FETHERSTONHAUGH (FETHERSTONE), Francis (1574/5-1638), of The Strand, Westminster

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. 1574/5, 2nd s. of John Fetherstonhaugh (d.1619) of Stanhope Hall, Wardell, co. Dur. and Margaret, da. of Anthony Radcliff of Blanchland, Northumb.; bro. of Ralph*. educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1588; G. Inn 1591. unm.1 d. 27 May 1638.

Offices Held

Servant to Thomas Cecil†, 2nd Bar. Burghley by 1604;2 gent. pens. by 1620-at least 1625,3 ?(extraordinary) c.1625-d.;4 freeman, New Romney, Kent 1621.5


The younger son of a northern gentleman, Fetherstonhaugh was in the service of Thomas Cecil, 2nd Lord Burghley by January 1604, but had probably entered Burghley’s employ during the latter’s tenure of the lord presidency of the Council in the North (1599-1603). Featherstonhaugh, whose surname was often shortened by contempories to ‘Fetherston’, should probably be distinguished from the Francis Fetherston who served as under-sheriff of Surrey during the early 1620s.6 A gentleman pensioner by December 1620, he was recommended for a parliamentary seat at New Romney by the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, Lord Zouche, perhaps through the intervention of the latter’s kinsman, Sir Edward Zouche, the knight marshal. Elected in his absence in January 1621, he was, by the narrowest of margins, the first of his family to enter Parliament,7 as shortly thereafter he was joined at Westminster by his elder brother Ralph, who was returned for Morpeth. The two brothers cannot be distinguished apart in the parliamentary records, as whenever one of them was named to a committee the clerk of the Commons habitually recorded simply ‘Mr. Fetherston’ among the names of the committee’s members. However, it seems likely that Featherstonhaugh regarded it as his chief purpose to assist his brother with the Durham enfranchisement bill.

Before the next election Fetherstonhaugh again received the backing of the lord warden. After promising ‘his care in performing for that service’, he was re-elected at New Romney.8 He was named to 23 committees in all, beginning with the committee for privileges (23 Feb.), but made no recorded speeches. Seven of his appointments concerned estate bills while another four concerned naturalization bills. On 25 Mar. he was named to the committees for the revived Durham enfranchisement bill, but did not attend any of its three recorded meetings. This was not the only bill committee whose proceedings he spurned, for despite being named to consider measures concerning a Lancashire manor (14 Apr.) and the artisan clothworkers of London (15 Apr.) he failed to attend any of the committee meetings.9 Among his remaining appointments were bills to preserve salmon and trout (25 Mar.), to give statutory force to a levy on Tyneside coal (29 Apr.), and to ensure that married women did not escape the penalties for recusancy (1 May). Featherstonhaugh was also ordered to attend conferences on recusancy (3 Apr.), monopolies (7 Apr.), limitations and Exchequer pleadings (30 Apr.) and wine licensing (22 May). At the end of the session he was one of the 30 Members who was instructed to present the king with the Commons’ grievances.10

Before the next election Fetherstonhaugh lost his parliamentary patron, as Zouche sold the lord wardenship to Buckingham. On the accession of Charles I he seems also to have relinquished his office as a gentleman pensioner in ordinary, although he may have been retained in an extraordinary capacity thereafter. During the 1630s he was associated with Sir Francis Swift in a couple of property transactions.11 He drew up his will on 26 Apr. 1638, leaving £5 for the poor of Stanhope ‘to be a stock for their relief for ever’. To his ‘worthy friend’ Sir Henry St. George, the Norroy King of Arms, he bequeathed Ortelius’ ‘book of maps’. Featherstonhaugh never married, and died on 27 May ‘at Mrs. Arp’s house in the Strand’, being buried two days later at the Savoy.12

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Durham Vis. Peds. ed. Foster, 119; Harl. 1040, f. 4v.
  • 2. Harl. 4712, f. 249; PROB 11/141, f. 181v.
  • 3. SP14/118/26; PROB 11/141, f. 181v; LC2/6, f. 47v.
  • 4. Harl. 1040, f. 4v.
  • 5. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/AC1, f. 267v.
  • 6. REQ 2/304/13, 3, 5.
  • 7. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/AEp/44; SP14/119/19.
  • 8. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/AC 2, ff. 27, 30.
  • 9. CJ, i. 671b, 680a, 683b, 691b, 747a, 749b, 761a, 766a, 767a, 774a; C.R. Kyle ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 206, 210, 215.
  • 10. CJ, i. 695a, 696a, 709a, 714a, 749b, 754a, 757b, 778b.
  • 11. Cal. Coventry Docquets ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts, (L. and I. Soc. xxxiv-xxxvii), 545, 713.
  • 12. PROB 11/177, f. 235; Harl. 1040, f. 4v.