MORE, John II (c.1578-1638), of St. Martin's Lane, Westminster and Micheldever, Hants; formerly of the Old Bailey, 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



Family and Education

b. c.1578, s. of Thomas Moore of Faringdon, Berks. (d. by 1616).1 educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 1596, aged 18.2 m. (1) by May 1607,3 Martha (bur. 21 May 1620),4 ‘a wench about Canterbury’, Kent, 1da.;5 (2) Barbara, 1s. d.v.p.;6 (3) 14 Nov. 1622,7 Elizabeth (d.1639),8 da. of John Lambert of Buckingham, Bucks., wid. of William Moore of Maids Moreton, Bucks. and John Every of Oxford, Oxon., s.p.9 d. 21 Aug. 1638.10

Offices Held

Servant to (Sir) Ralph Winwood* 1598-1617;11 clerk of the signet 1623-d.12

Member, Virg. Co. 1609.13

Commr. piracy, Southampton 1618;14 freeman, Lymington, Hants 1620.15


Of obscure origins in Berkshire, More left Oxford without a degree to enter the service of Sir Ralph Winwood, a fellow of his college. When his master became a diplomat in 1604, More acted as his London agent, investment counsellor and newsmonger on a salary of £80 a year.16 He evidently shared Winwood’s puritan outlook, commenting on the speech from the throne of 21 Mar. 1610 that ‘the most strictly religious could have wished that His Highness would have been more sparing in using the name of God, and comparing the deity with princes’ sovereignty’.17 His duties included various trips abroad, for which he was well rewarded; one of Winwood’s associates commented in March 1611 that More ‘grows rich and is worthy of it because he cares after it’.18 More also looked after the interests of William Trumbull* at Court, and kept him supplied with newsletters, for example reporting from The Hague in 1613 about the honeymoon journey of the Elector Palatine and his bride.19

In August 1614 More acquired a quarter share in the lucrative salt monopoly headed by Charles Thynne* for £160, which he would not sell for £800; but, on behalf of one of his partners, he offered another quarter to John Packer*, Trumbull, and his own brother George.20 He also invested in the Virginia Company, and acquired property in Westminster, both for his own residence and for development.21 The parishioners of St. Martin-in-the-Fields complained to the Privy Council in 1616 about More’s new buildings, expressing concerns about overcrowding and the spread of disease, but they were left to seek their remedy at law.22 When Winwood also decided to transfer his investments to real estate, he discovered that some of More’s speculations on his behalf had been imprudent. A series of complicated transactions ensued, More borrowing money in his own name on Winwood’s behalf and taking on some of the bad debts himself.23 He seized the opportunity to acquire the lease of Micheldever manor, whose owner was the 3rd earl of Southampton, using the name of his friend the international financier Philip Burlamachi to foreclose on a mortgage. Another creditor considered this sharp practice, however, and told him that ‘he was a young man and new come into the world and that it behoved him to have a care to his reputation’.24

Winwood died in 1617, leaving his affairs seriously embroiled, and his widow, suspecting malversation, brought More into Star Chamber. On 29 Apr. 1618 the letter-writer John Chamberlain informed (Sir) Dudley Carleton* that ‘our friend little John More is in a peck of troubles ... about a juggling deed of gift (as is pretended)’. Although Chamberlain feared an immediate adverse decision, litigation continued for another 12 years.25 More’s standing at Court was unaffected; in the aftermath of Winwood’s sudden death, as he informed Trumbull, he ‘had much access to His Majesty and the earl of Buckingham’, and he laboured to ensure that both Trumbull and himself were well regarded by the new royal favourite, to whom the late secretary’s papers were transferred.26 It was perhaps through Buckingham’s favour that More, who was rumoured in 1619 to be in line for a knighthood, secured a reversion to the monopoly of printing books concerning the Common Law.27

More’s third marriage to the great-niece of (Sir) Hampden Paulet† gave him a connection with the Hampshire gentry, and may, together with his interest in the salt monopoly, have assisted in his election as a freeman of Lymington in 1620.28 No doubt anxious to gain a respite from litigation, he stood for the borough at the general election to the third Stuart Parliament in 1621, but was defeated by ten votes to five in a contest for the second seat, which was won by the debt-ridden lord of the manor, Henry Campion.29 On the death of Levinus Munck† in 1623, More was allowed to override the priority claimed by Humphrey May* in the reversions to the clerkship of the signet. Circumstantially this suggests that More may again have been assisted by Buckingham, now a duke, whose hatred of May was well known; the king said that ‘he knew Mr. More well, and, remembering his former services, in acknowledgement thereof gave him his hand to kiss’.30

