FLEETWOOD, Henry (1561-1638), of Gray's Inn, London and Langley Marish, Bucks.
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Family and Education
bap. 19 Oct. 1561,1 9th but 7th surv. s. of Thomas Fleetwood† (d.1570) of The Vache, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks., being his 6th s. with his 2nd w. Bridget, da. of Sir John Spring of Cockfield, Suff.; bro. of Sir George* and Sir William I*.2 educ. G. Inn 1580, called 1586.3 m. by 1602, Elizabeth, da. of Edward Fust of London, at least 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.4 d. 13 Apr. 1638.5
Reader, Staple Inn 1597; ancient, G. Inn 1598, reader 1609.6
On the death of his father in 1570, Fleetwood, then aged about nine, inherited £50 plus an annuity of £13 6s. 8d. Before reaching his majority Fleetwood also became a beneficiary of one of his numerous older brothers, who left him some household stuff and shares in the Mineral and Battery Company.7 After training as a lawyer at Gray’s Inn, Fleetwood used his legal expertise to speculate in the property market. Although he thereby achieved some notable successes, this had ultimately disastrous results. Perhaps his biggest coup was the purchase in 1601 of Beverston Castle in Gloucestershire, which cost him £4,000 and which he sold a month later at a profit of £1,100.8 He seems on occasion to have acted as an agent for Sir Robert Cecil†, for whom, for instance, he obtained a lease of the manor of Munden Hall in Essex from the duchy of Lancaster in 1604.9 Although his father had been an assistant governor of the Battery Company, Fleetwood, like his brothers, seems to have taken no interest in the venture, and he sold his shares sometime before the Company received its second charter in 1604.10
Fleetwood represented Chipping Wycombe in the last Elizabethan Parliament, and was re-elected there in 1604. His only committee appointment was to consider a bill for payment of Crown debts (2 May 1607).11 By this time his own debts were becoming urgent, although Sir Francis Bacon*, with characteristic financial incompetence, proposed him as surety for a major loan in 1608.12 Fleetwood’s ventures with his brother-in-law, a London grocer named Richard Fust, soon reached a point at which one or other of them must be undone. After remarking, rather unnecessarily, that ‘I had rather it were you’, Fust held Fleetwood overnight under lock and key in his study until he had searched his chambers for the Beverstone Castle deeds and procured a serjeant to take him to the Compter.13 As a result of this episode, Fleetwood’s career at the bar was abruptly terminated in November 1609.14 Nevertheless, with the assistance of Cecil, now 1st earl of Salisbury and lord treasurer, Fleetwood was able to make good one more speculation. He received £3,500 for the Gloucestershire manor of Weston-under-Edge, but his profits were swallowed up in paying off a debt to one of his sureties, Sir William Bowyer I*.15 Salisbury was perhaps also responsible for a grant made in 1609 to Fleetwood, Sir William Maynard* and William Pitt*, of a deficiency of £3,100 in the accounts of a deceased teller in the Exchequer, if they could recover it.16
After the dissolution of Parliament in early 1611 Fleetwood obtained recurrent letters of protection against his creditors.17 Despite this, by 1614 he was so ‘decayed in estate’ that his mother-in-law, anxious to provide for his wife, who had ‘many children and small means of living and maintenance’, conveyed her Hampstead property to trustees during his lifetime.18 His last protection expired at Michaelmas 1617, and he presumably lived out the rest of his long life in seclusion at Gray’s Inn. He died there ‘an ancient gentleman’, on 13 Apr. 1638, and was buried next day at St. Bartholomew’s, Smithfield.19 No will or administration has been found, and nothing is known of his descendants.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. GL, ms 6418, unfol. (St. Giles Cripplegate par. reg.)
- 2. DL7/12/2; H. Fishwick, Hist. of Poulton-le-Fylde (Chetham Soc. n.s. viii), 158-9; Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 235.
- 3. GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 73.
- 4. N and Q (ser. 11), vi. 43-4; St. Clement Eastcheap (Harl. Soc. reg. lxvii), 16, 17.
- 5. N and Q (ser. 11), vi. 43.
- 6. PBG Inn, i. 135, 137, 184.
- 7. PROB 11/53, f. 78; 11/60, f. 168.
- 8. STAC 8/140/1.
- 9. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 85; Lansd. 1217, f. 16v; HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 227.
- 10. M.B. Donald, Elizabethan Monopolies, 40, 71; Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 19, 43.
- 11. CJ, i. 366a.
- 12. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, iv. 40; REQ 2/299/4; C2/Jas.I/F8/52.
- 13. STAC 8/143/15; C78/181/20.
- 14. PBG Inn, i. 186, 189.
- 15. C2/Jas.I/P16/70.
- 16. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 528, 532.
- 17. APC, 1616-17, p. 193; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 64, 385.
- 18. C78/173/5.
- 19. N and Q (ser. 11), vi. 43.