HEVENINGHAM, Sir John (1577-1633), of Ketteringham, 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. 15 Mar. 1577,1 1st s. of Sir Arthur Heveningham of Heveningham, Suff. and Ketteringham and Mary, da. of one Hanchet of Herts.2 educ. fell. comm. Queens', Camb. 1592; I. Temple 1594.3 m. (1) Catherine (d.1602), da. of Lewis, Lord Mordaunt† of Turvey, Beds. and Drayton, Northants., ch. d.v.p.; (2) Bridget (d. 9 June 1624), da. of Christopher Paston of Oxnead, Norf., 1s.4 kntd. 11 May 1603;5 suc. fa. 1630.6 d. 17 June 1633.7

Offices Held

J.p. Norf. 1608-22, Norf. and Suff. 1622-33,8 sheriff, Norf. 1615-16,9 commr. seabreaches, Norf. and Suff. 1616, Norf. 1625,10 sewers, Hunts., Lincs., Northants., Norf. and Suff. 1617, swans, Norf. 1619,11 subsidy 1621-2, 1624, 1628,12 piracy 1624,13 charitable uses 1630.14


The Norfolk historian, Walter Rye, described the Heveningham pedigree drafted in the late sixteenth century as ‘absurd’, and indeed a connection between the Heveninghams and Arphaxad, one of the knights who supposedly watched Christ’s sepulchre, does seem far-fetched. The family, although long established in Suffolk before their move to Ketteringham in Norfolk in 1575, was not the subject of a heraldic visitation in either county.15 Heveningham’s father, Sir Arthur, was the first member of his family to be appointed a magistrate. An unpopular figure among the Norfolk gentry, often involved in personal feuds, he nevertheless served assiduously on many Norfolk commissions.16 Heveningham himself never achieved great prominence in the county, however, as he died soon after his father.

Heveningham attempted to obtain a seat shortly after James’s accession, when it was widely expected that Parliament would meet in the autumn of 1603. His father was unable to stand himself, being then sheriff of Norfolk, but wrote to Sir Thomas Knyvett of Ashwellthorpe suggesting that Knyvett’s son Thomas should stand with Heveningham for the county seats. He also proposed to use the ‘trick of [his] office’ to ensure success, by which he presumably meant that he would move the hustings to a location in southern Norfolk, which would prove convenient for many of the freeholders but not for his rivals, the Bacon/Gawdy faction.17 However, Parliament was not summoned to meet in the autumn, and in 1604 Sir Arthur, freed of the shrievalty, stood for election himself, only to be defeated in a bitter contest. In 1610 Heveningham introduced a private bill to assure him possession of the manor of Lowestoft, which he had recently purchased from Sir Thomas Hyrne*. The latter had held the manor by an entail, and it remained doubtful whether he had been entitled to break this.18 The bill passed smoothly through both Houses and was enacted at the end of the session.19

In 1627 Heveningham refused to pay the Forced Loan, or to serve as one of the collectors. In January he was summoned before the Privy Council, having previously put in a bond for his appearance of £500,20 and was subsequently committed to the Marshalsea.21 Like his fellow Norfolk Loan refuser, Sir John Corbet, 1st Bt.*, Heveningham remained in prison until late June, when he was granted permission to return to Norfolk to attend to his private affairs. He was ordered to be back in gaol by the end of July,22 when he was sentenced to house arrest in Shropshire. By November he had been moved to the Fleet.23 From there, he, Corbet, Sir Thomas Darnel, (Sir) Walter Earle* and Sir Edmund Hampden petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus cum causa. Heveningham and the others were heard in King’s Bench, where Heveningham was represented by serjeant John Bramston, who argued that under Magna Carta ‘no man should be imprisoned but by the legal judgment of his peers or by lex terrae’. However, the judges refused to rule in the ‘Five Knights Case’,24 and Heveningham and his fellow litigants were not released until 2 Jan. 1628.25

Heveningham’s stand against the Loan was extremely popular in Norfolk, where his family’s feud with the Bacon/Gawdy faction was now forgotten, at least temporarily. At the parliamentary election of 1628, Heveningham was returned as knight of the shire for Norfolk, thus succeeding where his father had previously always failed.26 Once in the Commons, Heveningham was named to three committees for bills concerned with land transactions. These were to enable Samuel Sewster to sell manors in Huntingdonshire (16 May); to confirm the right of the earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*) to Sherborne manor, Dorset (23 May); and to make an agreement between the king and the tenants of his manors of Bromfield and Yale in Denbighshire (13 June).27 Heveningham was also named to two other committees. One dealt with the Isle of Ely’s petition against Sir Simeon Steward* (10 May), while the other with William Nowell’s* petition against the attorney of the Duchy of Lancaster, Sir Edward Mosley* (3 June).28

Heveningham succeeded his father in 1630, but outlived him by only three years. He was buried in Ketteringham church. No will, letters of administration or inquisition post mortem have been found. His son, William, sat for Stockbridge in 1640. A notable parliamentarian, he was also a member of the High Court and the Council of State, but was deprived of his estates at the Restoration.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. Soc. Gen. SF/REG/77084/1.
  • 2. Harl. 4031, f. 239.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; I. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. v. 94
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 107.
  • 6. A.H. Smith, County and Court, 353.
  • 7. Blomefield, v. 94; Harl. 4031, f. 239.
  • 8. Smith, 365; C231/4, ff. 135, 261.
  • 9. Norf. Official Lists ed. H. L’Estrange, p. 83.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 263v; 181/3, f. 189v.
  • 11. C181/2, ff. 282, 342.
  • 12. C212/22/20, 21, 23, W. Rye, Norf. State Pprs. 137.
  • 13. C181/3, f. 115v.
  • 14. C192/1, unfol.
  • 15. W. Rye, Norf. Fams. 334.
  • 16. Smith, 57, 158-9.
  • 17. Ibid. 329-30; Norf. RO, NNAS C3/1/9/5.
  • 18. Suff. RO (Lowestoft), 317/1/1/3.
  • 19. CJ, i. 394a, 397b, 405b, 408b, 409b; LJ, ii. 567a, 568a, 571a, 585b.
  • 20. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 115; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 15.
  • 21. APC, 1627, p. 40.
  • 22. Ibid. 370.
  • 23. Ibid. 395; SP16/89/2.
  • 24. State Trials ed. T.B. Howell, iii. 1-59; S.R. Gardiner, Hist. Eng. 1603-42, vi. 213-17; KB21/9, Mich., 3 Chas.I; KB29/276, m. 80; KB145/15/3, Hil.; Add. 33468, ff. 7-8.
  • 25. APC, 1627-8, pp. 217-18.
  • 26. Smith, 158-9.
  • 27. Procs. 1628, iii. 429, 557; iv. 292.
  • 28. Ibid. iii. 354; iv. 59.
  • 29. Oxford DNB.