SHUTE, Robert (c.1576-1621), of Leaden Court, High Holborn, Mdx.

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



1621 - 6 Feb. 1621

Family and Education

b. c.1576, 5th but 4th surv. s. of Robert Shute† (d.1590) of Oakington, Cambs., j.q.b. 1586-90, and Thomasine, da. of Christopher Burgoyne of Long Stanton, Cambs.1 educ. Queens’, Camb. 1588, BA 1593, MA 1596; G. Inn 1600, called 1605.2 unm. bur. 7 Feb. 1621.3

Offices Held

Commr. swans. Herts. 1612;4 j.p. Mdx. 1617-d., Herts. and St. Albans liberty 1620-d.5

Bencher, G. Inn 1617, reader 1620;6 clerk of enrolments (jt.), k.b. 1617-d.;7 recorder, London 19 Jan. 1621-d.8


Shute’s father was a successful Gray’s Inn lawyer who represented Cambridge until appointed a baron of the Exchequer in 1579. Shute himself was apparently intended for the Church; but he was outlawed for assault while still a student, and switched to follow his father into the legal profession. Within five years of his call to the bar he had run up a bill of £300 for jewels and plate, and incurred 15 more outlawries, for debt and other causes.9 It may have been through Gray’s Inn connections, or via his nephew Edward’s marriage to a kinswoman of Thomas Meautys*, that Shute was first introduced to his patron, Sir Francis Bacon*.10 Shute also became a ‘hangby and pettifogger’ of the Villiers family.11 In February 1616 the new royal favourite, Sir George Villiers, employed Shute to bring news to Bacon that he would succeed Lord Ellesmere (Thomas Egerton†) as lord chancellor.12

Shute was ‘thrust in by menace’ by Bacon as one of the prothonotaries of the King’s Bench, displacing James Whitelocke*, in 1617. Lord chief justice Sir Henry Montagu* agreed to appoint Shute as partner to Robert Heath*, on condition of receiving an annual cut of £500 for himself from the profits of the office. Heath and Shute were each to receive £600 a year as salary, and the residue, perhaps as much as £5,000, was reserved for Villiers, now earl of Buckingham.13 Whitelocke commented sourly that Shute was ‘never likely to do more good than bear a name, and another to take the pain’.14 In November 1618 Bacon, Buckingham and the king all wrote to the corporation of London recommending Shute as the next recorder of the City, in succession to Richard Martin*, who by this time lay on his death-bed. Shute thereupon went to the Guildhall ‘in great bravery with many of his friends’, but was rejected as being incapable, both for his ‘want of years, gravity, learning in the law’, and for having ‘been divers times outlawed upon record, and been bound to good behaviour’.15 His illustrious patrons were unable to counter these arguments, and the recordership was instead bestowed upon Heath.

Shute gave the Lent readings at Gray’s Inn in 1620, and in pursuit of respectability undertook to build a suitable chamber and study for the preacher.16 He was elected for St. Albans on Bacon’s nomination in the closing days of the year. Before the Parliament met, Heath resigned the recordership to take up his appointment as solicitor-general, whereupon Buckingham signified to the corporation of London that the king desired that Shute should be appointed as his successor. This time, on 19 Jan. 1621, the aldermen complied.17 John Chamberlain reported on 3 Feb. that ‘no doubt he will stick to them till they all be weary of him, for he is not like to be removed’. However, Shute died a few days later, intestate and ‘a very poor man every way’, probably without taking his seat in the Parliament, which had been in session for less than a week.18 He was buried on 7 Feb. at St. Andrew Holborn ‘out of his house in Leaden Court’; administration of his estate was granted to his nephew.19 Evidence was given to the House of Commons after his death that he had played a principal part in persuading Lady Wharton to bribe Bacon in order to obtain a favourable decree in Chancery.20 The next member of the family to enter Parliament was Shute’s great-great-nephew John, who assumed the name of Barrington and was elected for Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1715.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 25, 96.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 235.
  • 3. GL, ms 6673/1, unfol.; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 343.
  • 4. C181/2, f. 173.
  • 5. C231/4, ff. 45, 113, 114; C181/3, f. 17.
  • 6. PBG Inn, i. 227, 235.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 433.
  • 8. Remembrancia ed. W.H. and H.C. Overall, 294, 303; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 337.
  • 9. C2/Jas.I/522/16; W.R. Prest, Rise of the Barristers, 391; Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx), 65.
  • 10. Morant, Essex, ii. 23.
  • 11. Liber Famelicus, 58.
  • 12. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, v. 245.
  • 13. Ibid. 58; R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 32; G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 214.
  • 14. Liber Famelicus, 58.
  • 15. Ibid. 64; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 180-1.
  • 16. PBG Inn, i. 235, 237-8.
  • 17. Remembrancia, 294, 303.
  • 18. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 337, 343.
  • 19. GL, ms 6673/1, unfol.; PROB 6/10, f. 107v.
  • 20. CJ, i. 565a, b; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, vii. 256.