HARDWARE, George (1569-1635), of Great Yarmouth, Norf.

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

bap. 14 Aug. 1569, s. of Thomas Hardware of Gt. Yarmouth and Margaret. m. bef. 1598, Margaret (d. bef. Oct. 1639), at least 2s. d.v.p., at least 2 other ch. d.v.p. bur. 2 June 1635.1 sig. George Hardware.

Offices Held

Freeman, Gt. Yarmouth 1598,2 member of the Forty-Eight 1602-8,3 constable 1602, auditor 1604-5, 1609-11, 1626-11 July 1629, 29 Aug. 1629-1630, chamberlain 1606-9,4 common cllr. 1608-11,5 alderman 1611-11 July 1629, 29 Aug. 1629-d.,6 bailiff 1612-13, 1621-2,7 j.p. 1612-d.,8 commr. piracy, 1616,9 1630,10 coroner, 1617-18, 1627-8, 1631-2,11 paymaster of the Haven, 1623- at least 1624,12 collector, Forced Loan 1627.13


Little is known of Hardware until his appointment to the corporation of Great Yarmouth in 1602, when he quickly became a leading figure in the town’s affairs. He used his status to secure various leases of town property, including an orchard next to his dwelling and the ‘old long entry siding’ alongside the house in Grey Friars owned by the town’s historian, Henry Manship the younger.14 He also secured all the town’s lands ‘without the north gates’ for £45 p.a. and the eastern houses on the foreshore for £4 10s. yearly.15 In 1611 he became an alderman, and in December undertook his first recorded journey on behalf of the town, visiting Sir Charles Cornwallis* and pleading with Norfolk’s lord lieutenant, the earl of Northampton, in an attempt to have Yarmouth’s contribution to the Privy Seal loan reduced.16 In March 1612 Hardware rode to Cambridge to procure a new preacher for the town, and confirmed the appointment with the bishop of Norwich.17 Over the next few years he became the most travelled member of the corporation, obtaining from the Privy Council the all-important herring licence, consulting the Norwich corporation over the local use of weights for measuring coal, corn and salt, and paying Yarmouth’s contribution to the Virginia Company lottery.18

Hardware served as Yarmouth’s bailiff in 1612-13, and as its junior burgess in Parliament in 1614. While in London he was ordered to discuss Sir Daniel Dunne’s* ‘Leaden project’ with the Privy Council.19 In the Commons, Hardware was not personally named to any committees, but as the burgess of a port town he was eligible to attend the committee for the bill to repeal the Elizabethan statute on packing of fish. He supported this measure because, as he explained on 24 May, it had ‘begotten three mischiefs’: decay of fishing, decay of navigation and the loss of the skill of barrelling cod.20 On his return from Westminster, Hardware reported to the corporation other Parliament business which concerned the town, including developments in the long-running dispute with Lowestoft,21 the introduction of a bill to prevent native commodities from being transported in foreign ships,22 and Nicholas Fuller’s proposal of 18 Apr. to close all town gates on the Sabbath.23

In 1616 Hardware was ordered to help review Yarmouth’s ordinances, and he served a second term as bailiff from October 1621, during which time he entertained the bishop of Norwich at the town’s expense.24 Elected to his second Parliament in January 1624, he was allowed 6s. 8d. expenses per diem.25 He is known to have attended five of the six meetings of the committee appointed to consider a bill for customs fees, to which he was named as a burgess of a port town, but is otherwise unmentioned in the parliamentary sources.26 During the Easter recess, Hardware returned to Yarmouth, and reported that a bill to void Henry Heron’s West Country monopoly to pack and salt fish had been introduced.27 He also brought with him copies of the speeches made in Parliament by the king and Prince Charles.28 Hardware returned to Westminster after Easter and departed shortly before Parliament ended on 29 May.29 He had returned to London by August in order to renew the town’s herring licence.30

In August 1627 Hardware, Benjamin Cooper* and alderman John Dasset petitioned the king to grant the town a new charter to replace its bailiffs with a mayor.31 The corporation was divided over the proposal, and eventually Hardware was dismissed on 11 July 1629 for ‘divers matters done by him contrary to his oath, against the public good of this town’, and also for refusing to answer the charges against him.32 The king, however, supported the concept of a new charter, as did the Privy Council.33 Through the efforts of attorney-general Sir Robert Heath* and Secretary Dorchester (Dudley Carleton*) Charles intervened,34 and consequently Hardware was re-elected as both alderman and auditor on 29 August.35 However, Hardware did not play a significant part in Yarmouth affairs thereafter, despite being appointed coroner in 1631 and serving on the Haven repair committee two years later.36 Hardware was buried in St. Nicholas’ church on 2 June 1635, his children having all predeceased him.37 No will, inquisition post mortem or letters of administration have been found.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. Gt. Yarmouth par reg; Norf. RO, Y/C39/1 unfol.
  • 2. Cal. Yarmouth Freemen, 49.
  • 3. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, f. 28.
  • 4. Ibid. Y/C18/1, ff. 95v, 96v, 97v-98, 99r-v, 108-9v.
  • 5. Norf. RO, Y/C2/12; Y/C18/4, ff. 67-76v [1608 charter changed title from ‘48’ to ‘common cllrs.’].
  • 6. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, ff. 93v, 130, 132.
  • 7. Ibid. Y/C18/1, ff. 100v, 105v.
  • 8. Ibid. ff. 100v, 101, 105v-106, 109r-v, 112.
  • 9. Ibid. Y/C3/1.
  • 10. C181/4, f. 50.
  • 11. Norf. RO, Y/C18/1, ff. 103, 108v, 110v.
  • 12. Ibid. Y/C19/5, ff. 272v, 294v.
  • 13. Ibid. Y/C19/6, f. 55.
  • 14. Ibid. Y/C19/5, ff. 63, 70v.
  • 15. Ibid. ff. 79, 80.
  • 16. Ibid. ff. 93v, 95v; E403/2732, f. 121v.
  • 17. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, ff. 95v-96.
  • 18. Ibid. ff. 113, 149; APC, 1613-14, pp. 232-3.
  • 19. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, f. 136; Y/C18/6, f. 76.
  • 20. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 332, 336; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 156; SP14/77/29.
  • 21. There is no mention of the dispute in the 1614 parl. recs.
  • 22. HLRO, main pprs. suppl. 6 May 1614.
  • 23. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 97; Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, f. 132v.
  • 24. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, ff. 164, 245, 265.
  • 25. Ibid. f. 292v.
  • 26. HLRO, main pprs. 20 May 1624.
  • 27. Kyle thesis, 148-52.
  • 28. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, f. 296.
  • 29. Ibid. Y/C19/5, f. 296v.
  • 30. Add. 12496, f. 377.
  • 31. H. Swinden, Hist. Gt. Yarmouth, 477-505.
  • 32. Norf. RO, Y/C19/6, ff. 130-1.
  • 33. SP16/147/56, 58, 59; APC, 1629-30, pp. 112-13.
  • 34. SP16/148/74, 88.
  • 35. Norf. RO, Y/C19/6, f. 132r-v.
  • 36. Ibid. ff. 132v, 269.
  • 37. Ibid. f. 331; Gt. Yarmouth par. reg.