LAKE, Lancelot (1609-80), of Canons Park, Stanmore, Mdx.

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



Family and Education

bap. 10 Feb. 1609, 3rd s. of Sir Thomas Lake (d.1630) of Canons Park, sec. of state 1616-19, by Mary, da. and coh. of Sir William Ryder, ld. mayor of London 1660-1; bro. of Sir Arthur Lake and Sir Thomas Lake. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1622, BA 1625; L. Inn 1626, called 1633; assoc. bencher 1649. m. by 1637, Frances, da. of Sir Thomas Cheke of Pirgo, Havering, Essex, 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. bro. 1653; kntd. 6 June 1660.1

Offices Held

Farmer of coal duties, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1630-Dec. 1660; j.p. Mdx. 1647-?49, Mar. 1660-d., commr. for militia 1648, Mar. 1660, sewers, Ravensbourne 1657, Sept. 1660, Essex 1658, Oct. 1660, assessment, Mdx. Jan. 1660-d., Westminster 1663-5, oyer and terminer, Mdx. July 1660; dep. lt. Mdx. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, London and Mdx. 1662, recusants, Mdx. 1675.2

Commr. for loyal and indigent officers accounts 1671.3


Lake’s grandfather is said to have been a shopkeeper in Southampton, but his father, despite his ‘mean birth’ and ‘meaner breeding’, became clerk of the signet to Queen Elizabeth and first entered Parliament as MP for Malmesbury in 1593. He bought Canons in 1604, represented the county in 1614, and held office as secretary of state until he became involved in a particularly unsavoury scandal at the Jacobean court. As a younger son, Lake succeeded to his father’s share in the farm of the duty of 12d. a chaldron imposed on coal shipped from Tyneside to London. The family took no part in the Civil War, though after the Restoration Lake claimed to have advanced £2,700 to the King at York and to have brought him military intelligence. His receipts from the coal farm were interrupted in 1645 when the Scots took Newcastle, but restored two years later, and a charge of delinquency in 1650 collapsed after Lake had tampered with the witnesses, or so it was alleged. He succeeded to Canons under a family settlement in 1653, to the exclusion of the daughter of his brother Sir Arthur, who had married Melchior de Sabran, the French representative in London during the Civil War.4

Lake was successful for Middlesex at the contested general election of 1660. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was named to 36 committees. His chief concerns were to secure the renewal of his farm of the coal duties, in which he failed despite repeated petitions, and to obstruct the naturalization of his 12-year-old great-nephew René de Sabran, who as an alien was precluded from claiming any land under the family settlement. In this he was more successful; a bill passed the Lords, but never got beyond first reading in the Commons. Lake was, of course, a court supporter, and was rewarded with a knighthood. Lord Wharton marked him as a friend, but in his only recorded speech he spoke in favour of a religious settlement according to the 39 Articles. His most important committees in the first session were to consider the bills for settling ministers in their livings and for reducing interest to six per cent, and to report on the exceptions to the indemnity bill. After the recess he was among those to whom the attainder bill was committed. On 9 Nov. he was sent with (Sir) Francis Gerard to ask the lord chamberlain to keep the Banqueting Hall clear when the House attended to thank the King for the Worcester House declaration on modified episcopacy. He was named to the committee to draw up the excise clauses in the bill to abolish the court of wards.5

Lake was re-elected in 1661 with Sir Thomas Allen, with whom he worked closely for most of the Cavalier Parliament. A very active back-bencher, he was appointed to 581 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in 11 sessions, and acted as teller in 19 divisions. But only 13 speeches were recorded in his name, he took the chair in committee only once, managed only one conference, and carried only one message. In the first session he was named to the committees for the security bill, restoring bishops to the House of Lords, the inquiry into revenue, the uniformity bill, and the bill of pains and penalties. When the Sabran naturalization bill was reintroduced Lake was given leave to be represented by counsel at the bar of the House. Presumably it was suggested that Sabran, like his younger brother, was being educated by the Jesuits, and the bill was dropped. Two more nieces, the daughters of Lake’s eldest brother Sir Thomas, petitioned the Lords during the winter for payment of £3,000 portions, but no action appears to have been taken. In April 1662 Lake succeeded Edward Rigby in the chair on the highways bill, and helped to manage a conference. He was also named to the committee to consider an additional corporations bill (10 May). In 1663 he was among those ordered to report on defects in the Corporations Act, and to consider the bill to provide remedies against sectaries. He was teller against the retrospective clause in the bill to regulate abuses in the sale of offices. In 1664 he was named to the committee for the conventicles bill,2 and together with Allen secured the rejection of a bill to regulate building in the suburbs. But the City Members were too strong for him over a petition from St. Martin’s le Grand on 13 Jan. 1665. Later in the month Lake twice opposed tax reliefs for London, and with Allen secured a proviso to the supply bill for the equal assessment of new buildings and offices in Middlesex and Westminster. He opposed the bill to enable the maximum rate of interest to be exceeded on government loans. In the Oxford session Lake was appointed to the committee for the five mile bill. The Lords gave a first reading to a bill introduced on behalf of Lady Bergavenny, Sabran’s guardian, to settle his claims on the payment of £550 by Lake, but again it proceeded no further.6

