HANHAM (HANNAM), Sir John (1574-1625), of Deans Court, Wimborne Minster, Dorset

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. 3 Mar. 1574,1 1st s. of Thomas Hannam† of Deans Court, sjt.-at-law 1589-93, and Penelope, da. of Sir John Popham† of Wellington, Som., Speaker of House of Commons 1581, c.j.q.b. 1592; bro. of Thomas†.2 educ. Balliol, Oxf. 1588; M. Temple 1590;3 travelled abroad (Switzerland) 1600.4 m. aft. 1601, Joan (bur. 3 Aug. 1615), da. and h. of Robert Wichalse of Chudleigh, Devon, wid. of Charles Trevanion† of Caerhayes, Cornw., 1da.5 suc. fa. 1593;6 kntd. 11 May 1603.7 d. 28 Aug. 1625.8

Offices Held

Lt. Holt chase, Dorset 1594;9 commr. piracy, Dorset 1603, 1605,10 j.p. by 1614-d.,11 sheriff 1614-15,12 commr. sewers 1617.13

Member, Virg. Co. 1612.14


Hanham was the grandson of a Somerset gentleman who settled at Wimborne Minster in the mid-sixteenth century and served as Member for Poole in 1547 and Melcombe Regis in 1554. His father, Thomas, subsequently became recorder of the unified borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, which he represented in the 1572 Parliament.15 Hanham emulated his father by entering the Middle Temple, but did not pursue a legal career. His patrimony of more than 4,000 acres, located mainly in eastern Dorset, afforded him a comfortable private income and the luxury of foreign travel. In 1600 he demonstrated his Calvinist leanings by spending at least a month in Geneva. He first entered the Commons in 1601, probably securing his seat at East Looe through the Court connections of his maternal grandfather, lord chief justice Popham.16

Hanham was returned for Weymouth in 1604, presumably with the backing of his family’s senior branch, which owned the nearby manor of Radipole. Weymouth’s corporation planned to introduce a bill to convert Radipole parish church into a chapel-of-ease, and Hanham may have aimed to guard the interests of his cousin James, who owned the living but was currently a minor. In the event, though, he played no known part in this measure’s passage.17 Indeed, his only recorded parliamentary business occurred during the fourth session, when he was named to committees for four private bills, including those concerning charitable provision in Dorchester, Dorset, and the upkeep of Minehead harbour, Somerset (17 Feb., 1 Mar. 1610). He apparently never sought election again.18

Unlike his brother Thomas, who led an expedition to Maine in 1606, Hanham showed limited interest in colonial ventures. Although he joined the Virginia Company in 1612, he was sued in the following year for failing to pay his promised subscription of £37 10s.19 A moderately active local administrator, he won praise from contemporaries for using some of the former monastic revenues of Wimborne Minster to repair the local church.20 Hanham died intestate in August 1625, leaving an only daughter, who later married her cousin John Pyne*. Under a family entail, the Deans Court estate passed to Hanham’s brother Thomas, who served for Minehead during the Long Parliament.21

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. C142/239/118.
  • 2. Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 50-1.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. HMC Hatfield, x. 403-4.
  • 5. Som. and Dorset N and Q, xxxi. 30.
  • 6. C142/239/118.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 105.
  • 8. C142/424/85.
  • 9. Hist. Duchy of Lancaster ed. R. Somerville, i. 629.
  • 10. C181/1, ff. 62v, 114.
  • 11. C66/1988; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 6.
  • 12. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 39.
  • 13. C181/2, f. 294.
  • 14. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 544.
  • 15. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 440; iii. 231; HP Commons, 1509-58, ii. 293.
  • 16. Hutchins, iii. 230, 232; HMC Hatfield, x. 403-4; HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 248.
  • 17. Hutchins, ii. 478; H.J. Moule, Docs. of Bor. of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 193; Letters of Sir Francis Hastings ed. C. Cross (Som. Rec. Soc. lxix), pp. xxiv, 73, 88.
  • 18. CJ, i. 394b, 398b, 403a, 441a.
  • 19. Brown, 909; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 45.
  • 20. T. Gerard, Survey of Dorset, 114.
  • 21. C142/424/85; PROB 6/12, f. 44; Som. and Dorset N and Q, xxxi. 30; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, v. 574.