BODENHAM, Sir Francis (c.1582-1645), of Ryhall, Rutland

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.1582,1 1st s. of Sir William Bodenden alias Bodend of Ryhall and Biddenden, Kent and 1st w. Sence, da. of Francis Harington† of Stamford and South Witham, Lincs.2 educ. Sidney Suss., Camb. 1601; G. Inn 1603.3 m. (1) lic. 2 June 1614, Penelope (d. 1625), da. of Sir Edward Wingfield† of Kimbolton Castle, Hunts. 2s. (1 d.v.p.);4 (2) 21 Sept. 1627, Theodocia (d. Sept. 1671), da. of Francis, Lord Hastings† of Old Castle, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics. at least 2s. 1da.5 suc. fa. 1613;6 kntd. 6 Aug. 1616.7 d. c.May 1645.8 sig. Fra[ncis] Bodenham.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Rutland 1614-15, 1634-5;9 j.p. Rutland 1617-?d., soke of Peterborough 1638;10 commr. swans, E. Midlands 1619, subsidy, Rutland 1621-2, 1624, 1641-2, Forced Loan 1626-7;11 dep. lt. Rutland by 1628-?44;12 commr. knighthood fines, 1630-32, sewers, Gt. Fens 1631, Welland navigation 1634, Poll Tax, Rutland 1641, assessment 1642, Irish aid 1642, array, 1642.13


Bodenham’s son traced his ancestry back to a twelfth-century lord of the manor of Bodham in Herefordshire, in which county Sir Roger Bodenham, the Catholic head of the family, still lived in 1600. The Member’s forbears settled at Biddenden, Kent, which probably explains why their name temporarily changed to Bodenden. They were modest gentleman farmers, holding only the 260-acre manor of Combe, near Folkestone.14 Bodenham’s father, William, presumably disposed of this estate after marrying one of the daughters of Francis Harington†, the recorder of Stamford, Lincolnshire: by 1587 he was leasing lands at Ryhall, Rutland, two miles from Stamford. He had clearly acquired some local standing by 1600, when his landlord, Thomas (Cecil†), 2nd Lord Burghley, appointed him one of the arbitrators of a dispute within the Stamford corporation.15 His connection with the Harington family doubtless explains why Sir William Bulstrode* suggested him as a possible replacement for Sir James Harington* at the Rutland by-election of November 1601.16

Like his father, Bodenham had links with the Harington family: he studied at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge, refounded by the Haringtons’ Sidney relatives, and both his wives were granddaughters of Sir James Harington†, and thus his own third cousins. However, the importance of the link diminished after 1614, when death and debt led to the dismantling of the Harington estate.17 Bodenham’s own lands were worth little, yielding only £50 a year to parliamentarian sequestrators after the Civil War, but Bodenham may have secured additional income from money-lending, as he participated in several large financial transactions.18 One of these transactions led him to obtain a lease of lands in Keyston, Huntingdonshire worth almost £200 p.a. from his first wife’s nephew, Edward Maria Wingfield†. He also acquired a lease of the rectory of Aysgarth, Yorkshire, probably with the assistance of Dean Thornborough of York, to whom he lent £800.19

Bodenham was appointed sheriff for Rutland in 1614, a year after his father’s death, but his estate was hardly sufficient to make him a serious candidate for the knighthood of the shire, even in such a small county as Rutland. His return in 1626 was almost certainly arranged by the former MP Sir Guy Palmes*, who had been pricked as sheriff following an outspoken parliamentary attack on the duke of Buckingham in August 1625.20 Ideally, Palmes would have wanted to see his son Brian* returned in his stead, but precedent dictated otherwise: in 1601 the then sheriff, Sir Andrew Noell†, had divided the county community by attempting to secure the return of his son.21 Bodenham represented a useful compromise for Palmes, as he was too insignificant to be able to carry the seat on his own, though he may have been able to exert some influence over the Stamford corporation, which returned Brian Palmes at the same election. Bodenham left no positive mark on the records of his only Parliament, though as a knight for Rutland he would have been entitled to attend the committee for the bill for the sale of the Leicestershire estates of Sir Brian Cave (6 March), which was rejected by just one vote.22

