COWPER, James (1622-83), of Westminster.

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



24 Mar. 1659

Family and Education

bap. 8 Dec. 1622, 5th s. of Sir William Cowper, 1st Bt. (d.1664) of Ratling Court, Nonington, Kent by Martha, da. of James Master of East Langdon, Kent. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1640; L. Inn 1643, called 1650. m. 9 May 1657, Anne (d. 2 July 1710), da. of John Wroth of Loughton, Essex, 2s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Commr. for militia, Herts. Mar. 1660, j.p. Mar. 1660-78; commr. for over and terminer, Home circuit July 1660, assessment, Herts. Aug. 1660-1.2


Cowper’s great-grandfather was a London Dyer who died in 1569. His father, ‘an eminent lover of the Church’, obtained a lease of Hertford Castle from James I and a baronetcy and office from Charles I. He was imprisoned as a Royalist during the Civil War and claimed to have lost £17,000, although all that can be traced is a payment of £500 at Haberdashers’ Hall. Cowper himself took no part in the Civil War, during which he qualified as a lawyer, but he became a property developer during the Interregnum in association with the father of Andrew Henley. In 1656 he became the first member of his family to sit in Parliament. Hence he was outside the scope of the Long Parliament ordinance against the candidature of Cavaliers and their sons, and was re-elected for Hertford at the general election of 1660. He was totally inactive in the Convention, although he probably voted with the Court. He never stood again, and was buried at St. Michael’s, Cornhill on 8 Aug. 1683. His widow married the fourth Earl of Suffolk, but none of his descendants entered Parliament.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / E. R. Edwards


  • 1. VCH Herts. Fams. 136; Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 194.
  • 2. Herts. County Recs. vi. 321.
  • 3. L. Inn Black Bks. ii. 415-23, 467, 469.