FIELD, Joseph (1570-1627), of Trinity ward, Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks.

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

bap. 31 Dec. 1570, ?o.s. of Richard Field, mariner, of Hull.1 m. (1) 17 May 1591, Isabell (bur. 9 Sept. 1609), da. of Richard Kay, mariner, of Hull, 8s. (5 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.);2 (2) by 1612, Joan (bur. ?8 June 1640),3 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (1 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. by 1591.5 bur. 16 Dec. 1627.6 sig. Joseph Feild.

Offices Held

Freeman, Hull 1591, chamberlain 1595-6, sheriff 1600-1, alderman 1602-d., mayor 1603-4, 1614-15;7 feoffee, Hull g.s. 1604-?d.;8 collector subsidy, Hull 1606,9 overseer, Charity Hall 1618-19.10

Member, Hull Merchants’ Co. 1591;11 Merchant Adventurer by ?1602,12 dep. gov. 1619;13 member, ?Eastland Co. by 1602,14 French Co. 1611.15


Field may have been related to a Bradford family who registered their pedigree in 1558, though his own gravestone bears no arms.16 His father, a mariner, who purchased his freedom at Hull in 1568, probably traded on his own account, as was common among the crews of merchantmen. Field was himself trading by the late 1580s, took up his freedom in 1591, and had become a substantial merchant by the time of his return to Parliament,17 shipping 1,000 kersies and 40 fothers of lead each year to the Baltic, the Low Countries and Bordeaux.18 Field’s commercial success underpinned his standing in the town: in 1595 he was one of the burgesses consulted by the corporation over a decision to sue John Aldred† for interfering with their water supply. Two weeks later, at the early age of 24, he was elected one of the town’s two chamberlains, with responsibility for an annual budget of £850. Sheriff in 1600 and an alderman from 1602, he was one of the deputation sent to greet King James at York in 1603, and was elected mayor in the following autumn.19

Field was returned to Parliament at a controversial by-election in March 1607. Robert Cecil†, 1st earl of Salisbury nominated Sir Edward Michelborne†, but his wishes were disregarded by the sheriff, Richard Burgis*, who in accordance with local convention, put the names of two aldermen to the freemen as alternatives. The corporation subsequently apologized to Salisbury, and claimed that Field, ‘both before the election and after was altogether unwilling to take it [the burgess-ship] upon him, as well because he earnestly desired the accomplishment of your Lordship’s request [for Michelborne’s return] as also of his own private affairs in trade of merchandise’. Nevertheless, the corporation had good reason to snub Salisbury, as the latter had failed to secure compensation for the loss of four Hull whaling ships seized by the Danes in 1599. Indeed, in their reply to Salisbury the corporation enclosed a petition on behalf of the whalers. 20 Field left no trace upon the records of the parliamentary sessions in which he served, although as a Hull burgess he was entitled to attend committees for bills for better regulation of the dyeing industry (29 Mar. 1610) and exports of butter and cheese (20 Apr. 1610).21 There is no evidence that he was briefed to promote the whalers’ cause while in London, but in 1610 he probably lobbied to secure the renewal of the Hull charter. In February 1611 he delivered Salisbury a timely gift of five fothers of lead, which helped to secure fresh privileges for the corporation, including the right to levy duty on lead passing down the Humber, and the nomination of the town’s schoolmaster and preacher.22

Field prospered after 1611, mainly due to growth in his trade with Amsterdam. This particular aspect of his business breached the charter of the Merchant Adventurers’ Company, of which he was a member, which restricted trade to the staple port at Middelburg. However, using a ruse pioneered by interlopers, he had goods exported in vessels registered for San Lucar or Lisbon, which then returned from Holland in the impossibly short time of 5-8 weeks.23 The Merchant Adventurers’ monopoly was revoked in 1614, and thereafter commercial disputes and war in the Baltic led Field to transfer almost all of his trade to Amsterdam, where he and his Hull rival John Lister* came to dominate the supply of lead.24 In 1618-19 the two men were set at odds when the newly re-established Merchant Adventurers allowed members to ship goods to Amsterdam for a nominal fee. Field secured a Privy Council order forbidding non-members (such as Lister) from shipping any cloth or lead from Hull to the Low Countries, but Lister, then mayor, claimed that members of the Hull Merchants’ Company were entitled to export lead under their charter of 1577, and his complaint was eventually upheld.25

Despite the Adventurers’ failure to secure a monopoly of Dutch trade, Field’s business flourished until at least the outbreak of war in 1625, and passed to his sons after his death.26 In his will, dated 13 Dec. 1627, he provided for his second wife and her children - the children by his first marriage having presumably been endowed at an earlier stage - and continued his donations to one of the local almshouses. He was buried in Holy Trinity on 16 Dec., where, unusually, his memorial stone contains a verse inscription:

Here is a Field sown that at length must sprout,

And Christ the true harvest in time break out ...

