JACOB, John (1597-1666), of Gamlingay, Cambs., Bromley, Mdx. and Billiter Lane, London

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



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 21 Jan. 1641

Family and Education

bap. 12 Dec. 1597, 1st surv. s. of Abraham Jacob of Gamlingay and London, and Mary, da. of Francis Rogers of Dartford, Kent.1 educ. Merton, Oxf. 1617, BA 1617;2 travelled abroad (Italy, Switzerland) 1617-20;3 G. Inn 1631.4 m. (1) 2 May 1625, Elizabeth (bur. 29 Mar. 1632), da. of John Holliday, Merchant Taylor, of Crooked Lane, London, 2s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) 14 June 1632, Alice (bur. 26 Sept. 1646), da. of Thomas Clowes, merchant, of Broad Street, London, wid. of John Eaglesfield, Clothworker, of London, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da. (3 d.v.p.); (3) 17 Apr. 1651, Elizabeth (d. Apr. 1697), da. and coh. of Sir John Ashburnham of Kent, sec. to Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, 1da. suc. fa. 1629;5 kntd. 8 May 1633;6 cr. bt. 11 Jan. 1665.7 bur. 13 Mar. 1666.8

Offices Held

Jt. collector, tobacco duties 1618-38, farmer 1632-8,9 collector, pretermitted customs 1623-41;10 clerk of PC, extraordinary 1627-45;11 collector, petty customs, 1628-38, 1662-d,12 gt. customs ?1629-41, 1662-d.;13 commr. maltsters and brewers 1637,14 customs 1660-2;15 farmer of customs 1660-d.16

Sec. to Sir Isaac Wake*, agent to Savoy 1620-1,17 to ld. treas. Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*) 1622-4.18

Member, Fisheries Soc. 1632-3.19


Jacob came from a successful Cambridgeshire yeoman family which had begun to purchase freeholds in Gamlingay by 1557. His father, Abraham, continued to acquire land there, but made his fortune as a merchant in London, where he joined the customs syndicate headed by Maurice Abbot*.20 Jacob received a gentleman’s education, including a period of foreign travel. While at Oxford he may have been the pupil of (Sir) Isaac Wake, who briefly employed him during his embassy at Turin.21 When Cranfield became lord treasurer, Wake recommended Jacob as his secretary, a work of supererogation since Abraham was described by Sir Edward Coke* as Cranfield’s ‘necessary creature and petty chapman’. Jacob was simultaneously occupied as a customs collector, and in consequence of his dual roles he was bombarded with petitions from friends and relations in the business world. In 1623 the common council of Dover resolved to give him a gratuity of £3 for helping Edward Nicholas* to obtain authorization for the building of a customs house in the town.22

In 1624 Jacob was elected to Parliament for Plympton Erle, presumably at the request of Cranfield, who was apparently on familiar terms with one of the borough’s patrons, Sir Warwick Hele*.23 Jacob was named only to the committee for the bill to prevent extortion by customs officials (24 Mar. 1624), and failed to attend its meetings.24 Almost inevitably, he was also drawn into the corruption proceedings against the lord treasurer. On 8 Apr. Jacob’s father was examined before the Commons, whereupon Sir John Savile moved that Jacob himself should withdraw from the chamber during this discussion. However, Jacob firmly replied that ‘he was there for his country, not for his father’, and referred himself to the opinion of the House. Heneage Finch argued that as Abraham Jacob was present as a witness, not as a delinquent, there was no reason for Jacob to be ‘thrust out of the House’, and the matter was dropped. Nevertheless, he took no further known part in the Commons’ proceedings.25

With Cranfield in disgrace, Jacob seems not to have sought election to the next three Parliaments, but he did not obviously suffer through his master’s fall. In 1627 he was sworn in as an additional clerk to the Privy Council on Charles I’s command. When Abraham lay on his death-bed in 1629 Cranfield sent his most trusted servant to seek a confession that he had committed perjury during the impeachment proceedings, but Jacob refused him access, on the grounds that his father had already made his peace with the world: ‘to have troubled that content had been, if not impious, I am sure unnatural in me’.26

During the Caroline Personal Rule Jacob continued to flourish as a financier and customs farmer. He was knighted in 1633, and expended his inheritance by purchasing the manors of Upper Bromley in Middlesex and Woodbury in Gamlingay.27 In order to retain his share in the customs farm he was required to make substantial advances to the Crown. In consequence he was expelled from the Long Parliament as a monopolist, and imprisoned as a delinquent in 1642. He could not be required to compound, but Parliament eventually extracted £1,500 from him, and by 1650 he was again a prisoner, this time for debt.28 After the Restoration he recovered the customs farm, and his loyalty was rewarded in 1665 with a baronetcy, which he celebrated by erecting ten almshouses in his native village. He died the following year and was buried, in accordance with his wishes, with his parents and his first and second wives in Bromley St. Leonards on 13 March. His widow, to whom he bequeathed an annuity of £400, married William Wogan†. No other member of the Jacob family entered Parliament.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Sabrina Alcorn Baron


  • 1. Soc. Gen., Gamlingay par. reg.; Harl. 1196, f. 318.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. APC, 1616-17, p. 340; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 231.
  • 4. GI Admiss.
  • 5. Harl. 1196, f. 318; G.E. Cokayne, Ld. Mayors and Sheriffs of London, 26-7; LMA, Bromley St. Leonard par. reg.; A. Povah, All Hallows, Staining, 338; CB.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 200.
  • 7. CB.
  • 8. LMA, Bromley St. Leonard par. reg.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 535; 1638-9, p. 253; E214/184.
  • 10. C66/2307/2.
  • 11. APC, 1627, p. 342; CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 404.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 443; CTB, 1660-7, p. 421.
  • 13. R. Ashton, Crown and the Money Markets, 95-105; CTB, 1660-7, p. 431.
  • 14. CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 404.
  • 15. CCSP, v. 54; CTB, 1660-7, p. 226.
  • 16. E351/660-4.
  • 17. CSP Ven. 1619-21, pp. 250, 576.
  • 18. Cent. Kent. Stud., U269/1/ON255.
  • 19. SP16/221/1; 16/231/15.
  • 20. VCH Cambs. v. 76; F.C. Dietz, Eng. Public Finance, 333.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 159; Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. i), 150.
  • 22. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/ON664; State Trials ed. T.B. Howell, ii. 1193; Add. 29623, ff. 59-60.
  • 23. CJ, i. 641a.
  • 24. Ibid. 747b; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 217.
  • 25. Holles 1624, p. 69.
  • 26. M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 458-61; Cent. Kent. Stud., U269/1/CB118.
  • 27. D. Lysons, Environs of London, ii. 61; VCH Cambs. v. 76.
  • 28. Keeler, 231-2; CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 403; CCAM, 234-5; CCC, 1206.
  • 29. VCH Cambs. v. 87; PROB 11/320, f. 105; Lysons, ii. 67.