ZOUCHE, Richard (c.1589-1661), of Doctors' Commons, London and Oxford, Oxon.

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.1589, 6th but 3rd surv. s. of Francis Zouche† (d.1600) of Anstey, Wilts. and later of Shaftesbury, Wilts., and Phillipa, da. of George Ludlow of Hill Deverill, Wilts. educ. Winchester Coll. Hants c.1600; New Coll. Oxf. 1607, BCL 1614, DCL 1619; advocate 1618. m. 18 Dec. 1621, Sarah (d. 22 Mar. 1685), da. of John Hart, proctor, of Fulham, Mdx., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.).1 d. 1 Mar. 1661.

Offices Held

Fell. New Coll. 1609-22; member, coll. of advs. 1618-42,2 treas. 1627-8;3 adv. Ct. of Arches 1619;4 regius professor of Civil Law, Oxf. Univ. 1620-d.; fell. commr. of Wadham, Oxf. 1623-5;5 prin. of St. Alban Hall, Oxf. 1625-d.; assessor, Oxf. Univ. 1649-?d., asst. v.-chan. by 1657-at least 1659. 6

Freeman, Hythe, Kent 1621;7 commr. assurance, London 1622-at least 1626,8 commr. piracy London, Mdx., Surr., Kent and Essex 1623-at least 1635,9 Hants and I.o.W. 1635-6, Dorset 1642;10 chan. Oxford dioc. 1632-at least 1635;11 prebend of Shifton, Salisbury dioc. 1633-d.;12 commr. oyer and terminer, London and Mdx. 1639;13 j.p. Oxford 1642-?46;14 commr. visitation, Oxf. Univ. 1660-d.15

Acting king’s advocate 1623;16 judge, High Ct. of Delegates 1626-34;17 advocate, High Ct. of Admlty. 1626-at least 1628,18 judge 1641- 9 Dec. 1643, 8 Dec. 1643-?c.June 1646 (roy.), 4 Feb. 1661-d., principal official and commissary gen. (roy.) 1642.19


The Zouche family provided a knight of the shire for Northamptonshire as early as 1305. Zouche’s grandfather, a younger son of the 8th Lord Zouche, was the first to settle in Wiltshire, leasing Anstey in 1541 and sitting for Hindon six years later. Zouche himself was also a younger son, and after attending Winchester grammar school he trained in Civil Law at New College, Oxford, which awarded him his doctorate in 1619. He subsequently became one of the leading civil lawyers of his age, the royalist David Lloyd, for instance, describing him as ‘the living pandect of that law’.20 Less praiseworthy, perhaps, were his many works of poetry, many of them celebratory verses with a royal theme.21 One of his earliest published works appeared in 1613. Entitled The Dove or Passages of Cosmographie, it consisted of a world tour in verse and was dedicated to his cousin Edward, 11th Lord Zouche.

Zouche was appointed to the lectureship of Civil Law at Oxford in August 1620, but remained in close contact with Lord Zouche, now lord warden of the Cinque Ports.22 In November 1620 the latter nominated him for election to Parliament for the borough of Hythe, whose corporation was also persuaded to allow him to take the oath of a freeman in London.23 During the course of the third Jacobean Parliament Zouche made three speeches and was appointed to four committees. In his maiden speech (16 Mar. 1621), he persuaded the Commons that for Members to give evidence on oath before the House of Lords about the licensing of inns would not derogate from their privileges.24 On 5 May he contributed to the second reading debate on the seamarks bill.25 He pointed out on 7 May that by civil law Floyd, in insulting the king’s daughter as ‘Goody Palsgrave’, had insulted the king himself, and therefore the offence was punishable in Parliament.26 He was appointed to act as a spokesman at the conference with the Lords the following day.27 Subsequently he was named to three legislative committees, for the compulsory catechizing of children on Sunday afternoons (16 May), for prohibitions in cases of probate to be obtainable at the assizes (16 May), and for annexing the Staffordshire prebend of Freeford to the vicarage of St. Mary’s, Lichfield (29 May).28 After the long recess he opened the debate of 29 Nov. on the intestacy bill. In general he approved of the measure, but pointed out that no provision had been made for a creditor to take out letters of administration if none of the heirs desired them. He was the first Member named to the committee.29

Zouche was obliged to give up his New College fellowship on his marriage, and was elected fellow-commoner of Wadham. In February 1622 the lord warden intervened on his behalf with lord keeper Williams regarding a Chancery suit that was being spun out by an unnamed ‘powerful adversary’. Williams was asked to show favour to Zouche, ‘he being destitute of other means for his access to your lordship’.30 In June 1623 Zouche was ordered to act as the Crown’s advocate during the absence of Dr. Ryves, who was sent on an embassy to the imperial Diet.

