OXENBRIDGE, Sir Robert I (c.1568-1616), of Hurstbourne Priors, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1568, 1st s. of Robert Oxenbridge of Hurstbourne Priors and Barbara, da. of Sir Thomas White†, master of Requests 1553-8, of South Warnborough, Hants.1 educ. I. Temple 1592.2 m. 1595, Elizabeth (d.1645), da. and coh. of Sir Henry Cocks†, cofferer of the Household 1597-1610, of Broxbourne, Herts., wid. of Robert West† of Testwood, Hants and the I. Temple, 5s. 1da.3 suc. fa. 1591;4 kntd. ?Aug. 1600.5 d. 28 May 1616.6
?Member, Soc. of Antiqs. c.1592.7
Sheriff, Hants 1595-6,8 j.p. by 1596-d.,9 capt. militia ft. 1604, dep. lt. 1605-d.;10 kpr. Chute forest, Hants and Wilts. 1607-d.;11 commr. subsidy, Hants 1608,12 aid 1609, 1612,13 sewers, Suss. 1610-d.14
The Oxenbridge family originated in Sussex, moving to Hampshire when this Member’s grandfather Sir Robert†, lieutenant of the Tower under Mary, bought Hurstbourne Priors in 1558.15 Although the family were Catholics, Oxenbridge himself became an enthusiastic convert to Protestantism, perhaps while at the inns of court.16 He also used his time there to begin a collection of antiquarian tracts that suggests he may have been a member of the Society of Antiquaries.17 His marriage gave him not only the reversion to the bulk of the Broxbourne estate, but also a useful connection at Court. He was knighted in 1600 after generously furnishing light horses for service in Ireland.18
James I spent two nights at Hurstbourne in 1603 on his way to Southampton to welcome the Spanish embassy.19 Oxenbridge was returned for Hampshire in the following year. In the opening session of the Parliament he was among those named to attend the king concerning the Buckinghamshire election case, both on 28 Mar. and 12 Apr. 1604.20 He was twice appointed to help manage conferences on wardship (26 Mar., 22 May),21 and was named to the conference on Union with Scotland on 16 April. He was also instructed to help prepare for another such meeting on Bishop Thornborough’s book attacking the Commons for its lukewarm reception of the king’s proposals (1 June).22 He was among those appointed to recommend means of establishing a learned ministry (16 Apr.) and to consider a bill against scandalous and unworthy clergymen (12 June).23 His other appointments in this session included bill committees for poor relief (8 May), the prevention of usury (9 May), and three bills for the preservation of game (25 Apr.; 23 May; 30 May).24 On 31 May he was named to consider a bill concerning the expenses of the royal Household, and he was ordered to take care of this bill on 6 June, the day the committee was due to meet.25
When the second session opened after being delayed by the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, Oxenbridge was one of those ordered to consider how to prevent similar conspiracies (21 Jan. 1606).26 On the following day he was appointed to the committee for a bill for the better execution of penal statutes.27 Amid a general atmosphere of heightened distrust of Catholics, he delivered his maiden speech on 1 Feb., in which he related gossip he had heard from ‘a gentleman of very good worth’ that Sir William Maurice* had five times been seen attending Mass; he offered to disclose his sources, but was told that ‘the House took no hold of that speech’.28 Oxenbridge was ordered to consider John Hare’s radical bill to abolish purveyance (30 Jan.), and twice reported the bill concerning kerseys, on 12 Feb. and 19 March.29 He was again named to several committees for bills on religion. Among those topics covered were the regulation of ecclesiastical government (25 Feb.) and the prohibition of pluralism (5 March). He was also ordered to help prepare and manage a conference on the state of the church (10 April).30 On 22 Mar. a rumour reached the House that James had been murdered or seriously hurt. Oxenbridge moved that the House should dispatch messengers to discover the truth, and was sent to the king with Sir Maurice Berkeley and Sir Robert Needham.31 On 14 May he was again appointed to attend the king with the Commons’ grievances.32
In the third session Oxenbridge was appointed to consider a bill to regulate ecclesiastical courts (29 Nov. 1606), and to attend a conference on the articles for the Union.33 His other committee appointments included bills to speed up the payment of Crown debts (2 May), to augment Church endowments (15 May), and to apportion legal costs more fairly (16 May).34 On 18 May he was among those ordered to draft a petition on religion, and ten days later he was added to the committee for a bill to ensure better attendance among Members.35 He was also named to the committee for a bill to ratify the exchange of Hatfield and Theobalds (30 May), the latter of which adjoined his father-in-law’s property.36 During the Union debate on the abolition of hostile laws, Oxenbridge acted as teller in favour of a motion to allow both sides in a dispute to call witnesses (5 June), but the king had already expressed disapproval, and the motion was defeated.37 He successfully claimed privilege on 16 June over a property dispute with a Hampshire neighbour, the mother of Sir Thomas Lucy*.38 She may have felt a further grievance against him on behalf of her kinsman Sir Edmund Lucy of Kingswood Bury, who had married the other coheir to the Broxbourne estate, but was to receive little or nothing on Cocks’s death.39
In the fourth session, Oxenbridge’s first appointment was to attend the supply conference of 15 Feb. 1610.40 His committees included the revived pluralities bill (19 Feb.), the naturalization of the royal favourite Sir Robert Carr, later earl of Somerset (20 Feb.), a bill to avoid the double payment of debts (20 Feb.), and another to regulate the assignment of debts to the Exchequer (7 July).41 On 18 May he was named (twice) to the committee to examine Sir John Davies’ religion.42 He acted as teller on 26 June against the revived bill to ensure better attendance in the Commons.43 He was among those ordered at the end of the session to attend the king on 7 July with the list of grievances, and to recommend the distribution of the House’s Benevolence (18 July).44 His last committee, on 19 July, was to prepare for a conference on the Great Contract.45 There is no record of his activity in the brief fifth session.
