STRODE, Sir Richard (1584-1669), of Lower Chalmington, Cattistock, Dorset and Newnham, Plympton St. Mary, Devon

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



1640 (Apr.)

Family and Education

bap. 1 July 1584, 1st s. of Sir William Strode* and his 1st w. Mary, da. of Thomas Southcote† of Shillingford St. George and Bovey Tracey, Devon; bro. of William*.1 educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1598.2 m. (1) settlement c. Jan. 1597,3 Katherine (d. c.1608), da. and h. of Sir Robert Strode of Parnham, Dorset, 3da. (1 d.v.p.);4 (2) settlement 31 Oct. 1612,5 Elizabeth (bur. 29 June 1652), da. of Thomas Earle of Charborough, Dorset, 1s. 5da.; (3) Anne, da. of Sir John Drake* of Ashe, Devon, 1s. 1da.6 kntd. 14 Mar. 1604;7 suc. fa. 1637. bur. 9 Oct. 1669.8

Offices Held

Freeman, Lyme Regis, Dorset 1607;9 j.p. Dorset 1619-c.1627,10 commr. martial law 1626, billeting 1626;11 recorder, Plympton, Devon by 1639-40;12 commr. levying money, Devon 1643, execution of ordinances 1644, assessment 1644, 1647-9,13 Dorset 1664-8.14

Cttee. Dorchester New Eng. Co. from 1624.15


Strode was born at Bovey Tracey, on the eastern edge of Dartmoor. In 1596-7, when he was aged only 12, his father Sir William negotiated for him an apparently advantageous marriage with the heiress of a distant cousin, the heavily indebted Sir Robert Strode.16 In return for £2,000, Sir Robert made over to Strode and his new wife more than half his estate in reversion, including four manors in Devon and Somerset. Under the terms of a second indenture, he also agreed that if he died without a direct male heir, most of his remaining lands, including his seat at Parnham, Dorset, would also descend to Strode and his children. In the event that Sir Robert was succeeded by a son, however, the £2,000 would be repaid. In 1600 Strode and his wife additionally received from Sir Robert the reversion of an estate at Lower Chalmington, Dorset, for which they paid rent in the short term. As part of this transaction it was agreed that Sir Robert should now repay only £1,000.17

In February 1604, while still a minor, Strode was returned to Parliament at Bere Alston on his father’s interest. Knighted a month later, he left no mark on the Commons’ records until the 1606-7 session, when he was named to the committee for the bill to divert the profits of an Exeter prebend to funding a preacher and schoolmaster (25 February). He also received five legislative committee nominations during the fourth session. Among the subjects he was required to consider were the repair of Minehead harbour, Somerset and the restriction of hawking (23 Feb., 29 March).18

Strode’s wife died in around 1608, leaving only daughters. Her father responded by cancelling the second entail of 1597, and settling the inheritance of the Parnham estate on his brother, John Strode*. Although he stipulated that John should pay 4,000 marks to Strode’s children as compensation, Strode and Sir William subsequently sued Sir Robert for breach of contract.19 In 1611, presumably as a precaution, Strode conveyed to his father his title to all the lands that he had received through his marriage except for Chalmington.20 A year later, following arbitration by the master of the Rolls, Sir Edward Phelips*, Sir Robert was ordered by Chancery to pay both the 4,000 marks and the £1,000 agreed in 1600, but deadlock was soon reached over the implementation of this award. Strode retaliated by laying claim to parts of the Parnham estate, but was foiled by John Strode in his bid to occupy the disputed lands following Sir Robert’s death in 1616. Although another Somerset manor was conveyed to Sir William in lieu of the £1,000, it seems unlikely that the 4,000 marks’ compensation was ever paid. The protracted legal battle apparently strained relations between Strode and his father, who never again provided his heir with a parliamentary seat in Devon.21

Like Sir William, Strode was a committed puritan. He may have been involved with the radical congregation at Bridport, Dorset, since one of its leaders, the renegade priest John Traske, was entertained at Chalmington. Strode was certainly on close terms with the Dorchester preacher, John White, attending his sermons and bringing his children to him for baptism. His second marriage, to the sister of Sir Walter Earle*, both consolidated his ties to the Dorset gentry and confirmed his religious affiliations.22 However, popular hostility towards puritans was especially intense in the county, and in 1616, when his wife was assaulted on her way home from hearing a sermon at Dorchester, Strode was unable to secure more than a token punishment for the culprit in the local courts. Although he blamed this setback on the malign influence of John Strode, with whom he was conducting an increasingly bitter feud, he seems to have been on bad terms with many of his neighbours, and was found to be a vexatious litigant at the Dorchester assizes.23 Despite this reputation, Strode was added to the Dorset bench in 1619. During the following decade he sought to improve his financial position, though with limited success. He was one of the prime movers behind a project in 1623 to drain and enclose Sedgemoor, which bordered on his Somerset lands, but the government’s initial enthusiasm for this scheme cooled in the face of local opposition.24 Like his brother-in-law Earle, he was also a prominent figure in the short-lived Dorchester New England Company, remaining actively involved until at least 1626, though the religious agenda behind this enterprise was presumably as big an incentive as any prospect of monetary gain. In early 1624 he negotiated to exchange Chalmington for the manor of Godmanstone, a few miles closer to Dorchester, but the deal fell through after the true costs of clearing a mortgage on Godmanstone emerged, and the property was subsequently acquired by the recently knighted Sir John Strode.25

