MAINWARING, Sir Arthur (c.1580-1648), of Pyrford, Surr.; later of Sayes Park, Chertsey, Surr.

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.1580,1 1st s. of Sir George Mainwaring† of Ightfield, Salop and Anne, da. of Sir William More† of Loseley, Surr.; bro. of Sir Henry*.2 educ. Brasenose, Oxf. BA 1598, MA 1601;3 m. (1) settlement 20 May 1613, Margaret (d. 1 May 1632), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Dennys of Holcombe Burnell, Devon, s.p.;4 (2) settlement 22 July 1634, Grisell, da. of Sir David Woodroffe of Poyle, Farnham, Surr., wid. of Sir Francis Clark of Hitcham, Bucks., 2s. (1 d.v.p.), 1da.;5 1-3 ch. illegit. by Ann Turner.6 kntd. 11 May 1603;7 suc. cousin Sir Francis Wolley† 1609, fa. 1628.8 d. 29 Dec. 1648.9 sig. Art[hur] Maynwaringe.

Offices Held

Steward to Ld. Chancellor Ellesmere (Sir Thomas Egerton†), 1602-17.10

Collector subsidy, nobility 1603-4, 1606-10;11 carver, Prince Henry’s Household by 1604-12;12 clerk of the pipe 1610-16;13 gent. privy chamber, Prince Charles’s Household 1613-25,14 king’s Household 1625-at least 1643.15

Member, Virg. Co. 1610;16 N.W. Passage Co. 1612.

Steward, Ottery St. Mary, Devon 1613-by 1621;17 j.p. Surr. 1614-at least 1636, Berks. and Bucks. 1636;18 v.-adm., duchy of Cornw. estates, Devon 1619;19 commr. subsidy, Surr. 1621-2, 1624, Bucks. and Surr. 1641,20 Forced Loan, Surr. 1626-7;21 gamekeeper, Oatlands Park, Surr. 1628-?42;22 lt. Windsor castle and forest, Berks. 1628-?42;23 commr. sewers, Gt. Fens 1629, 1631, Lincs. fens by 1629-34, Surr. 1632,24 limiting badgers, Surr. 1630,25 Poll Tax, Bucks. and Surr. 1641, assessment Bucks. and Surr. 1642, Irish aid, Surr. 1642,26 array Surr. 1642.27


A cadet branch of the family of Over Peover, Cheshire, the Shropshire Mainwarings established themselves at the end of the fifteenth century by marriage with the heiress of Ightfield.28 The MP’s grandfather and namesake served as shire knight for Shropshire in 1559 and acquired an estate in Cheshire through his marriage to one of his Peover cousins; his son was also returned for Shropshire in 1572, and thereafter played a major role in county administration. However, Mainwaring himself, although heir to an estate of over 2,000 acres, had little connection with the shire after his departure for Oxford in the 1590s.29

Unusually for a country gentleman, Mainwaring remained at Oxford long enough to obtain an MA. He may already have set his sights on a Court career, an ambition he was well placed to fulfil with the help of his mother’s family: his uncle Sir George More* was a prominent courtier, and his aunt Elizabeth was briefly married to lord keeper Sir Thomas Egerton† before her death in 1600.30 Mainwaring was first connected with Egerton in May 1601, when the latter made an offer to buy his wardship in the event of his father’s death. Six months later he became steward of Egerton’s household, a post he held for the remainder of his patron’s life.31 Egerton was appointed lord chancellor and created Baron Ellesmere shortly after King James’s accession, at which time Mainwaring himself received a knighthood.32 This title distinguishes him from one or more namesakes, one of whom was involved in a dispute over a lease of Withybrooke Grange, Warwickshire in 1607,33 while another had the misfortune to be sued by the bankrupt Sir Edward Waterhouse in 1615. An ‘Arthur Mainwaring esquire of Westminster’ served as bearer of the great seal to lord keeper Williams in the early 1620s.34

