GIFFORD, Sir Richard (1577-1643), of King's Somborne, Hants.

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. 31 Oct. 1577,1 2nd s. of Sir Henry Gifford† (d.1592)2 of King’s Somborne and Susan, da. of Henry Brouncker of Erlestoke, Wilts., wid. of Robert Halswell of Halswell, Som.3 m. May 1601,4 his cos. Winifred, da. of Sir Henry Wallop† of Farleigh Wallop, Hants, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.).5 suc. bro. 1597.6 kntd. 7 May 1603.7 bur. 28 Nov. 1643.8

Offices Held

Capt. militia ft. Hants 1603-12,9 horse 1625;10 ranger, Chute forest, Wilts. 1606-d.;11 steward, Stockbridge, Hants July-Nov. 1609;12 warden, Roche forest, Som. 1609-27;13 freeman, Southampton, Hants 1610;14 commr. sewers, Winchester, Hants 1617,15 gaol delivery 1618-24,16 alderman 1620-d.;17 commr. martial law, Hants 1627,18 oyer and terminer 1628,19 swans, Hants, Wilts., Dorset, Som., Devon and Cornw. 1629,20 assessment Hants 1641,21 array 1642,22 j.p. 1642-?d.23

Member, earl of Hertford’s embassy to Spanish Neths. 1605;24 gent. of privy chamber extraordinary to Charles I, c.?1628.25


Gifford’s ancestors had held the Gloucestershire manor of Weston-sub-Edge since the reign of Edward I, and represented the county in 1375. His grandfather migrated to Hampshire, leasing King’s Somborne from the duchy of Lancaster in 1537.26 When Gifford succeeded to the estate, still under age, it was burdened with £1,000 debt, and the defence of his elder brother’s will against his uncle and sisters probably drained his resources still further. George Kingsmill†, one of the trustees, was desired to secure his entry to one of the inns of court, but no evidence that Gifford subsequently received a legal education can be traced.27 A ‘great follower of the earl of Southampton’, Gifford incurred suspicion by buying arms soon after the Essex rising; but on investigation it was reported that he had merely been taking precautions against disorder following a false rumour of the queen’s death.28 The letter-writer John Chamberlain, visiting Gifford shortly after his marriage in May 1601, found his household ‘riotous and disordered’, but hoped that his wife might be able to reform it, ‘having so kind and tractable a husband towards her, and one that makes very much of her’.29 Knighted shortly after James’s accession, Gifford was honoured with an overnight visit from the king and queen in August 1603. His wife evidently found favour with her guests, for she later became a member of Anne of Denmark’s Household.30 Gifford does not seem to have stood for the first Stuart Parliament and was never thought fit for the commission of the peace until the Civil War. He attached himself to the earl of Hertford, serving on his embassy to the Spanish Netherlands in 1605 and professing himself ‘ready to be employed on any of your occasions’.31 An expert falconer, licensed to import hawks from Newfoundland, he held office in the forests of Chute and Roche, the latter of which he deputed to his relatives, the Portmans.32 He also acquired a reputation as an amateur osteopath.33

Gifford was excused from the shrievalty in 1609 as ‘very unable for the burden’ by reason of debts and liabilities.34 His appointment as steward of Stockbridge on behalf of the duchy of Lancaster was quickly revoked, but as lessee of the manor he exercised a dominant electoral interest in the borough.35 At the 1614 election he overawed the voters into giving him the senior seat, and canvassed energetically for his brother-in-law Sir Henry Wallop* in the county election.36 When Wallop was defeated, Gifford offered to let him sit for Stockbridge, and delayed the sealing of the indenture so that the seat could be transferred to him. In the meantime the officers of the Duchy, whose candidate for the second seat, Sir Walter Cope, had been rejected, induced the bailiff to hold the election again, and so Wallop and Cope were returned. However, the House declared Gifford’s waiver invalid and the election void.37 He did not stand at the second election, which was also the subject of a petition and remained in dispute when the Parliament ended.38

