FRESCHEVILLE (FRECHVILE, FRETCHVILE), Sir Peter (1575-1634), of Staveley, Derbys.

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. 14 Mar. 1575,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Peter Frescheville of Staveley, being 1st s. with 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Arthur Kaye of Woodsome, Yorks., wid. of Francis Woodrove of Woolley, Yorks.2 educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1587; M. Temple 1591.3 m. (1) 18 Oct. 1604, Joyce (bur. 12 Mar. 1619), da. of Thomas Fleetwood† of The Vache, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks., wid. of Sir Hewett Osborne (d. c.1600) of Parsloes, Essex, 1s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.);4 (2) 5 Aug. 1620, Isabel (bur. 24 Nov. 1642), da. of Henry Neville of Grove, Notts., wid. of Sir Richard Harpur (d.1619) of Hemington, Leics., s.p.5 suc. fa. 1582;6 kntd. 21 Apr. 1603.7 d. 7 Apr. 1634.8 sig. Pet[e]r Frechevile.

Offices Held

Steward of the reader’s feast, Middle Temple 1592, 1597.9

Servant to Gilbert Talbot†, 7th earl of Shrewsbury by 1601-c.1604.10

Sheriff, Derbys. 1601-2,11 j.p. 1603-d.;12 commr. gaol delivery, Derby 1603, inquiry into lands and goods of Sir Griffin Markham, Derbys. and Notts;13 collector Privy Seal loan, Derbys. 1604-5, 1611-12, 1625-6,14 commr. subsidy 1607, 1608, 1621-2, 1624;15 collector, aid 1609, 1612-13;16 commr. oyer and terminer, Midland circ. 1610-d.,17 dep. lt. by 1613-at least 1614, by 1621-at least 1630,18 commr. musters 1618,19 Palatine Benevolence 1622,20 Forced Loan, Derbys. 1626-7, Derby 1627,21 sequestration lead tithe, Derbys. 1629,22 recusancy compositions (north) 1629;23 commr. and collector of knighthood compositions, Derbys 1630-2,24 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1633.25

Member, Virg. Co. 1612.26


The Freschevilles acquired Staveley, four miles north-east of Chesterfield, by marriage in the early thirteenth century,27 and began their parliamentary record in 1300. Frescheville inherited his estate in 1582 aged only seven, whereupon his mother purchased his wardship for £153 6s. 8d.28 He subsequently trained for the law, and though never called to the bar he seems to have spent nearly five years at the Middle Temple. However, in early 1596 he was excused attendance because of his ‘great affairs in the country and far dwelling’. Despite subsequent absenteeism, he managed to retain his chambers at the Inn until 1609.29 By 1601 he was in the service of Gilbert Talbot†, 7th earl of Shrewsbury, in which year he was first elected to Parliament, and in 1603 he was among those knighted when Shrewsbury entertained James I at Worksop. He may well have left Shrewsbury’s household when he married in 1604, at which time he completed the rebuilding of his house at Staveley. He derived much of his income from his coal and iron interests, which enabled him to expand his estate.30 His kinsman Gervase Holles described him as

an honest and a worthy gentleman of good erudition and a great lover of learning and learned men. He was a good housekeeper and the best landlord to his tenants (I think I may truly say) in England, and the person of most principal account and had the greatest power of any of the gentry in his county.31

Another relative, Sir Thomas Wentworth*, wrote to him praising his taste in poetry and music, ‘wherein you so much delight and can so perfectly judge’.32 In 1610 Frescheville helped establish a fund to finance apprenticeships for poor children in Staveley.33

