WARDOUR, Chidiock (1542-1611), of Plaitford, Hants and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

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. 1542, 1st s. of William Wardour of Plaitford by Mary, da. of Edward Bampfield of Poltimore, Devon. m., at least 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1563.

Offices Held

Clerk of the pells in the Exchequer from 1570; j.p. Mdx. from c.1600.


Most of the surviving information about Wardour is concerned with his disputes with two successive writers of the tallies, Robert Petre and Vincent Skinner. As the official responsible for the rolls of receipts and issues, Wardour considered his status superior to that of a tally writer, but recent changes in Exchequer organization had made the latter office more attractive to aspiring officials. Petre and Skinner were dependents of Sir Walter Mildmay and Lord Burghley, while Wardour nominally owed his appointment to the aged 1st Marquess of Winchester, the lord treasurer, who had allowed Robert Hare to sell him the job. Wardour had thus to recoup a heavy outlay at a time when the fees paid by the public for certified copies and other documents were tending to slip out of his hands into those of his rivals. Between 1570 and 1584 Wardour and Petre quarrelled constantly, until a committee of Exchequer officials decided the main questions at issue in Wardour’s favour. Burghley, however, took no action on the committee’s report and in 1588 Wardour petitioned the Queen. He received only nominal satisfaction, and the dispute was still unsettled when on Petre’s death in 1593 he was succeeded by one of Burghley’s secretaries, Vincent Skinner, who continued to dispute the spheres of influence of the two offices. Once more Wardour appealed to the Queen, and in 1602 a ‘final’ decision was taken, by which the two were to share fees. Early in James I’s reign Skinner attempted unsuccessfully to re-open the whole matter. Wardour kept his office without further loss of profits until his death, after which it became virtually hereditary in his family for a century: his son Edward was associated with him in the office as early as 1595.

It may be significant that Wardour’s first appearance in Parliament was at a time when a bill to reform the Exchequer was being prepared, and when he was petitioning the Queen for action on behalf of his claims. His family seat at Plaitford was about 15 miles from Stockbridge, and he presumably knew the Kingsmills, a Hampshire family, with offices in the court of wards and other government departments: George Kingsmill had been appointed steward of the manor of Kings Somborne (in which Stockbridge lay) some years earlier, and had represented the borough in 1584 and 1586. The Kingsmills also owned property near Ludgershall, Wardour’s second constituency. They were in general strong puritans, and Wardour himself was apparently of the same faith. In June 1600 he signed, as one of the ‘chief parishioners’ of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a letter to Cecil asking that they should be allowed to ‘entertain at their own charges a sufficient preacher as a lecturer only’. Their vicar, Mr. Knight, who was Cecil’s chaplain, opposed the suggestion, but the signatories assured Sir Robert that the new appointment, if granted, would not prejudice Knight’s position.

Wardour’s will, drawn up in 1609, was proved on 30 Sept. 1611. He hoped ‘to be one of His elected flock that shall inherit the kingdom of heaven to my everlasting salvation’. He wished to be buried near his wife and daughter, the wife of Sir Stephen Lisieur, in a vault at Chiswick church, and asked his son Edward, the executor and residuary legatee, to see that a memorial tablet was placed on the wall of the church. There were numerous bequests to relatives in money, plate and rings: one legacy, to his sister Joyce Gawyne, had the proviso ‘that her husband finger not any penny thereof’. The poor of Chiswick benefited from a £10 fund to provide money or bread, as well as from a bequest of 6d. in money and six pennyworth of ‘good bread’at Wardour’s funeral, and a five mark legacy was left the St. Martin’s poor. Sir Stephen Lisieur was appointed overseer.

C142/216/61; Hoare, Wilts. Frustfield, 96; Eliz. Govt. and Soc. 213-48; PRO Index 4208, f. 196; HMC Hatfield, iii. 104; x. 181; xiii. 417; Lansd. 67, ff. 25-6; 137, f. 7; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 450, 521; 1595-7, pp. 16, 372; PCC 75 Wood.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.C.H.