LITTLE, Francis (d.1631), of the Old Vicarage, Abingdon, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. aft. 1553, s. of Henry Little alias Brooke, yeoman, of Henley-on-Thames, Oxon. m. (1) Elizabeth, 3ch. (d.v.p.); (2) Anne, da. of Nicholas Milton of Nately Scures, Hants, 11 more ch. (7 prob. d.v.p.).1

Offices Held

Mayor, Abingdon 1592-3, 1598-9, 1606-7, 1617-18; gov. Christ’s hosp., Abingdon 1592-1630, master 1596-8.2


Little migrated from Henley to Abingdon where he followed, in his own words, the ‘very gainful course’ of malt-making. In 1595 he leased from the corporation the former abbey brewery, situated in the old burial ground. In the 1597 Parliament, to which he was returned 4 Oct., he sat on three recorded committees, concerning Wantage, Berks. (10 Nov.), the punishment of rogues (24 Nov.) and malt (12 Jan. 1598). The borough minutes note that he was paid 2s. per day wages. Significantly, he did not become mayor of Abingdon during the lifetime of Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The town was divided between supporters and opponents of the Earl, and Little was an opponent. During his second mayoralty a new and comprehensive register of the town’s acts and ordinances was drawn up. On his marriage to Anne Milton, his father-in-law settled on him the manor of Quarrelstone called Appleton in Berkshire, on condition that he provided marriage portions for Milton’s other children. In 1615 he was sued in Chancery by Richard Whitwick, clerk, for selling him this manor without disclosing that it was encumbered. In 1624 Little became a trustee of money left to Abingdon corporation by his kinsman, Thomas Teasdale, for the benefit of Abingdon scholars, which money the corporation used towards the foundation of Pembroke College, Oxford. He includes an account of the bequest in his Monument of Christian Munificence (1627). This book, a record of past benefactors of Abingdon dedicated to his fellow governors of Christ’s hospital, he described as ‘not a perfect work of some great artisan, but an essay of a beginner in the kind ... a true plain song on which some other hereafter may make more pleasant descant’. ‘Just and merciful men’ he likened ‘unto a box of precious ointment which, while it remaineth whole and sound giveth little scent, but being broken delighteth all that are near unto it with its odoriferous smell; and those praises which the envy of others suppressed, or their own modesty refused in their lives, after death follow them ... with full cry.’ The book contained short biographies of many Abingdon benefactors, including Sir John Mason but not the Earl of Leicester.3

Little was buried at Abingdon 10 Jan. 1631, and was succeeded by his son Francis, who graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1618.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. A. E. Preston and A. C. Baker, Historic Abingdon (1957), pp. 40-64; PCC 5 Pyckering; VCH Berks. iv. 339.
  • 2. Abingdon Recs. ed. Chancellenor, app. xlvi; Preston and Baker; F. Little, A Monument of Christian Munificence (1871), pp. 104, 110.
  • 3. A. E. Preston, St. Nicholas, Abingdon (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xcix), 86, 157, 210, 213, 422, 434, 445-6, 453, 459; Preston and Baker; D’Ewes, 555, 562, 578; Abingdon Recs. 131-5; Little, pp. vii. xv-xix, 34.
  • 4. A. C. Baker, Historic Abingdon (1963), p. 64.