ANGELL, John (1592-1670), of Old Fish Street, Billingsgate, London and Crowhurst, Surr.

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.1592, 1st s. of William Angell, Fishmonger and sgt. of the Acatry, of Old Fish Street, London and Joan, da. of John Povey, embroiderer, of Christ Church, Newgate Street, London.1 educ. M. Temple 1607; Jesus, Camb. 1608. m. by 1619, Elizabeth (d. 16 Mar. 1662), da. of Sir Robert Edolphe of Hinxhill, Kent, 6s. 3da. 11 other ch. d.v.p.2 suc. fa. 1629. d. 23 Oct. 1670.3

Offices Held

Surveyor, St. Katharine’s hosp. London 1613-30;4 freeman, Rye, Suss. 1621;5 porter, Windsor Castle 1623;6 j.p. Surr. 1623-at least 1625,7 commr. militia 1660.8

Freeman, Fishmongers’ Co. 1617.9

Gent. pens. by 1620.10


Angell’s father, William, of Northamptonshire origin, was yeoman purveyor of fish to Queen Elizabeth by 1594 and leased a house and shop in Old Fish Street, Billingsgate, from the London Fishmongers’ Company, of which he was a member.11 In 1593 the Company ordered him to help lobby Parliament to pass legislation confirming its orders. He climbed the ranks of Company offices, attaining the position of prime warden in 1616, in which year he also obtained a confirmation of arms.12 Shortly thereafter he acquired an estate at Crowhurst, in Surrey, from his kinsman John Halsey, with whom he subsequently purchased a lease of the Fishmongers’ lands in Ulster.13 Early in 1624 he raised his status in the royal Household by buying the office of sergeant of the Acatry for £1,500.14

William gave his eldest son, Angell, a gentleman’s education, and laid out £50 to provide him with chambers in the Middle Temple. In December 1613, having previously purchased for him the reversion to the portership of Windsor Castle for £150, William celebrated his son’s coming of age by buying for him the surveyorship of St. Katharine’s hospital, near the Tower, for £70.15 He subsequently used his influence at Court to have him appointed a gentleman pensioner. By 1619 Angell had been matched to the niece of one of the leading townsmen of Rye, where William, through his factors, often purchased fish for the royal Household.16

Following the king’s announcement in November 1620 that Parliament was to meet, William urged the corporation of Rye to provide Angell with a seat, promising that he would ‘undertake much’ for his son’s ‘sufficiency’. Angell ‘hath spent his time to good purpose both in the university and inns of court, as he will be ready to give demonstration thereof’.17 Further recommendation followed from the chief officers of the Household, the duke of Lennox and Sir Thomas Edmondes*. Lord Zouche, who as lord warden of the Cinque Ports was entitled to nominate one of the borough’s two Members, was also approached by Angell’s father to add his voice. Zouche formally declined to do so as he was ‘exceedingly pressed by great personages’ on behalf of the courtier, Emanuell Giffard*, but nevertheless supported Angell’s candidacy, telling the corporation that if Angell were elected as well as Giffard he would regard it as a favour and would not use it as a precedent. Angell was consequently elected in absentia, together with Giffard, the glad tidings reaching his father on Christmas Day. Six days later he took his oath as freeman.18

Angell’s ‘sufficiency’ did not extend to a thorough understanding of the disputes between English and French fishermen, or of the bill for the improvement of the harbour desired by his constituency. On 9 Feb. 1621 he suggested that the corporation should ‘send someone up to London ... that Mr. Gifford and myself may be strengthened with some good reasons in behalf of that cause’. Whoever came, he observed, would have to satisfy the House on four points: ‘first, concerning the necessity of your town ... secondly the reasonableness of your demand, thirdly, the benefit that may ensue to the navigation and the kingdom, and lastly the possibility of the project ...’. He added that ‘I think it not best to be too hasty but to so mould and prepare our business beforehand that it may have the fairer passage’.19 No bill was introduced, nor was Angell named to any committee in his first Parliament, although he spoke twice. His maiden speech was occasioned by the pleadings in committee on 16 Mar. over a case of disputed jurisdiction between the Court of Wards and Chancery. On the next day he moved to send for the abusive lawyer who had ‘in such irreverent manner laid injustice to the charge of so great a person as the lord chancellor [Francis Bacon*]’.20 On 1 May, during the debate on a punishment suitable for the Catholic barrister Edward Floyd, who had disparaged the king’s daughter and her husband, Angell agreed that Floyd should be whipped but added that he should also be gagged ‘to keep him from crying and procuring pity’.21