After the dissolution Gifford contributed no less than £10 to the Benevolence,39 but in 1616 he was forced to alienate his Wiltshire lands, and his stormy relationship with the Crown tenants in Stockbridge was probably exacerbated by his growing financial distress.40 The Duchy vindicated his claims, but no doubt at the cost of considerable ill-feeling. The death of Anne of Denmark, to whom his wife had been lady of the privy chamber, deprived him of a valuable Court connection.41 Returned for Stockbridge to the third Jacobean Parliament, his only contribution was to testify in committee against the registrar for the diocese of Winchester (15 March 1621).42 The House sent for the registrar for threatening revenge on Gifford as soon as his privilege expired; but there the matter seems to have rested.43 In the monopolies debates Gifford was mentioned as the former holder of a grievous patent, acquired from one Duffield, for warrens and parks; however, Gifford escaped any blame, since he had already sold it to Sir Henry Britton*.44

In 1624 three of the freemen of Stockbridge alleged that insufficient warning had been given of the election and that Gifford’s name had previously been inserted in the indenture, but the House rejected their petition.45 He left no trace on the records of this and the next three Parliaments. His financial position steadily worsened; in 1626 he was forced to sell East Tytherley to Wallop, retaining an annuity of £80 for his daughters, and by October 1628 he had been outlawed for debt.46 His appointment as a gentleman of the privy chamber, which may have been around this time, may have been made to protect him from arrest. King’s Somborne was included in the Ditchfield grant to the City of London in 1628; Gifford finally managed to buy out the Londoners in 1634, but was later forced to sell the estate.47 In August 1642 Gifford was described by the Hampshire committee as ‘ill-affected’, and accused of obstructing recruitment for Parliament.48 In his will dated 7 June 1643 he increased his two daughters’ annuities by £30 each, with portions of £150 on marriage, and left his wife (who died shortly afterwards) £200 p.a.; his executor was his only surviving son, Richard.49 He was buried on 28 Nov. 1643 at King’s Somborne.50 No other member of the family sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C142/248/13.
  • 2. PROB 11/81, f. 60; C142/234/73.
  • 3. Hants Field Club Pprs. ix. 12-14.
  • 4. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 124.
  • 5. Hants Field Club Pprs. ix. 12-14.
  • 6. PROB 11/90, f. 232.
  • 7. Nichols, Progs. Jas. I, i. 112.
  • 8. Hants Field Club Pprs. ix. 14.
  • 9. Whithed Letter Bk. (Hants Rec. ser. i), 21, 27, 95.
  • 10. Add. 21922, f. 5.
  • 11. C66/1720; Lansd. 1217, f. 63.
  • 12. Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders ed. R. Somerville, 221.
  • 13. C66/1685; Som. RO, DD/PH223, f. 44.
  • 14. HMC 11th Rep. III, 23.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 296v.
  • 16. Ibid. ff. 325v, 335v, 181/3, ff. 47v, 74, 103.
  • 17. Hants RO, W/B1/4, f. 11, passim.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 440.
  • 19. APC, 1627-8, p. 318.
  • 20. C181/4, f. 2.
  • 21. SR, v. 88.
  • 22. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 23. C231/5, p. 528.
  • 24. HMC Bath, iv. 200.
  • 25. LC3/1.
  • 26. Atkyns, Glos. 425; VCH Hants, iv. 472.
  • 27. PROB 11/90, ff. 232, 408.
  • 28. HMC Hatfield, xi. 63; C.C. Stopes, Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton, 204.
  • 29. Chamberlain Letters, i. 130.
  • 30. Nichols, i. 250.
  • 31. Add. 5496, f. 19v.
  • 32. C66/1829; Harl. 781, f. 42; CSP Dom. 1638-9, p. 186.
  • 33. HMC 4th Rep. 294.
  • 34. SP14/48/175.
  • 35. Add. 38446, ff. 4, 15, 16, 20-23.
  • 36. Whithed Letter Bk. 113-14.
  • 37. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 175, 177, 203-4.
  • 38. Ibid. 323, 390.
  • 39. Whithed Letter Bk. 123.
  • 40. C66/2084.
  • 41. Nichols, iii. 541.
  • 42. CJ, i. 556a.
  • 43. CD 1621, ii. 231-2, vi. 459; Nicholas Procs. 1621, i. 170.
  • 44. CJ, i. 573a.
  • 45. ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 124, 125v; Lansd. 485, f. 21r-v.
  • 46. VCH Hants, iv. 516; C66/2453; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 60, 1628-9, p. 361.
  • 47. VCH Hants, iv. 471.
  • 48. HMC Portland, i. 51.
  • 49. PROB 11/202, f. 275.
  • 50. Hants Field Club Pprs. ix. 12-14.