NORTH, Sir Dudley (1602-1677), of Kirtling, Cambs.

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.)

Family and Education

b. c.Nov. 1602, 1st s. of Dudley, 3rd Lord North, and Frances, da. and coh. of Sir John Brocket† of Brocket Hall, Wheathampstead, Herts.2 educ. St. John’s, Camb. c.1619, Padua 1624; G. Inn 1619; I. Temple 1622; travelled abroad (Italy, France, Spain) 1622-4.3 m. 24 Apr. 1632 (with £4,000), Anne (bur. 15 Feb. 1681), da. and coh. of Sir Charles Montagu* of Cranbrook, Barking, Essex, 7s. (1 d.v.p.), 7da. (4 d.v.p.).4 KB 3 Nov. 1616;5 suc. fa. as 4th Lord North 16 Jan. 1666. d. 24 June 1677.6

Offices Held

?Lt. Palatinate c.1620-2;7 capt. of ft. Neths. 1624-7.8

Member, Guiana Co. 1627.9

Commr. new buildings, London 1630,10 sewers, Gt. Fens 1635-at least 1646, 1654, Isle of Ely 1644, Cambs. 1645, 1669, Lincs. and Newarke hundred Notts. 1654-at least 1670, Lincs. 1660;11 j.p. Cambs. 1638-at least 1660, 1662-at least 1664, Ely by 1650-58, Suff. by 1650-53, by 1660-at least 1664;12 commr. oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1639-42, 1654-at least 1673, Cambs. 1640;13 dep. lt. Cambs. 1639-40, 1642;14 commr. disarming recusants, Cambs. 1641,15 subsidy 1642,16 assessment 1643-8, 1657, Cambs. and Suff. 1660-6; commr. sequestration, Cambs. 1643, levying money 1643, defence, Eastern Assoc. 1643, New Model Ordinance, Cambs. 1645,17 gaol delivery, Isle of Ely 1645, 1654-8,18 militia, Cambs. and Suff. 1648, 1660, drainage, Bedford level 1649;19 freeman, Cambridge, Cambs. 1660; commr. pontage, Cambridge 1663,20 complaints, Bedford level 1663.21

Commr. relief of the king’s army and Northern counties 1641, raising and levying money for the defence of Eng. and Ire. 1642,22 regulating excise 1645, scandalous offences 1646, 1648, obstructions to sale of bps’ lands 1648.23


The 1st Lord North (Edward North†), the son of a London merchant, made his fortune as chancellor of Augmentations under Henry VIII, and was ennobled by Mary after sitting in at least three parliaments for Cambridgeshire.24 North’s father, succeeding to the peerage as a minor, is best known as the discoverer of the waters of Tunbridge Wells.25 According the family history written by North’s son Roger†, the 3rd Lord North ‘consumed the greatest part of his estate in the gallantries of King James’s Court, or rather his son Prince Henry’s’, and thereafter lived a retired country life. The same sources states that North was ‘bred ... after the best manner’.26 North himself wrote, in a memoir compiled in later life, that he spent, ‘or rather lost’, several years at Cambridge, and then had ‘a taste of the Court’, but was soon withdrawn by his father, ‘knowing by dear experience the air of that place to be such as few elder brothers can long breath there without falling into a consumption’.27

It is possible that North fought in the Palatinate under Sir Horace Vere in the early 1620s, as in 1625 he was included in a list of lieutenants who had served there. However, North himself makes no mention of this, stating that, after a period of idleness in London, he persuaded his father to send him to travel abroad. In December 1622 he obtained the necessary licence and ‘in less than two years’ he ‘had a view of the best part of Italy, France and Spain, being present at Madrid and Paris when the several marriages for our prince of Wales were treated on’. In October 1624 he was admitted to the University of Padua, but probably did not stay there long, having secured a commission in the regiment raised by the 18th earl of Oxford for service in the Low Countries by the previous June. According to his own account, he commanded an infantry company for three years. ‘And there I ran hazard again of being lost in debauchery, and especially in the vice-rampant of that people. But by God’s grace I came home scot-free, though I served under a Scotch colonel’.28

In 1627 North was among the adventurers in the new Guiana Company formed by his uncle, Capt. Roger North. This may have brought him into contact with the earl of Arundel who had backed one of Capt. North’s previous expeditions.29 In the following year North was returned for Arundel’s borough of Horsham. He received three committee appointments, but made no recorded speeches in the 1628 Parliament. He was named to attend the conference with the Lords on 21 Mar. about the petition for a fast, and he was a natural choice for the committee to draft an arms bill three days later. He was also appointed, on 17 May, to consider a jointure bill for the niece of his friend (Sir) Christopher Neville*. He left no impression on the records of the 1629 session. Years later, recording his membership of four parliaments, he wrote that ‘the service and approaches were excessive chargeable, and of no profit as to my particular’.30

