SCUDAMORE, Sir James (1568-1619), of Holme Lacy, Herefs. and Great St. Batholomew's, London

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

bap. 10 June 1568, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of (Sir) John Scudamore† (d.1623) of Holme Lacy, gent. pens. 1573-1603, and 1st w. Eleanor, da. of Sir James Croft† of Croft Castle, Herefs., comptroller of the Household 1570-90.1 educ. ?G. Inn, 1595;2 m. (1) 21 Mar. 1597 (with £12,000), Mary (bur. 16 Aug. 1598), da. and coh. of Peter Houghton, Grocer, of London, s.p.; (2) June 1599, Mary (bur. 17 Oct. 1632), da. of Sir Thomas Throckmorton of Tortworth, Glos., wid. of Sir Thomas Baskerville† of Bayworth, Sunningwell, Berks., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da.3 kntd. 27 June 1596.4 d. 13 Apr. 1619.5

Offices Held

J.p. Herefs. 1597-d., custos rot. 1616-d.,6 commr. subsidy 1599, 1608,7 dep. lt. 1600-d.,8 sheriff 1601-2;9 commr. oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. by 1602-d., Wales and the Marches 1602, 1617, sewers, Wye valley 1603, Herefs. 1604,10 aid 1609;11 capt. militia horse by 1616-d.;12 member, Council in the marches of Wales 1617-d.13

Vol. Cadiz expedition 1596, Azores 1597.14

Member, Virg. Co. 1610.15


The Scudamore family owned land in Herefordshire by 1149, and were first returned as Members for the county in 1397. In the sixteenth century a junior branch, based at Holme Lacy, five miles south-east of Hereford, outstripped the main branch, resident at Kentchurch, thanks to court office and the acquisition of former monastic lands.16 Scudamore’s father, a member of the cadet line, represented the county in all but one of the seven parliaments that met between 1571 and 1597. Though a younger son, Scudamore was recognized as his father’s heir after 1592, by which time one of his elder brothers had died and the other had taken orders in the Church of Rome. Described by William Higford* as ‘a brave man at arms, both at tilt and barriers’, he served on the 1596 voyage to Cadiz and the Azores expedition the following year, ‘wherein he performed very remarkable and signal service under the conduct of the earl of Essex’.17 His prowess was such that Spenser used his name for a knightly character in The Faerie Queene. However, he retired from the Court and the tilts in 1600 and returned to Holme Lacy, where he and his father trained warhorses.18

Scudamore first stood for the county in 1601 with his cousin Sir Herbert Croft*, but was defeated by Sir Thomas Coningsby.19 In 1604 he stood again, as did Croft, with whom he probably joined forces, and this time he was returned, apparently without a contest. During the course of the first Jacobean Parliament he was named to six committees and made two recorded speeches. In the opening session he was among those ordered to attend the king about the Buckinghamshire election dispute (28 Mar. 1604), to confer with the Lords about Union with Scotland (14 Apr.), and to consider the bill against converting coppices to tillage on pasture (28 April). He spoke in the debate of 14 May following Sir George Hervey’s* justification of his failure to imprison the warden of the Fleet in the dungeon of Little Ease in the Tower, but to what effect is not known.20 After the riot of Herefordshire Catholics at Whitsun the following year, the bishop of Hereford reported he was the ‘most ready and faithful’ of the county magistrates in the suppression of popery.21

In the second session Scudamore is only mentioned once in the surviving records, when he was added to the committee for the bill to correct the abuses in the Court of Marshalsea on 21 Mar. 1606.22 His brother’s return to the Church of England later in the year did not affect his position as heir-apparent to the Holme Lacy estate.23 He took no known part in the third session, but helped to rally support among the Herefordshire justices for Croft’s campaign to remove the four English counties from the jurisdiction of the Council in the Marches.24

Scudamore’s relations with his second wife were troubled from at least 1604. They were briefly separated in 1607 and in the following year Mary left Holme Lacy, claiming her father-in-law had driven her out. She was persuaded to return, but as Sir John would not let her back she was sent to live with a kinsman of the Scudamores. There, according to Hannibal Baskerville, her son by her first marriage, she was clapped in irons and starved into submission, despite being pregnant. Thanks to the intervention of her mother, Lady Throckmorton, she escaped, and in November 1608 Scudamore agreed to allow her £100 a year. When he stopped making the payments the following year he was hauled before the Privy Council, whereupon Scudamore prosecuted his mother-in-law in the court of High Commission for doing ‘many evil offices’ between him and his wife. Lady Throckmorton was subsequently gaoled for contempt of court, although she was bailed on appeal in 1610, and Scudamore apparently stopped all payments to his wife in 1612 or 1613. In 1614 he had his stepson declared a ward of the crown, and purchased the wardship himself for £20. He also forged a lease to keep the Baskerville estates permanently in Scudamore hands, an offence not discovered and remedied until after his death.25

