DOWSE, Edward (c.1582-1648), of Petworth, Suss. and Syon House, Mdx.

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



Apr. 1626
1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - c. Apr. 1648

Family and Education

b. c.1582,1 yr. s. of Thomas Dowse (d.1601) of Salisbury, Wilts. and Broughton, Hants and Blanche, da. of John Covert of Slaugham, Suss.2 educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1597, BA 1601, MA 1604; incorp. MA, Camb. 1616.3 m. one Gresham, s.p. d. by 29 Apr. 1648.4

Offices Held

Tutor to Algernon Percy*, Lord Percy 1615-18,5 sec. by 1642.6

Capt. of horse, 1640.7

Freeman, Portsmouth, Hants 1640;8 dep. lt., Suss. 1644;9 commr. Southern Association, Suss. 1644, New Model Army, 1645, assessment, 1645-d., Hants 1647-d., safety, Hants 1645;10 j.p. Suss. 1646-d.11

Member, cttee. Irish Affairs, 1642.12


Dowse’s great-grandfather settled at Tichborne, Hampshire, and the family acquired the manor of Chilworth, in the same county, in the 1530s. His father, Thomas, married a cousin of Sir Walter Covert* of Slaugham, Sussex, and at his death in 1601 he disposed of inherited or purchased estates in Wiltshire, Hampshire and London.13 Dowse however, being a younger son, was left little by his father except £100 due from a creditor, Hampden Paulet†.14

Dowse was not without Court connections, for one of his brothers, Edmund, served as a cupbearer to Anne of Denmark.15 In 1611 Dowse was granted a licence to travel aboard with his distant kinsman (Sir) William Goring*, probably as the latter’s tutor.16 Goring had recently married the daughter of Edward Fraunceys*, steward to Henry Percy, 9th earl of Northumberland, and it was presumably this connection which resulted in Dowse’s appointment in 1615 as tutor to Northumberland’s son, Lord Percy (Algernon Percy*). In 1618 Dowse accompanied Percy to France, and thereafter received a pension from the family, together with accommodation at Syon House.17

Dowse’s meagre properties in north Wiltshire were insufficient to provide him with any influence in nearby parliamentary boroughs. He may have owed his election at Cricklade in 1625 to the dominant patron of the borough, Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Suffolk, possibly on the recommendation of Northumberland’s cousin, Sir Edward Cecil*. If so it is likely that Northumberland, who had nominated Cecil for Chichester in 1621, asked the latter to find a seat for Dowse. Cecil was a close friend of Suffolk’s son-in-law, William, 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil, Viscount Cranborne*) and also the uncle of Suffolk’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Sir Thomas Howard*. Moreover, Cecil himself had probably been nominated by Suffolk at Malmesbury in 1624.

Richard Montagu, the anti-Calvinist polemicist and rector of Petworth, who was on good terms with Northumberland, saw Dowse as a potential supporter. Indeed, shortly before the Parliament he described Dowse as ‘one that will speak [in the Commons], if need be’. In the event, however, Dowse made no impression upon the records of the House. The following year he was returned at a by-election for Chichester in 1626, replacing his former protégé Percy when the latter was called to the Upper House on 28 March. He again made no recorded contribution to the parliamentary proceedings.18

Dowse continued to serve Percy after the latter succeeded as 10th earl of Northumberland in 1632, being described as the earl’s secretary in 1642. He was returned for Chichester to the Short Parliament, again on the Percy interest, and for Portsmouth in November 1640 at a by-election caused by the decision of his patron’s younger brother, Henry Percy, to sit as knight of the shire for Northumberland.19 Like his patron, he supported Parliament during the Civil War. During these years, when not in Westminster, he probably resided principally at Petworth, Northumberland’s Sussex mansion, where he had a study. By October 1647 he was too ill to attend the House and on the 12th of that month he wrote his will in which, ‘sick of body’, he asked to be buried in Petworth church. He bequeathed his books at Petworth to his nephew Giles, £50 to Northumberland to purchase a dozen silver plates, and a life interest in a farm and mill in Sussex to his wife, ‘Mistress Gresham’, who, as executrix to the will, presumably ensured that Dowse was buried at Petworth. He also left £20 to apprentice four named local poor children. The date of Dowse’s death is unknown, but his will was proved on 29 Apr. 1648. There is no evidence that he had children.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Ben Coates


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to Hart Hall, Oxf.
  • 2. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv) 58; C142/270/105; Suss. Gens.: Ardingly Cent. comp. J. Comber, 187.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; Al. Cant.
  • 4. PROB 11/204, f. 57.
  • 5. Household Pprs. of Henry Percy, Ninth Earl of Northumberland, 141, 152; HMC 6th Rep. 230-1.
  • 6. Pvte. Jnls. of the Long Parl.: Mar.-June 1642, p. 399.
  • 7. LJ, v. 164.
  • 8. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 352.
  • 9. CJ, iii. 516.
  • 10. A. and O. i. 451, 624, 640, 696, 974, 976, 1092, 1094.
  • 11. C231/6, p. 40; Q. Sess. Order Bk. ed. B.C. Redwood (Suss. Rec. Soc. liv) p. xxvii.
  • 12. CJ, ii. 750.
  • 13. W. Berry, County Gens.: Peds. of Fams. in County of Hants, 312; VCH Hants iii. 468-9; iv. 494-5; PROB 11/98, ff. 240v-1v; Suss. Gens.: Ardingly Centre, 187; R.C. Hoare, Hist. Modern Wilts. v. ‘Frustfield’, 102.
  • 14. PROB 11/98, ff. 240v-1v
  • 15. E315/107, f. 14v.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 67; Berry, 138.
  • 17. Household Pprs. of Henry Percy, Ninth Earl of Northumberland, pp. xxvi, 129, 141, 152.
  • 18. Corresp. of John Cosin ed. G. Ornsby, (Surtees Soc. lii) 73; CP, ix. 736-8.
  • 19. CJ, ii. 26b.
  • 20. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 158; PROB 11/204, f. 57-v.