GAWDY, Sir Charles, 1st Bt. (c.1635-1707), of Crow's Hall, Debenham, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Nov. 1678
Mar. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1635, 1st s. of Sir Charles Gawdy of Crow’s Hall by Vere, da. and coh. of Sir Edward Cooke of Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex. m. (1) 4 Sept. 1657 (with £4,000), Lady Mary Feilding (d.1691), da. of George, 1st Earl of Desmond [I], 1s. 2da.; (2) by 1699, Elizabeth, s.p. suc. fa. 1650; kntd. bef. 1661; cr. Bt. 20 Apr. 1661.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. July 1660-?89; commr. for assessment, Suff. Aug. 1660-80, 1689-92, Orford 1679-80; dep. lt. Suff. 1662-89, capt. of militia ft. by 1664, maj. by 1676-?89; freeman, Eye 1675; commr. for recusants, Suff. 1675, receiver of taxes 1677-9; common councilman, Thetford 1682-Oct. 1688; portman, Orford 1685-Oct. 1688.2


Gawdy’s grandfather, a younger son of the Norfolk family, inherited Crow’s Hall, ten miles from Eye, from the Framlinghams in 1595. His father, ‘a zealous professor of the reformed religion, settled and established in the reign of Elizabeth ... a lover of monarchy and of an undaunted loyalty’, held Household office under Charles I and served as commissioner of array and colonel of horse in the Civil War. His delinquency fine was fixed at £1,789, but reduced to £165 on settling £150 p.a. for his life on four local ministers. This turned out well for the family, since he died only two years later, with a cheerfulness that astonished the beholders. It is clear from the family papers, however, that he had incurred other debts, and the estate was never again on a firm financial footing.3

Gawdy probably accompanied his cousin William Gawdy to The Hague in May 1660, and was knighted there. In the following year he was created a baronet, but he seems to have taken no part in politics until October 1675, when he brought up the Suffolk petition against the Royal Africa Company. He was first returned for Eye at a by-election in 1678. Shaftesbury marked him ‘vile’, and he was included in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters; but he obtained leave to go into the country on 18 Dec. and is not known to have played any part in the closing weeks of the Cavalier Parliament. At the first general election of 1679 Gawdy joined with (Sir) Robert Reeve to oppose the Cornwallis interest, by which he was aspersed as a Papist, although nothing could be further from the truth. The other candidates withdrew on the eve of the poll, after putting Gawdy to the expense of a whole year’s revenue, or so it was believed in the family. He was again marked ‘vile’ by Shaftesbury, and voted against exclusion. He was appointed only to the committee of elections and privileges and to that to consider a petition from some foreign merchants. On the dissolution of the first Exclusion Parliament, Gawdy’s mother wrote to her lifelong friend and adviser, Sir Ralph Verney: ‘I dread a new election at Eye, for I fear a third part of that way of destruction I shall not be able to prevent’. Lord Cornwallis was determined to oust him, and by August the electors were ‘feasting so high’ as to double the expense of the last election; but all he could achieve was a double return, and the grant of the fine imposed on the bailiff of Eye for seditious words. The return was decided in favour of the Cornwallis candidates when Parliament met, but Gawdy regained his seat after another contest in 1681, though he was appointed to no committees in the Oxford Parliament.4

On the death of Charles II, Verney urged Gawdy to come to town at once, for ‘there are certain critical moments when men that observe them may build their fortunes’. Sunderland urged him to secure the return of loyal candidates to James II’s Parliament, and he was himself re-elected for Eye. A very active Member, he was appointed to 16 committees. He helped to draw up the loyal address from the House on the news of Monmouth’s invasion, and was also concerned with the measures to prevent clandestine marriages, encourage shipbuilding and relieve poor debtors. Presumably he continued to support the Government in the second session, for he was granted the crown’s interest in the estate of a neighbour who had hanged himself; but it is not clear that he gained anything material from Verney’s recommendation of him as ‘a most accomplished gentleman, extremely civil, obliging in all his expressions, and well worthy of his Majesty’s favour’. In September 1688 the King’s electoral agents reported that Gawdy would probably be chosen for Eye; though his principles could not be depended upon, his circumstances would engage him to serve the Court. He did not stand in 1689, and was dropped from the lieutenancy after the Revolution. His name ceased to appear on the assessment commissions after 1692, when he probably sold his estate. He was buried at Romford on 15 Sept. 1707. The baronetcy expired with his only son, who was of unsound mind.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. HMC Gawdy, 153; Verney Mems. ii. 119.
  • 2. Add. 39246, ff. 4, 5, 23; E. Suff. RO, EE2/D5/1; CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 590; 1685, p. 46; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 431; SP44/165/61.
  • 3. Copinger, Suff. Manors, vii. 130-3; W. H. Black, Docquet of Letters Patent, 74; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1236-7; HMC Gawdy, 189.
  • 4. HMC 7th Rep. 494; Bulstrode Pprs. 315; BL, M636/32, 33 Lady Gawdy to Verney, 6, 27 Feb., 10 Mar. 1679, 15 July, 12 Aug. 1679; Cary Gardiner to Verney, 20 Aug. 1679; Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 627; Grey, viii. 228.
  • 5. Verney Mems. ii. 378; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 21; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 434, 1152.