EVERSFIELD, Nicholas (c.1584-1629), of The Grove, Hollington, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. c.1584, o.s. of Thomas Eversfield of Uckfield, Suss. and 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of one Delve. educ. Trin. Camb. c.1595, BA 1599; G. Inn 1602. m. by 1614, Dorothy, da. of Edward Goring of Okehurst, Suss. 6s. 2da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1612, aged 28. d. 30 May 1629.1 sig. Nicholas Eversfield.
Eversfield’s father, a younger son of a family settled at Poyle, in Surrey, acquired The Grove, two-and-a-half miles from Hastings, through his second wife in 1586.6 On the death of his father in February 1612, Eversfield, an only son, inherited an estate of some 600 acres locally.7 Shortly thereafter he fell out with the vicar of Hollington, Thomas Large, over the payment of tithes. In 1615 he accused Large, who desired payment in kind, of failing to honour a verbal agreement to allow him and his tenants to compound, but he lost his Chancery suit, and thereafter Large hounded him unceasingly through the courts. By early 1617 Eversfield, who had many friends on the bench, was at the end of his tether, and at the next sessions of the peace the vicar was indicted for barratry and bound over to keep the peace. Large retaliated by bringing a suit in Star Chamber against Eversfield, whom he described as being ‘of a very turbulent and contentious disposition’. In this he accused Eversfield of organizing a boycott of his tenants and of threatening to ruin him. Eversfield, however, replied that the vicar was ‘of a very contentious and malicious spirit’, and had presented him for failure to pay tithe ‘with eight several suits in divers several courts’.8
In January 1619 Eversfield was commissioned by the Hastings corporation to approach the lord warden for his help in presenting a petition for the repair of the town’s pier.9 His efforts were evidently crowned with success, for in 1620 the king granted the town the right to collect money beyond the confines of the borough. In 1622 Eversfield was summoned before the Privy Council to explain his refusal to contribute to the Palatinate Benevolence.10 That same year he was one of the Framfield tenants who challenged the 3rd earl of Dorset in Chancery over the customs of the manor,11 and in October he earned the gratitude of the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, Lord Zouche, after he preserved intact some shipwrecked goods until the lord warden’s officer arrived.12
In 1624 Eversfield supported the candidacy of a fellow Sussex gentleman, Sir Alexander Temple of Etchingham, for a seat at Winchilsea. Indeed, in February he wrote to Lord Zouche in protest after the town’s mayor refused to return Temple.13 By then Eversfield had himself been returned to Parliament for Hastings, where an opening had arisen following the collapse of the Lasher family’s interest. The opportunity to sit was undoubtedly welcome to Eversfield, for at the time he was defendant in a suit in Chancery and would now enjoy parliamentary privilege. However, he made no recorded speeches, and his only committee appointment (22 Mar.) was to consider the bill against scandalous and unworthy parsons, a measure in which he clearly had a personal interest. Two days later he was granted privilege against a commission to examine witnesses in his Chancery suit.14 Early in April the Hastings corporation, fearful that a bill laid before the Commons in 1621 to prevent trawl fishing would be reintroduced, entrusted Eversfield with various manuscript records to prove the right of the town’s fishermen to use trawl nets. In the event, the threat failed to materialize, but Eversfield neglected to return the records before his death.15
Following the dissolution, the electors of Hastings continued to pin their faith on Eversfield, returning him to every Parliament thereafter until his death. In the first Caroline assembly Eversfield’s only committee (8 July) was on the bill to enable his landlord, now the 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*), to sell land.16 In 1626 he was again on the committee for the bill to remove scandalous ministers, which was attacked as both needless and damaging to the reputation of the church by the civil lawyer and ecclesiastical high commissioner Sir Henry Marten on 13 February. When Marten rashly offered to throw his weight behind the bill if any Member could say that he had complained in vain about a scandalous minister, Eversfield rose to his feet. He had accused a minister of adultery, he declared, the man having been caught with ‘his breeches down’, and yet, ‘by plurality of voice’, the offender had been acquitted. To add insult to injury, Eversfield himself had been fined £10 for bringing the prosecution.17 On 28 Feb. Eversfield was among those ordered to consider the abuse of Exchequer process for the recovery of private debts. Three weeks later, on 22 Mar., he told the Commons ‘that the soldiers sent with Count Mansfeld were wilfully poisoned and starved’ by the victuallers, whereupon he was named to the committee of inquiry.18 On 29 Apr. he took the opportunity afforded by the Speaker’s grilling of Sir Henry Marten over High Commission’s treatment of the adulterous Member, Sir Robert Howard, to inquire how the commission went about reaching its decisions.19 During the debate on the salt patent held by the Member for Lymington, John More II, Eversfield declared (5 May) that More had ‘abused this House by going about to confirm his patent by an Act’ and moved that both More and his patent should be ‘thrown out as unsavoury salt’.20 When his colleague (Sir) Dudley Carleton had to be hastily removed to the Lords on 22 May, Eversfield ensured that the vacancy was filled by another Sussex gentleman, Sir Thomas Parker*, the great-nephew of Sir Alexander Temple.21
In the third Caroline Parliament Eversfield was appointed to legislative committees for confirming the liberties of Parliament (28 Apr.), returning recusants (12 May), and preventing the export of ordnance (4 June).22 He made out his will on 29 Sept. 1628, in which he left both land to buy a wardship for his eldest son Thomas† and instructions that his children were to be brought up ‘in the fear of God’.23 He may have taken no part in the 1629 session, for he died on 30 May 1629 and was buried at Hollington. His eldest son Thomas, defeated by a Court candidate at the next election, sat for Hastings in the Long Parliament until disabled as a royalist, while three of his younger sons sat for various Sussex boroughs after the Restoration.24
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush
- 1. J. Comber, Suss. Genealogies, Horsham, 94; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; E. Suss. RO, Hollington par. reg.
- 2. C181/2, f. 247.
- 3. Lists of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 138.
- 4. C231/4, f. 172.
- 5. E. Suss. RO, HAS/DH/B98/2, f. 14v.
- 6. Comber, 90; VCH Surr. iii. 563; VCH Suss. ix. 20, 84.
- 7. Notes of Post Mortem Inquisitions taken in Suss. comp. F.W.T. Attree (Suss. Rec. Soc. xix), 84; STAC 8/195/28, f. 17.
- 8. STAC 8/195/28, ff. 16-17. Fletcher has suggested that Eversfield may have suspected Large of popish sympathies, but evidence for this supposition is lacking: A. Fletcher, A County Community in Peace and War: Suss. 1600-60, pp. 56-7.
- 9. J.M. Baines, Historic Hastings, 203.
- 10. SP14/127/79.
- 11. C78/434/8.
- 12. Add. 37818, f. 104.
- 13. Add. 37818, ff. 147v-8.
- 14. STAC 8/195/28, f. 16; CJ, i. 746a, 748b.
- 15. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 208; Fletcher, 246. For the 1621 bill, see RYE.
- 16. Procs. 1625, p. 350.
- 17. Procs. 1626, ii. 27, 44. The identity of the minister is unstated, but it may have been Eversfield’s arch-enemy, Thomas Large.
- 18. Ibid. 147, 340.
- 19. Ibid. iii. 104.
- 20. Ibid. 175.
- 21. E. Suss. RO, HAS/DH/B98/2, f. 31; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 212.
- 22. CD 1628, iii. 122, 369; iv. 83.
- 23. PROB 11/156, f. 192v.
- 24. E. Suss. RO, Hollington par. reg.; M. Keeler, Long Parl. 170.