HERRYS (HARRIS), Sir Arthur (c.1587-1632), of Creeksea Place and Woodham Mortimer, Essex

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.1587,1 o.s. of Sir William Herrys of Creeksea and Alice, da. of Sir Thomas Smythe I†, Haberdasher and collector of customs, of London, Ashford and Westenhanger, Kent. educ. Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1602, G. Inn 1605, L. Inn 1607; travelled abroad 1604-5. m. (1) by 1610, Anne, da. and h. and Robert Cranmer of Chipstead, Kent, 2s.; (2) 31 Jan. 1615, Anne, da. and sole h. of Sir Nicholas Salter of Enfield, Mdx., Clothworker, wid. of Sir Henry Bowyer of Denham, Bucks., 5s. (?1 d.v.p.) 5da. kntd. 15 July 1606; suc. fa. 1616. d. 9 Jan. 1632.2 sig. Arthur Herris.

Offices Held

Member, Virg. Co. 1612-?24.3

Master of the hosp., Ilford, Essex by 1620;4 j.p. Essex 1620-d.;5 commr. subsidy, Essex 1621-2, 1624, Maldon, Essex 1621-2, 1624, 1625, 1628,6 repair of highways, Essex 1622, survey Tiptree Heath, Essex 1623;7 freeman, Maldon 1624;8 sheriff, Essex 1625-6,9 commr. Forced Loan 1626-7,10 Maldon 1626,11 sewers, Essex 1627,12 commr. oyer and terminer 1629,13 charitable uses 1629-at least 1630,14 knighthood fines 1630.15

Commr. trade 1625.16


Long established in Essex, the Herrys family had achieved gentry status by the dissolution of the monasteries.17 Herrys’s paternal grandfather served twice as sheriff of Essex, owning property at Woodham Mortimer, a few miles south-west of Maldon, and at Creeksea, near the mouth of the river Crouch, where in 1569 he built Creeksea Place, which has been described as ‘a sizeable early Elizabethan mansion’.18 Herrys’ father, who married one of the six daughters of ‘Customer Smythe’, also served as sheriff of Essex (1598-9), was knighted at James I’s Coronation,19 and was sufficiently prosperous to afford for his son a thorough education and to contribute £60 towards the Privy Seal loan of 1604.20 In May 1604, two years after entering Cambridge, Herrys was granted a licence to travel abroad for three years, but he returned before his passport expired and was admitted to Gray’s Inn. Knighted on the same day as his cousin-in-law Henry Baker in 1606, he entered Lincoln’s Inn in the following year. In March 1616 he obtained a grant in reversion to the office of rembrancer in the Exchequer at the nomination of his aunt, Lady Fanshawe, the widow of the recently deceased remembrancer, (Sir) Henry Fanshawe II†, in trust for her son.21 He succeeded to his father’s estates in November 1616, and subsequently obtained a royal grant of free warren at Creeksea.22 By 1619 he was seised of Norton Downey manor in Devon.23 Like his father before him he enjoyed a goodly income, donating £50 to the Palatinate Benevolence in 1622 after his arm was twisted by the Privy Council.24 He also helped to buy the wardship of his second cousin, John Baker, and sent his eldest son Cranmer on a tour of the Continent in 1627.25

Although unacquainted with most of the members of Maldon’s corporation, Herrys wrote to the town’s bailiffs in November 1619 to recommend the clerk of the Commons, John Wright, following the death of their recorder (Sir) Charles Chiborne*.26 Added to the bench in 1620, he was subsequently named to several local commissions, including those for the collection of the subsidy in Maldon, 1621 and 1622. By January 1624 he was sufficiently well acquainted with the leading townsmen to merit election to Maldon’s senior parliamentary seat, despite competition from Sir Henry Mildmay* of Wanstead and the town’s own high steward, Sir Julius Caesar*.27 His decision to stand for Parliament was undoubtedly prompted by (Sir) Robert Rich*, 2nd earl of Warwick, from whom he leased several Essex properties,28 and whose ally in the Virginia Company he may have been.

During the course of his first Parliament, Herrys never addressed the House and played only a minor role in its affairs. On 3 Apr. he was named to attend a joint conference with the Lords concerning recusancy. He was subsequently appointed to six legislative committees, two of which dealt with bills permitting particular landowners to disentail part of their estates (24 Apr. and 19 May). Herrys is not known to have been connected with either of the intended beneficiaries of the legislation, Sir Richard Burneby and Sir Toby Palavicino, but among the properties that Palavicino wished to sell was a 600-acre estate near Ilford, Essex.29 It is unclear why Herrys was named to consider measures to naturalize Philip Jacobson (15 Apr.), and drain Erith and Plumstead marshes, in Kent (28 Apr.), nor is it known whether he had any interest in the bill to enable the king to exchange various Crown lands in Yorkshire for York House, on the Strand (19 May). However, the bill permitting the sale of Abbott’s Hall manor (30 Apr.) concerned an Essex property.30

Herrys proved the popular choice for Maldon’s first seat in April 1625, but sat as junior knight of the shire for Essex, having received the support of the earl of Warwick, who endorsed him as one ‘whose understanding and integrity well deserves that employment’.31 Once again he made little impact on the Parliament, making no speeches and being named to only two committees. During the Westminster sitting he was appointed to consider a measure to enable sheriffs and escheators to pass their accounts more quickly (9 July), while at Oxford he was named to the committee for the bill to naturalize Sir Daniel Deligne of Harlaxton, Lincolnshire (11 August).32 Pricked as sheriff later that year, he was thereby prevented from seeking election to the 1626 Parliament. Unlike many of Warwick’s supporters, he was not purged from the Essex bench during the summer of 1626, perhaps because of his family connections with the king’s surveyor-general, (Sir) Thomas Fanshawe I*.33 He subsequently proved an active commissioner for the Forced Loan, in contrast to Warwick’s closest Essex allies, Sir Francis Barrington* and Sir Harbottle Grimston*.34