Mainwaring became a carver to Prince Henry in 1604, which may explain why he purchased the lease of a house in Fetter Lane, near the prince’s council chamber in Fleet Street, two years later.35 In January 1606 he supported the nomination of Hugh Mainwaring (presumably one of his Cheshire relatives) as recorder of Chester, and in the following year he was one of the promoters of a patent concerning the tentering of cloth.36 His relative obscurity at this time can probably be attributed to his lack of independent means, a problem which was solved by the death of his cousin Sir Francis Wolley in November 1609. Court gossip gave Wolley an estate worth £1,500 a year, and a personal fortune of £100,000. This was undoubtedly an exaggeration, but he clearly died a wealthy man, allocating £4,000 for a tomb in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Wolley left Mainwaring three manors in north-western Surrey and the bulk of his personal estate,37 to the dismay of Wolley’s widow and relatives, who contested the will. Mainwaring fought them off, and ultimately even secured control of a portion of the manor of Burgham, which Wolley had left to his illegitimate daughter.38 In addition to these estates, Mainwaring acquired Wolley’s clerkship of the pipe office in August 1610, although Arthur Jarvis*, who had previously shared the post with Wolley, successfully pressed for a share of the profits as Mainwaring’s deputy.39

As well as following in Wolley’s footsteps in the pipe office, Mainwaring emulated his cousin by keeping a mistress. His relationship with Ann Turner, who bore him at least one child following an affair in 1612, became public knowledge in 1615, when she was accused of being an accessory to the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury. At her trial it was alleged that she had used charms provided by the astrologer Simon Forman to lure Mainwaring into her bed. The revelations undoubtedly caused acute embarrassment, particularly to Mainwaring’s wife, who was later said to have been bewitched by Turner.40

While Mainwaring’s wife was co-heiress to an 11,000 acre estate in South Devon, the match represented something of a financial gamble. The bride’s father, Sir Thomas Dennys, could not afford a dowry and may even have expected Mainwaring to pay him a lump sum, having recently married Sir Henry Rolle the younger to his elder daughter for £2,000.41 Moreover, Lady Mainwaring’s inheritance was almost certain to be contested by her cousin Gabriel Dennys, the next heir male under the terms of an entail which Sir Thomas claimed his father had revoked in 1590.42 With the resources of the Wolley inheritance and Ellesmere’s patronage at his disposal, Mainwaring was in a strong position, but the fact that Dennys had to go so far to find a son-in-law suggests that many of his neighbours felt that the risks inherent in such a match outweighed the potential benefits. Mainwaring joined battle over his wife’s inheritance when his father-in-law died only two months after his wedding.43 His first challenge came from an unexpected quarter, when Dame Anne Rolle sued, probably out of spite because her husband had not been included as an executor.44 Gabriel Dennys opened his bid for the estate at an inquisition post mortem in September 1614, when he bribed the jury to uphold the family entail of 1576, under which he would have inherited the entire estate. The verdict was disallowed, but another inquisition in 1616 found in his favour, largely because Mainwaring and Lady Rolle were not notified to attend. Meanwhile, Gabriel tried a test case at the Exeter assizes during Lent 1616. He allegedly packed the jury with the connivance of the under-sheriff, and secured a writ of ejectment against an ailing Sir Henry Rolle, who was thrown out of his house on 26 Apr. and died four days later. Gabriel sensibly delayed his action against Mainwaring’s share of the inheritance until October 1617, several months after Ellesmere’s death. He began by impounding livestock, and also allegedly attempted to persuade or bribe one of the witnesses present at the revocation of the family entail in 1590 to change his testimony. Mainwaring responded with a Star Chamber lawsuit, which was terminated by Gabriel’s death in April 1619.45 Unfortunately for Mainwaring, Dennys’s heir began a fresh suit in Chancery in 1621, and it is unlikely that Mainwaring ever established an unquestioned title to the estate.46

These bruising battles apparently damaged Mainwaring’s finances: in a later lawsuit claimed to have spent £3,000 on litigation over his wife’s inheritance, and over £4,500 in settling his father-in-law’s outstanding debts; these figures do not seem excessive.47 His resources were further depleted by a suit with Mary Wolley’s guardian during 1619-21, and in 1622 his Devonshire estates were seized by Wolley’s widow for failure to pay a debt of £580, which led to several more years of litigation.48 In 1620 he borrowed about £2,000 from his brother-in-law Sir Richard Baker† and the 9th earl of Northumberland’s steward Sir Edward Fraunceys*, and during the course of the decade he sold off his entire Surrey estate except for Wisley manor.49 He may also have been forced to sell his wife’s estates, as no inquisition post mortem was held after her death in 1632, when any remaining lands should have reverted to her nephew Dennis Rolle.

