HALES, Sir Edward (c.1577-1654), of Woodchurch, Kent and Gray's Inn, London; later of Tunstall, Kent

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



20 Oct. 1605
1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 18 Apr. 1648

Family and Education

b. c.1577,1 1st s. of William Hales of Tenterden, Kent and Elizabeth, da. of Paul Johnson of Fordwich, Kent. educ. G. Inn 1593-1614. m. (1) by 1602, Deborah, da. and h. of Martin Harlackenden of Woodchurch, 3s. d.v.p. incl. Sir John*; (2) 27 Nov. 1616, Martha (bur. 11 May 1626), da. of Sir Matthew Carew of London, master in Chancery 1583-1618, wid. of Sir James Cromer (d. 27 Mar. 1614) of Tunstall, s.p.2 suc. uncle John† 1600; kntd. 1603; cr. Bt. 29 June 1611.3 d. 6 Oct. 1654. sig. Edward Hales.

Offices Held

J.p. Kent 1601-c.1643;4 dep. ld. of Romney marsh, Willop manor, Kent 1602;5 sheriff, Kent 1608-9;6 commr. subsidy 1608, 1621-2, 1624, 1641,7 Admlty. causes 1608,8 survey, Aldington manor 1608,9 piracy, Cinque Ports 1609,10 sewers, Kent and Suss. borders 1609-at least 1632,11 Penshurst to Gravesend, Kent 1625-at least 1628,12 I. of Sheppey and Luddenham Level 1626-at least 1637,13 Suss. 1627, Poplar Marsh, Mdx. 1639,14 aid, Kent 1612,15 charitable uses 1616, Canterbury, Kent 1625;16 capt. militia horse, Kent by 1621;17 asst. Rochester bridge, Kent 1621-44 (snr. warden 1623, 1631, 1638);18 dep. lt. Kent by 1623-at least 1639;19 commr. oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1623-42,20 Kent, Canterbury and Cinque Ports 1627,21 inquiry, lands of recusants, Kent c.1623,22 martial law 1624, 1627;23 freeman, Queenborough, Kent 1625;24 commr. Privy Seal loan, Kent 1626,25 Forced Loan, 1626,26 inquiry, lands called Swinfield Mynis 1627;27 commr. (and collector), knighthood fines, Kent 1630-4, Cinque Ports 1632,28 survey of highways, Kent 1631;29 treas. Cinque Ports ‘for Boughton way’ 1634;30 commr. survey, Rye harbour 1636,31 Poll Tax, Kent 1641, array 1642, assessment 1643, sequestration 1643, levying of money 1643. 32


Hales’s ancestors in the Weald of Kent can be traced back to the reign of Edward III,33 and represented Canterbury in several early Tudor Parliaments. Hales himself was described in 1616 as ‘a fine and learned gentleman of an exceeding good carriage’.34 He was brought up as heir-apparent to his uncle John, a bencher of Gray’s Inn and leading townsman of Tenterden, who sat for Hindon in 1572-81 and considerably expanded the patrimonial estate. Hales himself entered Gray’s Inn, acquiring chambers but not following his uncle into the law. In 1602, shortly after entering into his inheritance, he married Deborah Harlackenden, through whom he acquired the sizeable Woodchurch estates, a few miles east of Tenterden. A lord of Romney Marsh, he sought, over the next 30 years, to improve the value of his holdings in the Wittersham Levels, but the drainage and depopulation involved caused him to be feared and hated locally.35

Hales was knighted soon after James’s accession, and in June 1604 was summoned before the House of Lords for arresting a yeoman of the Chamber for debt.36 Sixteen months later he was returned for Hastings at a by-election on the recommendation of the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, the earl of Northampton.37 He left no trace on the records of the second session, and in the third was named to just three legislative committees, the first of which sought to preserve the timber around his native Tenterden from the depredations of the iron industry (11 Mar. 1607).38 The remaining two concerned the transfer of the butlerage from Lord Buckhurst (Richard Sackville*) to Sir Thomas Waller* (28 Mar. 1607), both fellow Kentishmen, and the punishment of the parents of bastard children (7 May 1607).39 He served as sheriff during the recess, and in the fourth session was named to a committee for easing the subscription requirement on clergy presented to benefices (14 Mar. 1610), which suggests that he may have shared his late uncle’s religious leanings, as John Hales had been one of the Kentish gentlemen who petitioned Archbishop Whitgift on behalf of suspended puritan ministers in 1584. His remaining appointments concerned the transfer of an office in King’s Bench to the Byng family of Wrotham, in Kent (27 Mar.) and the preventing of runaway marriages (8 May).40 He is not mentioned in the poorly recorded fifth session.

