GOODWIN, Robert (c.1601-1681), of Horne, Surr. and East Grinstead, Suss.

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



c. Mar. 1626
24 Apr. 1640
24 Dec. 1640

Family and Education

b. c.1601, 1st s. of Edward Goodwin of Horne and Susan. da. of Richard Wallop of Bugbrooke, Northants.; bro. of John†.1 educ. travelled abroad (Spanish Neths.) 1620; I. Temple 1621.2 m. 15 May 1634, Mary, da. of Sir John Rivers, 1st bt., of Chafford, Kent, 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1627;3 kntd. 3 May 1658.4 bur. 29 Mar. 1681.5

Offices Held

J.p. Surr. 1629-42,6 by 1644-at least 1653,7 Suss. by 1644, 1649-60;8 commr. subsidy, Surr. 1641-2;9 dep. lt. Suss. 1642;10 commr. assessment Surr. 1643-52, Suss. 1644, 1657, 1660, sequestrations, Surr. 1643, defence, Surr. and Suss. 1643, Surr. 1645,11 gaol delivery, Surr. 1644, oyer and terminer, 1644, Home circ. by 1654-8, sewers, Surr. and Kent 1645,12 New Model Ordinance, Surr. 1645;13 elder, Reigate classis, Surr. 1647;14 commr. militia, Surr. 1648, Suss. 1659, 1660, scandalous ministers, Surr. 1654.15

Commr. govt. [I] 1642,16 Scottish affairs 1643-7, propositions for relief of Ireland 1645, treating with Scotland 1645; compounding 1647-9, 17 registrar in Chancery 1648-59;18 cllr. of state 1651, 1652-3; commr. to remove obstructions 1651;19 cllr. [I] 1654-7; commr. security [I] 1656, Irish affairs 1659-60.20


Goodwin came of a family that had lived in or near East Grinstead on the Surrey-Sussex border at least since the time of his great-great-grandfather, who sat for the borough in the 1529 Parliament.21 His mother was related to Sir Henry Wallop†, lord justice of Ireland in the 1580s. A namesake, the town clerk of Londonderry from 1613, may have been a kinsman. If so, it might help to explain Goodwin’s own interest in Ireland, which became apparent during the 1640s.22

In 1679, testifying about a disputed election, Goodwin told the privileges committee that he had sat for East Grinstead in 1621. This statement was quite incorrect, although he may have stood unsuccessfully in that year; even so, he would have been under-age at the time.23 Goodwin was not actually elected for East Grinstead until 1626, when he was returned after it was ruled that (Sir) Robert Heath* was ineligible by virtue of his office as attorney-general.24

Goodwin shared his surname with two other Members of the 1626 Parliament, Arthur and Ralph Goodwin. This makes it difficult to identify his contributions, but as a new Member they were probably few. Nine speeches and five committee appointments were attributed to ‘Mr. Goodwin’ in the surviving records. The speeches, which were generally in support of the proceedings against the duke of Buckingham, are sufficiently alike to suggest that they were made by the same man - perhaps by Arthur Goodwin, who had previously sat twice. If this is the case then it is also likely that it was Arthur who was added to the committee to draft the preamble to the subsidy bill on 25 May, having spoken three times on supply. Having possibly seen military service, Arthur is probably also a better candidate for the appointee for the muster-masters bill on 28 March. The three other committee appointments are more difficult to apportion. Two (28 Mar. and 1 June) were for naturalization bills, while the last was for punishing the coal patentee Sir Robert Sharpeigh (1 June).25

In 1627 Goodwin succeeded to his father’s estate, which included four East Grinstead burgages, and early in 1628 he was appointed a trustee for the purchase of the Sackville moiety of Reigate by his cousin Sir William Monson*.26 He was re-elected to Parliament in 1628, as was Ralph Goodwin. Between them they made six recorded speeches and accumulated 21 committee appointments. One source specifically identifies the speaker on 22 Mar. as ‘Mr. Goodwin of Grinstead in Sussex’.27 Another speech, in defence of the jurisdiction of the Council in the Marches (19 May), can almost certainly be attributed to Ralph, who was an officeholder in the Council’s court.28 However, other identifications are less certain.

