GRIFFITH, John II (c.1565-1632), of Northampton House, Westminster and Bloxham, Oxon.; later of Gray's Inn, London
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Family and Education
b. c.1565, 1st s. of William Griffith, rector of Llanfaethlu, Anglesey and Elizabeth, da. of Griffith Lloyd of Carnau, Anglesey.1 educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1581, aged 16; G. Inn 1614.2 ?unm. suc. fa. 1587.3 d. 14 Apr. 1632.4
Sec. to Henry Howard, earl of Northampton by 1606-14;5
Griffith’s father, a cleric from a cadet branch of the family from Cefnamwlch, Caernarvonshire, was deprived for marriage under Queen Mary, but reinstated in 1558. Nothing is known of Griffith himself between his matriculation at Oxford and his appearance in the earl of Northampton’s service in 1606.9 Returned to the Commons for Sandwich at a by-election in 1608 on his master’s interest as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, he left no trace on the records of the 1610 parliamentary sessions. In 1612 he was appointed assistant to the lord warden for life, and despite protestations to Sir John Wynn† that he was a ‘poor gentleman’, he profited substantially in Northampton’s service: besides his office he was granted fishing rights, two wardships and a patent for measuring seacoals. He invested the profits in property, buying the manor of Bloxham, Oxfordshire and Crown lands in Anglesey and Caernarvonshire.10
At the 1614 general election, the Sandwich corporation assumed that Griffith would represent them again, but Northampton, having arranged for his return at Portsmouth, assured the disappointed Kentishmen that as a freeman, Griffith would ‘serve you in the same condition he did in the last Parliament’.11 While he may be confused with Nicholas Griffith, MP for Caernarvon Boroughs, the latter was an obscure man, and the activity attributed to ‘Mr. Griffith’ should probably be ascribed to this Member. His only committee nomination was for the bill to enable the London Haberdashers’ Company to endow a number of charitable foundations in Monmouth (16 May), but on 31 May, at the second reading of the Durham enfranchisement bill, he successfully moved for the bishop of Durham to be represented by counsel at the committee.12 By this stage the House was in uproar over aspersions made against their loyalty in the Lords by Bishop Neile, and on the following day, at the end of a fractious debate, Griffith plaintively appealed for any further information about Neile’s remarks. On 3 June the king sent a message threatening dissolution in the absence of an immediate grant of supply; MPs were sharply divided over this question, and Griffith seconded Sir Edward Montagu’s motion for a committee of the whole House to draft an answer to this message, which ultimately failed to persuade James to alter his resolution.13 Both of Griffith’s speeches can be interpreted as attempts to pour oil on troubled waters, but their author did not have the stature to make a significant impact on his peers.
Northampton died a few days after the dissolution, and Griffith, as one of his master’s executors, supervised the erection of the earl’s tomb at Dover and helped to establish hospitals at Greenwich, Clun and Castle Rising. Griffith never sat in Parliament again, but he retained his Cinque Ports post for life, and while the Privy Council questioned him about his absenteeism in 1626, he avoided dismissal and played an active part in equipping the expedition to La Rochelle the following year. The large quantity of political papers in his surviving archive suggests that he continued to maintain an interest in politics, and in 1625 he may have been hoping for a post in the service of the newly appointed secretary of state, Sir Albertus Morton*. However, the latter’s death shortly thereafter deprived him of this opportunity.14
In his will of 20 Sept. 1629 Griffith bequeathed his brother Richard a life interest in Bloxham, which was then to pass to his godson John, while other relatives were granted legacies of nearly £2,500. He died on 14 Apr. 1632 and was buried at Bloxham. One nephew, chancellor of the diocese of Bangor, inherited his lands in Anglesey, while another later became bishop of St. Asaph, but no other member of this branch of the family entered the Commons.15
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Simon Healy
- 1. J.E. Griffith, Peds. Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 26; T. Nicholas, Annals and Antiqs. of Wales, i. 41-2; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 294.
- 2. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
- 3. Griffith, 26.
- 4. C142/489/103.
- 5. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 136.
- 6. E. Kent. Archives Cent. Sa/Ac6, f. 370; Sa/Ac7, f. 31v; Portsmouth Recs. ed. R. East, 348.
- 7. C66/1910, 2149.
- 8. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 110.
- 9. Griffith, 26; Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), xii. 305; HMC Hatfield, xviii. 136.
- 10. C66/1910; L.L. Peck, Northampton, 60; VCH Oxon. ix. 60; NLW, 466E/595; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 230.
- 11. E. Kent. Archives Cent. Sa/Ac7, ff. 31v-2.
- 12. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 257, 389, 397.
- 13. Ibid. 404, 417.
- 14. PROB 11/123, f. 443v; HMC 5th Rep. 409-13; Arch. Cant. xlvii. 227; Procs. 1625, p. 724; APC, 1626, pp. 200, 354; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 423.
- 15. PROB 11/161, f. 348; C142/489/103; M. Stephenson, List of Mon. Brasses in Brit. Isles, 399; Griffith, 26.