburg merchant Reynold Copcot.7 Middelburg was then a ‘mart town’ of the Merchant Adventurers, to which Company Daniel presumably belonged by late 1597, when he entered into partnership with two London Haberdashers, Henry Polstead and George Whitmore, contributing £1,000 to their joint stock. During the next few years he acted as a middle-man between London and the Dutch ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Haarlem, among others, dealing primarily in fine fabrics like silk, velvet and taffeta.8 Daniel’s marriage to Copcot’s Brabant-born widow in 1599 cost him his Merchant Adventurer status and privileges, but his business seems not to have suffered unduly, and he strengthened his partnership ten years later by marrying his teenage step-daughter Marie to Whitmore. The girl’s Antwerp relatives, who had raised her since her mother’s death in 1601, obstructed the match, but Daniel enforced his claim to custody of her with the assistance of the English ambassador to Brussels, Sir Thomas Edmondes*. In 1611 he secured reinstatement as a Merchant Adventurer, and within two years had become the Company’s deputy governor at Middelburg.9

By now Daniel was aged over 50, and had apparently contemplated retirement for some time. Indeed, in 1603 he had purchased a house in Truro which he planned eventually to rebuild, while in the following year he had obtained from Parliament the naturalization of his son Alexander and his step-daughter Marie. The advent of the Cockayne Project in 1614, which overthrew the Merchant Adventurers’ operations, finally forced the issue. In August that year Daniel returned to England, having been honoured at his departure from Middelburg with the gift of a gilt cup from the States of Zeeland. A few months later the Drapers’ Company advanced him to the rank of liveryman, citing his ‘antiquity, discretion and sufficiency’.10 His trading career was all but over, however, and in July 1614 he invested nearly £2,600 in Cornish lands, including manors at Penzance, Bodmin and St. Germans. He subsequently spent a further £700 on additional property in the Truro area. The manors were acquired from Whitmore, who had himself purchased them only three years earlier, perhaps with this outcome in mind. Work on Daniel’s Truro residence, which cost around £560, followed between 1616 and 1620, the scale and expense of the new structure reflecting its owner’s local status.11 By 1619 he had become an alderman, and in the following year he deputized for the mayor during a dispute with Plymouth over contributions to the expedition against Algerine pirates, though urgent family business apparently drew him back to the Netherlands before this matter was resolved.12 In October 1621 Daniel was himself elected mayor. His failure that winter to arrest two prize ships in Falmouth harbour, an area which technically fell within his jurisdiction, led the Privy Council to suspect him of disobeying its instructions, but he subsequently proved to its satisfaction that he had been incapacitated by a broken leg at the time. He concluded a disrupted year in office with a further visit to the Netherlands.13

Daniel was elected to represent Truro in the 1624 Parliament, agreeing to pay his own expenses. He set out for London on 30 Jan., 13 days before the Commons were due to assemble, taking his son Alexander to wait on him. As a port town burgess, Daniel would have been entitled to attend legislative committees considering measures such as the restoration of free trade to the Merchants of the Staple, a proposal which threatened the now reconstituted Merchant Adventurers (24 March). His only recorded appearance in the Commons’ proceedings, however, was on 1 May, when he was granted leave to return home as his house had burnt down.14

The fire damage was perhaps less serious than Daniel feared, since he was back in residence by the following March. However, the expense of the repairs was doubtless unwelcome, since his financial position had now weakened. According to Daniel’s son Alexander, who seems never to have come to terms with his father’s remarriage, the root cause of the problem was the cost of rearing a large second family, though he conceded that his father also maintained a more lavish lifestyle than his fixed landed income could support. This parlous situation was compounded in 1619 when one of Daniel’s brothers died owing him over £1,000, which he was unable to recover. By 1622 Daniel himself was several hundred pounds in debt to Whitmore, and although his old partner could afford not to pursue the matter too vigorously, Daniel began to sell off property. Over the next few years the bulk of the Bodmin and St. Germans estates were disposed of, although in 1624 the Penzance manor was set aside as a jointure for Alexander’s wife.15

