DAVIES, Matthew (1595-1678), of Chicksgrove, Tisbury, Wilts.; Shaftesbury, Dorset 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



1640 (Nov.) - 16 Mar. 1643
1644 (Oxf. Parl.)

Family and Education

bap. 2 Apr. 1595,1 1st s. of Edward Davies, tanner, of Chicksgrove, and Joan, da. of Robert Cave of Gillingham, Dorset.2 educ. M. Temple 1614, called 1623.3 m. Anne (bur. 9 Nov. 1657),4 da. of Edmund Mervyn of Fonthill Gifford, Wilts., 1s. 3da.5 suc. fa. 1625.6 d. by 26 Nov. 1678.

Offices Held


This Member has been confused with Matthew Davys, who represented Cardiff 1604-10 and 1614.7 The son of a mere tanner, Davies was born at Chicksgrove, slightly east of the Wiltshire village of Tisbury, where he was still living when he was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1614. He became an ‘inner barrister’ in 1615 and was called to the bar proper in 1623. Although repeatedly fined for absence, he continued his association with the Temple until at least 1646.8 His income was chiefly derived from his legal practice in Shaftesbury, where he resided, for he was left no properties in his father’s will and, according to the Dorset county committee, his annual rental income from acquired lands was only £58 in 1641.9 His election for Hindon in 1624 was the result of family connections: his uncle, Sir John Davies*,10 married the daughter of George Tuchet of Fonthill Gifford, who had inherited the Hindon interest from Sir James Mervin [Marvyn]†. He left no mark upon the Parliament’s records.

Davies was re-elected to Parliament in November 1640, serving for Christchurch. Following the outbreak of Civil War he repeatedly failed to attend, and in March 1643 he was disabled from sitting. He subsequently joined the king at Oxford, where he sat in the royalist Parliament and played a minor role in the royalist administration.11 However, in October 1645, less than four months after the crushing defeat of the king’s forces at Naseby, Davies capitulated to the parliamentarian governor of Poole in the hope of taking advantage of the Parliament’s offer to extend favourable terms to those royalists who capitulated before 1 December.12 In November he begged to be allowed to compound for his estates and was subsequently fined £300, which sum was paid within six months.13 By February 1646 he had been received back into the Middle Temple. He remained a successful lawyer, and in his will of June 1676 left generous legacies to his three daughters and £450 to four grandchildren.14 He bequeathed his legal books to his elder grandson and namesake who, only two months before, had also been called to the bar.15 He left £5 to the poor of Shaftesbury and a similar sum to his native Tisbury, where he requested to be buried alongside his wife, for whom he had erected a small memorial.16 He died aged 83 and was interred in Tisbury church sometime between July and November 1678.17 None of his descendants sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Wilts. RO, 812/5, f. 17.
  • 2. The Gen. v. 27; PROB 11/78, f. 145.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.; MTR, 682.
  • 4. Wilts. RO, 812/6, unfol.
  • 5. R.C. Hoare, ‘Chalk Hundred’, in Hist. Wilts., 36; PROB 11/358, f. 148.
  • 6. PROB 11/145, f. 180v.
  • 7. A.H. Dodd, ‘Wales’s Parl. Apprenticeship’, in Trans. Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion, 1942, pp. 70-1; DWB, 143; Glam. Co. Hist. ed. G. Williams, iv. 173.
  • 8. MTR, 595, 598, 604, 686, 695, 700, 705, 712, 938.
  • 9. Hutchins, iii. 8; PROB 11/145, f. 180v; SP23/175, f. 69.
  • 10. Hutchins, iii. 8.
  • 11. CJ, ii. 545a, 966a; iii. 4b; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, v. 573; Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 145.
  • 12. CJ, iv. 297b; SP23/175, f. 67.
  • 13. CCC, 959.
  • 14. PROB 11/358, f. 147v.
  • 15. MTR, 1295-6.
  • 16. J. Aubrey, Top. Collections, 363.
  • 17. The Tisbury par. regs. cease to record burials after July; his will was proved on 26 Nov. 1678.