Yet ere this Field you see that crop can give

The seed first dies, that it again may live.27

At least one of Field’s descendants served as alderman at the end of the century, but none were subsequently returned to Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Yorks. ERRO, PE158/1, p. 332; Hull RO, freemen’s reg. 1396-1645, f. 116v.
  • 2. Yorks. ERRO, PE158/1, pp. 30-79, 198, 328, 374, 379, 403, 409, 414, 437, 454, 461; Hull RO, freemen’s reg. 1396-1645, f. 90v.
  • 3. The register gives ‘Jane Field widow’ [Yorks. ERRO, PE158/1, p. 491], but Joan Field disappeared from the subsidy accts. in 1641 [E179/205/440, 461, 469].
  • 4. Yorks. ERRO, PE158/1, pp. 98-124, 429, 440; Borthwick, Reg. Test. 40, f. 156v; E179/205/440.
  • 5. Field’s father was dead when he took up his freedom: Hull RO, freemen’s reg. 1396-1645, f. 116v.
  • 6. Yorks. ERRO, PE158/1, p. 463.
  • 7. Hull RO, freemen’s reg. f. 116v; Bench Bk. 4, ff. 295v, 333v, 343v, 353; Bench Bk. 5, ff. 18, 92v.
  • 8. Hull RO, D.786, D.817.
  • 9. E401/2406.
  • 10. Hull RO, Bench Bk. 5, f. 28v.
  • 11. Hull RO, Merchants’ Soc. Reg. 1647-1706 [DSN 1].
  • 12. MI in Holy Trinity, Hull. His earliest recorded shipment to the staple at Middelburg was in 1602, see E190/311/11, f. 17v.
  • 13. APC, 1619-21, pp. 90-1.
  • 14. He was trading with the staple at Elbing by 1602: E190/311/11, f. 3.
  • 15. Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 65.
  • 16. J. Foster, Peds. Yorks. Fams. (W. Riding) (Feild); Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 87; MI in Holy Trinity, Hull.
  • 17. Hull RO, Freemen’s Reg. 1396-1645, ff. 79v, 116v; Hull Trinity House, Accts. 2, ff. 214, 219v.
  • 18. The statistics are from the surviving port books for the years 1609 and 1611, see E190/312/6-7. For earlier years, see E190/311/11, E122/67/31 and Hull Trinity House, Accts. 2-3.
  • 19. Hull RO, Bench Bk. 4, ff. 293, 295v, 328-30v, 333v, 343v, 352-3; BRF2/463.
  • 20. Hatfield House, Cecil Pprs. 115, f. 137; SP12/271/68; HMC Hatfield, xix. 66.
  • 21. CJ, i. 416b, 419b.
  • 22. HMC Hatfield, xix. 331; xx. 80; Hull RO, Bench Bk. 5, f. 7; SP14/61/109; Charters and Letters Patent of Hull trans. J.R. Boyle, 133-49.
  • 23. E190/312/6-7; 313/5, 8; A. Friis, Alderman Cokayne’s Project, 121-3. A voyage to San Lucar took 4-6 months.
  • 24. J.K. Fedorowicz, England’s Baltic Trade, 145-56; E190/313/8, 314/14, 315/3.
  • 25. Friis, 123-7; APC, 1618-19, pp. 351-2, 482-3; 1619-21, pp. 90-91; Charters and Letters Patent of Hull, 91-6; Lansd. 162, ff. 1-3.
  • 26. See E190/315/3, 7; 316/1; Hull RO, freemen’s reg. 1396-1645, ff. 183, 194.
  • 27. Borthwick, Reg. Test. 40, ff. 156-7; Yorks. ERRO, PE158/1, p. 463; J.J. Sheehan, Hist. Hull, 463.