CUTTS, Sir John (1545-1615), of Horham Hall, Essex; Shenley Hall, Herts. and Childerley, Cambs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1545, 1st s. of Sir John Cutts of Childerley and Horham Hall by Sybil, da. of (Sir) John Hynde Hyndet of Madingley, Cambs. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1561; G. Inn 1565. m. (1) Anne, da. of Sir Arthur Darcy of Hunts., 1s. 2da.; (2) Margaret, da. and coh. of John Brocket of Brocket Hall, Herts., 1s. suc. fa. 1556. Kntd. 1571.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cambs. 1579, Herts. 1582, Essex 1586; sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1572-3, 1601-2, Herts. 1588-9, dep. lt. Cambs. 1596; capt. of trained band, Herts. 1588; Keeper of Somersham park, Hunts. by 1592; commr. musters, Cambs. 1601.2


In contrast to his great-grandfather and namesake, who rose through government service under Henry VII, Cutts’s influence was local. In the earlier part of his life his activities centred on Essex: there he received his knighthood from the Earl of Leicester, and on two occasions in 1578 entertained a meeting of the Privy Council. With his second marriage his interests changed to Hertfordshire. He and his father-in-law unsuccessfully backed the candidature of Edward Denny in the Hertfordshire election of 1584. He was one of the local gentlemen appointed to attend the Queen of Scots at her proposed move to Hertford castle in 1586, and he assisted in mustering the county defences against the Armada. Four years later, however, it was reported that, although in charge of a trained band there, he had not been in the shire ‘these two years’, and in 1600 he sold Shenley. Thenceforward, he devoted himself to his father’s county of Cambridge, where he served as one of three deputy lieutenants under Lord North. He had already sat in two Parliaments as knight of the shire, and he was to be elected once more, with his fellow deputy lieutenant, Sir John Cotton, to Elizabeth’s last Parliament. He is recorded as sitting on the committee and on that for a bill concerning a private 11 Dec. 1601. He reported the latter to the House 15 Dec. As knight for Cambridgeshire he may have attended committees concerning the subsidy (24 Feb. 1585), the order of business (3 Nov. 1601), monopolies (23 Nov. 1601) and draining the fens (28 Nov. 1601).3

Financially, Financially, Cutts’s position gradually worsened throughout the reign, and he was continually selling his estates, including his Cambridgeshire manors of Borough, Trumpington, Lowlesworth, and Tanbridge Hall. He sold his Essex manor in 1599. Necessity at one time drove him to seek—unsuccessfully—a loan of £300 from Sir Horatio Palavicino, who had recently settled into a Cambridgeshire estate, and who considered himself to have been unfairly treated over his local subsidy assessment. Palavicino’s connexion with Sir Robert Cecil, however, made him no easy victim, and controversy ensued between 1595 and 1598 in which Cutts and his fellow deputy lieutenants could not conceal their resentment of the socially ambitious merchant who had gained royal favour at the expense of those who had ‘much longer time faithfully served her Majesty’.4

Cutts Cutts subscribed to a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury in 1584 protesting against the treatment of local clergymen who could not accept Whitgift’s articles of uniformity. In 1594 he was entrusted with the custody of Huntingdonshire recusants at Somersham.5

As keeper of Somersham house and park, Cutts enjoyed a closer connexion with royalty after Elizabeth’s death, for James I planned to turn the house into a hunting box for himself, and ordered Cutts to re-stock the park. Cutts died intestate, administration of his estate being granted 29 Apr. 1615 to his son Sir John, who, nine years later, joined with Palavicino’s son Toby in an electoral alliance that buried the feud of the previous generation.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: H.G.O.


  • 1. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 31; Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 32; Essex Arch. Soc. iv. 30, 35-6; CPR, 1563-6, p. 525.
  • 2. Gabriel thesis, 322-3; Lansd. 56, f: 166; VCH Hunts. ii. 226; APC, xxxi. 403.
  • 3. Essex Arch. Soc. iv. 30, 35-6; CPR, 1558-60, p. 431; Gabriel thesis, 323; Neale, Commons, 29; Lansd. 49, f. 171; 75, f. 116; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 200; VCH Herts. ii. 266; PCC 78 Lewyn; L. Stone, Sir Horatio Palavicino, 283-4; G. C. Williamson, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, 207; Lansd. 43, anon. jnl. f. 171; D’Ewes, 412, 624, 649, 657, 678, 686.
  • 4. Cambs. Feet of Fines, ed. Palmer, 75, 78, 79, 80, 89, 91 97, 115; Stone, 283-8; HMC Hatfield, vii. 326, 337, 343, 353; viii. 277, 284, 547-8; x. 28.
  • 5. Collinson thesis, 439 n. 9, 503; Seconde Parte of a Register, ed. Peel, i. 228; VCH Hunts. ii. 226.
  • 6. VCH Hunts. loc. cit.; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 103; PCC admon. act bk. 1615, f. 13; Stone, 312.