Angell’s reversion of the portership of Windsor Castle fell in on the death of Sir Richard Coxe in December 1623, when he was also appointed to the commission of the peace for Surrey.22 Before the next election William Angell urged the Rye corporation to re-elect his son, whom he claimed had been ‘well approved of by the whole House’ in 1621. They should certainly not judge him harshly for having failed to obtain the harbour improvement bill, as the 1621 Parliament had not managed to pass any private legislation, ‘so as no man’s service appeared what it was or would have been unto the place he were burgess of’. If it were necessary also to send a ‘solicitor’ to brief him on the legislation desired by the town, William offered to ‘entertain him in my own house at bed and board; and every evening we be all together may the better confer and consider of the best way to do you service’.23 The corporation was persuaded by this overture, and once again Angell was elected in his absence. Shortly after the Parliament opened, Angell moved for a new writ as his fellow Rye Member, Sir Edward Conway II, had chosen to sit for Warwick, where he had also been returned.24 During the debate on the petition of Henry Lovell* against John Hawarde’s election at Bletchingley, Angell, who was Hawarde’s brother-in-law, wanted the Speaker to ask whether the bailiff of the borough had not been refused a warrant by the sheriff (3 April).25 His only committee appointment was to take the purveyance accounts of the king’s grocer, Sir Simon Harvey (1 May). His father was ordered to attend the committee for grievances on 30 Apr. in this connection, but his evidence, if it was ever heard, does not survive.26 On 20 May Angell, in response to a letter sent to him two weeks earlier, apologized to the Rye corporation that sickness had lately made him, ‘an ill Member to the House, and a bad servant’ to his constituents, who expected him to lay before the Commons a bill transferring to them control of the privately owned Dungeness lighthouse. Although three months had elapsed since the Parliament had begun, he had not yet preferred this measure, partly because the Commons had not yet reached a decision on the existing patent, but also because it was preoccupied with matters of so high a nature ‘that these more ordinary businesses are put off from time to time and infinitely delayed’. Nevertheless he was confident that ‘this Parliament will be of so long a continuance’ that he and his fellow Rye Member, Thomas Conway, ‘shall find leisureable time to effect our desires for you’. This reassuring observation was disastrously misplaced, however, for the Commons had declared a short while earlier that it would accept no more bills ‘without order of the House’. Moreover, nine days later after Angell wrote his letter, the Parliament was prorogued, never to reassemble.27

At the next election in 1625 Angell applied to the Rye corporation to be returned again, although he admitted that he had previously failed ‘to supply the necessities of your town or to answer perhaps your expectation’. He was supported by a letter from his kinsman and neighbour John Halsey, who had recently donated to the Rye corporation some premises to be used as a house of correction.28 His father, however, seems to have lost confidence in his political future as he remained conspicuously silent. Not surprisingly, therefore, Angell’s place was taken in the first Caroline Parliament by John Sackville.29

On the death of his father in 1629, Angell inherited the fish shop in Billingsgate and the adjacent White Talbot tavern, the Crowhurst estate, worth £300 p.a., having already been entailed on him at his marriage. However, he evidently conveyed the lease of the Billingsgate properties to his younger brother James, who sold it in 1634. Another brother, Robert, succeeded as sergeant of the Acatry, but was required to pay Angell £36 p.a. while he held the post.30 Angell lived on for 40 years after his father’s death, but seems to have relinquished all interest in public affairs, although Robert was ‘oppressed and imprisoned’ in the royalist cause.31 His means may have proved insufficient for his large family as during the Interregnum he had to alienate Hinxhill, in Kent, which he had acquired from his brother-in-law.32 In his will, drawn up on 10 Oct. 1669 while ‘infirm of body’, he referred to ‘the small estate I leave behind me’, a result of the destruction of his City property in the Great Fire and ‘other crosses and misfortunes’. He could give little to his children and grandchildren besides his blessing, ‘praying God that they may serve God entirely, love one another affectionately, and demean themselves justly’.33 Angell, ‘the worthy and prudent impropriator of this parish’, died on 23 Oct. 1670, aged 78, and was buried at Crowhurst, as he had wished, with ‘little charge’. His epitaph claims incorrectly that he served as caterer to three kings.34 He was the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. lx), 2; Soc. Gen. Boyd’s London Citizens, 11948, 14171, 32819.
  • 2. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 54; Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 312; Surr. Hist. Cent. P51/1/1.
  • 3. G.R. French, ‘An Acct. of Crowhurst Church and Memorials’, Surr. Arch. Colls. iii. 52.
  • 4. C. Jamison, Royal Hosp. St. Katharine, 201.
  • 5. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/10, f. 209v.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 613; 1667, p. 431.
  • 7. C231/4, f. 154; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 16.
  • 8. A. and O. i. 1444.
  • 9. W.R. Haskett-Smith, Fishmongers’ Co. 10.
  • 10. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 158.
  • 11. Ibid. 109, 123.
  • 12. GL, ms 5570/1, pp. 13, 41, 587; 5570/2, p. 172; Harl. 1422, f. 40v.
  • 13. C2/Jas.I/A4/2; VCH Surr. iv. 281; GL, ms 5570/2, p. 491.
  • 14. GL, ms 5570/2, p. 509; PROB 11/156, f. 194.
  • 15. PROB 11/156, f. 194.
  • 16. Vis. Kent, 54; G. Mayhew, Tudor Rye, 93-4, 132.
  • 17. E. Suss. RO, RYE 47/96/1.
  • 18. E. Suss. RO, RYE 47/96/3-5, 9; RYE 1/10, f. 209v.
  • 19. E. Suss. RO, RYE 47/96/27;
  • 20. CJ, i. 560a; CD 1621, iii. 236.
  • 21. CJ, i. 601b.
  • 22. R. Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 114.
  • 23. E. Suss. RO, RYE/47/98/7.
  • 24. ‘Pym 1624’, f. 4v; ‘Hawarde 1624’, p. 145.
  • 25. CJ, i. 753b.
  • 26. Ibid. 781b; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 183.
  • 27. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 171; CJ, i. 702b.
  • 28. Procs. 1625, pp. 697-9; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 172.
  • 29. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 173.
  • 30. PROB 11/156, ff. 193v-4v; GL, ms 5570/3, p. 168.
  • 31. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 27.
  • 32. E. Hasted, Kent, vii. 561-2.
  • 33. PROB 11/334, f. 223v.
  • 34. French, 51-2, 57.