DUNNE, Daniel (David) (c.1550-1617), of London and Essex.

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. c.1550, 1st s. of Robert Dunne of Gray’s Inn. educ. All Souls, Oxf. fellow 1567, BCL 1572, DCL 1580; incorp. Camb. 1603; G. Inn 1599. m. Joan, da. of William Aubrey. Kntd. 1603.

Offices Held

Principal, New Hall Inn, Oxf. 1580; adv. Doctors’ Commons 1582, dean of the arches 1598; j.p. Essex by 1601; master of requests extraordinary 1602; master in Chancery 1604; judge of the Admiralty by 1612.1


Descended from the Dwnn family of Radnorshire, Dunne was a noted civil lawyer. As early as 1584 he served as a commissioner during the vacancy of the see of Peterborough. As dean of the arches he became an authority on marriage law and wrote an argument on the ‘prosecution of the nullity between the Earl of Essex and his wife, the Lady Frances Howard’. He also wrote an account of his father-in-law, and, probably, the discourse, attributed to Sir William Courtenay I, in defence of the Earl’s marriage with Lady Rich. He was one of nine civilians who drew up an argument in favour of the ex officio oath, while as Whitgift’s vicar-general, he sat with five bishops on special commissions at the provincial synod and convocation.2

Taunton belonged to the see of Winchester, and Dunne’s return to Parliament for the borough may be ascribed to the indirect influence of Archbishop Whitgift. He is recorded as serving on one committee in the House of Commons (2 Nov.), concerned with the penal laws. He spoke in opposition to the bill against pluralities on 16 Nov. declaring ‘that it was no reason that men of unequal desert should be equally beneficed, or equalized, with the best’.3

From 1599 he served on various commissions concerned with depredation and the suppression of piracy. In numerous instances, often on behalf of the Privy Council, he acted as arbitrator or judge in cases of doubtful prize, ownership of captured goods and commercial disputes in general. In 1600 he was appointed to examine the claims of the governor of Guernsey, Sir Thomas Leighton. Increasingly involved in questions of diplomacy, he was one of the English representatives who concluded the treaty of Bremen, for which he received his knighthood. While at Bremen he heard of the Queen’s death:

Grief will not suffer me [he wrote to Cecil] to be very long in the discovery of that, the very thought whereof hinders all the parts of my body and mind in their functions; whereof with tears I express the ill news here to be that our most gracious sovereign Queen and Mistress is departed this life. And although we make resemblance that it is otherwise, hoping the report to be untrue, yet our faces not being able sufficiently to cover the passions of our hearts therein, doth, I am in doubt, smally persuade the beholders to the contrary.4

The remainder of Dunne’s career belongs to the reign of James I. He died in 1617.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. DNB; G. D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 161; PRO petty bag index; APC, xxxii. 490; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 531.
  • 2. Strype, Whitgift, i. 398, 411, 496; ii. 32; iii. 235.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 622, 639; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 218.
  • 4. APC, xx. 47, 221; xxviii. 175; xxix. 71, 453, 455, 473, 495, 710; xxx. 277, 536, 736; xxxi. 416; HMC Hatfield, ix. 334-5; xii. 501-2, 640-1, 645; xiii. 283, 286, 287; xv. 15-16, 224; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, pp. 147, 271.