The speech delivered on 22 Mar. is the first mention of either ‘Mr. Goodwin’ in the records of the 1628 session. In it, Goodwin raised the question of supply, and maintained that a good subject would ‘rather desire to leave something of his own, than His Majesty should want’. However, supply was conditional on ‘the people being enabled and encouraged’, and it was this enabling and encouraging that provided the real theme of the speech. Asserting that the ‘great work of Parliament’ was to represent ‘the just grievances of the people’ to their monarch, he cited a speech delivered by James I to Parliament in 1610 before urging his colleagues to ‘deliver to His Majesty that the subjects have right in the propriety of their goods’. Nothing, he added, ‘can be more near and dear unto them’, than ‘those rights and privileges which may justly be called their inheritances’. How this was to be done he left unspecified, although it ‘will require the greatest counsel and most mature deliberation’. However, his earlier mention of supply suggests that he envisaged some kind of deal in return for a vote of taxation.29

It can be argued that the four other speeches whose authors are uncertain follow on logically from that given by Goodwin on 22 Mar., and that consequently they were probably made by this Member. In the debate on 1 Apr. concerning Edward Littleton II’s two questions about the Crown’s power to imprison without showing cause, one of the two Mr. Goodwins argued that a further question should be framed, which was whether ‘that the king’s command and his Council is not a sufficient cause’ for commitment.30 In the debate on supply three days later, a Mr. Goodwin called on the House to ‘pitch on a sum suiting the king’s necessities’, although this did not mean that wanted to make an unconditional grant. On the contrary, he advised that Members should ‘discharge our duty to our king and country’ and ‘go in the old way’.31 Twelve days later a Mr. Goodwin argued that the Commons should ‘enable the country to give’, and he reminded his listeners that when supply was first debated ‘all [had] agreed that supply and our liberties should go together’.32 A Mr. Goodwin again cited James I on 6 May, in a speech praised by Henry Sherfield. In this, Goodwin argued that ‘if any scruples arise in law’ concerning the illegality of arbitrary imprisonment, Parliament should draw up an ‘exposition’, a suggestion which indicates that he was lending his support to the Petition of Right.33 He was at pains to emphasize the conservatism of his intentions, for ‘it is no new thing we desire’.34

A number of the committees to which ‘Mr. Goodwin’ was appointed concerned religion. These may be attributable to this Member, who was to become a Presbyterian elder in the 1640s and a Dissenter after the Restoration.35 On 7 Apr. he was named to the committee for the bill ‘for the better continuance of peace and unity in church and commonwealth’.36 Further appointments related to bills for disabling clergymen from serving as justices of the peace (21 Apr.), tightening the laws against recusants (23 Apr.), and better maintenance of the ministry (7 May).37 The appointments to the committees to consider the bill against unlicensed alehouses (17 Apr.) and the presentments of recusant officeholders (24 Apr.) perhaps should also come into this category.38 A further group of committee appointments to consider private bills relating to the north Midlands and Lancashire may relate to Ralph Goodwin, who was based at Ludlow. One or other Members may have had an interest in London, and was consequently appointed to the committees concerning the bill to confirm Sutton’s hospital (8 Apr.) and to consider the Levant Company merchants who refused to pay impositions (10 May).39 There are also signs of a West Country connection, with appointments to consider Hannibal Vyvyan’s* petition against John Mohun*, the vice-warden of the Stannaries (16 Apr.), the bill to liberalize fishing in American waters (17 Apr.), and a committee to consider complaints arising from the Cornish election (9 May).40