Oxenbridge does not seem to have stood for Parliament again. With the loss of parliamentary privilege he had to appeal to the 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) for help in resisting Lucy’s claim to a fairer division of the Broxbourne estate.46 In the contested 1614 election he supported Sir Richard Tichborne*, showing his solidarity with the county’s religious conservatives.47
Oxenbridge died on 28 May 1616, and was buried at Hurstbourne.48 In his will, dated the previous 8 Feb., he left £60 to the poor of the neighbourhood and £10 to the church of Hurstbourne Priors. His daughter Ursula was bequeathed £280 and plate worth £1,000; the four younger sons received £200 each.49 He reminded his wife ‘how weak my means is to provide for my children during her life’; but she took the Broxbourne property out of the family for half a century by marrying Sir Richard Lucy†, perhaps in an endeavour to heal the feud.50 Oxenbridge’s son and heir, also Robert, sat for Whitchurch, two miles from Hurstbourne, three times in the 1620s, and was knight of the shire in 1624.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. Berry, Herts. Genealogies, 215.
- 2. I. Temple Admiss.
- 3. Suss. Arch. Colls. viii. 228-9, 231-2.
- 4. C142/230/53.
- 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 98.
- 6. C142/354/125.
- 7. Info. from Prof. Pauline Croft; Bodl. Tanner ms 85.
- 8. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 56.
- 9. SP13/Case F/11, f. 29v; C66/1988.
- 10. Whithed Letter Bk. (Hants Rec. ser. i), 27, 41.
- 11. E134/19Jas.I/Mich4.
- 12. SP14/31/1.
- 13. SP14/43/107; Harl. 354, f. 68; E403/2732, f. 51v.
- 14. C181/2, ff. 134v, 247v.
- 15. Suss. Arch. Colls. viii. 228-9, 231-2; VCH Hants, iv. 287-9.
- 16. H. Foley, Jesuit Recs. vii. pt. 1, p. 562; J. Mennes, Musarum Deliciae, 69.
- 17. Bodl. Tanner mss 84, 85, 108.
- 18. APC, 1599-1600, p. 439; 1601-4, p. 279.
- 19. Nichols, Progs. Jas. I, i. 250.
- 20. CJ, i. 157a, 169b.
- 21. Ibid. 154b, 222b.
- 22. Ibid. 172a, 230a.
- 23. Ibid. 173a, 237a.
- 24. Ibid. 202b, 204b, 184a, 224a, 229a.
- 25. Ibid. 983a, 986b.
- 26. Ibid. 257b.
- 27. Ibid. 258a.
- 28. Bowyer Diary, 18.
- 29. CJ, i. 261b, 267a, 286b.
- 30. Ibid. 274a, 277b, 296b.
- 31. Bowyer Diary, 89; CJ, i. 288b.
- 32. CJ, i. 309a.
- 33. Ibid. 326b.
- 34. Ibid. 366a, 374a, b.
- 35. Ibid. 375a, 376a.
- 36. Ibid. 377a.
- 37. Ibid. 379b.
- 38. Ibid. 383b, 384a.
- 39. PROB 11/115, f. 351; Lansd. 486, f. 124; VCH Herts. iii. 225, 432.
- 40. CJ, i. 393b.
- 41. Ibid. 396b, 397b, 447a.
- 42. Ibid. 429b.
- 43. Ibid. 443b.
- 44. Ibid. 447a, 451b.
- 45. Ibid. 452a.
- 46. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 84.
- 47. STAC 8/293/11.
- 48. C142/345/125; Harl. 1368, f. 31.
- 49. PROB 11/129, f. 124.
- 50. VCH Herts. iii. 432.