When Parliament reconvened in 1610, Scudamore applied on 5 Mar. for privilege for his servant, who had been taken in execution and lodged in Aylesbury gaol; but it was three months before he obtained satisfaction.26 Meanwhile he had been named to bill committees concerning the lands of Sir Henry Crispe of Quex, in Kent (12 Mar.) and the prevention of elopements (8 May).27 In a series of letters to his father he reported events in Parliament. On 12 May, the day after the Privy Council had attempted to stop the Commons from debating impositions, he wrote that ‘the Parliament causes are at a stand’, while on 23 May he claimed that ‘there is no certainty of the ending or proroguing of the Parliament, neither is there anything done for the king, or the country’. A week later he wrote that negotiations over the Great Contract had resumed after the ‘great storms in Parliament’, but observed that unless wardship was included ‘I doubt we shall not satisfy His Majesty’s expectations’. He also sent news of Parliament’s petition calling for the enforcement of the laws against Catholics, which had been drawn up after the assassination of Henri IV.28 During the autumn recess the Herefordshire grand jury proclaimed their support for Croft and Scudamore in their attempts to free the four English Marcher counties from the jurisdiction of the Council in the Marches.29 When Parliament reassembled later that year Scudamore played almost no recorded part in proceedings. However, during the supply debate of 21 Nov. he referred to a letter from the county bench on the question of the Council of the Marches’ jurisdiction.30

Following the dissolution, Scudamore’s health soon began to give cause for anxiety, and in 1612 he took the waters at Bath. He was nevertheless considered well enough to be re-elected to Parliament in 1614,31 when he was appointed to eight committees. These included one to search for precedents after the right of the attorney-general to sit in the Commons was challenged (8 Apr.), and another to help prepare the address to the king on undertaking (13 April). He was also named to attend the conference of 14 Apr. on the bill to settle the succession following the marriage of princess Elizabeth to the elector Palatine, and to consider the bill repealing the Crown’s power to legislate for Wales by ordinance (18 April).32 His account of the session was even gloomier than those he had written in 1610. On 4 June he reported to his father, ‘I can write you no comfort of the hope of any good in this Parliament’. Of Bishop Neile’s speech criticizing the proceedings of the Commons he claimed that ‘we have been abused by a lewd bishop’. Faced with the king’s ultimatum that the Commons should vote supply or face dissolution, he stated, ‘we are resolved to do nothing’, adding ‘this is fearful and dangerous to king and kingdom’.33

After the dissolution Scudamore signed a letter from the Herefordshire gentry to the earl of Somerset thanking him for his support in their campaign against the Council in the Marches. Ironically, three years latter, Scudamore was appointed to that body himself.34 His health continued to deteriorate, in June 1618 his Bath doctors declared that they had succeeded in lessening the pain in his legs, having ‘purged, bled and bathed’ him.35 He survived further such treatment for the best part of a year, and was able to put off drafting his will until 3 Feb. 1619. At his death in April 1619, his personal estate was allegedly worth £21,000. He left a gold chain to his father ‘as a remembrance of my love and duty’, and a £5 ring to his wife. He hoped, with his father’s assistance, to provide £1,000 each for his five daughters. The portion allotted to the eldest daughter took the form of a bond from Henry Poole*, and she was also to have his interest in an iron-mill and furnace, together with timber his father had promised him for fuel. To Walter Pye I*, the family’s legal counsel, he bequeathed a horse from his famous stud, ‘desiring him to be loving and kind to my children as he hath always been to me’. His armour, sword and pistol were to go to his eldest son, (Sir) John*. He was buried at Holme Lacy on 14 Apr., next to his ‘well-beloved’ first wife, in accordance with his instructions. His eldest son was returned for Herefordshire in 1621. A portrait of Scudamore by an unknown artist survives at Kentchurch Court in Herefordshire.36

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. C.J. Robinson, Hist. of Mansions and Manors of Herefs. 142-3; Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 64.
  • 2. GI Admiss.
  • 3. Robinson, 142-3; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 43, 76; I. Atherton, John, 1st Visct. Scudamore 1601-71, p. 34; Sidney Letters ed. A. Collins, ii. 28.
  • 4. S. and E. Usherwood, Counter-Armada, 1596, p. 147.
  • 5. C142/374/85.
  • 6. C231/1, f. 36; 231/4, f. 30; C66/2174.
  • 7. I. Atherton, Ambition and Failure in Stuart Eng. 98; SP14/31/1.
  • 8. APC, 1599-1600, p. 610; Add. 11050, f. 83v.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 61.
  • 10. C181/1, ff. 17v, 32v, 54v, 91; 181/2, ff. 299, 315v.
  • 11. SP14/43/107.
  • 12. Add. 11050, ff. 85, 98.
  • 13. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 251.
  • 14. W. Higford, Institutions, or, Advice to his Grandson (1658), p. 69.
  • 15. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 373.
  • 16. Robinson, 139, 155.
  • 17. Higford, 69.
  • 18. Atherton, Ambition and Failure, 34.
  • 19. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 174.
  • 20. CJ, i. 157a, 172a, 189b, 209b, 971b.
  • 21. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 259.
  • 22. CJ, i. 288a.
  • 23. Chamberlain Letters, i. 233; G. Anstruther, Seminary Priests, i. 304-5.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 400.
  • 25. Atherton, Vist. Scudamore, 34-40, 42; E. Coke, 12th Reps. 69.
  • 26. CJ, i. 406b, 441b.
  • 27. Ibid. 409b, 426a.
  • 28. C115/107/8516-8.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 649.
  • 30. Parl. Debates, 1610 ed. S.R. Gardiner, 138.
  • 31. C115/100/7516.
  • 32. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 33, 76, 82, 98.
  • 33. C115/98/7218.
  • 34. SP14/77/55; 14/78/77.
  • 35. C115/100/7524.
  • 36. WARD 9/94, f. 608v; PROB 11/133, ff. 401v-402v; Robinson, 143; Oxford DNB sub Scudamore Fam.