CLARKE, William (c.1575-1626), of Hitcham, Bucks.

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.1575, 1st s. of Sir William Clarke of Hitcham.1 m. by 15 July 1619, Ursula, da. and h. of William St. Barbe of London, wid. of Sir Francis Verney of Quainton, Bucks. s.p.2 suc. fa. 1 Feb. 1625.3 d. 18 Oct. 1626.4

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. 1625-d.,5 dep. lt. Bucks. 1626-d.;6 commr. Privy Seal loan, Bucks. 1626,7 sewers, Bucks. and Berks. 12 July 1626-d.8


Although of obscure background, Clarke’s father was pricked as sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1599 and entertained the queen at Hitcham in 1602. John Chamberlain commented after the event that Sir William ‘pleased nobody, but gave occasion to have his miserliness and vanity spread far and wide’.9 Clarke himself married late in life, making a match to which his father strenuously objected. He initially vowed to disown Clarke and stated that the couple ‘shall never come within his doors’. However, Clarke was reconciled with his father before the latter died in 1625.10 He inherited the manors of Hitcham, Shabbington and Losemore, as well as some messuages in North Weston, Oxfordshire.11

Clarke was over 50 by the time he took his place on the county bench in 1625. He was appointed a deputy lieutenant the following year, when he was also elected to Parliament for the recently enfranchised borough of Amersham. Due to the number of Clarkes sitting in the House, the only committee appointment that can certainly be ascribed to him was to investigate the abuse of purveyors, a long-standing Buckinghamshire grievance (25 May 1626).12

Clarke died on 18 Oct. 1626, four days after making his will, and was buried in Hitcham church.13 Personal gifts he bequeathed to a wide range of friends and kinsmen included a violin to his brother-in-law Sir William Alford*, saddles to Francis, Lord Russell* and Sir Charles Morrison*, a ‘fair crimson velvet saddle with gold lace’ to John Fettiplace*, and horses to various relatives and servants. His brother, Francis, was appointed executor and Clarke asked his ‘worthy friend’ (Sir) Walter Pye* to look after his nephews if his brother died while they were still minors.14 None of his immediate relatives sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. WARD 7/73/88.
  • 2. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 252.
  • 3. WARD 7/73/88.
  • 4. C142/430/170.
  • 5. C231/4, f. 185.
  • 6. E401/2586, p. 355.
  • 7. Ibid. 363.
  • 8. C181/3, f. 202v.
  • 9. J. Nichols, Progs. of Eliz. I, iii. 578-9; Chamberlain Letters i. 160; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 9; SP12/284/97.
  • 10. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 252, 599.
  • 11. WARD 7/73/88.
  • 12. Procs. 1626, iii. 331.
  • 13. The Gen. n.s. xiii. 64; VCH Bucks. iii. 232.
  • 14. PROB 11/150, ff. 356v-8.