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John Pickering, Knight of Titchmarsh

[1585 – 29 Jan 1628] Knighted 19 Oct 1619
m: c 1609, England

+ Susannah Dryden [1564-bur: 16 Apr 1661] daughter of Sir Erasmus Dryden, bart. of Canons-Ashby,
…………………..Northampton, and Aunt of John Dryden, poet laureate

About Sir John Pickering, MP


The Pickering family originally came from Westmorland, and acquired Titchmarsh, in eastern Northamptonshire, in 1553.1

Christopher Pickering, a cousin to this Member, sat for Cumberland in 1597.

Pickering’s father was knighted in 1611 after arresting two Jesuits at Harrowden, the home of the notoriously Catholic 4th Lord Vaux, and according to one account Pickering himself, then in his mid-twenties, was injured on this occasion. After his father’s death in 1613, Pickering was ordered to restore the chapel furnishings that had been plundered.11 His keen puritanism was evidenced in July 1618 when he examined witnesses against John Williams (afterwards lord keeper) for encouraging ‘pastimes and sports’ on Sundays in his parish.2 Lord Spencer (Sir Robert Spencer†) recommended Pickering to Lord Montagu (Sir Edward Montagu*) as an acceptable candidate for the county at the 1624 general election, but there is no evidence that he actually stood.3

Pickering won Northamptonshire’s second seat in 1626, with the approval of both Spencer and the sheriff, Sir Richard Knightley*, defeating Sir Lewis Watson* of Rockingham in a heated contest. He at first assumed that he could also rely on Montagu’s support, but the latter in fact championed Watson, causing great anxiety to Pickering in the run up to the hustings; nevertheless, a strong base of support in the town of Northampton ensured him the victory.4 He made his maiden speech at the committee for religion on 16 Feb. 1626, in debate on how to maintain the income of the church, propounding ‘a double tithe’, and also calling for ‘impropriations belonging to deans and chapters’ to be considered.5 His committee appointments included those concerning accountants’ oaths (11 Feb.), Sunday observance (1 Mar.), sheriffs’ accounts (14 Mar.), excommunication (2 May), and curates’ stipends (9 May).6 He was one of a sub-committee named on 6 Mar. to prepare for a conference with the Lords on defence, and was accordingly delegated to the conference itself the following day.7 His final appointment was to draft a Remonstrance against Tunnage and Poundage (10 June).8

On 19 Jan. 1627 Pickering appeared before the Privy Council with several of his Northamptonshire neighbours for refusing the pay the Forced Loan, and ten days later was committed to the Gatehouse.9 There he developed tubercular symptoms, and on 13 June made ‘humble suit’ to be transferred to better air. He was allowed to take up residence anywhere in Middlesex, and released on 2 Jan. 1628 on condition of remaining in Northamptonshire. Nevertheless, he died ‘of a tertian ague’ on 29 Jan., and was buried at Titchmarsh.10 In his will, drafted on 6 Oct. 1627, he appointed his wife sole executrix, charging her to obtain the wardship of their eldest son.

He left his son Edward and daughter Mary £1,000 each, with provision of 1,000 marks for his posthumous child (a son, as it turned out). His father-in-law and Francis Nicolls* were among the trustees, and the overseers were Sir Miles Fleetwood* and Christopher Sherland*.11 A friend of the puritan divine Robert Bolton, he was remembered by Bolton’s biographer as a man ‘whose virtuous memory I can never think of but in the phrase of the Apostle: the world was not worthy of him’.12 His eldest son Sir Gilbert represented the county in both the Short and Long Parliaments, and acted as chamberlain in the Protector’s Court.

Sources: Ref Volumes: 1604-1629 Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi

1. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 313; APC, 1613-14, p. 257.
2. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 161, 208.
3. HMC Montagu, 106.
4. Ibid. 109, 110; HMC Buccleuch, iii. 257, 259, 260-3.
5. Procs. 1626, ii. 57.
6. Ibid. 21, 162, 281; iii. 120, 199.
7. Ibid. ii. 206, 216.
8. Ibid. iii. 414.
9. APC, 1627, pp. 25, 49, 342; 1627-8, p. 216; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 219, 223, 298.
10. Add. 34324, f. 353; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 189, 319.
11. PROB 11/153, f. 143; WARD 9/163, f. 8.
12. R. Bolton, Four Last Things (1632), STC3242, sig. c6v.123. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 306.