COURTHOPE, George (1616-85), of Whiligh, Ticehurst, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 3 June 1616, 1sts. of Sir George Courthope of Whiligh by 1st w. Alice, da. of Sir George Rivers of Chafford, Kent. educ. Westerham g.s. (Mr Walter) 1623-30; Merchant Taylors’ 1630-2; Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1632-6, BA 1635; travelled abroad (Italy, Near East) 1636-9. m. 12 July 1643, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Edward Hawes, merchant, of London, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1642; kntd. 24 Apr. 1661.

Offices Held

Commr. for alienations 1642-53, 1654-77; gent. pens. June 1660-d.2

J.p. Suss. 1646-9, 1656-d., dep. lt. Aug. 1660-d., commr. fair assessment Aug. 1660-80, sewers, Rother marshes Oct. 1660, Wittersham marshes Dec. 1660, loyal and indigent officers, Suss. 1662.


Courthope’s ancestors were living on the Kent-Sussex borders by the end of the 13th century and acquired Whiligh by marriage in 1515. The family served on the alienations commission from the reign of Elizabeth until its abolition in 1833. Although Courthope’s sympathies were royalist, he remained in London with the King’s permission throughout the Civil War to save his office. In 1656 he became the only member of this branch of his family to be elected to Parliament. He was returned for East Grinstead at the general election of 1660, but he was not an active Member of the Convention. He was named to eight committees, including those to consider the legal forms of the Restoration and the militia bill. He made no recorded speeches, but doubtless voted with the Court, having sued out a pardon under the great seal. He was re-elected in 1661, but he was again inactive in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was appointed to the committee for the corporations bill and to 39 others of less importance. He was marked as a court dependant in 1664, and obtained the King’s permission to accompany his son to France in the following year only on condition of returning in time for the autumn session. But he defaulted in attendance in 1671, and was noted as absent in the list of officials in 1675. His name appeared on the working lists, and was marked ‘vile’ by Shaftesbury in 1677. Feeling the weight of his years, he was allowed to hand over his office to his son. He was unable to attend in 1678 for reasons of health, though he was included in the government list of court supporters. On 17 Dec. he was ordered to be sent for in custody. The serjeant-at-arms accepted a gratuity of £20 and promised to report to the House that he could not undertake the journey to London without danger to his life. Convinced that ‘retiredness is more safe than business’, Courthope did not stand again, and applied himself to studying ‘the art of dying well’. He died on 18 Nov. 1685, and was buried at Ticehurst. The next member of the family to enter Parliament was Sir George Loyd Courthope, first returned for Rye in 1906 and ultimately Father of the House.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / B. M. Crook


This biography is based on Courthope’s memoirs (Cam. Misc. xi. 95-157).

  • 1. Excluded.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 647; Beaufort mss. 600-2.
  • 3. J. A. Wooldridge, Danny Archives, xiv; J. Comber, Suss. Genealogies Lewes, 85; CJ, ix. 197.