More defeated Campion by three votes at the 1624 election, possibly with the support of his landlord, the earl of Southampton, who was anxious to strengthen the representation of the Virginia Company in the Commons.31 Regrettably, neither the Journal nor the diarists distinguish him from Samuel More* and Poynings More*. Although not formally appointed, More attended three meetings of the committee for a bill to regulate the activities of customs officers (24 Mar. 1624).32 In the debate of 12 Apr. on the repeal of statutes ‘Mr. More’ argued that ‘barley is the most necessary grain of all for the poor and others, and unfittest to be transported’; and therefore he would have export prohibited until the price fell very low.33 On 21 Apr. it was clearly the Hampshire MP who urged an increase in the quantity of wool to be exported to Guernsey, ‘alleging it was to keep 7,000 people at work, and that Hampshire had an overplus of wool which they could not vent’.34 On 5 May he spoke again on the subject, defending the Merchant Adventurers by arguing that ‘if we give liberty to all men to trade in dyed cloths, we must preserve order and government among them, or else we shall mar all trade’.35 It was probably More rather than one of his namesakes who was appointed to consider bills to regulate the activities of the clerk of the market (14 Apr.), and to reverse a decree in Chancery against the London Feltmakers (4 May); his final committee concerned a subject of which he had direct experience, petitions against new buildings (25 May).36 On 22 Feb. 1625, with Parliament in recess, More was arrested at the suit of one Henry Hodges.37 He had been released by April when he stood for Lymington again in the first general election of the new reign, and tied for the junior seat with the under-age son of Sir John Mill, 1st bt*. The mayor declined to give a casting vote, and left the decision to the Commons. No report was made from the Commons’ election committee; but while Parliament was in session at Oxford More asserted his parliamentary privilege by refusing to answer a summons to the assizes.38 After the dissolution he was assessed at £10 for the Privy Seal loan.39

More was re-elected at Lymington in 1626 without a contest. He is again difficult to distinguish from Poynings More in the records of this Parliament. In the debates on the embargo of the French merchant vessel St. Peter of Le Havre, it was doubtless he who argued on 23 Feb., and again on 1 Mar., that the French were at fault rather than the lord admiral, Buckingham, an early indication of his sympathy for the beleaguered royal favourite, and he proposed on 25 Feb. that impositions should be raised by parliamentary authority to finance coastal defence.40 On 27 Feb. he was granted privilege against further suits laid by Hodges.41 He was named, as ‘Mr. More’, to committees for bills to regulate the grant of outlawries (1 Mar.), and the construction of new buildings (4 Mar.), two sources of profit to himself.42 On 7 Mar. he was ordered to produce his salt patent before the grievance committee, and on 28 Mar. it was reported to be an illegal monopoly. On 5 May the House debated how to proceed, and after More had been directed to withdraw from the chamber the patent was unanimously judged a grievance. He was admonished by the Speaker not to procure any further such monopoly, and replied by joining in the general condemnation, agreeing on 25 May to a collusive action to annul the patent.43 Thereafter he was named to no further committees. On 20 May John Pym* informed the Commons that a verdict had been obtained against him in King’s Bench, perhaps by Lady Winwood. The House requested a stay of judgment while his case was considered by the privileges committee, but no report was ever made.44 On 3 June the grand committee to prepare a conference on the impeachment of the duke of Buckingham raised the subject of ‘new counsels’ in countries where representative bodies had been suppressed. More caused a scandal by declaring impulsively that it would be ‘impossible for a tyrant to bring this land to subjection, like that of France’; his intention was clearly to defend Buckingham, but many present were deeply alarmed by the treasonous implication of his words.45 He was cut short by Sir Richard Weston*, and although he denied any malice his words were reported to the House. It was accepted that his tongue had run away with him, and after some debate he was committed to the Tower.46 When his petition for release was read four days later, Weston informed the Commons that the king wished to spare him further punishment, and he was restored to his place.47

