FETHERSTONHAUGH, Ralph (c.1573-1636), of Stanhope Hall, co. Dur.

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



26 Feb. 1621

Family and Education

b. c.1573, 1st s. of John Fetherstonhaugh of Stanhope Hall, and Margaret, da. of Anthony Radcliff of Blanchland, Northumb.; bro. of Francis*.1 educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1587, BA 1590; G. Inn 1591.2 m. (1) lic. 1598,3 Jane, da. of John Appleyard of Burstwick Garth, Yorks., 4s. (3 d.v.p.) 8da. (?4 d.v.p.); (2) c.1622 (with £500), Abigail (d. 3 June 1625), da. of William Neville of Durham, s.p.; (3) c.1627 (with £600), Jane, da. of John Cradock, chan. of Durham dioc. 1618-27, 3s. (1 d.v.p.). 3da. (1 d.v.p). suc. fa. 1619. bur. 27 Nov. 1636. 4

Offices Held

J.p. co. Dur. 1618-d.; commr. gaol delivery co. Dur. 1618-d., assize 1618-d., Nisi Prius 1619,5 subsidy 1621-2, 1624,6 inquiry into lands and goods of Samuel Clerk 1621,7 Forced Loan 1626-7,8 sewers 1628-30.9


Landholders in Wearside in county Durham since the reign of Edward III, and seated at Stanhope Hall, the Fetherstonhaughs had not sat in the Commons, where their county was unrepresented, before the election of this Member’s younger brother Francis for New Romney in January 1621.10 In that same month Fetherstonhaugh, together with Sir Bertram Bulmer, was ‘trusted with the solicitation of the bill’ for the enfranchisement of county Durham by the county bench, and on the 29th they left for London.11 Following the Commons’ decision to invalidate the return of John Robson for Morpeth, Fetherstonhaugh seized the opportunity to lobby for his native county from within the Commons, and was returned for the borough on 26 February.12 However, it is difficult to establish his parliamentary activities as both he and his brother were consistently described as ‘Mr. Fetherston’ in the surviving parliamentary records.

Between them, the two brothers chalked up 17 committee appointments and made three recorded speeches. It was presumably this Member who was named to the Durham enfranchisement bill on 6 Mar., and he seems to have subsequently acted as the unofficial spokesman for the county.13 During the debate on secret inquisitions on 30 Apr. it was probably he who desired that the bill be extended to cover county Durham and was named to the relevant committee.14 On 24 May one of the Fetherstonhaughs again desired that his county should be included in another bill, this time concerning licences for alienations.15 In addition, the county of Durham was included within the scope of the bill concerning moor burning in the northern counties, to which committee a ‘Mr. Fetherston’ was appointed on 26 May.16 The other committee appointments are difficult to apportion between the brothers.

‘Mr. Fetherston’ was mentioned only once in the records of the second sitting, when he reminded the Commons that Dr. John Cradock, being a proctor in Convocation, could not be summoned to answer charges of abusing his powers as a diocesan official.17 Fetherstonhaugh later married Cradock’s youngest daughter, though he seems to have experienced the utmost difficulty in exacting her portion from her mother and sisters.18 After differences with his son John in 1634, he was apprehended and an order was made for his lands to be sequestrated by the Council in the North.19 He executed a nuncupative will on 24 Nov. 1636 and was buried at Stanhope three days later. His son was a royalist in the Second Civil War, and his grandson Thomas represented county Durham, enfranchised in the 1660s, during the Exclusion crisis.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Peter Lefevre


  • 1. Durham Vis. Peds. ed. Foster, 119.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 3. C.D. Norcliffe, ‘Paver’s mar. lics.’, Yorks. Arch. Jnl. x. 45.
  • 4. Durham Vis. Peds. 119; Soc. Gen. Brancepeth par. reg., Stanhope par. reg.; C2/Chas.I/F23/62; 2/Chas.I/F27/62; Wills and Inventories from Registry at Durham ed. H.M. Wood (Surtees Soc. cxlii), 270-1.
  • 5. C181/2, ff. 311, 318-v; 181/5, f. 56r-v; SP16/405, f. 18v.
  • 6. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 7. C181/3, f. 37v.
  • 8. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; C193/12/2, f. 12v.
  • 9. C181/3, f. 238; 181/4, f. 58.
  • 10. W.J. Egglestone, Stanhope and Its Neighbourhood, 89.
  • 11. Surtees, Co. Dur. iv. 158.
  • 12. CJ, i. 513b.
  • 13. Ibid. 539b.
  • 14. Ibid. 597a.
  • 15. CD 1621, ii. 384.
  • 16. CJ, i. 627b; SR, iv. 1172.
  • 17. CJ, i. 668b.
  • 18. C2/Chas.I/F27/62/1.
  • 19. PC2/43, f. 647.
  • 20. Wills and Inventories from Registry at Durham, 270-1.