PUCKERING (formerly NEWTON), Sir Henry, 2nd Bt. (1618-1701), of The Priory, Warwick.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
bap. 13 Apr. 1618, o.s. of Sir Adam Newton, 1st Bt., of Charlton, Kent by Katherine, da. of Sir John Puckering† of Weston, Herts., ld. keeper 1592-6. educ. Eton 1630-1; I. Temple 1632; travelled abroad 1635. m. Elizabeth (d.1689), da. of Thomas Murray of Berkhamstead, Herts., 4s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 13 Jan. 1630, cos. Jane Bale at Warwick Priory 1652.1
Servant to Charles I by 1640-6; paymaster of the forces 1676-9.2
J.p. Kent by 1641-6, Warws. July 1660-81; commr. of array, Kent 1642; commr. for oyer and terminer, Midland circuit July 1660; dep. lt. Warws. c. Aug. 1660-81, 1686-7; commr. for assessment, Warws. Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, Warwick Sept. 1660-1, corporations, Warws. 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662.3
Capt. of horse (royalist) 1643, maj. 1644-6.4
Puckering’s father was a Scot of obscure origins, who emigrated to France, where he apparently took orders in the Roman Catholic Church and taught at a college in Poitou. On returning to Scotland he changed his religion, and became first tutor and then secretary to Prince Henry, dean of Durham from 1605 to 1618, receiver-general to Prince Charles and secretary to the council in the marches. He bought Charlton in 1606, where he built ‘a goodly, brave house’. Puckering was in arms for the King in the first Civil War, serving as a cavalry officer in the regiment commanded first by Lord Capel and then by Col. Mark Trevor. When the western army surrendered at Truro, he was one of the 40 diehard Royalists allowed to pass to the King and go into exile; but his wife had already been negotiating with Parliament on his behalf and he compounded in 1646. His particular showed the gross income of the Charlton estate at £460 p.a., with expectations of another £350 p.a. if his cousin died without issue, and his fine was fixed at £1,273 on the Exeter articles. Information was given in June 1648 that he intended to join the Royalists in Essex, but after a week’s imprisonment he was released on undertaking to live quietly in the country, and he is not known to have taken any part in Cavalier plotting. He assumed the name of Puckering on succeeding to Warwick Priory, ‘a melancholy old seat’ where he took up residence in 1656. ‘Too good housekeeping’ and his losses in the King’s cause compelled him to sell Charlton for £8,500.5
Puckering as a Cavalier was ineligible at the general election of 1660, but he gave active support to the two successful candidates for Warwickshire, Thomas Archer and George Browne. He was himself returned in 1661 with his close friend Sir Robert Holte, and became a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, serving on 162 committees, including those for the corporations and uniformity bills, the bill of pains and penalties, and the bill for the execution of those under attainder. He seldom spoke, but he acted as teller in six divisions, including those on 18 May 1663 against prohibiting the sale of titles and on 9 Nov. 1666 for the appointment of a public accounts commission, for which he considered that Members should be eligible. Before the next session he wrote to Holte:
Provide your purse, and send it into the ‘Chequer; the Dutch cannot be beat without it. And let me know what time you think of going up to London that we may meet before. I will be there at the first sitting (God willing), and so must everyone that will do good.
But in fact he took no ascertainable part in the proceedings against Clarendon, or in his defence, and his name does not appear on the lists of the court party in 1669-71. He was probably a country Cavalier, acting as teller against the Court on a procedural motion on 18 Feb. 1670. His first recorded speech was on 4 Apr., when he opposed the sale of fee-farm rents, hoping that a bill for the resumption of crown lands might be brought in ‘by to-morrow morning’.6
Puckering was a strong opponent of dissent, and, according to a rumour put about after he had quarrelled with the Warwick corporation, had been seen at Mass at Weston Hall, the home of the recusant Sheldons. But in the 1671 session he appears to have left it to Holte to give the House an account of the impudence of the local conventiclers. In the debate on the hearth-tax on 20 Jan. 1674, he moved for the exemption of smiths’ forges. But he had gone over to the Court before the autumn session of 1675, for which he received the government whip from both secretaries. He promised to attend, and was appointed to the committee for the appropriation of the customs to the use of the navy. He spoke in favour of building 30 warships. He disliked the proposal that Members should be compelled to disclose what rewards they had received from the crown. ‘This neither becomes your prudence nor gratitude’, he said. ‘The King is a liberal prince, who rewards services’. But although Puckering’s name was included in the list of officials in this session, it was not until the following year that he succeeded (Sir) Stephen Fox in the ‘unexpected employment’ of paymaster, with a salary of £400 p.a.He was acutely conscious of his lack of experience and ability, but the duties of the office were performed by his deputy, Lemuel Kingdon; Puckering, as noticed in A Seasonable Argument, had the more congenial task of entertaining the Members, ‘which, called up from his retirement in Warwickshire, made him take to the extravagance of a courtier’s life’. Sir Richard Wiseman included him among the reliable government supporters, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’. But, although included in the list of government speakers, on the working lists he was marked ‘silent’. In 1677 he presented Holte’s petition for privilege and acted as teller against the motion that would have denied it. His most important committee in this session was on the bill to prevent illegal exactions; but he was also teller against adding a reference to the Dutch alliance in the address of 25 May. He was among those Members most forward in Lauderdale’s support in 1678, calling forth a rebuke from (Sir) Thomas Meres for using the word ‘cocksure’. He was appointed to the committee to summarize foreign alliances, and in the last session took part in the inquiry into the Popish Plot. His name appeared on both lists of the court party.7
Puckering had to step down to the borough seat for the first Exclusion Parliament. He was marked ‘vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list, and voted against the bill, but his only committee was to inquire into abuses in the Post Office. He lost his place to Fox after the fall of Danby, and as one of the Members blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’ probably never stood again, though he continued to be consulted by the Government over the affairs of the borough. He wrote in 1685 of the ‘incidents of old age’ which afflicted him, and which, together with his impaired fortune, may have made retirement from public life desirable. He died on 22 Jan. 1701, aged 83, and was buried at St. Mary’s, Warwick. In settling his estate he passed over his own paternal cousins in favour of his wife’s niece, the widow of Sir John Bowyer, who sold it eight years later.8
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: A. M. Mimardière
- 1. PCC 112 Scrope; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 353; 1641-3, p. 473; Drake, Hundred of Blackheath, 142-3.
- 2. SP16/447/36; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 126; vi. 70.
- 3. P. Styles, Corp. of Warwick, 25.
- 4. HMC 12th Rep. IX, 39, 42, 44.
- 5. Halkett Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xiii) 10-11; SP23/184, ff. 451-85; CSP Dom. 1648-9, pp. 106, 127; Evelyn Diary, iii. 182; Drake, 121.
- 6. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Hewell mss, Puckering to Archer, 1 Mar. 1660; CJ, viii. 661; A. Davidson, Holtes of Aston, 29; Grey, i. 266.
- 7. SP29/173/83, 287/63; Grey, ii. 317; iii. 324, 369; iv. 77; v. 367; Browning, Danby, i. 196; Eg. 3329, f. 70; HMC Egmont Diary, i. 198; CJ, ix. 411; Lauderdale Pprs. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxxviii), 131.
- 8. HMC 12th Rep. IX, 38; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1700-15, p. 6; VCH Warws. vi. 162.