While Ellesmere’s death deprived him of his most important patron, Mainwaring’s Court career was the only area in which he achieved some success during the 1620s. Vigorous lobbying secured him a place as gentleman of the privy chamber to Prince Charles in 1613. This gave him access to duchy of Cornwall patronage, under the auspices of which he was appointed vice-admiral for the duchy estates in Devon in 1619, while in January 1624 the Prince’s Council nominated him for a parliamentary seat at Knaresborough.50 His chances of election were minimal, however, as the borough was dominated by local interests. He therefore made alternative arrangements at Huntingdon, where he was almost certainly nominated by his wife’s second cousin Sir Oliver Cromwell*, who lived less than a mile from the town at Hinchingbrooke House.51

Mainwaring was not a particularly active Member in 1624, but he served the duchy’s purposes by being named to the committee for a bill confirming an exchange of lands between Prince Charles and Sir Lewis Watson* (9 April). He was also appointed to the committee for a bill confirming an exchange of Crown lands for York House (19 May), which was to be granted to the duke of Buckingham.52 A nomination to the committee for the expiring laws continuance bill (13 Mar.), was presumably intended to allow him to support the proviso reviving a wine patent for the benefit of his wife’s relative the 1st earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†); he attended a conference on this issue on 22 May, when Prince Charles voiced his support for the measure.53 He played even less part in subsequent parliamentary sessions: on 7 Mar. 1626 he was one of the delegation sent to hear the address by Archbishop Abbot and lord chamberlain Pembroke on the need for funding for the war with Spain. However, there is little evidence that he was seriously interested in supporting the war effort, beyond his membership of committees for the muster masters’ bill (28 Mar. 1626), and another measure for the augmentation of Crown revenues (7 Mar. 1626).54

Mainwaring lost his parliamentary patron when Cromwell’s debts forced him to sell Hinchingbrooke to Sir Sidney Montagu* in June 1627.55 Fortunately, his own financial problems appear to have been eased by his inheritance of Ightfield at his father’s death in 1628, although his new responsibilities also involved him in fresh litigation.56 He continued in attendance at Court at least until 1641, and also played a larger role in local affairs on the Surrey-Berkshire border, especially after his appointment as lieutenant of Windsor castle and forest in 1628.57 His second wife held a jointure interest comprising several hundred acres in Buckinghamshire and Surrey, but the couple lived at Sayes Park after Mainwaring secured a 21-year lease of the property from the Crown in 1634.58

Mainwaring was involved in a fresh bout of litigation at the end of the 1630s as guardian of the daughter of his brother Sir Henry Mainwaring.59 It may have been the expense of these suits that forced him to sell Wisley, the final portion of the Wolley inheritance, in 1641.60 He played no active part in the Civil War, but probably continued to serve in the royal Household, as he was still listed as a member of the privy chamber in 1643.61 His estates in both Surrey and Shropshire were dominated by Parliament’s armies for most of the conflict, and early in the war he apparently paid £100 towards the voluntary contributions raised by parliamentary ordinance, a contribution which saved him from a much larger fine in 1644.62

Despite his advanced age, Mainwaring did not make a will until he lay on his deathbed on 28 Dec. 1648. This conveyed the rectory of Prees, Shropshire to two of his servants for payment of a debt of £600, while his wife was instructed to sell a moiety of his remaining lands in Devon for the paltry sum of £250, which was to be added to his daughter’s marriage portion. The remainder of his goods were left to his wife, for the benefit of their two young children.63 Mainwaring died on the following day, and was buried at Chertsey. He was succeeded by his 12-year-old son Charles, who apparently died childless in 1690.64