North’s father settled £4,000 on him at his marriage, but seems to have been reluctant to allow him an independent establishment, although he charged him £200 per annum for his board at the family seat at Kirtling in Cambridgeshire, which was later doubled. Even after he had purchased a house at Tostock in Suffolk in 1638, costing over £6,000, his father would often summon him back to Kirtling, ‘a very great hindrance to me in my whole course’.31

Roger North described his father as ‘knowing in books of all sorts’, and North certainly wrote on various subjects, including an account of the 1st Lord North and a tract on household economy. His writings on politics and religion, in which he emphasized his own moderation, date from the latter years of his life, when he was trying to rehabilitate himself after the Restoration, and so may not reflect his earlier beliefs.32

In the mid-1630s North developed a lasting interest in fen drainage.33 He was returned for Cambridgeshire at both elections in 1640 and, like his father, took the side of Parliament in the Civil War, though (by his own later account) with reservations. He sat for Cambridge in the Convention Parliament, and succeeded his father in 1666. He made his will on 25 May 1675, added a codicil on 22 Sept. 1676 and died nine months later. He was buried at Kirtling on 27 June 1677. Of his large and gifted family, his eldest son was summoned to the Lords in 1673 as 1st Lord Grey of Rolleston, and three of his younger sons sat in the Commons, one of them, Francis North†, became lord keeper and was created 1st Lord Guildford in 1683.34

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648; readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 169-70; CP, ix. 656.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; H.F. Brown, Inglesi e Scozzesi all’Universit√† di Padova dall’anno 1618 sino al 1765, p. 145; GI Admiss.; I. Temple database of admiss.; APC, 1621-3, p. 376; D. North, Observations and Advices Oeconomical (1669), sig. A4-v.
  • 4. CP, ix. 657; D.B.J. Randall, Gentle Flame, 48; Baker, Northants. i. 527.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 160
  • 6. CP, ix. 656-7.
  • 7. CSP Ire. 1647-60, p. 47; Randall, 35-7.
  • 8. Bodl. North a.2, f. 272; North, Observations, sig. A4.
  • 9. English and Irish Settlement on the River Amazon ed. J. Lorimer (Hakluyt Soc. ser. 2 clxxi), 292.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 114.
  • 11. C181/5, ff. 9v, 214v, 242v, 256, 269; 181/6, pp. 26, 37, 322; 181/7, pp. 76, 462, 522, 544.
  • 12. C231/5, p. 275; 231/7, p. 181; C193/13/3; 193/13/5; 193/12/3; Perfect List of all such Persons as by Commn. under the Gt. Seal of Eng. are now Confirmed to be Custos Rot., Justices of Oyer and Terminer, Justices of the Peace and Quorum (1660), p. 50.
  • 13. C181/5, ff. 142, 177, 218; 181/6, p. 16; 181/7, p. 634.
  • 14. Harl. 4014, ff. 31v, 47v; Bodl. North c.44(25).
  • 15. C.H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 316.
  • 16. SR, v. 149.
  • 17. A. and O. i. 90, 111, 146, 293, 538, 621, 637, 967, 1078; ii. 1063; SR, v. 210, 219, 528, 540.
  • 18. C181/5, f. 258; 181/6, pp. 20, 284.
  • 19. A. and O. i. 1234, 1243; ii. 139, 1427, 1443
  • 20. Cooper, iii. 477, 513.
  • 21. SR, v. 506.
  • 22. Ibid. 78, 167.
  • 23. A. and O. i. 691, 853, 1209, 1227.
  • 24. HP Commons, 1509-58, iii. 21-3.
  • 25. T.B. Burr, Hist. Tunbridge Wells, 11.
  • 26. R. North, Lives of the Right Hon. Francis North, Baron Guilford; the Hon. Sir Dudley North; and the Hon. and Rev. Dr. John North ed. A. Jessopp, i. 5-6.
  • 27. North, sig. A3v.
  • 28. North, Observations, sig. A4-v6.
  • 29. J.A. Williamson, English Colonies in Guiana and on the Amazon, 83.
  • 30. CD 1628, ii. 42, 78; iii. 447; ‘North pprs.’ ed. C.M. Borough (Bodl. unpub. cal.), 18-19; North, Observations, sig. A4v.
  • 31. North, Lives, iii. 67, 311-12; Bodl. North c.4, f. 50; North, Observations, 98, 116, 119, 121.
  • 32. North, Lives, iii. 284; Oxford DNB.
  • 33. North, Lives, iii. 311; Bodl. North c.4, f. 13; CSP Dom. 1637, p. 184; 1637-8, p. 151.
  • 34. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 286; North, Observations, sig. A4v; North, Lives, iii. 285; PROB 11/354, f. 206; CP, vi. 143; ix. 657; HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 149-56.