WHETSTONE (WHITESTONS), Sir Barnard (c.1547-1624), of Woodford, Essex and Hangleton, Suss.

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. c.1547,1 2nd s. of Robert Whetstone, Haberdasher, of the Three Gilded Anchors, Cheapside, London, being 1st s. with his 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Philip Bernard† of Great Yarmouth, Norf., and coh. to her bro. Francis; half-bro. of Robert Browne†.2 educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1563; G. Inn 1580.3 m. (1) by Apr. 1571, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of John Calibut of Castle Acre, Norf., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. d.v.p;.; (2) 7 Feb. 1589, Anne, wid. of Lord Giles Paulet of Cottles House, Atworth, Wilts., s.p.; (3) 1 July 1597, Mary, da. of Richard Whalley of Kirton, Notts., wid. of Richard Bellingham of Hangleton, s.p. suc. fa. in Woodford estate 1557; 4 kntd. 23 July 1603.5 d. 17 Aug. 1624.6 sig. Ber[nard] Whitestons.

Offices Held

Vol. Low Countries 1585-6.7

J.p. Essex 1590-1616, 1619-at least 1622,8 Suss. by 1601-14, 1615-d.;9 verderer, Walham forest, Essex 1594;10 commr. sewers, rape of Pevensey, Suss. 1602, Essex 1615, 1620,11 subsidy, Suss. 1608.12


Whetstone’s father prospered sufficiently in the City to acquire land in seven counties, the greater part of which seems eventually to have come to Whetstone and his siblings, the children of his father’s second marriage.13 Whetstone himself inherited the manor of Woodford in Essex, where he provoked a major enclosure riot in 1573.14 His mother made two further marriages, both into well-connected East Midlands gentry families. Her second husband was Robert Browne of Walcot in Northamptonshire, an intimate of the Cecils. Whetstone’s second stepfather was the brother of William Ashby†, a diplomat from a Leicestershire family.15

Whetstone attached himself to the earl of Leicester (Robert Dudley†), under whom he fought in the Netherlands in the 1580s, as did his brother, the writer George Whetstone. Following the battle of Zutphen in 1586, Whetstone was granted an augmentation of his arms ‘for his valiant service on horseback upon the enemy’. His brother’s death in a duel with Sir Edmund Uvedale† the following year may have cooled his military ardour. A letter written in 1588 asking Ashby, then ambassador to Scotland, to procure one of those ‘spaniels which will set partridges, called with us setting dogs’ suggests that his chief interests were sporting ones.16

Whetstone was married three times. His last wife, whom he wed in 1597, was the widow of Richard Bellingham, who brought him the manor of Hangleton in Sussex, leased from lord treasurer Buckhurst (Thomas Sackville†), subsequently 1st earl of Dorset, at the substantial annual rent of £260, and a lease of the lands of Edward Banester† forfeited for recusancy.17 Whetstone was presumably a puritan, as he signed a 1603 petition from the Sussex gentry in favour of Nonconformist ministers, and the 3rd Lord Rich (Robert Rich†) believed that he could be persuaded to support the puritan Sir Francis Barrington*, in the 1604 Essex election.18

Whetstone’s stepson Richard Bellingham I* was in the service of Lord Admiral Nottingham (Charles Howard†), and it was presumably Nottingham who nominated him for New Shoreham in 1604. However, he was probably already known in the borough, which was situated four miles from Hangleton.

Whetstone made two recorded speeches and received 12 committee appointments in the 1604 session, although he may have been absent from the Commons during the opening stages of the session as he is not mentioned in the surviving records until after Easter. On 28 Apr. he was named to the committee for the bill to prevent woodland being converted to pasture or tillage, possibly because he was a verderer of Waltham forest, Essex, which office may also explain his nomination to consider the game bill on 16 June.19 Several of his committee appointments related to religion, such as those concerned with bills for the suppression of ‘popish’ books (6 June), the reform of ecclesiastical courts (16 June) and the enforcement of church attendance (27 June). He also took part in the debate of 13 June on the petition in favour of Nonconformist ministers, although his words were not recorded.20 On 22 June he was named to the committee to consider reviving the statutes which had expired on the death of Elizabeth, and a week later he was among those instructed to attend a conference with the Lords about bills and other matters. These included the bill against Jesuits and seminary priests and the question of the Commons’ cognizance of ecclesiastical issues.21 Sitting for a maritime borough it is not surprising that Whetstone was appointed to the committee for the encouragement of the fishing industry on 20 June, and on the same day he urged the House to proceed with the bill for the preservation of fish fry, a measure which may have been promoted by Dorset’s son Robert Sackville. He was promptly added to the committee but the bill was never reported.22

In the second session Whetstone was appointed to a committee on 13 Mar. 1606, but its subject is unclear. The Journal suggests that the appointment related to ‘Warren’, presumably the bill which had been committed on 27 Feb. for the bill to enable William Waller to sell land to Giles Warren. However, according to a document among the papers of Sir George More*, Whetstone was named to consider the Marshalsea bill, which received its second reading on 13 March. It is possible that the clerk conflated an order requiring the Waller committee to meet with the naming of members to the Marshalsea committee.23