On the recommendation of the lord warden, Zouche was re-elected for Hythe to the last Jacobean Parliament. He took little part in the Commons’ proceedings, his only two appointments being to consider a bill to confirm endowments of his college (9 Mar.) and to hear petitions against the president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and the master of Trinity College, Cambridge (28 April). He was the first Member named to the Wadham bill.31 His only speech, on 26 Feb. 1624, was on a bill to ease the subject concerning informations upon penal statutes. Zouche desired that a proviso be inserted, but was told that the measure did not extend to the Cinque Ports.32 He kept his cousin informed of proceedings in Parliament and, while in London, tried to find a buyer for the lord warden’s share in a ship.33

Following the appointment of the duke of Buckingham as lord warden in 1625, Zouche’s parliamentary career came to an end. However, he was mentioned in the Commons in 1626, when it was learned that he and another civil lawyer, Nicholas Steward*, had advised the East India Company two years earlier that Buckingham, as lord high admiral, was not entitled to a share in the spoils arising from the Company’s seizure of Hormuz.34 Buckingham did not thereafter harbour any ill-feeling towards Zouche; on the contrary, in November 1626 he appointed him advocate for the Admiralty. Moreover, in August 1627 the duke’s Admiralty secretary, Edward Nicholas*, attempted to obtain for Zouche the position of official to the bishop of London, but without success.35

Zouche was appointed principal of St. Alban Hall, Oxford in 1625, and as such took a leading part in the Laudian codification of the statutes of the university, which were submitted for approval in September 1633.36 Following Buckingham’s assassination in 1628 he was reappointed advocate of the Admiralty by the newly established admiralty commissioners, who continued to consult him on Admiralty affairs until at least the mid-1630s.37 In 1629 he published Elementa Jurispudentiae, the first of a series of short books on the Civil Law,38 and in 1632 he became chancellor to the bishop of Oxford. On the death of Sir Henry Marten* in September 1641 he was appointed judge of the High Court of Admiralty.

With his means of livelihood divided between London and Oxford, Zouche was in an unenviable position in the Civil War. Nevertheless, on the outbreak of hostilities he joined the king, who enhanced his position within the Admiralty in August 1642 by appointing him its principal official and commissary-general. In June 1643 the Parliament tried to lure him to London by issuing him with a pass,39 but he stayed in Oxford. Six months later the parliamentary lord admiral, the 2nd earl of Warwick (Sir Robert Rich*), installed Dr. William Sammes as judge of the High Court of Admiralty in his place. So far as the king was concerned, however, Zouche remained in office, and to underline the point he confirmed him in post. On 15 Apr. 1644 the parliamentary committee for the advancement of money ordered the goods belonging to Zouche in Doctors’ Commons to be inventoried; a buyer paid £10 for them the following October.40

Zouche continued to live in Oxford until the city surrendered in June 1646.41 After the war he compounded on the Oxford articles for £333 on various small properties and debts.42 After counselling resistance to the visitors appointed to reform Oxford University in May 1647, he apparently lost his chair, being described by the Commons in March 1648 as ‘late professor of the Civil Law in the University of Oxford’.43 However, he seems subsequently to have been reinstated. He also remained prosperous, for in 1649 he bestowed £1,000 upon one his daughters on her marriage.44

At the Restoration Zouche helped in the regulation of the university and was reappointed judge of the Admiralty Court. In his undated will he left his soul to ‘the mercy of almighty God, hoping for salvation’.45 He died at his house at Doctors’ Commons on 1 Mar. 1661 and was buried five days later at Fulham near his daughter. A treatise by Zouche on Admiralty jurisdiction, written to rebut the claims advanced in 1611 by Sir Edward Coke*, was published in 1663.46 Wood described Zouche as

an exact artist, a subtile logician, expert historian, and for the knowledge in, and practice of the Civil Law, the chief person of his time. ... As his birth was noble, so was his behaviour and discourse and as personable and handsome, so naturally sweet, pleasing and affable.

