DOUBLEDAY (DUBBLEDAY), Edmund (c.1564-1620), of the Neat House, King Street West, Westminster 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



bef. 26 Dec. 1620

Family and Education

b. c.1564, s. of Henry Doubleday of London, Haberdasher.1 educ. M. Temple 1598, called 1608. m. (1) 23 Mar. 1587, Agnes (bur. 30 Nov. 1589), wid. of John Varneham of Westminster and Gravesend, Kent, gardener, s.p.;2 (2) by 21 Nov. 1590, Alice (bur. 9 June 1597), wid. of William Cooke of London, Fishmonger and Vintner, 2s. (at least 1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 prob. d.v.p.);3 (3) by Sept. 1598, Anne (bur. 28 Dec. 1607), 1s. prob. d.v.p. 4da. (1 d.v.p.);4 (4) by Dec. 1609, Margaret, da. of Lawrence Caldwall of Battersea, Surr., 6s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.). bur. 26 Dec. 1620.5 sig. Edmund Dowbleday.

Offices Held

Freeman, Haberdashers’ Co. 1585-90, Vintners’ Co. 1590-d.;6 feoffee, Westminster Military Co. by 1617.7

Scrivener, London 1587;8 overseer of poor, St. Margaret’s, Westminster 1590-1,9 vestryman by 1603,10 trustee for poor by 1605-at least 1607,11 assessor, subsidy, 1597, 1600,12 commr. subsidy 1603, 1607-8, 1611;13 high constable, Westminster 1592-5,14 burgess by 1601;15 commr. sewers, Westminster 1604,16 London and suburbs 1607,17 Coln valley, Herts. and Mdx. 1609;18 bailiff, Stanwell and Neate manors, Mdx. 1605-at least 1610;19 commr. houses belonging to kpr. of Westminster Palace 1611,20 oyer and terminer, London 1612-at least 1613, 1618,21 Mdx. 1612,22 Newgate 1619,23 annoyances, Mdx. 1613,24 new buildings, London and suburbs 1615,25 ltcy. Mdx. 1617-20,26 tumult at Spanish amb.’s house 1618,27 survey, L. Inn Fields 1618;28 j.p. Surr. 1613-d.,29 Mdx. by 1613-at least 1617,30 Westminster 1619-d.31

Teller of the mint (jt.) 1601-9,32 (sole) 1609-d., warden (jt.) 1609-d.;33 distiller of herbs and sweet waters, and librarian, Whitehall (jt.) 1604;34 commr. inquiry, lands of the earl of Somerset 1616, Thomas Eltofts 1617;35 master in Chancery (extraordinary), July 1620-d.36


Described by Thomas Fuller as ‘a tall and proper person’,37 Doubleday was the son of an obscure London Haberdasher. Although himself admitted to the Haberdashers’ Company in 1585,38 he began his career as a scrivener. By his first marriage in 1587 he gained a foothold in Westminster, acquiring the lease of some tenements in Tothill Street.39 A second marriage soon after to a Vintner’s widow saw him obtain two further Westminster properties, including the Saracen’s Head in King Street,40 and prompted him to transfer to the Vintners’ Company.41 It was later said that membership of the Vintners’ was granted to Doubleday ‘as a favour and courtesy’, but in 1590 Doubleday himself stated that he did ‘use the trade of a Vintner’, and the fact that he subsequently took on an apprentice would seem to bear out the truth of this claim.42 Nevertheless, he continued to be employed as a scrivener, as a lease of the same year describes him as a ‘notary public’,43 and by 1598 he was sufficiently prosperous to embark upon a formal legal training at the Middle Temple. In 1605 he described himself as ‘gent.’, and by 1610 was one of the wealthiest members of the Vintners’ Company, which assessed him at £10 towards the City’s plantation of Ireland.44 Clearly a learned man, Doubleday subscribed to John Minsheu’s Ductor in Linguas of 1617.45