Only one speech is attributed to a ‘Mr. Goodwyn’ in the surviving sources for the 1629 session. On 9 Feb. one or other Member of that name defended the sheriff of London, William Acton, who had prevaricated before a Commons committee of inquiry concerning his role in John Rolle’s* privilege case.41 Both Goodwins appear to have been appointed to the committee to consider a complaint against the attorney of the duchy of Lancaster; one on 7 Feb. and the other 13 days later.42 Of the seven other committees to which one or other of the two Goodwins were appointed in 1629, this Member may have been the one appointed to the committee for the revived bill to strengthen the recusancy laws (28 Jan.) and the bill against corruption in ecclesiastical appointments (23 February).43

Goodwin was re-elected to the Short and Long Parliaments. An active parliamentarian, he was particularly concerned with Ireland, acquiring lands in Leinster, and was knighted in 1658 by the lord deputy, Henry Cromwell†. He retired from public life after the Restoration, when his knighthood was no longer recognized. He drew up his will on 29 Nov. 1672, in which, lacking a male heir, he left the bulk of his estate to his surviving daughter. He was buried at East Grinstead on 29 Mar. 1681. None of his descendants are known to have sat in Parliament.44

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 124.
  • 2. SP77/14, f. 202; I. Temple database of admiss.
  • 3. Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 330; iii. 391; PROB 11/366, f. 189; C142/568/122.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 224.
  • 5. Soc. Gen. East Grinstead par. reg.
  • 6. C231/5, pp. 18, 532;
  • 7. ASSI 35/85/4; CUL, mss Dd. viii. 1.
  • 8. Q. S. Order Bk. ed. B.C. Redwood (Suss. Rec. Soc. liv) p. xxviii; Perfect List (1660), p. 52.
  • 9. SR, v. 65, 155.
  • 10. LJ, v. 353.
  • 11. A. and O. i. 116, 234, 335, 451, 541, 636, 731, 976, 1093; ii. 44, 310, 479, 676, 1082, 1380.
  • 12. C181/5, ff. 239-v, 264; 181/6, ff. 13, 306.
  • 13. A. and O. i. 624.
  • 14. W.A. Shaw, Hist. of the Eng. Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, ii. 434.
  • 15. A. and O. i. 1234; ii. 975, 1333, 1444
  • 16. Ibid. i. 32.
  • 17. CCC, 1-2; A. and O. i. 723, 738, 914.
  • 18. CJ, v. 477a; CCAM, 849; G.E. Aylmer, State’s Servants, 88-9.
  • 19. A. and O. ii. 500, 524; CJ, vii. 221a.
  • 20. Ireland under the Commonwealth ed. R. Dunlop, ii. 438, 672, 697; A. and O. ii. 1041, 1298; CJ, vii. 815b.
  • 21. HP Commons, 1509-58, ii. 233.
  • 22. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 26; T.W. Moody, Londonderry Plantation, 450.
  • 23. CJ, ix. 587b.
  • 24. Procs. 1626, ii. 14.
  • 25. Ibid. ii. 395-6, 418; iii. 21, 62, 80, 273, 296, 329, 340-1, 352, 379. 407.
  • 26. C142/568/122; Manning and Bray, i. 280.
  • 27. CD 1628, ii. 67.
  • 28. Ibid. iii. 473.
  • 29. Ibid. 54-5.
  • 30. Ibid. 237.
  • 31. Ibid. 298. One diarist records him as having also spoken about Tunnage and Poundage on this occasion, but the words spoken may actually have formed part of Sir Henry Whithed’s speech. Ibid. 314, 317.
  • 32. Ibid. 481.
  • 33. CD 1628, iii. 282.
  • 34. Ibid. 271.
  • 35. CSP Dom. 1672, p. 403.
  • 36. CD 1628, ii. 323.
  • 37. Ibid. iii. 3, 43, 301.
  • 38. Ibid. ii. 507; iii. 61.
  • 39. Ibid. ii. 360; iii. 354
  • 40. Ibid. ii. 479, 507; iii. 336.
  • 41. CD 1629, p. 53.
  • 42. CJ, i. 927a, 931b.
  • 43. Ibid. 923b, 932b.
  • 44. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 191-2; PROB 11/366, ff. 188v-9v.