Hales purchased a baronetcy in 1611, but later complained that his patent had not been enrolled.41 The following year he spent more than £1,740 in purchasing 152 acres in the heart of Kent at Chart next Sutton Valence and Boughton Monchelsea.42 Hops had been grown at Chart since the late 1580s, and by the early 1620s Hales was producing them there on a commercial basis.43 Re-elected for Hastings in 1614, Hales was appointed to only one committee in the Addled Parliament, to confirm the endowment of the hospital at East Grinstead founded by Buckhurst’s father (16 May).44 Shortly after the dissolution he forfeited his Gray’s Inn chambers.45

Following his first wife’s death, Hales married the widow of Sir James Cromer of Tunstall, thereby increasing his annual income by £4,000 and making him one of the wealthiest squires in Kent. The marriage was unusual, even by early seventeenth-century standards: on the day of the wedding Hales ate out and his bride dined with her father. Hales soon gave up his marshland home at Woodchurch to reside at Tunstall, in north Kent,46 but the move cost him his parliamentary interest at Hastings as he was not a candidate for the third Jacobean Parliament. In 1622 he was summoned before the Privy Council to explain his refusal to contribute to the Palatinate Benevolence, along with Sir Norton Knatchbull*, Sir Peter Heyman* and others. He subsequently gave £100.47 In the following year he was among the Kentish deputy lieutenants thanked by the king for ‘their respectful and honourable reception’ of the Spanish ambassador at Dover. He was again commended by the Council in 1624 for ‘repressing the disorders and outrages of the soldiers’ of Count Mansfeld’s expeditionary force.48

To the fury of the earl of Montgomery (Sir Philip Herbert*), Hales defeated Robert Poley* in 1625 at Queenborough, one of the parliamentary boroughs closest to Tunstall. He offered ‘to waive acceptance of that burgess-ship’ in order to mollify Montgomery, but the corporation ‘enforced’ him to retain it.49 In the first Caroline Parliament he was named to committees for another Sackville estate bill (8 July) and for the bill to increase the amount of timber (9 July).50 There is no evidence that he attended the resumed session at Oxford in August.

At the county election of 1626 Hales joined forces with Edward Scott* to defeat Buckingham’s satellite, Sir Edwin Sandys*.51 As a knight of the shire he evidently became an active committeeman for the first time, with 18 appointments, beginning with the committee for privileges (9 Feb.) and religion (10 Feb.), and a private bill for the drainage of some of the Thames-side marshlands (28 February).52 He was named to the committee of inquiry into the defects in victualling Count Mansfeld’s expedition (22 Mar.), and being a deputy-lieutenant he helped to consider bills for making the arms of the militia more serviceable (25 Mar.), to provide for muster-masters’ pay (28 Mar.) and to remedy abuses in the pressing of soldiers (9 May). He was also among those appointed to draw up bills to consider seamen’s wages and the methods used to press them (15 April). Named to attend the conference about the summons to Buckingham to explain the detention of the St. Peter (4 Mar.), he was also a member of the deputation that attended the king on 5 Apr. with the Remonstrance defending the proceedings against the duke. Finally, he was appointed to legislative committees for easing the requirements on puritan ministers (6 May) and ensuring ‘the true and real conformity of popish recusants’ (8 May), and he was added to the committee for preparing reasons for a general fast (9 June).53

Hales was appointed a commissioner for the Forced Loan in November 1626, but perhaps because he was fully employed in billeting troops he was dropped from the commission when it was renewed the following February.54 He took no known part in the county election of 1628, and even stood down at Queenborough in favour of his inexperienced son. During the early 1630s he served as Kent’s collector of knighthood composition fines, and resisted paying out compensation for the damage caused to other landowners by his drainage of the upper Wittersham Levels.55 In 1632 he spent £6,100 in purchasing the manor of Sutton Valence, which he held on to despite a lengthy legal battle for the title in Chancery.56 Following the death of his eldest and only surviving son in 1639, he paid £2,300 for the wardship of his grandson and heir, Edward Hales.57 He regained his parliamentary seat at Queenborough in 1640, and was initially reckoned a supporter of Parliament, but was imprisoned in 1643 after supplying Kent’s royalists with match and powder. His estates were sequestrated, and were recovered only after paying a £6,000 fine.58 He remained a prisoner until disabled from sitting in April 1648, when he retired to his house at Tunstall. He made out his will on 15 Oct. 1651, ‘being in the threescore and fifteenth year of my age’. He left bequests of £1,700 and directed that his grandchildren should be raised ‘in the fear of God, and good literature’. He died on 6 Oct. 1654 and was buried at Tunstall four days later ‘without any pomp or ceremonies’. His portrait was painted in 1645.59