At the 1626 general election Strode was nominated by the duke of Buckingham for a seat at Bridport. He has not otherwise been identified as one of the favourite’s clients, and may therefore have relied on the influence of his father, Sir William, who was then on close terms with the duke. The Bridport voters, describing Strode as ‘a man whom we well know and did incline to make choice of ... before’, elected him without argument. If his personal objective was to prevent Sir John Strode from resuming his seat there, he was successful, but there was another dimension to this election. Buckingham had targeted both Bridport burgess-ships, in an unsuccessful bid to block the candidacy of Sir Lewis Dyve, the stepson of his enemy, the 1st earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*). By standing as a rival to Dyve, Strode indirectly placed himself at odds with the latter’s father-in-law, Sir John Strangways*, one of Dorset’s most powerful gentlemen. He then confirmed this stance by actively supporting John Browne II*, a colleague in the Dorchester Company who stood against Strangways’ candidate in the Dorset election.26 Strode continued the fight against Dyve in the Commons, on 17 Feb. presenting a petition which alleged that Sir Lewis had secured his seat by bribing Bridport’s corporation with a gift of plate. However, Dyve was cleared of impropriety four days later.27 Little routine business came Strode’s way at Westminster. He was added on 9 June to the select committee to consider whether to award privilege to John or Poynings More, and received nominations to five bill committees, whose subjects included the quiet of ecclesiastical persons, and the mitigation of excommunication (14 Feb., 2 May).28

In August 1626 Strode was appointed to help manage the troops being billeted in Dorset. However, by the following May he had been displaced as a magistrate, apparently because of local antipathies. As he complained to (Sir) John Coke*: ‘I am hated by Sir John Strangways and his side great in this county, for that I complained and did discover in the last Parliament their foul corruption in buying of burgess-ships’. He had also accused his enemies of misappropriating funds intended as coat-and-conduct money. Strode’s reaction to this set-back was to request Coke to relieve him of his billeting responsibilities, the first sign that he was adopting a more negative attitude towards public service. In December 1629 he was summoned before the Privy Council for defaulting in musters.29

During the following decade Strode’s relations with central government continued to deteriorate, while his battle with Sir John Strode became increasingly bitter. One long-standing contest between the two men, for control of an aisle in their local church, was considered by High Commission in June 1634, when Strode’s former patronage of John Traske was used against him, and he was forced to admit that he had brought a pistol into the church one Easter in anticipation of meeting Sir John there.30 Strode had no greater success with his efforts to persuade Star Chamber to uphold his dubious claim to the Parnham estate. Although his case was due to be heard in 1633, he was kept waiting until at least 1638, and the court then apparently found against him and fined him. His pleas for sympathy were helped neither by his refusal in around 1635 to pay Ship Money, nor by the fact that his son William† was simultaneously petitioning the king about his own marriage settlement, which Strode was refusing to honour.31 To add to his sense of grievance, Sir William Strode died in 1637 leaving most of the lands which he could dispose of freely to Strode’s younger brother, William. Strode subsequently failed in his bid to overturn his father’s will. Nevertheless, having finally inherited the Newnham estate, he moved back to Devon, briefly serving as recorder of Plympton. He may have influenced the borough’s decision, made at around that time, to petition the Privy Council about its Ship Money rate. Certainly, in August 1639, in the aftermath of his Star Chamber débâcle, he staged a protest against the levy before the Devon grand jury, but his arguments were dismissed after the presiding judge, (Sir) John Finch II*, delineated Strode’s ‘unquiet spirit and contentious nature’ to the jurors.32