Frescheville’s association with the 7th earl of Shrewsbury, who died in 1616, no doubt enabled him to command what was left of the Talbot interest at the parliamentary election for Derbyshire in 1620. Certainly he regained his former position as knight of the shire after an interval of 19 years, sitting with Sir William Cavendish I*, who shared his interest in the Virginia Company. During the course of the 1621 Parliament he was appointed to 26 committees and made five speeches. On 5 Feb. he was named to the privileges committee and a week later was among those ordered to draft the petition for free speech.34 On 8 Feb. he moved that the penalties against those who maliciously brought informations only to withdrew their accusations when the case came to court should be applied to those who offended against the informers bill.35 He was named to a sub-committee to frame a petition for stricter enforcement of the laws against Catholics on the same day and to the subsequent conference with the Lords ten days later, and when the bill to prevent recusants making collusive leases of their land was debated on 2 Mar., he advocated a clause protecting the rights of genuine lessees, and was appointed to the committee. On 11 May he was among those charged with considering a measure to clarify the recusancy laws.36 On 5 Mar. he spoke for the interests of sheep farmers at the grand committee on the decay of the cloth industry, and was ordered to examine a measure prohibiting the export of wool and fuller’s earth on 30 April.37 The bill to reform equity proceedings introduced on 6 Mar. by John Carvile was described as ‘Sir Peter Frescheville his bill’ by the author of the ‘X’ diary when it received its second reading on 19 March. Carvile was a Middle Temple barrister whom Frescheville had recommended to Sir Thomas Wentworth’s father in 1611, but apart from that Frescheville’s connection with this measure has not been established.38

Frescheville was named to the committee for the subsidy bill (7 Mar.), and was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords on monopolies five days later.39 On 26 Mar. he refused to give way when John Glanville* rose to report the monopolies bill, until the Speaker facetiously suggested that the wiser man should sit down.40 As the business of the House proliferated, Frescheville was among those ordered on 26 Apr. to recommend which matters were most urgently in need of its attention. On 2 May he was added to a grievances sub-committee, whose members were ‘specially required to attend’.41

When legislation to curb tobacco imports was debated on 3 May, Frescheville conceded that ‘tobacco is the cause of drunkenness, drunkenness of idleness, idleness of beggary’. Nevertheless, being a member of the Virginia Company he could not bring himself to recommend that tobacco be banned, citing the error of Lycurgus who had tried to abolish drunkenness by destroying all the vines in Sparta instead of legislating against the offence. Moreover, he maintained that ‘tobacco is necessary for some bodies, taken moderately’. While Spanish tobacco imports injured English trade, buying it from Virginia and the Somers Islands instead would help those colonies and thus benefit the nation, as Virginia and the Somers Islands were useful receptacles of those whom he described as ‘unprofitable members in the commonwealth’. He also asserted that to outlaw domestic cultivation of tobacco would infringe the liberty of the subject. The tobacco grown at home, he insisted, was ‘very good and wholesome’.42

Frescheville was among those ordered to examine sumptuary legislation (21 Apr.), to draft bills concerning inns, horse fodder, and the clerk of the market (24 Apr.), to consider measures against unlawful imprisonment (5 May) and to lower the maximum legal interest rate (7 May).43 During the winter sitting he was named to committees for bills to curb the abuse of begging licences and to expedite the imprisonment of rogues (22 November). The following day he was appointed to the committee for the bill to enable clergymen to make leases for their dependants, while on 1 Dec. he was named to attend a conference with the Lords on informers.44

Frescheville’s second wife, whom he had married in August 1620, was the widow of the eldest son of Sir John Harpur*.45 Frescheville subsequently stood surety for Harpur when the latter purchased the wardship of his heir,46 and Harpur appointed Frescheville one of the trustees for his estate, which reportedly put Frescheville to a great deal of trouble.47 Frescheville pledged £30 towards the Benevolence initiated by the Privy Council in August 1626 after the second Caroline Parliament had been dissolved without voting supply, one of Derbyshire’s highest gentry contributions.48 The following year he was an active Forced Loan commissioner and agreed to pay his assessment of £40 when he delivered his accounts for the 1625 Privy Seal loan.49 In the early 1630s he was a zealous collector of knighthood compositions.50 He seems to have had no further parliamentary ambitions, and in 1628 his only son John Frescheville* took his turn as knight of the shire.