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. In July 1633 he claimed to be 55 years old, and his MI says that he died in his 78th year: C24/588, pt. 2, no. 96, p. 3; E.R. Mores, Tunstall, 82.
  • 2. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 59; Arch. Cant. xiv. 63, 79; Mores, 30, 36; GI Admiss. 82; PBG Inn, i. 216; REQ 2/220/3; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 42.
  • 3. PROB 11/96, f. 320; CB.
  • 4. C231/1, f. 111v; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Chas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 466.
  • 5. M. Teichman Derville, Lord and Liberty of Romney Marsh, 114.
  • 6. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 69.
  • 7. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23; SR, v. 63, 85.
  • 8. HCA 14/39/217.
  • 9. R. Furley, Hist. Weald of Kent, ii. 522.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 85.
  • 11. C181/2, f. 88; 181/4, f. 106v.
  • 12. C181/3, ff. 157v, 254v.
  • 13. Ibid. f. 203; 181/5, f. 68.
  • 14. C181/3, f. 209v; 181/5, f. 142v.
  • 15. E163/16/21.
  • 16. C93/7/7; 93/10/18.
  • 17. HMC Finch, i. 43.
  • 18. Traffic and Pols. ed. N. Yates and J.M. Gibson, 294.
  • 19. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 614; SP16/413/112.
  • 20. C181/3, f. 78; 181/5, f. 204.
  • 21. C181/3, f. 215v.
  • 22. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 449 (misdated).
  • 23. APC, 1623-4, pp. 409-10; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 207.
  • 24. Cent. Kent. Stud. Qb/JMS 4, f. 20v.
  • 25. E401/2586, p. 90.
  • 26. Harl. 6846, f. 37.
  • 27. C181/3, f. 218.
  • 28. E178/7154, f. 88c; 178/5368; 198/4/32, f. 2.
  • 29. C231/5, f. 58.
  • 30. Cent. Kent. Stud. U351/C2/46.
  • 31. PC2/45, p. 397.
  • 32. A. and O. i. 92, 113, 149, 231; Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 33. E. Hasted, Kent, vii. 224.
  • 34. SP14/89/96.
  • 35. W. Holloway, Hist. Romney Marsh, 163-4; P. Clark, Eng. Prov. Soc. 344.
  • 36. LJ, ii. 308a, 313a, 317a, 318a.
  • 37. Cent. Kent. Stud. C/A (a) 1, f. 107v.
  • 38. CJ, i. 351b. For the bill and cttee. procs. see Add. 34218, ff. 94-5.
  • 39. CJ, i. 356a, 370b.
  • 40. Ibid. 410a, 415a, 426a.
  • 41. Lansd. 163, f. 88.
  • 42. Cent. Kent. Stud. U321/E1, pt. 1, 22 Aug. 1612, articles of agreement; U321/T12.
  • 43. C.W. Chalklin, Seventeenth-Cent. Kent, 92; Cent. Kent. Stud. U2669, pp. 211-13, 219-20, 232, 243.
  • 44. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 258.
  • 45. His chambers had also been seized temporarily in 1610: PBG Inn, i. 191, 216.
  • 46. SP14/89/96; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 42.
  • 47. SP14/127/82; 14/156/15.
  • 48. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 614; APC, 1623-5, pp. 409-10.
  • 49. Procs. 1625, pp. 695-6.
  • 50. Ibid. 350, 358.
  • 51. Dorothea Scott ed. G.D. Scull, 132; Procs. 1626, iv. 241-2.
  • 52. CJ, i. 816b, 817b, 825b.
  • 53. Ibid. 830a, 840a, 842b, 843b, 845a, 856a, 857a, 858a, 869b.
  • 54. On his role in billeting, see Eg. 2087, ff. 35, 38; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 275.
  • 55. Holloway, 167.
  • 56. C2/Chas.I/P34/41; 2/Chas.I/P86/39.
  • 57. BRL, Baker ms 13A/7; R.C. Hales, ‘Brief Notes on the Hales Fam.’, Arch. Cant. xiv. 82.
  • 58. A.M. Everitt, Community of Kent and Gt. Rebellion, 193, 199; CCAM, 257; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 200-1.
  • 59. Hales, 77-84; Mores, 82, 95.