Zouche was the last of his family to sit in Parliament.47

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Peter Lefevre


  • 1. Harl. 5184, f. 1; Ath. Ox. iii. 510; Al. Ox.; Soc. Gen., Boyds London citizens 10278.
  • 2. B.P. Levack, Civil Lawyers of Eng. 282.
  • 3. G.D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 171.
  • 4. LPL, Reg. Abp. Abbot, ii. f. 177.
  • 5. Regs. Wadham College Oxf. 1613-1719 ed. R.B. Gardiner, 66.
  • 6. Historical Reg. of Univ. of Oxf. 1220-1900, pp. 42, 49, 573; CSP Dom. 1656-7, p. 389; Life and Times of Anthony Wood ed. A. Clark (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xix), 273.
  • 7. G. Wilks, The Barons of Cinque Ports, and Parlty. Rep. of Hythe, 69.
  • 8. C181/3, ff. 61, 128v; Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 26, 732.
  • 9. C181/3, ff. 79v, 176; 181/4, f. 139; 181/5, f. 27.
  • 10. C181/5, ff. 24, 58, 226v.
  • 11. Oxon. RO, DIOC/5/A/1, p. 82; DIOC/4/F/1, f .1.
  • 12. J. Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857 VI: Salisbury Dioc. comp. J. Horn, 70.
  • 13. C181/5, f. 130v.
  • 14. C231/5, f. 509; C181/5, f. 227; Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 79.
  • 15. Levack, 282.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 16.
  • 17. Levack, 282.
  • 18. Add. 37816, f. 184v; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 338.
  • 19. HCA 30/820/53; 24/215, untitled bundle of warrants, unnumbered patent dated 9 Dec. 1643 appointing William Sammes as judge; Docquets of Letters Patent, 110, 334-5; Admiralty Officials 1660-1870 comp. J.C. Sainty (Office-Holders in Modern Britain iv), 159.
  • 20. D. Lloyd, Mems. of the Lives (1668), p. 545.
  • 21. F. Madan, Oxf. Books, ii. 65, 72, 74, 84, 93, 103, 114, 120, 133, 142, 144, 149; iii. 33, 113.
  • 22. For his contact with Lord Zouche at this time, see CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 89, 180.
  • 23. Wilks, 69-70.
  • 24. CD 1621, ii. 235; v. 48, 303.
  • 25. CJ, i. 610a.
  • 26. CD 1621, iii. 353; v. 151.
  • 27. CJ, i. 614a.
  • 28. Ibid. 622a, 631a.
  • 29. Ibid. 650b; CD 1621, ii. 470; vi. 210.
  • 30. Add. 37818, f. 75v.
  • 31. CJ, i. 680a, 692b.
  • 32. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 25.
  • 33. Add. 37818, f. 146; CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 198, 215, 257, 262.
  • 34. Procs. 1626, iii. 19; Docs. Illustrating the Impeachment of Duke of Buckingham in 1626 ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. ser. 2. xlv), 85.
  • 35. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 304.
  • 36. K. Fincham, ‘Oxf. and the Early Stuart Polity’, Hist. of Univ. of Oxf. IV: Seventeenth-Cent. Oxf. ed. N. Tyacke, 201.
  • 37. CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 132; 1635-6, p. 238.
  • 38. For a more detailed discussion of this, and his subsequent publications, see Oxford DNB, lx. 1011-12.
  • 39. LJ, vi. 79a.
  • 40. CCAM, 291.
  • 41. SP23/192/633, 637.
  • 42. CCC, 1513.
  • 43. CJ, iii. 520b. cf. Ath. Ox. iii. 510.
  • 44. Herefs. RO, C99/AW28/31/4.
  • 45. PROB 11/303, f. 32v.
  • 46. Hale and Fleetwood on Admlty. Jurisdiction ed. M.J. Prichard and D.E.C. Yale (Selden Soc. cviii), pp. cxiii-cxiv.
  • 47. Life and Times of Anthony Wood, 383-4; Ath. Ox. iii. 511.