FOREST, Sir Anthony (1573-1631), of Westminster and King's Langley, Herts.

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



7 Mar. 1624

Family and Education

bap. 27 Sept. 1573, 1st s. of Miles Forest of Morborne, Hunts. and Elizabeth, da. of Anthony Colly† of Glaston, Rutland.1 educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1591; G. Inn 1595.2 m. (1) 5 June 1599, Jane (bur. 29 Feb. 1604), da. of Thomas Hesilrige of Noseley, Leics., at least 2s. (1 d.v.p.); (2) Judith (bur. 25 Sept. 1606), da. of Sir Robert Saltonstall†, Skinner, of London and South Ockendon, Essex, wid. of Edward Rich of Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex, s.p.; (3) settlement 1 Nov. 1609 (with £3,000), Rebecca, da. of Sir Robert Hampson, Merchant Taylor, of London, s.p. kntd. 20 Aug. 1604; suc. fa. c.1624. d. 6 Mar. 1631.3

Offices Held

Servant to William, 1st Lord Burghley (William Cecil†) by 1597.4

J.p. Hunts. by 1604-at least 1624,5 Herts. 1629-d., St. Albans, Herts. 1629-d.;6 commr. sewers, Fenland 1605-18, preservation of ditches 1605,7 subsidy, Hunts. 1608, 1621-2, 1624,8 aid 1609,9 oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1618-25, St. Albans, Herts. 1629-d.10

Member, Virg. Co. 1609.11


Forest’s great-grandfather, once a retainer of Cardinal Wolsey, acquired the manor of Morborne in Huntingdonshire at the Dissolution of the Monasteries.12 After attending the recently founded, and notoriously puritan, Emmanuel College, Forest entered the service of lord treasurer Burghley, although it is not known in what capacity. In 1603 he petitioned Burghley’s son, Sir Robert Cecil†, for the stewardship of the royal manor of Yaxley, citing the Huntingdonshire courtier, Sir Oliver Cromwell*, as a referee.13 Although this suit seems to have been unsuccessful his powerful connections probably explain both his knighthood and appointment to the county bench in his father’s lifetime. His second marriage brought him connections in the City where he invested in the Virginia Company. In 1609 he reported to Cecil, by now earl of Salisbury, on the success of the feudal aid raised on the knighting of Prince Henry in Huntingdonshire, and took over the family estate two years later.14

Forest carried a bannerol at Salisbury’s funeral in 1612,15 and became involved in the financial affairs of the 2nd earl (William Cecil*), apparently arranging the sub-letting of the earl’s farm of the silk duties to Sir John Swinarton* and George Lowe*.16 A kinsman, Robert Forest, served the 2nd earl as gentleman of the horse and household steward,17 and Forest himself visited at Hatfield and witnessed a family marriage settlement in 1623.18 However, Forest had become heavily indebted and, by 1621, he had sold his Huntingdonshire property, said to have been worth £600 a year, to his brother-in-law Sir Robert Bevill*. It was presumably as a consequence that he lost his seat on the county bench a few years later.19

It was probably the Cecil connection that brought Forest into Parliament in 1624 at the election prompted by the decision of Sir Edward Howard II*, Salisbury’s brother-in-law, to plump for Calne, for which borough he had also been returned. Forest was presumably nominated by Viscount Wallingford (William Knollys†), high steward of the borough, who, like Salisbury, was married to one of Howard’s sisters.20

Forest was named to 12 committees in the last Jacobean Parliament. The first, on 25 Mar., was for the bill to enfranchise Durham, and he subsequently attended one undated meeting of the committee. However, he did not attend any of the four recorded meetings of the committee to consider the bill to overturn a Chancery ruling against the London Feltmakers’ Company, to which he was appointed on 30 April. His legislative appointments included committees on ‘the new erecting’ of inns (1 Apr.), the catechising of children (14 Apr.) and the levying of a shilling a week fine on recusant wives (1 May).21 His only speech, on 16 Apr., was in defence of Howard’s father, the 1st earl of Suffolk, who, he claimed, had rejected the imposition on the coal trade when it had been proposed during Suffolk’s tenure as lord treasurer.22 He was also one of those named on 1 May to the committee for the bill to make the lands of the earl of Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*) subject to payment of his debts. He was appointed to attend the conference with the Lords on 22 May on the wine licence monopoly, and to help consider the Eastland Company patent (26 May).23

Re-elected to the first Caroline Parliament, Forest was named to only three committees, all of them during the Westminster sitting. These concerned bills to prevent the use of Exchequer process to recover private debts (23 June), to restrain the grant of writs of habeas corpus, and to mitigate the sentence of excommunication (both on 27 June).24 He made no recorded speeches.