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Assuming him to have been aged 18 on receiving his BA.
  • 2. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 348-9; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 2-3.
  • 3. Al. Cant.
  • 4. C142/500/133; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 280; O. Manning and W. Bray, Hist. and Antiqs. of Surr. iii. 235.
  • 5. Manning and Bray, iii. 176; C2/Chas.I/M6/55; Salop RO, 946/C/276.
  • 6. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 20; SP14/82/101.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 106.
  • 8. C142/334/60; 142/500/44.
  • 9. Manning and Bray, iii. 235.
  • 10. HEHL, EL102, 384.
  • 11. HEHL, EL2994, HA13778, 13780; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 72; xviii. 193; xix. 272; xxi. 216; E179/283.
  • 12. LC2/4/5, p. 87; Govt. Royal Household (Soc. Antiq. 1790), p. 323; SP14/67/147.
  • 13. C66/1842/2; Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 66.
  • 14. T. Birch, Ct. and Times Jas. I, i. 247, 252, 257; LC2/6, f. 69.
  • 15. SP16/2/118; LC5/132, p. 240; LC3/1, unfol.; Northants. RO, FH3775.
  • 16. C2/Jas.I/U4/17; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 86, 329.
  • 17. E315/310, f. 71v; DCO, Letters and Warrants 1620-1, f. 95v.
  • 18. C231/5, f. 219.
  • 19. DCO, Enrolments of Patents, 1618-20, ff. 143v-5.
  • 20. C212/22/21-3; SR, v. 65, 81, 88.
  • 21. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
  • 22. 43rd DKR, 91; C66/2427/18.
  • 23. C66/2477/29.
  • 24. C181/4, ff. 29v, 39v, 83v, 93v, 121v, 154v.
  • 25. APC, 1630-1, p. 132.
  • 26. SR, v. 65, 81, 88, 107, 141, 149, 155.
  • 27. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 28. Vis. Salop, 348-9.
  • 29. C142/231/75.
  • 30. Vis. Surr. 2-3.
  • 31. HMC Hatfield, xi. 193; HEHL, EL102.
  • 32. Shaw, ii. 106.
  • 33. REQ 2/390/44; 2/403/62.
  • 34. C2/Jas.I/M9/48; 2/Jas.I/W6/29.
  • 35. LC2/4/5, p. 87; C2/Jas.I/M2/64.
  • 36. HMC Hatfield, xix. 504-5; xxiv. 59-60.
  • 37. HMC Downshire, ii. 159-60, 185; PROB 11/114, ff. 487-8.
  • 38. PROB 11/115, ff. 40B-41; 11/119, f. 165; C2/Jas.I/W13/63; VCH Surr. iii. 393; C142/334/60.
  • 39. HMC Downshire, ii. 159-60, 185; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 157-8; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 625; C66/1842/2.
  • 40. SP14/82/101, 128; HMC Hatfield, xxii. 20-21; Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 86-7; Cholmeley Memorandum Book (N. Yorks. RO pubs. xliv), 230.
  • 41. C142/390/133.
  • 42. C142/405/152.
  • 43. PROB 11/122, ff. 451-2.
  • 44. PROB 11/124, f. 84.
  • 45. STAC 8/209/29; C142/355/82; WARD 7/58/81.
  • 46. C2/Jas.I/M16/71; 2/Chas.I/D51/44, f. 2.
  • 47. C2/Chas.I/D51/44.
  • 48. CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 85, 313; C2/Chas.I/M11/3; C3/356/12.
  • 49. LC4/199, f. 217; VCH Surr. iii. 393, 432; Manning and Bray, i. 91, 155-6.
  • 50. DCO, Enrolments of Patents, 1618-20, ff. 143v-145; Prince Charles in Spain, f. 34.
  • 51. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 280; Vis. Hunts. (Cam. Soc. xliii), 79-80.
  • 52. CJ, i. 705b, 758b.
  • 53. Ibid. 709a, 736b; Kyle thesis, 505-6. Lady Mainwaring was Nottingham’s first cousin twice removed: Vivian, Vis. Devon, 280; R.W. Kenny, Elizabeth’s Admiral, 4.
  • 54. Procs. 1626, ii. 214, 216, 385.
  • 55. VCH Hunts. ii. 136.
  • 56. C142/500/44; C2/Chas.I/C21/28; 2/Chas.I/M30/57.
  • 57. See CSP Dom. 1629-40, passim.
  • 58. C142/483/69; VCH Surr. iii. 411.
  • 59. C2/Chas.I/G12/64; 2/Chas.I/M9/64; 2/Chas.I/M74/44.
  • 60. VCH Surr. iii. 380.
  • 61. Northants. RO, FH3775.
  • 62. CCAM, 486.
  • 63. PROB 11/207, ff. 260-1.
  • 64. Manning and Bray, iii. 235-6.