Harbottle Grimston

Sir Harbottle Grimston (January 27, 1603 - January 2, 1685), English politician, ond son of Sir Harbottle Grimston, Bart. (d. 1648), was born at Bradfield Hall, near Manningtree.

Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he became a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, then recorder of Harwich and recorder of Colchester. As member for Colchester, Grimston sat in the Short Parliament of 1640, and he represented the same borough during the Long Parliament, speedily becoming a leading member of the popular party. He attacked Archbishop Laud with great vigour; was a member of the important committees of the parliament, including the one appointed in consequence of the attempted seizure of the five members; and became deputy-lieutenant of Essex after the passing of the militia ordinance in January 1642.

He disliked taking up arms against the king, but remained nominally an adherent of the parliamentary party during the Civil War. In the words of Clarendon, he continued rather than concurred with them. Grimston does not appear to have taken the Solemn League and Covenant, but after the conclusion of the first period of the war he again became more active. He was president of the committee which investigated the escape of the king from Hampton Court in 1647, and was one of those who negotiated with Charles at Newport in 1648, when, according to Burnet, he fell upon his knees and urged the king to come to terms.

From this time Grimston's sympathies appear to have been with the Royalists. Turned out of the House of Commons when the assembly was purged by colonel Pride, he was imprisoned; but was released after promising to do nothing detrimental to the parliament or the army, and spent the next few years in retirement. Before this time, his elder brother having already died, he had succeeded his father as 2nd baronet. In 1656 Sir Harbottle was returned to Cromwell's second parliament as member for Essex; but he was not allowed to take his seat; and with 97 others who were similarly treated he issued a remonstrance to the public.

He was among the secluded members who re-entered the Long Parliament in February 1660, was then a member of the council of state, and was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons in the Convention Parliament of 1660. As Speaker he visited Charles II at Breda, and addressed him in very flattering terms on his return to London; but he refused to accede to the kings demand that he should dismiss Burnet from his position as chaplain to the Master of the Rolls, and in parliament he strongly denounced any relaxation of the laws against papists.

Grimston did not retain the office of Speaker after the dissolution of the Convention Parliament, but he was a member of the commission which tried the regicides, and in November 1660 he was appointed Master of the Rolls. Report says he paid Clarendon 8000 for the office, while Burnet declares he obtained it without any application of his own. His friend and chaplain, Burnet, speaks very highly of his piety and impartiality, while not omitting the undoubted fact that he was much sharpened against popery.

He translated the law reports of his father-in-law, the judge, Sir George Croke (1560-1642), which were written in Norman-French, and five editions of this work have appeared. Seven of his parliamentary speeches were published, and he also wrote Strena Christiana (London, 1644, and other editions). Grimston's first wife, Croke's daughter Mary, bore him six sons and two daughters; and by his second wife, Anne, daughter and heiress of Sir Nathaniel Bacon, K.B., a grandson of Sir Nicholas Bacon, he had one daughter.

Of his sons one only, Samuel (1643-1700), survived his father, and when he died in October 1700 the baronetcy became extinct. Sir Harbottle's eldest daughter, Mary, married Sir Capel-Luckyn, Bart., and their grandson, William Luckyn, succeeded to the estates of his great-uncle, Sir Samuel Grimston, and took the name of Grimston in 1700. This William Luckyn Grimston (1683-1756) was created Baron Dunboyne and Viscount Grimston in the peerage of Ireland in 1719. He was succeeded as 2nd viscount by his son James (1711-1773), whose son James Bucknall (1747-1808) was made an English peer as baron Verulam of Gorhambury in 1790. Then in 1815 his son James Walter (1775 1845), 2nd baron Verulam, was created earl of Verulam, and the peer in 1911 was his direct descendant. Sir Harbottle Grimston bought Sir Nicholas Bacon's estate at Gorhambury, which is still the residence of his descendants.

See G Burnet, History of My Own Time, edited by O Airy (Oxford, 1900).

Preceded by:
William Lenthall
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by:
Sir Edward Turnour

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