Edward Herbert (attorney-general)

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Arms of Herbert: Per pale azure and gules, three lions rampant argent

Sir Edward Herbert (c. 1591–1658) of Aston in Montgomeryshire, was a Welsh lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1621 and 1641. He was Attorney-General under King Charles I.


Herbert was the son of Charles Herbert of Aston, Montgomeryshire and was a first cousin of Edward Herbert, Baron Herbert of Cherbury. His grandfather was Sir Edward Herbert (d.1593) (great-nephew of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1423–1469)), Constable of Aberystwith Castle (16 March 1543-4), Sheriff of Montgomeryshire in 1557 and 1568, a Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire in 1553 and 1556-7 and an Esquire of the Body to Queen Elizabeth I.[1]


He was admitted to the Inner Temple in November 1609 and was called to the bar in 1618. In 1621 he was elected a Member of Parliament for Montgomery. He was elected MP for Downton, Wiltshire in 1624 for the Happy Parliament and was re-elected in 1626 and 1629.

In April 1640 Herbert was elected MP for Reading and for Old Sarum and chose to sit for Old Sarum in the Short Parliament. He was re-elected MP for Old Sarum in November 1640 for the Long Parliament. Having been appointed Attorney-General he was instructed by King Charles I to take legal proceedings against various Members of Parliament who had been concerned in the passing of the Grand Remonstrance. The only result, however, was Herbert's own impeachment by the House of Commons in 1641 and his imprisonment.

Later in life he lived in exile with the royal family in Holland and in France, becoming Lord Keeper of the Great Seal to King Charles II in April 1653, an office which he had refused in 1645. He resigned that office the next year. He died in Paris.

Marriage & progeny[edit]

Herbert married Margaret Smith, widow of Thomas Carey of Sunninghill Park, Berkshire and daughter of Thomas Smith of Abingdon-on-Thames and Parson's Green, Middlesex. Herbert's sons included:


  1. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 26, Herbert, Edward (1583-1648) by Sidney Lee [1]
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir John Danvers
Member of Parliament for Montgomery
Succeeded by
George Herbert
Preceded by
Sir Clipsby Crew
Sir William Dodington
Member of Parliament for Downton
With: Sir Clipsby Crew 1625
Sir William Tremhall 1626
Sir Benjamin Rudyerd 1628–1629
Succeeded by
Parliament suspended until 1640
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Reading
With: Sir John Berkeley
Succeeded by
Francis Knollys III
Adm. Francis Knollys
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
With: Sir William Howard 1640
Hon. Robert Cecil 1640–1641
Succeeded by
Hon. Robert Cecil
Sir William Savile
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Edward Littleton
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Oliver St John
Preceded by
Sir John Bankes
Attorney General
Succeeded by
Thomas Gardiner (Royal)
Oliver St John (Parliamentary)
Preceded by
Thomas Gardiner
Attorney General (to the Royal Court in exile)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Vacant - last held by Sir Richard Lane
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
Succeeded by
Vacant - next held by Sir Edward Hyde