In 1626 Forest was returned a third time, and was named to 14 committees, including the committee for privileges (9 February). His presence on this committee perhaps helps to explain why he was also appointed to consider matters of an electoral nature, namely the bill to regulate elections (2 Mar.), the return of Sir Thomas Monck* (22 Mar.) and the conduct of the sheriff at the Leicestershire election (26 April). Among those appointed to attend the conference with the Lords of 7 Mar. on defence, Forest was also instructed to consider private bills, including one for a Huntingdonshire family (13 Mar.), and another concerning the 1st earl of Exeter (Thomas Cecil†) (24 May). He helped to draft a petition to be presented to the king ‘for the rectifying and augmenting his revenue’. He made two recorded speeches: on 3 May he successfully moved for the date of payment for the fourth proposed subsidy to be July 1627, and the following day he unsuccessfully opposed bringing in of witness who claimed to have see the duke of Buckingham adoring the Host in Spain, arguing that the man ‘might be a rogue, a renegade’. On 25 May he received a short leave of absence and may not have returned before the dissolution. There is no evidence that he sought re-election.25

In September 1629 Forest, writing from Hatfield, reported to his ‘good brother’ Bevill that he had accompanied the 2nd earl of Suffolk (Theophilus Howard*), to Dover, where the earl had taken his oath. This was presumably a reference to the latter’s installation as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, to which office Suffolk had been appointed the year before.26 The only member of his family to sit in Parliament, Forest died on 6 Mar. 1631 and was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields the same day. No will or administration has been found. His creditors subsequently argued that he had left a personal estate worth £900 and that his widow and Bevill had conspired to defraud them. However it is unlikely that, having disposed of his estate over a decade before, Forest died wealthy.27

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. ‘Extracts from the Par. Regs. of Glaston’ ed. J. Simspon, Reliquary ed. L. Jewitt, xxv. 45, 93.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 3. ‘Extracts from the Par. Regs. of Glaston’, 45; PROB 11/92, f. 39; 11/108, f. 162; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 277; C2/Chas.I/F39/25; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 71; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 135.
  • 4. HMC Hatfield, vii. 217.
  • 5. C66/1620; 2310.
  • 6. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 62; ASSI 35/72/4; C181/4, f. 78.
  • 7. C181/1, ff. 112v, 118; 181/2, f. 327.
  • 8. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 9. SP14/43/107.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 307; 181/3, f. 177; 181/4, f. 78v; Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, 2.
  • 11. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 212.
  • 12. VCH Hunts. iii. 188.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 52.
  • 14. Ibid. 508; VCH Hunts. iii. 189.
  • 15. HMC Hatfield, xxi. 374.
  • 16. C2/Jas.I/F6/70.
  • 17. L. Stone, Crisis of the Aristocracy, 289.
  • 18. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 1, 166, 178.
  • 19. C2/Chas.I/A2/52; 2/Chas.I/F39/25.
  • 20. CP, i. 400-1.
  • 21. CJ, i. 695a, 696a, 749b, 751b, 766b; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 202, 210.
  • 22. ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 67.
  • 23. CJ, i. 705b, 709a, 712b.
  • 24. Procs. 1625, pp. 229, 253.
  • 25. Procs. 1626, ii. 7, 177, 216, 271, 339; iii. 72, 147, 156, 161, 317, 332.
  • 26. HMC 8th Rep. pt. 2 (1881), p. 50.
  • 27. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxvi), 259; C2/Chas.I/A2/52; 2/Chas.I/K27/80.