HARINGTON, Sir William (c.1590-1627), of Twickenham, Mdx. and Hertingfordbury, 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



19 Feb. 1621
c. July 1625

Family and Education

b. c.1590, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Henry Harington (d.1612)1 of Bagworth, Leics. and Baltinglass, co. Wicklow, and 2nd w. Ruth, da. and coh.of James Pilkington, bp. of Durham 1560-75.2 m. 5 Feb. 1616,3 Anne, da. and coh. of Sir John Wood, clerk of the Signet, of Albyns, Stapleford Abbots, Essex, 1da.4 suc. half-bro. 1614;5 kntd. 14 Oct. 1615.6 d. 10 Mar. 1627.7

Offices Held

Constable, co. Wicklow 1614-25;8 steward, Hertingfordbury manor ?1619-d.;9 commr. sewers, Lea valley 1623-5;10 lt.-gov. of Portsmouth, Hants 1625-?d.11

Lt. of the Ordnance 1625-6.12


Harington’s father, the brother of Sir James Harington*, served for many years in Ireland, probably with more honour than profit, and represented County Wicklow in the Irish Parliament in 1585. Following the deaths of his father and his elder half-brother, Harington succeeded to an estate encumbered with debt. He was further required to find portions of £500 for each of his four surviving sisters and annuities of £50 for his younger brothers. Perhaps intending to increase his income from his estates he attempted to enclose Bagworth manor, in Leicestershire, but his tenants opposed it leading to the further expense of litigation in Chancery.13 His sister’s marriage to Sir Richard Moryson* may have brought him into the Pembroke circle, and he went to live near Hampton Court, presumably in the hope of obtaining a post in the royal Household. He probably became steward of Hertingfordbury, two miles from Hertford, when the manor was settled on Prince Charles in 1619, making his principal residence at Roxford Lodge, which he enlarged.14

Harington may have been motivated to stand for Parliament as a means to gain some respite from his creditors. Ahead of the elections to the third Jacobean Parliament in 1620 he and his brother-in-law Moryson were recommended to the corporation of Leicester by his cousin, the 5th earl of Huntingdon.15 The latter, however, only held the patronage of one of the borough’s seats, the second of which was controlled by the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, (Sir) Humphrey May*, who probably negotiated Harington’s withdrawal. His connection with the borough for which he was eventually returned, Newtown in the Isle of Wight, remains obscure. He played no recorded part in the 1621 Parliament.

In May 1621 Harington obtained a reversion to Moryson’s post in the Ordnance.16 On 30 June 1622, ‘having important occasions presently to go into the Low Countries’, he sold Bagworth to Sir Robert Banastre for £12,200. Although he had allegedly refused an earlier offer for £1,500 more, Banastre thought the estate over-valued and, after a Chancery suit, obtained a reduction of £1,154.17 In the next Parliament, on 24 Apr. 1624, in anticipation of the enfranchisement of Hertford, Prince Charles’s Council recommended Harington to the corporation as ‘a near neighbour unto you, who for his worth and integrity is without all exception’. Separate elections were held for the senior and junior seats on 17 May, but in both Harington came a humiliating third.18

Harington was again unsuccessful at Hertford in the general election of 1625, in a contest for the second seat.19 He then turned to Pembroke, who nominated him for Wilton to replace Sir William Herbert*, who had chosen to sit for Montgomeryshire; the session had probably adjourned as a result of the plague in London by the time he took his seat, and it is not know whether he attended the brief Oxford sitting.20 Harington had disposed of his Irish interests, and later in the year he succeeded Moryson, both as lieutenant of the Ordnance and deputy to Pembroke as governor of Portsmouth. At the general election of 1626 he was returned for Portsmouth with the support of his brother-in-law Sir Benjamin Rudyard*, but he was also at last successful at Hertford, for which he chose to serve.21 He left no further trace in the records of the Parliament. He sold his post in the Ordnance after only a few months, perhaps because his health had begun to give way. By 13 Feb. 1627 he was too weak to sign his will, in which he left his mother £300 to buy an annuity, and his daughter everything else, with the proviso that if the latter died under age or unmarried, his nephew (Sir) Henry Edmondes* was to receive £1,000. A codicil left a nephew and a servant £100 each, and 50s. p.a. to another servant. Lady Moryson was appointed the sole executrix and his daughter’s guardian, under the supervision of the earl of Pembroke, Rudyard, and Sir John Jephson*.22 Harington died on 10 Mar. and was buried beside his wife in an elaborate tomb at Hertingfordbury.23 His trustees soon afterwards sold the Hertingfordbury estate to Thomas Keightley*.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. PROB 11/122, f. 94.
  • 2. Vis. Rutland (Harl. Soc. iii), 39.
  • 3. The Gen. n.s. xi. 42.
  • 4. Morant, Essex, i. 177.
  • 5. N and Q (ser. 10), xii. 332.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 157.
  • 7. N and Q (ser. 10), xii. 332.
  • 8. CPR Ire. Chas. I, 47.
  • 9. VCH Herts. iii. 464.
  • 10. C181/3, ff. 91v, 128, 184v.
  • 11. SP16/20/23.
  • 12. PROB 11/147, f. 140v; CSP Dom. 1625-6, pp. 411, 572; G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 287.
  • 13. C2/Jas.I/H7/16.
  • 14. Chauncy, Herts. i. 535; VCH Herts. iii. 464.
  • 15. HMC Hastings, iv. 203.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 258.
  • 17. C78/295/3.
  • 18. E. de Villiers, ‘Parl. Bors. Restored by the House of Commons 1621-41’, EHR, lxvii. 191; L. Stone, ‘Electoral Infl. of the 2nd earl of Salisbury’, EHR, lxxi. 391-3.
  • 19. Villiers, 192.
  • 20. Wilts. Arch. Mag. lxxviii. 72.
  • 21. SP16/20/23; CJ, i. 818a.
  • 22. PROB 11/151, f. 280v.
  • 23. Chauncy, Herts. i. 536.