In 1628 Daniel was again returned to Parliament for Truro. Due to a late poll, he left for London only six days before the Members assembled, and may well have missed the opening. His companion this time was his 14-year-old second son Richard, whom he intended to have apprenticed in London, but the boy wanted to go to sea, and had his own way. As before, Daniel featured only once in the Commons’ business; for reasons which remain unclear, he was named on 18 June to a committee to consider Sir Edward Wardour’s* claim to the estate of his father-in-law William Bowdler. Eight days later the parliamentary session ended, and Daniel arrived back in Truro on 6 July. Now reluctant to resume his parliamentary duties on account of his age, as his son Alexander recorded, he did not set out for Westminster again until 23 Jan. 1629, three days after the second session opened, and took no recorded part in its proceedings. He reached Truro again on 20 Mar., ten days after the dissolution.16

Apart from a weakness in his leg following the 1621 accident, Daniel enjoyed good health in his latter years, and thus his death on 11 Feb. 1630 was unexpected. He complained that evening of symptoms resembling angina pectoris, ‘his heart seeming ... to be straitened within his doublet’, and died in his sleep around midnight. He was buried in the chancel of Kenwyn church three days later. Only cancelled wills came to light subsequently, and Daniel’s family spent four months arguing out a financial settlement. Administration of his estate, the goods and chattels valued at £524, was finally granted to his widow on 22 June 1630, though remaining obligations to Whitmore were only resolved two years later.17

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Cornw. RO, AD567, p. 378. This ms is partly paginated and partly foliated.
  • 2. Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), ff. 1, 4, 19; AD567, pp. 370-1, 379-80; P.A.S. Pool, ‘Autobiog. of Alexander Daniel’, Jnl. Roy. Institution of Cornw. n.s. vii. 262-3. AD567 provides the NS date for Daniel’s 1st mar. but does not use this form consistently for all details. HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 11 incorrectly indicates that Daniel’s father was the 1601 Truro MP William Daniel.
  • 3. Roll of Drapers’ Co. comp. P. Boyd, 52; A.H. Johnson, Hist. of Drapers of London, iii. 87.
  • 4. C66/1888/27; Cornw. RO, AD567, pp. 1, 371; EN2469(c), f. 1.
  • 5. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 285; Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), f. 3.
  • 6. E179/87/134, 167; HP Commons 1558-1603, ii. 11.
  • 7. Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), ff. 19-20; AD567, pp. 371, 376.
  • 8. J. Wheeler, Treatise of Commerce (London, 1601), p. 24; Bodl. Rawl. C.789, f. 12; Cornw. RO, AD567, pp. 1, 5-6, 8, 17, 370.
  • 9. C66/1888/27; Pool, 263; Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), f. 2; HMC Downshire, ii. 90-1, 96-7, 116; Wheeler, 24-5.
  • 10. Cornw. RO, AD567, f. 6v; EN2469(c), f. 1; HLRO, O.A. 1 Jas.I, c. 61; E190/1024/8, 18; B.E. Supple, Commercial Crisis and Change, 34; Johnson, 87.
  • 11. E190/1025/13; 190/1027/9, 18; C54/2226/25; C66/1882/8; Cornw. RO, AD567, f. 6v and p. 373; J. Palmer, Truro in Seventeenth Cent. 27-8.
  • 12. Cornw. RO, B/T 294/29; EN2469(c), f. 3.
  • 13. Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), f. 3; APC, 1621-3, p. 141; CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 394-5.
  • 14. Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), f. 5; CJ, i. 695b, 747b; Kyle thesis, 94.
  • 15. Cornw. RO, AD567, p. 371; EN2469(c), ff. 6, 20-1; Bodl. Rawl. C.789, f. 12v.
  • 16. Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), ff. 14-15; CD 1628, iv. 360.
  • 17. Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), ff. 3, 19, 22; PROB 6/13, f. 173; Bodl. Rawl. C.789, f. 12.