In 1591 Doubleday obtained a half-share in Ebury manor, situated in St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, from his fellow King Street resident Sir Thomas Knyvett*.46 Later valued by fellow Westminster resident William Man* at £4,000, Doubleday’s share of this manor yielded an annual rental income of £392 7s. 2d.47 It was probably due to Knyvett, who served as warden of the mint, that Doubleday was appointed teller of the mint in 1601. The two men subsequently became firm allies. When Sir Richard Martyn, the previous warden, challenged Knyvett’s accounts in 1606, he also singled out Doubleday for blame.48 Doubleday became so closely associated with Knyvett that on the evening of 4 Nov. 1605 he helped Knyvett, a Middlesex magistrate and keeper of Westminster Palace, to search the rooms below the Parliament House. Together they discovered Guy Fawkes, overpowered him and dispatched him to an upper chamber while they continued their search. Fawkes, however, refused to remain quiet, and therefore Knyvett sent Doubleday upstairs to investigate. Doubleday then attempted to search the prisoner, whereupon Fawkes

very violently gripped Master Doubleday by his fingers of the left hand. Through pain thereof Master Doubleday offered to draw his dagger to have stabbed Fawkes, but suddenly better bethought himself and did not; yet in that heat he struck up the traitor’s heels and withall fell upon him and searched him, and in his pocket found his garters, wherewith Master Doubleday and others that assisted him bound him.49

This episode earned Doubleday widespread gratitude and respect.50 It was not, however, his only notable exploit, for on Christmas Day 1611 he apprehended in Whitehall a cut-purse, who was subsequently hanged.51

Doubleday was called to the bar in 1608, although his pursuit of a parallel career in the mint had earlier almost cost him his chambers.52 Elected to Parliament for Westminster in 1614, he was subsequently required to provide lodgings in King Street for foreign ambassadors to witness ‘His Majesty’s passage to the Parliament House’.53 In the Commons, where he seems not to have spoken, he was named to eight committees. Those concerned with bills against false weights and measures (18 May), the false dyeing of silk (24 May) and the alleged extortions of customs officials (25 May), all suggest a concern for honest dealing. Indeed, the weights and measures bill was committed at his suggestion, at which time he also urged that ‘some part of the penalty may be to the poor of the parish’.54 His appointment to consider a procedural abuse connected with the king’s courts (18 May) reflected his concerns as a lawyer, as did his membership of committees regarding bills to continue expiring statutes (8 Apr.) and confirm a Chancery decree (18 May).55 His interest in the bill to confirm a sale of lands to the goldsmith Bevis Molesworth, to which committee he was named on 20 May, probably stemmed from the fact that Molesworth had previously been employed by the mint.56 The only non-legislative committee to which he was appointed consisted entirely of Westminster residents, and was charged with distributing the money collected at the Members’ communion to the poor of Westminster (18 April).57

While Parliament was sitting one of Doubleday’s properties was burgled. The two thieves were subsequently convicted by the Middlesex bench, but Doubleday, himself a Middlesex magistrate, was satisfied to accept sureties for their good behaviour.58 In 1615 Doubleday was deputed by his fellow justices to purchase land on which to build a house of correction. Two years later, he was appointed to help oversee the running of the new house until the next general sessions.59 In January 1617 Doubleday was granted the reversion to a poundage on newly minted coins on the recommendation of Sir Thomas, now Lord, Knyvett, with whom he had shared the wardenship of the mint since 1609.60 In 1618 the maid of Lady Roos was committed to his custody after she slandered the countess of Exeter.61 In mid-July 1620 he was appointed a master in Chancery extraordinary, and in December he was once again elected to Parliament for Westminster. By this time, however, he had made arrangements for the sale of most of his estate after his death. Twelve gardens and eight stables, all in St. Margaret’s, Westminster, were to be transferred to three trustees, who were named as his fellow vestrymen William Man, Peter Heywood* and Thomas Morice*.

Doubleday never took up his seat in Parliament, which assembled in January 1621, for by 22 Dec. he was ‘sick and weak in body’, and he died shortly thereafter. At his request he was interred privately at night in St. Margaret’s Westminster, ‘in the aisle next unto the vestry in or near the place where my former wives now lie’.62 His surviving children later asserted that his estate was worth £13,000 after his debts and funeral costs were paid, a claim denied by his executor, William Man, who put the true value at just £6,861 2s.7d. Of this money, £4,511 19s.10d. was used to pay off Doubleday’s debts and a further £48 3s.8d. was spent on the funeral.63 Although no portrait of Doubleday is known to exist, his face, and that of one of his wives, is shown in profile in a seal attached to a deed of 1611.64 In 1641 Doubleday’s sons were granted arms.65 No other member of the family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


WCA, F3344, unfol; WCA, E150 (1615 acct.), f. 3v.

