GLANVILLE, Francis (1582-1639), of Kilworthy, nr. Tavistock, Devon

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. May 1582,1 1st s. of John Glanville† of Tavistock, j.c.p. 1598-d. and Alice, da. of John Skerret of Tavistock; bro. of John*.2 educ. L. Inn 1597.3 m. 21 Sept. 1604, Elizabeth, da. of William Crimes of Buckland Monachorum, Devon, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 9da. (3 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1600;4 kntd. 16 May 1621.5 d. 16 Jan. 1639.6

Offices Held

J.p. Devon c.1604-c.1635,7 commr. subsidy 1621-2, 1624,8 dep. lt. 1623-at least 1635,9 commr. fees 1623,10 piracy 1624, 1630, 1637,11 Privy Seal loan 1625-6,12 martial law, Devon and Cornw. 1626,13 Forced Loan, Devon 1626-7,14 sewers 1627, 1634,15 knighthood fines 1631,16 repair of St. Paul’s cathedral 1633,17 survey, Catwater harbour, Plymouth, Devon 1636.18


Glanville came from Devon gentry stock, with a pedigree stretching back to pre-Conquest Normandy. Although his grandfather, a younger son, was a mere Tavistock merchant, his father John, who represented the borough in 1586, made his fortune through the law, rising to become a justice of Common Pleas. When he died in 1600 he owned around 2,200 acres in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, over one-third of which lay in or near Tavistock. According to an anecdote apparently related by Sir Matthew Hale†, a family friend, Glanville was disinherited by his father on account of his incorrigibly wild behaviour, but he reformed after John’s death, and was accordingly restored to his patrimony. This story’s accuracy is difficult to establish, as John died intestate, but Glanville was identified as his heir when an inquisition post mortem was taken two years later. With just a few months still remaining before he achieved his majority, his mother purchased his wardship.19

Although Glanville apparently grew up in Tavistock, his main seat as an adult was the house which he built around a mile away at Kilworthy. The borough’s dominant electoral patrons during this period were the Russell earls of Bedford, but Glanville’s own local standing secured him one of the burgess-ships there in 1614. His brother John also sat in that Parliament, and although the records do not distinguish between them, Glanville himself was probably quite inconspicuous. As a Devon burgess he was entitled to sit on legislative committees to consider Sir Warwick Hele’s* estates, a proposed pier at Axmouth, Devon, and the preservation of fish fry (17 and 21 May). Given his later interest in godly causes, it may also have been Glanville who suggested, on 7 May, that the Sabbath observance bill include a clause against football.20

Glanville was re-elected for Tavistock in 1621, but with his brother again also present in the Commons it is difficult to ascertain the extent of his activity prior to the winter sitting. He was certainly entitled to attend committees to scrutinize bills on wool cards, the transportation of Welsh butter, and the partial repeal of a Tudor statute on Welsh ordinances (10 and 13 Mar.), and as ‘Glanvill senior’ he condemned Thomas Sheppard’s premeditated tirade against the Sabbath bill (16 February). It was perhaps also Glanville who provided evidence on 9 May about the brawl between Sir Charles Morrison and Clement Coke; the Member in question admitted passing the time with Morrison during a debate on Sir Robert Mansell’s* glass-making patent by swapping verses of a scurrilous rhyme, behaviour which fits more comfortably with the elder Glanville. During the summer recess he received a knighthood, thereby allowing him to be distinguished in the parliamentary records from his brother. In the second sitting he was added on 4 Dec. to the committee for a bill to confirm a Hertfordshire property conveyance.21

Glanville’s enhanced social status allowed him to assume a more important role in his county’s administration, and in 1623 he was appointed a deputy lieutenant. At the next general election he provided a seat for his brother-in-law Sampson Hele at Tavistock, where he himself stood again in 1625. During his third Parliament he was named to seven bill committees. Of these, two dealt with petty larceny and free fishing in America, subjects which were particular concerns of his brother (25 and 27 June). The others all addressed matters of interest to someone of a godly disposition, namely the prevention of tippling, limiting benefit of clergy, securing the quiet of ecclesiastical persons, mitigating excommunication and easing the disciplinary requirements on puritan incumbents (24-5 and 27 June). He was also among those appointed on 8 July to attend the king with the joint address for a day of fasting and humiliation.22

At the 1626 general election the Russell interest claimed both Tavistock seats, but two years later Glanville was once more returned for the borough. During the 1628 session he received eight committee nominations, including one on 12 May to consider a bill to improve the preaching ministry. Added to the committee to examine the attempted manipulation of the Cornish shire election (9 May), he was also named to scrutinize two bills concerning the property dispute between Carew Ralegh† and the earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*), which his brother was following closely as legal adviser to the earl of Cork (23 May and 4 June). More surprisingly, he was nominated to select committees which dealt with petitions from Levant merchants and the London Goldsmiths and Exchangers (10 May and 13 June). He left no trace on the records of the 1629 session.23

Glanville served as a commissioner for knighthood fines early in the next decade, but in about 1634 he was one of the Devon gentry summoned before the Privy Council for protesting against the imposition of Ship Money. It is not clear whether this stance prompted his dismissal as a magistrate and deputy lieutenant about a year later.24 He drew up his will on 10 Sept. 1635, lamenting his ‘many and grievous’ sins, but assured of his election as one of the saved. He bequeathed £20 as a stock for the poor of Tavistock, and £1,000 portions to each of his three unmarried daughters. He died in January 1639, and was buried at Tavistock. None of his descendants sat in Parliament.25

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. C142/271/158.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 411.
  • 3. LI Admiss.
  • 4. Vivian, 411-12.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 176.
  • 6. C142/582/167.
  • 7. C66/1662; C193/13/2.
  • 8. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 127; SP16/291/14.
  • 10. Bodl. Tanner 287, f. 72.
  • 11. C181/3, f. 130; 181/4, f. 52v; 181/5, f. 84.
  • 12. E401/2586, p. 222.
  • 13. HMC Cowper, i. 276.
  • 14. C193/12/2, f. 10v.
  • 15. C181/3, f. 217v; 181/4, f. 163v.
  • 16. SP16/187/18.
  • 17. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 14.
  • 18. PC2/45, p. 419.
  • 19. Vivian, 410-11; J. Prince, Worthies of Devon (1810), pp. 424, 428; C142/271/158; PROB 6/6, f. 57; WARD 9/159, f. 164v.
  • 20. Prince, 424-5; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 171, 269, 308-9.
  • 21. CJ, i. 524b, 548a, 549a, 551b, 615b-16a, 658a; CD 1621, iii. 215; v. 503.
  • 22. Vivian, 411; Procs. 1625, pp. 238-9, 245-6, 252-3, 349.
  • 23. CD 1628, iii. 336, 354, 367, 558; iv. 83, 289.
  • 24. C115/106/8448.
  • 25. PROB 11/180, ff. 208v-9.