DARRELL, Sir Sampson (1594-1635), of Hunterscombe, Bucks.; later of Fulmer, Bucks. and East Smithfield, London

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. 1594, 1st s. of Sir Marmaduke Darrell of Fulmer, surveyor of marine victuals (jt.) and cofferer of the Household, and Anne, da. of John Lennard of Knole, Kent. educ. G. Inn 1610. m. 1614, Elizabeth (d. July 1638), da. and h. of Christopher Hampden of Wendover, Bucks., 6s. 3da.1 kntd. 13 June 1619;2 suc. fa. 1632. d. 23 May 1635.3

Offices Held

Surveyor of marine victuals (jt.) 1623-30, (sole) 1630-d.4

Commr. sewers, Colne valley, Herts., Bucks. and Mdx. 1624;5 j.p. Bucks. 1625-d.;6 collector, Forced Loan, Burnham Hundred, Bucks. 1627;7 steward, E. Smithfield manor, London 1634-d.8

Member, Fishery Soc. by 1632.9


The Darrells of Fulmer, Buckinghamshire and Horkstow, Lincolnshire, were a cadet branch of the Coleshill family. Darrell’s father, Sir Marmaduke, was cofferer of the Household, joint victualler of the Navy and a farmer of the export duty on sea coals.10 Sir Marmaduke secured a reversion to the victuallership for Darrell, his eldest son, when the latter was aged only ten.11 The grant was renewed in 1607, and again in 1612.12 In 1623 Sir Marmaduke surrendered his post as joint victualler to his son, now knighted, but Darrell took no part in provisioning the Navy before the death of his partner, Sir Allen Apsley, in May 1630. In 1624 Darrell was named an executor of the will of Richard, Lord Dacre (d. 1630).13 Returned for Wendover in 1626, presumably through the influence of his wife’s family, he left no trace on the records of the Commons.

Sometime during the 1620s Darrell fell victim to a swindler named William Drury, who mortgaged two Buckinghamshire manors to him for £2,500, and then refused either to redeem the mortgage or surrender possession of the properties. Drury further hoodwinked Darrell into lending him ‘greater sums of money’. In 1629 Chancery ruled that Darrell was owed £5,362 in debts and damages, but not until October 1630 did Drury grant possession of his estate to Darrell.14 It was in the midst of these disturbances that Darrell took up his naval duties. Faced with an almost exhausted Exchequer and a contractual obligation to victual the Navy’s vessels on demand and at a fixed price, Darrell was soon plunged into financial crisis. During the second half of 1630 he spent twice as much as he received, and to make matters worse the disastrous harvest of 1630 sent food prices soaring. In March 1631 he calculated the difference between his receipts and expenditure at £3,709, and claimed to have spent 20 per cent more than he had received, not including the interest on his borrowings. Inevitably, the quality of service he was able to provide began to suffer so much that he was upbraided by lord treasurer Portland (Sir Richard Weston*), whom he begged to speak to him ‘mildly and not in thunder’.15 It was not until July 1632, after claiming that he was unable to resupply the warships in the Channel because his account had not been settled, that matters began to improve. By the time of his death Darrell had received so much money that he actually owed the Crown £3,238.16 Consequently, he could afford to invest £50 in the newly formed but ill-fated Fishery Society and to purchase several Buckinghamshire properties with his father.17 Nevertheless, complaints about the quality of service he provided continued, and by 1633 his removal was seriously contemplated by the Admiralty.18

Darrell entered into his inheritance in 1632, but as his father’s executor he became responsible for Sir Marmaduke’s debts, which were still outstanding in 1637.19 Under the terms of an agreement of 1622, he was also required to provide his widowed mother with an annual allowance of £600, an agreement which he apparently honoured.20

Darrell died aged 41 at his East Smithfield residence only three years after his father. His body was subsequently accompanied to the western limits of London ‘by his servants who rid two and two before, and next the corpse two officers of arms and their coats, and after the corpse divers of his friends followed’ before being conveyed to Fulmer for burial.21 His estate, valued at £18,000,22 fell into wardship, his eldest son, Marmaduke, being aged only 14.23 By the terms of his will, drafted on 23 Feb. 1632, he bequeathed £1,000 to each of his nine children and required his friend Sir John Parsons, to whom he left £100, to administer his 20 per cent share of the coal farm in trust for his widow.24 However, he made no provision for settling the debts he had contracted as victualler, and although the Court of Wards ordered the sale of some of his lands, two members of his family refused to sign the necessary assurances to the purchasers.25 Consequently, as late as 1642, 26 of his creditors claimed to be owed a total of £3,576 2s.26 Lady Darrell initially resisted the Exchequer’s demands for repayment of the surplus on her husband’s accounts, claiming that Darrell had actually spent ‘about £2,000 above His Majesty’s allowance’.27 However, she was eventually forced to employ the assistance of her friends to satisfy the debt.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 34; CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 91; PROB 11/177, ff. 282v-3; GI Admiss.; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 512.
  • 2. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 172.
  • 3. PROB 11/162, f. 221r-v; C142/526/151.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 480; E351/2423-5.
  • 5. C181/3, f. 116.
  • 6. C231/4, f. 193; SP16/212; C193/13/2.
  • 7. E401/1913, unfol., entry of 16 Feb. 1627.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 510.
  • 9. SP16/221/1.
  • 10. G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 285.
  • 11. C54/2103/21.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 366; 1611-18, p. 114.
  • 13. Essex RO, D/DL/C43/4/27.
  • 14. C78/436/1. Drury was still endeavouring to recover his lost estate in 1641: HMC 4th Rep. i. 81.
  • 15. SP16/188/12.
  • 16. A.D. Thrush, ‘Navy under Chas. I, 1625-40’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1990), pp. 131, 254, 286.
  • 17. SP16/231/15; VCH Bucks. iii. 173, 176, 296.
  • 18. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 137.
  • 19. PC2/47, p. 81.
  • 20. PROB 11/162, f. 221r-v; C5/1/34, pt. 1.
  • 21. SP16/289/65.
  • 22. C5/1/34, pt. 2.
  • 23. C142/526/151.
  • 24. PROB 11/168, ff. 315v-16.
  • 25. Ibid. 111.
  • 26. HMC 4th Rep. i. 40.
  • 27. T56/1, ff. 31, 35, 55v.
  • 28. PC2/47, p. 80.