  • 1. MTR, 384; GL, ms 15857/1, ff. 98v, 126.
  • 2. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 300, 453; PROB 11/69, f. 565v.
  • 3. WAM, lease bk. vii. f. 149v; GL, ms 15482/1, f. 48v; Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 54, 56, 57, 60, 468.
  • 4. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 63-65, 67, 73, 489.
  • 5. Ibid. 80, 83, 85, 87, 90, 95, 98, 101, 106, 504-5, 514, 519.
  • 6. GL, ms 15857/1, f. 126; 15482/1, f. 48v.
  • 7. E112/100/1174.
  • 8. WAM, lease bk. vii. f. 6.
  • 9. WCA, E147 (1590-1 acct.), f. 1v.
  • 10. WCA, E2413, unfol.
  • 11. C54/1826; WAM, 36446.
  • 12. E179/142/235, 237.
  • 13. E115/418/40; E179/142/245; SP14/31/1; E115/87/30.
  • 14. WCA, E6 (1592-3 acct.); H.F. Westlake, St. Margaret’s Westminster, 211.
  • 15. W.H. Manchée, Westminster City Fathers, 210; WCA, WCB1 passim, WCB2 passim.
  • 16. C181/1, ff. 88, 100.
  • 17. Lansd. 168, f. 152v.
  • 18. C181/2, f. 90.
  • 19. E315/310, f. 36; LR7/14/10.
  • 20. E178/4192.
  • 21. C181/2, ff. 179, 195; 231/4, p. 119.
  • 22. C181/2, ff. 178, 197.
  • 23. Ibid. f. 344v.
  • 24. Ibid. f. 199.
  • 25. APC, 1615-16, pp. 121-2.
  • 26. C66/2137/7.
  • 27. C181/2, f. 319v.
  • 28. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 83.
  • 29. Cal. Assize Recs. Surr. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 91, 196.
  • 30. Mdx. Sessions Recs. ed. W. le Hardy, i. 133; iv. 284.
  • 31. C181/2, f. 331v; C181/3, f. 16.
  • 32. C66/1559 m.14; E351/2030, unfol.
  • 33. C66/1822; E351/2034, unfol.; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 571.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 89.
  • 35. C181/2, ff. 258, 289v.
  • 36. C216/1/77.
  • 37. T. Fuller, Worthies of Eng. ed. J. Freeman, 380.
  • 38. GL, ms 15857/1, f. 98v.
  • 39. WAM, lease bk. vii. f. 6.
  • 40. WAM, Chapter Act bk. i. f. 219v, lease bk. vii, f. 149v.
  • 41. GL, ms 15482/1, f. 48v; Vintners’ 15211, i. f. 197.
  • 42. C78/471/18; GL, ms Vintners’ 15211, i. f. 197.
  • 43. WAM, lease bk. vii. f. 113.
  • 44. C54/1826, unnumb. item, 1 Oct. 1605; GL, ms Vintners’ 15201, i. 166.
  • 45. J. Minsheu, Ductor in Linguas: The Guide into Tongues (1617), unpag.
  • 46. C.T. Gatty, Mary Davies and the Manor of Ebury, i. 42, 45; E214/1154.
  • 47. C78/471/18. Sir Lionel Cranfield* believed the property was worth at least £5,000 in 1621: M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 591.
  • 48. E126/1, f. 57v; 124/4, f. 69. The court, however, ordered Doubleday to be discharged.
  • 49. S.R. Gardiner, What Gunpowder Plot Was, 134-6.
  • 50. Fuller, 380.
  • 51. Gatty, i. 46-7.
  • 52. MTR, 428.
  • 53. APC, 1613-14, pp. 408-9.
  • 54. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 281, 330, 339.
  • 55. Ibid. 282.
  • 56. Ibid. 294; E351/2031, unfol.
  • 57. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 35, 93, 280.
  • 58. Mdx. Sessions Recs. ii. 110-11.
  • 59. Ibid. 214; Mdx. Sessions Recs. iv. 158.
  • 60. SO3/6, unfol. Jan. 1617; C66/2105.
  • 61. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 523.
  • 62. PROB 11/137, ff. 70v-2.
  • 63. C78/471/18.
  • 64. E214/1154.
  • 65. Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 207.