In 1640 Strode was returned to the Short Parliament in the contested election at Plympton Erle. The legitimacy of his indenture was questioned, but the committee for privileges failed to reach a verdict on his case before the dissolution. He presumably stood again at Plympton in November 1640, since the Crown Office list indicates that he was returned then, but the Commons accepted the rival candidates, (Sir) Thomas Hele* and Hugh Potter. Strode had clearly settled on Parliament as his best hope of securing the Parnham estate, but a bill concerning Sir Robert Strode’s lands was lost in committee during the Long Parliament’s first session.33 By mid-1643, both Hele and Potter had withdrawn from the Commons, and Strode apparently sought to present himself as the borough’s legitimate representative. A petition from him was referred to the House’s elections committee in November 1643, but once more his claims were rejected by the Commons.34 A staunch parliamentarian during the Civil War, he raised a force of 3,000 dragoons, but this financial burden, combined with heavy losses suffered at the hands of royalist troops, plunged him into debt. By 1652 he was a prisoner in the Fleet, from where he fruitlessly petitioned Oliver Cromwell* for a review of his claim to Parnham.35 Towards the end of his life Strode retired to Dorset, briefly re-entering public life there. By now he had embraced Baptist doctrines, and when he drew up his will on 20 July 1669 he requested burial in a tomb which he had prepared in the grounds of Chalmington. Still unreconciled to the loss of Parnham, he bequeathed his now desperate claim to Charles II, in the vain hope that the Crown would pursue it. His relations with his heir William were still strained, and he left Chalmington and the other lands that he had received through his first marriage to his younger son Joseph, ‘whom my wife doth wrongfully call John’. He also designated a £1,000 dowry for his youngest daughter, providing she married a Baptist. Strode died in the following October. Contrary to his wishes, he was interred with his ancestors at Plympton St. Mary. His son William sat for Plympton Erle from 1660 to his death in 1676.36

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 719.
  • 2. Al. Cant.
  • 3. C142/764/3.
  • 4. J. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 131-2, 243.
  • 5. Plymouth City Lib., ms 72/MTD3/3. The current location of this ms is unknown.
  • 6. Vivian, 719.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 130.
  • 8. Vivian, 719.
  • 9. Dorset RO, B7/B6/11, f. 9.
  • 10. C231/4, f. 79v; E163/18/12, f. 19v; HMC Cowper, i. 305.
  • 11. APC, 1626, pp. 221, 223-4.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1638-9, p. 288; J.B. Rowe, Hist. Plympton Erle, 158.
  • 13. A. and O. i. 228, 460, 545, 963, 1080; ii. 32, 295.
  • 14. SR, v. 530, 619.
  • 15. Procs. Dorset Nat. Hist. and Antiquarian Field Club, xiii. 65.
  • 16. Vivian, 719; Westcote, 543; Hutchins, ii. 130; Som. and Dorset N and Q, viii. 203-4.
  • 17. C2/Jas.I/S35/37; 2/Chas.I/S48/58; C78/534/2; C142/764/3.
  • 18. CJ, i. 399a, 416a, 1021a.
  • 19. C2/Chas.I/S48/58; this states that the compensation offered was £2,366, presumably an error for £2,666, i.e. 4,000 marks.
  • 20. C54/2092/41.
  • 21. C78/167/4; C2/Chas.I/S48/58; 2/Jas.I/S35/37; STAC 8/272/18.
  • 22. STAC 8/214/2; Oxford DNB, lv. 230; D.S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and Readmission of Jews to England, 31; D. Underdown, Fire from Heaven, 156; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 37.
  • 23. Underdown, 156; STAC 8/272/17; Winchester Coll. ms 18259-60.
  • 24. R.W. Hoyle, ‘Disafforestation and drainage’, in Estates of Eng. Crown 1558-1640 ed. R.W. Hoyle, 379; SP16/44/53; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 256.
  • 25. APC, 1625-6, pp. 376-7; C3/415/119.
  • 26. SP16/19/69; Oxford DNB, xvii. 518; Som. and Dorset N and Q, iv. 23.
  • 27. Procs. 1626, ii. 62, 64, 82.
  • 28. Ibid. ii. 34; iii. 120, 404.
  • 29. HMC Cowper, i. 305; APC, 1629-30, pp. 199, 246.
  • 30. STAC 8/272/18; CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 121.
  • 31. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 243; 1635-6, pp. 395-6; 1637-8, p. 215; 1639, p. 440; HMC Portland, iii. 51.
  • 32. PROB 11/176, ff. 137v, 139; M. Stoyle, Loyalty and Locality, 179; CSP Dom. 1639, pp. 439-41.
  • 33. CJ, ii. 7a, 84a, 160b; C193/32/18, f. 7.
  • 34. CJ, iii. 319a; Som. and Dorset N and Q, viii. 245. Hele was an active royalist from 1642, and Potter withdrew in Feb. 1643: P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 185; CJ, ii. 958b.
  • 35. CCAM, 38; C3/462/85; Som. and Dorset N and Q, viii. 244, 246.
  • 36. PROB 11/333, ff. 222v-3v; Vivian, 719.