More’s outburst and the loss of his salt patent probably undermined his interest at Lymington, and he does not seem to have stood at the next election. After three decisions in Chancery, Lady Winwood lost her appeal to the Privy Council in 1632.48 In 1634 Star Chamber fined him £1,000 for his new buildings and ordered all 42 to be demolished. The sentence was rigorously enforced, and More was convinced he had been victimized for his ill-judged speech, despite his ‘zealous endeavours to ensure peace in the Parliament’.49 Nevertheless the newsmonger George Garrard* observed that he had ‘carried himself so foolishly and so peevishly that he deserves little commiseration’.50 Chancery dismissed his cases against legatees of his wife’s previous husbands, and the 4th earl of Southampton successfully sued him for arrears of rent.51 He died at Micheldever on 21 Aug. 1638. His will, drawn up at intervals over 18 years, excoriated Lady Winwood for allegedly cheating him. He left £100 p.a. for charitable uses, and annuities totalling £33 to servants. His wife, who was already well provided for, received her personal property and £200 per annum. After bequests to his brother and two nieces the rest of the estate went to his daughter Martha, who had married the Scottish courtier Sir Archibald Acheson.52 His stepson Simon Every sat for Leicester in the Short Parliament, but no other member of the family entered Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. PROB 6/9, f. 96.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. HMC Downshire, ii. 26.
  • 4. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxvi), 158.
  • 5. Ibid. 21; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 281.
  • 6. PROB 11/179, f. 278.
  • 7. St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 134.
  • 8. PROB 11/181, f. 362v.
  • 9. VCH Bucks. iv. 200; C78/394/4.
  • 10. C142/603/86.
  • 11. SP14/145/53.
  • 12. C66/2068.
  • 13. HMC Downshire, ii. 126; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, i. 497, iii. 42-43, iv. 157.
  • 14. C181/2, f. 309.
  • 15. Hants RO, 27M74A/DBC1, p. 122.
  • 16. HMC Buccleuch, i. 49-51, 102, 113, 123.
  • 17. Ibid. i. 98.
  • 18. HMC Downshire, ii. 273.
  • 19. Ibid. iv. 88, 105.
  • 20. C66/2018; HMC Downshire, v. 51-52, vi. 180, 503-4.
  • 21. Recs. Virg. Co. i. 497, iii. 42-43, iv. 157.
  • 22. APC, 1616-17, pp. 52, 107.
  • 23. Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer, ii. 35, 42; iii. 235, 239, 279-81, 301, 318, 331, 337, 349.
  • 24. STAC 8/259/18; Add. 39968, ff. 83v, 84.
  • 25. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 160; C78/284/6.
  • 26. HMC Downshire, vi. 321, 326, 332, 503.
  • 27. C66/2133; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 249; APC, 1629-30, p. 110.
  • 28. Berry, Hants Gen. 77; SP14/154/55.
  • 29. Hants RO, 27M74A/DBC1, p. 123.
  • 30. C231/4, f. 12; SP14/145/51, 52.
  • 31. C219/39/176; Hants RO, 27M74A/DBC1, pp. 135, 137; R.E. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, pp. 124-5.
  • 32. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 219.
  • 33. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 142v.
  • 34. ‘Pym 1624’, f. 74v.
  • 35. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 193.
  • 36. CJ, i. 698a, 711a, 766a.
  • 37. Procs. 1626, iii. 288.
  • 38. Procs. 1625, p. 598; Procs. 1626, ii. 134, 288.
  • 39. Add. 21922, f. 17.
  • 40. Procs. 1626, ii. 105, 109, 127, 131.
  • 41. Ibid. 134, 135, 139.
  • 42. Ibid. 158, 195.
  • 43. Ibid. 215, 217, 386-9; iii. 168-9, 174-5, 332, 334.
  • 44. Ibid. iii. 290, 296, 301, 304.
  • 45. Ibid, iii. 353, 357; HMC Lonsdale, 31.
  • 46. Procs. 1626, iii. 350, 358 361, 364.
  • 47. Ibid. 383, 384, 386.
  • 48. C78/284/6; PC2/41, f. 399.
  • 49. SP16/173/73, 16/266/15; HMC Cowper, ii. 47; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, iii. app. 66-67.
  • 50. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i 206, 243.
  • 51. C78/477/3.
  • 52. A.B. Milner, Micheldever, 227; PROB 11/179, f. 278; C142/603/86.