BAXTER, John (c.1550-1611), of Derby and the Middle Temple, London

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.1550, 1st s. of Henry Baxter of Cannock, Staffs. and Alice. educ.1 New Inn; M. Temple 1568, called 1585.2 m. Rose, s.p. suc. fa. by 1558.3 d. bet. 3-15 May 1611.4 sig. John Baxter.

Offices Held

Gaoler, Derbys. 1588-?;5 under-sheriff Staffs. 1588-9,6 clerk of the peace, Derbys. by 1591-d.;7 town clerk, Derby by 1600-?d.;8 commr. i.p.m., Staffs. 1601-2,9 gaol delivery, Derby 1603, inquiry, lands of Nicholas Fitzherbert, Derbys. 1604.10


Of obscure origin, Baxter’s father was a copyhold tenant of the 1st Lord Paget of Beaudesert (William Paget†), and died while Baxter was still a minor. His mother’s second husband allegedly deprived Baxter of his modest patrimony.11 After studying at New Inn, Baxter was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1568, but though he subsequently entered the legal profession he was not called to the bar until 1585, preferring instead to work as a solicitor. His clients included Edmund, 3rd Baron Sheffield and William Bassett†, who may have introduced him to (Sir) John Manners†, custos rotulorum of Derbyshire. Sometime before 1591 Manners, who left Baxter a gold ring in his will, appointed him clerk of the peace. On Bassett’s death in 1601, Baxter was persuaded by Sir Robert Cecil†, master of the Wards, to find that his former client’s lands were liable to wardship, a betrayal for which he was ‘hardly thought of’, and which, he subsequently complained, brought him no reward.12

Baxter resided in Derby while also retaining chambers in the Temple. He was appointed town clerk in late 1599 or early 1600 after his predecessor, John Jackson, was dismissed. The office was sometimes called the steward or under-steward of the borough, which may have led the borough’s high steward Gilbert Talbot†, 7th earl of Shrewsbury, to believe that it lay within his patronage. In late 1600 Shrewsbury ordered the corporation to reinstate Jackson, however the earl was resisted by the corporation, who claimed his order contravened the liberties of the borough.13 Baxter served as the borough’s junior Member in 1601, and was re-elected to Parliament in 1604. On 10 May 1604 he participated in the debate over the game preservation bill, although to what effect is unrecorded.14 He was ordered to consider legislation to promote archery (7 June) and to regulate legal officers (21 June).15 He attended the second session, being licensed to depart on 25 Mar. 1606 to attend the assizes, and may not have returned for the following session.16 On 8 Mar. 1610 he was granted leave to attend to his duties as clerk of the peace.17 He left no trace on the meagre records of the fifth session.

Baxter drew up his will on 11 Apr. 1611, in which he directed that land in Staffordshire should be sold to pay off his debts, which amounted to £100. Aside from some personal bequests to his brothers-in-law Richard Alporte (including his law books) and Thomas Poyser, and a legacy of five marks for the poor of Derby, everything went to his wife, Rose. Baxter altered his will on 3 May and was reported to be dead by William, Lord Cavendish (William Cavendish†) 12 days later. Clearly of modest means, his goods were valued at only £56 2s. 4d. No other member of the family is known to have entered Parliament.18

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Virginia C.D. Moseley


  • 1. STAC 5/B45/13.
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. Lichfield RO, will of John Baxter, 1611; STAC 5/B45/13.
  • 4. HMC Rutland, i. 431
  • 5. Ibid. 266.
  • 6. T.E. Hartley, ’Under-Sheriffs and Bailiffs in Some English Shrievalties, c.1580 to c.1625’, BIHR, xlvii. 180.
  • 7. E. Stephens, Clerks of the Counties, 75; HMC Rutland, i. 431.
  • 8. R. Clark, ‘Derby “Town Chronicle” 1513-1698’, Derbys. Arch. Jnl. cxviii. 175, 183.
  • 9. C142/270/109.
  • 10. C181/1, ff. 48v, 91v.
  • 11. STAC 5/B32/10; 5/B45/13.
  • 12. HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 195; HMC Portland, ix. 59, 60; PROB 11/118, f. 190v.
  • 13. HMC Rutland, i. 363; Cal. of Shrewsbury Pprs. in Lambeth Palace Lib. ed. C. Jamison and E.G.W. Bill, (Derbys. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. i), 90.
  • 14. CJ, i. 205b.
  • 15. Ibid. 233b, 244b.
  • 16. Ibid. 289b.
  • 17. CJ, i. 408a.
  • 18. Lichfield RO, will and inventory of John Baxter, 1611.