Frescheville drafted his will on 16 Mar. 1633, in which he assigned Staveley to his son and executor. Those lands purchased from the trustees of the 2nd earl of Devonshire (Sir William Cavendish I*) he gave to his wife, who subsequently married Sir Gerard Fleetwood*. His daughter had already been given a portion of £2,000, and therefore her family received only token legacies. Frescheville founded eight almshouses at Staveley, with a chapel in which an ‘honest deacon’ was every day to read ‘morning and evening prayer by law now established’. He left £76 13s. 4d. to the poor of various parishes, £20 towards sending four poor scholars of Staveley grammar school to university, and £50 to the library of his old college. His stepson Sir Edward Osborne, 1st Bt.*, one of the supervisors of his will, and Osborne’s son, were both left £10. The other two supervisors were his brother-in-law the 3rd Lord Darcy and ‘my approved kind friend and ally’ Sir Gervase Clifton, 1st Bt.* He was buried on 9 Apr. 1634 in accordance with his request in Staveley church where a monument was erected.51 He was long remembered as ‘a gentleman of great probity and hospitality, an upright and skilful magistrate, a great promoter of learning’.52

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Virginia C.D. Moseley


  • 1. Soc. Gen. Staveley par. regs. i. 48.
  • 2. F. Madan, ‘Ped. of the Frecheville and Musard Fams.’ Coll. Top. et Gen. iv. 4; Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 320.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. R.E.C. Waters, Chester of Chicheley, 232; PROB 11/96, ff. 36v-8v; Madan, 5; Soc. Gen. Staveley par. regs. ii. 30.
  • 5. C142/530/160; Madan, 5; PROB 11/133, f. 252; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 66; A. Strother, ‘Extracts from the Regs. of Bath Abbey’, The Gen. n.s. vi. 94.
  • 6. C142/198/30.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 102.
  • 8. C142/530/160.
  • 9. MTR, 374.
  • 10. J.R. Dias, ‘Pols. and Administration in Notts. and Derbys. 1590-1640’, (Oxford Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1973), p. 86.
  • 11. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 31.
  • 12. C231/1, f. 152v; J.C. Cox, Three Centuries of Derbs. Annals, i. 36.
  • 13. C181/1, ff. 48, 73.
  • 14. E401/2585, f. 76; 401/2586, p. 144; E403/2731, f. 171; Harl. 6986, f. 170.
  • 15. HMC Rutland, i. 403, 410; C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 16. SP14/43/107; E403/2732, f. 88v.
  • 17. C181/2, f. 106; 181/4, f. 166.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 181, 258; HMC Rutland, i. 460; SP16/173/61.
  • 19. APC, 1618-19, p. 116.
  • 20. SP14/130/82.
  • 21. E179/93/355, f. 1; C193/12/2, ff. 9v, 82.
  • 22. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 730.
  • 23. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 47.
  • 24. E178/5227; E407/35/35.
  • 25. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 11v.
  • 26. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 294.
  • 27. Madan, 1.
  • 28. WARD 9/221, f. 131.
  • 29. MTR, 360, 513.
  • 30. Dias, 86-7, 238; J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, i. 88.
  • 31. G. Holles, Mems. of Holles Fam. ed. A.C. Wood (Cam. Soc. ser. 3. lv), 160.
  • 32. Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 103-4.
  • 33. J.H., ‘Acct. of Staveley’, Gent. Mag. xc. 578.
  • 34. CJ, i. 507b, 518a.
  • 35. Ibid. 514b.
  • 36. CD 1621, ii. 27; v. 532; CJ, i. 522, 534a, 617a.
  • 37. CD 1621, v. 27; CJ, i. 597a.
  • 38. CD 1621, ii. 242; v. 273; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 1.
  • 39. CJ, i. 544a, 551a.
  • 40. CD 1621, iv. 196.
  • 41. CJ, i. 592a, 602b.
  • 42. CD 1621, ii. 341; iii. 148
  • 43. CJ, i. 584b, 590a, 610a, 611a.
  • 44. Ibid. 641b, 643a, 654b.
  • 45. J. Nichols, Hist. and Antiqs. of County of Leicester, iii. p. *884, where Isabel is erroneously identified as the daughter of Simon Gresley.
  • 46. WARD 9/162, f. 394v.
  • 47. HMC Cowper, i. 144.
  • 48. SP16/33/131.I.
  • 49. E179/93/355, ff. 1v-2, 5, 14.
  • 50. Dias, 350.
  • 51. PROB 11/165, ff. 332-4; Soc. Gen. Staveley par. regs. ii. 30; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. i. 150.
  • 52. T. Comber, Mems. Ld. Dep. Wandesford, 21.