FOLJAMBE, Sir Francis, 1st Bt. (1590-1640), of Aldwark, Ecclesfield, Yorks. and Walton, Derbys.
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Family and Education
bap. 4 Nov. 1590, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Francis Foljambe (d.1600) of Woolthwaite, Yorks. and Frances, da. of Thomas Burdett of Birthwaite, Yorks., wid. of Francis Wortley of Wortley, Yorks. m. (1) 21 Oct. 1614, Elizabeth (bur. 19 Apr. 1638), da. of Sir William Wray* of Glentworth, Lincs., 3s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) 22 May 1638, Elizabeth (d. 26 Dec. 1695), da. of Sir George Reresby of Thrybergh, Yorks., s.p.1 suc. bro. 1612;2 cr. bt. 24 July 1622.3 d. 25 Sept. 1640.4 sig. F[rancis] Foliambe.
Foljambe’s ancestors came from Derbyshire, where one was bailiff of the High Peak in 1272. They regularly represented the county in Parliament in the fourteenth century, but only once thereafter, in 1558, though Foljambe’s cousin Godfrey was returned for Dunwich in 1576. Foljambe’s grandfather, Sir Godfrey†, married a Yorkshire heiress who brought him estates in Hallamshire, near Sheffield, but his widow held Aldwark in jointure till 1617, while the revenues of Walton went to his daughter-in-law until 1622. The estate was further impaired by a dispute with Sir James Harington*, who bought the wardship of Foljambe’s elder brother Sir Thomas, married him to his own daughter and persuaded him to assign her the bulk of his property.8
Foljambe, ‘of small understanding by reason of his education’, developed an expensive taste for litigation. In 1624 he petitioned the Commons about a Chancery suit he had lost to his grandmother; but it was not reported. ‘He was a person of great generosity’, claimed the family historian, ‘but of so profuse a temper, and hospitable to excess’ that he reduced the estate by two-thirds, to £1,000 p.a. He was also unfortunate in his first marriage: after the deaths of their sons, the couple lived apart; while he disowned the only surviving child, for marrying her cousin, Sir Christopher Wray, 4th bt., an idiot.9
Foljambe stood for Nottingham at the 1625 election, but as one of a dozen rival candidates, he had no chance of success. In the following year, he was returned for Pontefract on the interest of Sir Thomas Wentworth*.10 In a session dominated by Buckingham’s impeachment, many Members chose to remain silent, but Foljambe did not: he was appointed to a committee inquiring into defects in victualling Mansfeld’s expedition (22 Mar.) - a source of embarrassment for the government - and another to consider a bill for muster-masters’ fees (28 Mar.); while he successfully claimed privilege for his tenants in an action for trespass (4 March).11 He was more closely involved with the investigation into the court of High Commission’s excommunication of Sir Robert Howard* for adultery with Buckingham’s sister-in-law. On 3 May, when the court’s sentence was ruled to be in breach of parliamentary privilege, Foljambe moved to have the commissioners who had passed this sentence imprisoned until they reversed their decision. John Pym rejected this provocative suggestion, and Foljambe had apparently seen sense by the time a vote was taken on an equally controversial motion to inform Archbishop Abbot that his co-operation was required, as he and Wentworth’s associate Christopher Wandesford acted as tellers for the Noes, who won the vote by a narrow margin.12
The Howard case proved a disappointment to Buckingham’s enemies, as it furnished no fresh evidence against the duke, but such charges as were gathered were presented to the Lords on 8 May. On the following day, during a debate on whether to ask the Lords to imprison the favourite pending his trial, Foljambe insisted ‘his carriage yesterday were ground enough to have him committed’, the first unequivocal evidence of his hostility to the duke.13 By this stage, few MPs were prepared to speak out in Buckingham’s favour, but one such was Wentworth’s adversary Sir John Savile*. On 22 May Foljambe moved to neutralize him by producing a copy of a letter then circulating in the West Riding, in which Savile criticized Members for wasting time attacking Buckingham, when they should have been considering the plight of the clothing industry. Savile, playing for time, denied this was a true copy of his words, and insisted this was a plot against him, but Foljambe was ordered to summon witnesses to prove his case. On 8 June, Foljambe produced witnesses and proposed a series of interrogatories; but the House resolved that the Speaker might alter these as he saw fit. Neither side was able to claim a clear-cut victory at the end of the day, but the incident dented Savile’s claim to impartiality, and it seems likely that Savile would have been expelled from the House but for the early dissolution.14
Foljambe was one of the Members punished for voting for the Remonstrance against Buckingham at the end of the 1626 session by being charged with a punitive Privy Seal loan of £200 shortly after the dissolution, which he did not pay. Like Wentworth, he evaded payment of the Forced Loan - in April 1627 the Privy Council ordered the Yorkshire commissioners to investigate his default - but he was not summoned to Whitehall to explain himself.15 Wentworth intended that Foljambe should stand for re-election at Pontefract in 1628, but after Sir John Jackson* warned that this might provoke Savile, recently appointed steward of the honour, to promote a rival candidate, Sir John Ramsden* was returned instead.16
Foljambe was involved in further litigation in the last decade of his life. He achieved success in a Common Pleas lawsuit over the Aldwark estate despite royal letters in favour of his courtier opponent, but was less fortunate in a 1631 dispute with (Sir) Edward Leech* over the tithes of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, which saw him fined £1,000 by Star Chamber, of which he actually paid £500.17 In 1633 he sold the manor of Walton to (Sir) Arthur Ingram* for £15,300, and he disposed of various Yorkshire lands before his death; but his will of 5 Aug. 1640, which included only modest bequests, suggests that he remained in financial difficulties. He died of dropsy on 25 Sept. at Bath. His second wife, to whom he had been married for only two years, outlived him by over half a century, marrying three more husbands, including the regicide Sir William Monson*. The remains of the Foljambe estate descended to his godson, Francis Foljambe Blakeman, who survived him by only a few weeks, and then to a distant cousin. He was the last of the family to sit in Parliament.18
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Karen Bishop / Simon Healy
- 1. Soc. Gen. Tickhill par. reg.; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. i. 191-2.
- 2. J.P. Yeatman, Feudal Hist. Derbys. vi. 217.
- 3. CB.
- 4. C142/610/119.
- 5. C231/4, f. 135.
- 6. C181/3, f. 49v; 181/4, f. 82; 181/5, f. 173.
- 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 31.
- 8. Coll. Top. et Gen. ii. 79-81; J. Hunter, S. Yorks. ii. 58.
- 9. J.T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 119; Stowe 621, f. 20; CJ, i. 785b.
- 10. T. Bailey, Annals Notts. ii. 612; NOTTINGHAM.
- 11. Procs. 1626, ii. 194, 197, 340, 386.
- 12. Ibid. iii. 142, 151; SIR ROBERT HOWARD.
- 13. Procs. 1626, iii. 208.
- 14. Ibid. iii. 301-8, 392-401; C. Russell, PEP, 320-1.
- 15. E401/2586, p. 461; APC, 1626-7, pp. 243-5; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 38; J.J. Cartwright, Chapters in Yorks. Hist. 235.
- 16. DCO, Letters and Warrants 1626-32, f. 74; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 34.
- 17. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 434; Star Chamber Cases ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxxix), 69-70; LR5/56, bdle. ‘Star Chamber’.
- 18. Yeatman, vi. 414; Borthwick, York wills, Jan. 1641; Stowe 621, f. 20; C142/610/119.