SACKVILLE, John (1591-1661), of Dorset Court, Fleet Street, London and Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent

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

bap. 25 July 1591,1 2nd s. of John Sackville† (d.1619), of Brede Place, Suss. and Joan, da. and coh. of John Downton of Sedlescombe, Suss.2 educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 1608.3 m. c.1627,4 Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir William Walter* of Wimbledon, Surr., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. (3 d.v.p).5 kntd. 16 Apr. 1628.6 bur. 27 Mar. 1661.7

Offices Held

Capt. of ft. Dutch army by 1622-7.8

Freeman, Rye, Suss. 1625;9 commr. new buildings, London 1630;10 j.p. Suss. 1642;11 commr. array, Kent and Suss. 1642.12

Housekeeper to 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*) by 1642.13


Sackville’s father, first cousin of Thomas Sackville† (later lord treasurer and 1st earl of Dorset), was probably returned for East Grinstead in 1563 at his powerful kinsman’s nomination.14 An ironmaster in the Sussex Weald, the 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*) wrote in 1628 that he had ‘lived nobly many years in the country’ at Brede, seven miles west of Rye, and subsequently near to Sedlescombe, ‘beloved by all’, before his death in 1619.15 Sackville was a younger son, but nevertheless inherited all the household goods and farm stock at Sedlescombe, together with a manor in the nearby parish of Westfield and a lease of the parsonage there from the 3rd earl of Dorset. He may already have embarked on a military career; by September 1622 he was serving as captain in the regiment of Sir Edward Cecil* in the service of the Dutch republic.16 A year later he was keeping Sir Dudley Carleton*, the ambassador to The Hague, informed of the antics of English volunteers in the Dutch camp.17

In 1625 the 4th earl of Dorset recommended Sackville, presumably on leave, to the Rye corporation for election to the first Caroline Parliament.18 In addition to having Dorset’s support, Sackville was in possession of the rectory and advowson of Rye, probably as Dorset’s under-tenant, and, with the prolonged absence at Oxford of the town’s antiquarian vicar, Brian Twyne, the parish needed Sackville to provide them with a suitable curate. Consequently, despite reservations that Sackville might be suddenly recalled to military service on the continent, the corporation agreed to elect him. ‘Being here then present’, Sackville took his oath as a freeman and proceeded to Westminster to attend the first Caroline Parliament. On 22 June he wrote to the corporation from Dorset House ‘touching your desire for the procuring of you a good curate. Know I have not been unmindful of you, but have dealt with Mr. Twyne about it, and assure yourselves (if you please to have a little patience) I shall provide you of a sufficient one’. Even if their first choice proved unavailable, he promised they would not be asked to accept any man they disliked.19 In Parliament, his only appointment committee (8 July) was for the bill to empower the deceased 3rd earl of Dorset’s trustees, (Sir) George Rivers* and Richard Amherst*, to sell further land for the payment of debts. He made no recorded speeches.20

Re-elected in 1626, Sackville received two committee appointments, one to consider the bill against adultery and fornication (4 Mar.) and, ten days later, another to draft legislation for the finding of arms and horses. He again made no recorded speeches, and probably returned to his regiment for the campaigning season. He was absent at the call of the House on 2 June.21

In the following year Sackville retired from the army to marry the daughter of one of Buckingham’s bitterest critics, Sir William Walter, who disapproved of the match.22 He also forwarded to Buckingham an application from the corporation of Rye for assistance with the town’s defences.23 On 1 Feb. 1628 Dorset wrote to them to the effect that Sackville was now free of military commitments and consequently ‘has nothing to do but to serve you’ and asserted that if the last two Parliaments had lasted longer Sackville ‘might have done you more service than he did’. The earl added that ‘this last term ... (by his pains and importuning his noble friends) he hath done you, a courtesy not ordinary in these times’, suggesting that Sackville had lobbied for the brief to raise money for repairing the town’s harbour which was issued six days later. Nevertheless, Sackville was not re-elected and failed to find another seat elsewhere, despite Dorset’s assertion that ‘he might be chosen in other places’.24

Sackville obtained a knighthood in April 1628 and the following year was involved in a project for the erection of a lighthouse on Goodwin Sands.25 However, Sackville’s father-in-law left his daughter no land on his death in 1632, ‘in respect of her disobedience’, although she did receive an annuity of £80.26 By 1640 Sackville had taken up residence at Dorset’s house at Knole. Dorset originally recommended him to Rye as a candidate for the Short Parliament, but later accepted that ‘his occasions are such that he cannot so act without much prejudice to his fortune’.27

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Sackville, by now described as Dorset’s housekeeper, was charged with collecting arms and money for the king, for which he was imprisoned in the Fleet. No doubt he was a royalist sympathizer, like his cousin; but no delinquency could be proved against him and he never compounded.28 He made his will on 20 Aug. 1654, but survived to see the Restoration and was buried at St. Bride’s, Fleet Street on 27 Mar. 1661. Sackville’s youngest son Edward† briefly represented East Grinstead in the first Exclusion Parliament until he was expelled for calling the ‘Popish Plot’ scaremonger, Titus Oates, a lying rogue.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Peter Lefevre


  • 1. E. Suss. RO, Sedlescombe par. reg.
  • 2. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 183; HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 313-14.
  • 3. Al. Ox.
  • 4. Letters of John Holles ed. P.R. Seddon (Thoroton Rec. Soc. xxxv), 371.
  • 5. Vis. Suss. 183; Cent. Kent. Stud., Sevenoaks par. reg.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 194.
  • 7. Suss. N and Q, x. 18.
  • 8. C. Dalton, Life and Times of Gen. Sir Edward Cecil, ii. 15; Procs. 1628, vi. 161.
  • 9. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/11, f. 67.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 115.
  • 11. C231/5, p. 532.
  • 12. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 13. HMC Cowper, ii. 321.
  • 14. HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 313-14.
  • 15. Horsfield, Suss. 514; Procs. 1628, vi. 160-1.
  • 16. VCH Suss. ix. 92; PROB 11/134, f. 303v.
  • 17. Dalton, ii. 45-6.
  • 18. Procs. 1625, p. 697.
  • 19. Procs. 1628, vi. 160-1; G. Slade Butler, ‘Vicars of Rye and their Patrons’ Suss. Arch. Colls. xviii. 274; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 174; RYE 1/11, ff. 67, 100v.
  • 20. Procs. 1625, p. 350.
  • 21. Procs. 1626, ii. 196, 279; iii. 347.
  • 22. Letters of John Holles, 371.
  • 23. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 220.
  • 24. Procs. 1628, vi. 160-1; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 181, 189.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 134.
  • 26. PROB 11/164, f. 137.
  • 27. CSP Dom. 1639-40, p. 526; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 209-10.
  • 28. A. Fletcher, County Community in Peace and War, 284; A.M. Everitt, Community of Kent and the Gt. Rebellion, 109, 111-12.
  • 29. PROB 11/308, f. 23; Suss. N and Q, x. 18.