On the fall of Clarendon Lake was appointed to the committees to inquire into the miscarriages of the second Dutch war, the sale of Dunkirk, and the charges against Mordaunt. He was among those sent to ask the Duke of Albemarle to secure the highways against thieves and robbers, and instructed to consider the public accounts bill and the further examination of the French merchants. When there was opposition to the nomination to the accounts commission of Sir James Langham, ‘a very weak man’ whose only qualification appeared to be ‘florid Latin’, Lake acted as teller on his behalf, presumably because Langham’s daughter was married to his son. On 18 Feb. 1668 he spoke ‘very well’ against the coercive clause in the triennial bill introduced by Sir Richard Temple. ‘This bill’, he said, ‘would make the lord keeper a traitor if he did not obey it; and I say ... he is a traitor if he do obey it.’ He was among those ordered to take the accounts of the revenue voted for the war and to bring in a militia bill. In the debate on the bill to prevent thefts and robberies he was teller for an additional clause giving 80 days for the apprehension of thieves. He seconded a motion for raising a loan of £100,000 in the City; but he opposed confirmation of the allotments already made in Thames Street and the bill to raise money for rebuilding London after the Fire by a tax on coal. A friend to Ormonde, he was listed by Sir Thomas Osborne among those Members who usually voted for supply. He was named to all the committees against conventicles in this period.7

Lake was named to the committee that produced the test bill against Roman Catholics, and he also served on the committee to consider a bill of ease for Protestant dissenters, although he had declared himself against giving it ‘any consideration at all’, and urged that the shilling fine for absence from church on Sunday should be retained. On 14 Apr. 1675 he was appointed to the committee to draw up an address for the removal of Lauderdale, remarking in the debate that ‘the Scots engaged against the King formerly by their oaths. They are, he thinks, Scotchmen still, and would not believe them, though they take the oaths.’ In the same session he was appointed to the committees for appropriating the customs to the use of the navy and hindering the growth of Popery, and in the autumn he was among those ordered to bring in a bill against the suspending power in religion and to consider a bill hindering Papists from sitting in Parliament. Nevertheless his name appeared on the working lists, and Sir Richard Wiseman confidently described Lake and Allen as ‘my particular friends’. Shaftesbury classed him as ‘thrice vile’ in 1677, when the Commons added a proviso in his interest to the bill for the general naturalization of the children of English subjects abroad during the late troubles. The author of A Seasonable Argument described him as ‘much in debt’ and ‘a notorious cuckold’, adding that he had been promised that ‘his elder brother’s son’ should never be naturalized. His name appeared on the government list of the court party in May 1678, but on 24 Oct. he was again included in a committee to exclude Papists from both Houses of Parliament. He was given leave of absence for a week on 18 Dec., and never stood again, although he was not blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’. He was buried at Little Stanmore on 4 May 1680. His youngest son Warwick Lake sat for the county from 1698 to 1705.8

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. St. Martin in the Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxv), 38; Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 76-77; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 63-64; Lysons, Environs, iii. 413-14.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 475; Cal. Comm. Comp. 2261; C181/6/228, 297; 7/51, 59.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1671, p. 255.
  • 4. Cal. Comm. Comp. 2261; CSP Dom. 1653-4, pp. 310, 377, 391, 459; 1661-2, p. 616; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 186, 1205-6; HMC 7th Rep. 112.
  • 5. Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 644; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 616; 1665-6, p. 117; 1673, p. 233; HMC 7th Rep. 112; Bowman diary, f. 68v; CJ, viii. 180.
  • 6. CJ, viii. 290, 404, 413, 434, 559, 582, 588, 593, 602; DNB (Sabran); HMC 7th Rep. 152, 162, 180, 182; LJ, xi. 693.
  • 7. CJ, ix. 36, 64, 95; Burnet, i. 483; Milward, 190, 223, 287.
  • 8. Dering, 122-3; Grey, ii. 147; iii. 26; CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 75; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 84; Lysons, iii. 413.