Herrys was relegated to Maldon’s junior seat in 1628, doubtless because his constituents were eager to favour Sir Henry Mildmay of Wanstead, whom they hoped would use his Court connections to rid the town of a company of Irish soldiers which had been billeted upon them. Despite his lack of parliamentary stature, Herrys was named to the committee for privileges (20 March). Maintaining his customary low profile in the House - he is never recorded as having spoken - he was appointed to just two legislative committees, on 6 May 1628 and 12 Feb. 1629, concerning bills to enable Vincent Lowe of Denby, Derbyshire and Edmund Hamond of Essex to sell entailed land.35 Herrys received the House’s protection after Warwick’s cousin Sir Nathaniel Rich announced on 10 May 1628 that he had been served with a subpoena by Star Chamber. The unfortunate official who presented Herrys with the writ was himself summoned to the bar of the Commons, where he protested: ‘I did not know he was a Parliament man’.36

Following the ending of the third Caroline Parliament, advancing age induced Herrys to retire from active service on the county bench, although he was one of two Essex magistrates who apprehended the ringleaders of a riot at Burrow Hill, near Maldon, for which he was congratulated by the Privy Council.37 He remained closely connected with Warwick, delivering a message on the earl’s behalf in September 1629.38 In July 1631 he surrendered his reversion to the office of remembrancer of the Exchequer,39 and four months later drew up his will, in which he provided legacies for his five surviving younger sons amounting to £4,200 and portions of £2,000 each for his five daughters. He also bequeathed a total of £7 to the poor of the two Essex parishes where he resided.40 Like his father before him,41 he left the choice of burial place to his executor. Following his death in January 1632 he was interred at All Saints, Creeksea, where a monument describes him as having been religious and just.42 Herrys’ fellow Essex j.p., the lawyer and poet Dr. Robert Aylott, marked his passing by composing ‘many English verses which are much applauded, expressing his life beyond sea and here, his two wives and 12 children’ and ‘his faithfulness to the country and king’, but these have not been traced.43 No other member of Herrys’ family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. C142/363/196.
  • 2. Vis. Essex (Harl Soc. xiii), 213; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; LI Admiss.; SO3/2, unfol. (May 1604); C142/482/56; St. Olave, Hart St. London (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlvi), 260; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 140.
  • 3. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 545; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iv. 157.
  • 4. E214/1374.
  • 5. C231/4, f. 103; SP16/212.
  • 6. C212/22/20-1, 23; Essex RO, D/B 3/3/409/5; 3/3/294.
  • 7. C181/3, ff. 68v, 95.
  • 8. Essex RO, D/B 3/3/392/53. W.J. Petchey, A Prospect of Maldon, 267, incorrectly states that he was only admitted to the town’s freedom in 1628.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 46.
  • 10. Bodl. Firth C4, p. 257; SP16/73/105.
  • 11. C193/12/2, f. 81.
  • 12. C181/3, f. 233.
  • 13. C181/4, f. 1v.
  • 14. C192/1, unfol.
  • 15. Bodl. Firth C4, p. 516.
  • 16. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 17. B.W. Quintrell, ‘Govt. of Essex’ (London Ph.D. thesis, 1965), p. 21.
  • 18. N. Pevsner (revised E. Radcliffe), Buildings of Eng.: Essex, 152.
  • 19. List of Sheriffs, 45; Shaw, ii. 125.
  • 20. E401/2587, unfol., entry of 31 Dec. 1606.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 355; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 615. Fanshawe was the son of the Elizabethan Member for Rye, Arundel and Much Wenlock.
  • 22. C66/2146/17.
  • 23. C2/Chas.I/H45/8.
  • 24. SP14/156/14; 14/127/82; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 90 (mis-dated).
  • 25. WARD 10/43, pt. i., bdle. labelled ‘Petitions’; APC, 1627, p. 2.
  • 26. Essex RO, D/B 3/397/11.
  • 27. Essex RO, D/B 3/3/392/53, 67.
  • 28. Hunts. RO, D/Dm 32/19. We are grateful to Christopher Thompson for this ref.
  • 29. CJ, i. 705b, 774a; L. Stone, An Elizabethan: Sir Horatio Palavicino, 313.
  • 30. CJ, i. 694b, 705a, 754a, 767a, 777a.
  • 31. Procs. 1625, pp. 205, 683, 692.
  • 32. Ibid. 358, 457.
  • 33. Herrys and Fanshawe issued a letter of attorney jointly in July 1625: Northants. RO, FH 1185.
  • 34. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 199; SP16/73/105.
  • 35. CD 1628, ii. 29; iii. 429; CJ, i. 929a.
  • 36. CD 1628, iii. 354, 357, 405, 412. The details of the law suit have not been ascertained.
  • 37. Quintrell, 42; APC, 1629-30, p. 24.
  • 38. Essex RO, D/B 3/3/205/23.
  • 39. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 100.
  • 40. PROB 11/161, ff. 62v-4v.
  • 41. PROB 11/128, f. 417v.
  • 42. Pevsner, 152.
  • 43. Winthrop Pprs. (Mass. Historical Soc.), iii. 62-3.