Bodenham was one of the Forced Loan commissioners for Rutland who reported ‘little difficulty in accomplishing this service’. He later served as a commissioner for the collection of compositions for knighthood fines, and was again pricked as sheriff in 1634, when he complained that he was ‘made this year a beggar by my office’.23 His troubles increased considerably in August 1635, when he became responsible for the collection of the county’s Ship Money quota of £1,000, which he delivered, following some rating disputes, in February 1636.24

Although nominated as a commissioner of array for Rutland, Bodenham is not known to have played any active part in the Civil War. However, his heir Sir Wingfield Bodenham raised a regiment of horse for the king, was captured by Oliver Cromwell* at Burghley House in July 1643, and held prisoner in the Tower for three years.25 In May 1645 Bodenham, then seeking refuge with the royalist garrison at Belvoir Castle, revoked his earlier will, ‘because the greatest part of his estate was plundered or taken away from him’. His new, nuncupative will provided for his second wife, who was to receive arrears of £900 from her Leicestershire jointure estate, and £380 held in cash by his servants; Sir Wingfield was bequeathed his goods, his plate and £200 in cash on condition that he made provision for his half-sister Frances.26 While Bodenham died in 1645, his wife did not secure probate until December 1648, probably because the estates were sequestrated after Sir Wingfield refused to pay a fine of £1,000 in March 1645, ‘saying that he expects a change’. After much controversy, Sir Wingfield paid just over £375 to regain control of his estates in September 1653. None of the family subsequently sat in Parliament, and their estates passed away through the female line in 1681.27

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Aged 39 in 1621: T. Blore, Hist. Rutland, 49.
  • 2. J. Wright, Hist. Rutland (1684), p. 112; Blore, 49.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 4. Cal. Hunts. Wills comp. W.M. Noble, 222.
  • 5. HMC Hastings, iv. 350; Wright, 112-13; Blore, 49; PROB 11/206, ff. 199-200; 11/208, f. 232v.
  • 6. PROB 11/122, ff. 234-5.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 159.
  • 8. Wright, 113; PROB 11/206, ff. 199-200.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 114.
  • 10. C231/4, ff. 33, 153; C231/5, f. 317.
  • 11. C181/2, f. 341; C212/22/20-1, 23; SR, v. 65; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
  • 12. SP16/119/62; Eg. 2986, f. 86.
  • 13. E178/5595, ff. 3, 7, 10; E178/7154, f. 299C; C181/4, ff. 94, 161; SR, v. 107, 141, 152; Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 14. Wright, 112; Blore, 49; Shaw, i. 156; C142/189/106; PROB 11/61, ff. 182-3.
  • 15. Blore, 48; C2/Eliz./S5/8; C2/Chas.I/B18/14, 2/Chas.I/N17/7; APC, 1599-1600, pp. 73-4.
  • 16. STAC 5/N6/11, deposition of Thomas Exton, question 7; STAC 8/220/32, deposition of Richard Tampion, question 31, deposition of Thomas Hunte, question 31.
  • 17. Vis. Rutland (Harl. Soc. iii), 38-9; Vis. Hunts. (Cam. Soc. xliii), 131; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 516.
  • 18. SP23/69, p. 569; C54/2191/8; LC4/199, f. 458.
  • 19. SP23/69, p. 569; C2/Chas.I/G35/31; CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 261; 1640-1, p. 353; PC2/51, ff. 21v-22; Fasti Eccl. Ang. comp. J.M. Horn and D.M. Smith, iv. 7, 59.
  • 20. Procs. 1625, p. 451.
  • 21. J.E. Neale, ‘Rutland election of 1601’, EHR, lxi. 129-41.
  • 22. Procs. 1626, ii. 175; iii. 231.
  • 23. Procs. 1628, vi. 34-5; HMC Rutland, i. 496.
  • 24. HMC 5th Rep. 402; CSP Dom. 1635, p. 498; 1635-6, pp. 208-9.
  • 25. P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 34-5; C. Davies, Stamford in the Civil War, passim; PROB 11/208, f. 232v; SP23/69, p. 568.
  • 26. PROB 11/206, ff. 199-200.
  • 27. MI quoted in Wright, 113; CCC, 850-2, but see also SP23/69, pp. 533, 547, 568-9; PROB 6/37, f. 17v; VCH Rutland, ii. 271.