Thirteen days later Whetstone was added to the privileges committee following the debate about attendance in the Commons, and on 3 Apr. he was among those instructed to consider the bill to regulate elections.24 On the same day he was the second person named to consider the revived bill for the preservation of fish fry; his name appeared after Sackville’s and immediately preceded that of another of Sackville’s tenants, (Sir) George Rivers. The measure was recommitted on third reading (17 Apr.), and Whetstone offered an amended version to the House on 1 May, but it was objected that the committee had met outside the House, presumably during the Easter recess, and that this infringed the rule that a recommitted a bill could only be discussed in the ‘cupboard’ or the committee chamber while the Commons was sitting. The committee was therefore ordered to reconsider the bill, which he brought back the following day, when it was finally passed.25 On 19 Mar. Whetstone was appointed to the committee to consider bills to improve church attendance and against actors. He remained concerned about ecclesiastical grievances and was among those appointed to manage the conference with the Lords on 11 Apr. about church reform. He was also instructed to accompany Sir Francis Bacon with the address to the Crown on the same subject on 14 May.26

Whetstone was named to attend a conference on the Union with Scotland at the beginning of the third session (25 Nov. 1606). However, his principal legislative concern was now the bill for the better satisfying of debts. Appointed to the committee on 26 Feb. 1607, he moved for meetings of the committee on three occasions, on 29 Apr., 5 and 15 May, but the measure was never reported.27 His other committees included those for bills ‘to reform the abuses of wide and wasteful writing’ of legal copies (12 May), for the confirmation of composition agreements made with the tenants of Crown manors, and ‘for amortising of lands to poor churches’ (both on 15 May).28

In November 1608 Whetstone, secured a Chancery judgment against a long-standing claimant to an annuity out of Woodford. That same month he also complained that Henry Spiller*, the Exchequer official responsible for collecting recusancy revenues, had improperly deprived him of the Banester lands on Edward Banester’s death in 1606 by obtaining the discharge of the heir from the Exchequer, ‘notwithstanding he knew him to be a recusant’.29

Whetstone was appointed to 32 committees in the fourth session, including one, on 8 May, for an explanatory bill on recusancy. He was named to attend the conference of 15 Feb. to hear lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) expound the Crown’s financial demands. His legislative committees included bills to reform disorders on common lands (19 Feb.) and to prohibit hawking in the summer (29 March). On 21 Apr. he was added to the committee for the bill, originally from the Lords, to prevent poaching of deer and rabbits on its recommitment. At the end of the session he was among those appointed on 18 July to consider the distribution of the Commons Benevolence. Nothing is known of his activity in the poorly documented last session, and there is no evidence that he sought re-election.30

Whetstone was dropped from the Essex commission of the peace in 1616 and two years later was prosecuted in the Exchequer Court for encroaching on Waltham Forest. He was restored to the bench in 1619.31 He died in August 1624. No will has been found, and no other member of his family is known to have sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to St. John’s, Camb.
  • 2. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 617; Abstracts of Inquisitiones Post Mortem Relating to the City of London ed. G.S. Fry (Index Lib. xv), 166; T.C. Izard, George Whetstone, 6-8.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 4. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 520; Suss. Genealogies: Lewes Centre comp. J. Comber, 12; Abstracts of Inquisitiones Post Mortem relating to the City of London, 166; CPR, 1569-72, p. 314; J. Kennedy, Hist. of Par. of Leyton, 107; Collins, Peerage, ii. 373; C142/430/167.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 119.
  • 6. C142/430/167.
  • 7. CSP Span. 1580-6, p. 555.
  • 8. Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Eliz. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 341; C231/4, ff. 14, 84; Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 253.
  • 9. C66/1549; Cal. Assize Recs. Suss. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 56, 61, 134.
  • 10. W.R. Fisher, Forest of Essex, 376.
  • 11. C181/1, f. 27; 181/2, f. 230v; 181/3, f. 19.
  • 12. SP14/31/1.
  • 13. A. Bennett Bamford, ‘Bequests relating to Essex’, Trans. Essex. Arch. Soc. n.s. xiv. 42.
  • 14. F.G. Emmison, Eliz. Life: Disorder, 101-2.
  • 15. Oxford DNB sub Whetstone, George; Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 14; HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 353.
  • 16. CSP Span. 1580-6, p. 555; Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 274; Izard, 28-30, 163; Eg. 2598, f. 8.
  • 17. VCH Suss. vii. 279; PROB 11/80, f. 360v; C.E. Clayton, ‘Hangleton and its hist.’ Suss. Arch. Colls. xxxiv. 174; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 358; Recusants in the Exch. Pipe Rolls ed. H. Bowler and T.J. McCann (Cath. Rec. Soc. lxxi), 14.
  • 18. T.W.W. Smart, ‘Extracts from the Mss of Samuel Jeake’, Suss. Arch. Colls. ix. 47; G.A. Lowndes, ‘Hist. of Barrington Fam.’, Trans. Essex. Arch. Soc. n.s. ii. 15.
  • 19. CJ, i. 189b, 240b.
  • 20. Ibid. 233b, 238b, 240b, 247b.
  • 21. Ibid. 244b, 248b.
  • 22. Ibid. 995b.
  • 23. Ibid. 284a; Surr. Hist. Cent. LM/1889.
  • 24. CJ, i. 290a, 293a
  • 25. Ibid. 292b, 299b, 303b, 304a; Bowyer Diary, 135.
  • 26. CJ, i. 286b, 296b, 309a.
  • 27. Ibid. 343a, 1036b, 1040b, 1044b.
  • 28. Ibid. 373a, 374a.
  • 29. C78/172/15; Lansd. 153, f. 150.
  • 30. CJ, i. 393b, 396b, 416a, 419b, 426a, 451b.
  • 31. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 586.