Francis Barnham

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Sir Francis Barnham (1576–1646) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1604 and 1646. He supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War.


Barham was the eldest son of Martin Barnham, of London and Hollingbourne, Kent and his second wife Judith Calthorpe, daughter of Sir Martin Calthorpe of London, and was a nephew of Benedict Barnham. He was baptised at Hollingbourne on 20 October 1576.[1] His father was sheriff of Kent in 1598.

Barnham matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1592, and was admitted at Gray's Inn on 8 November 1594.[1] He was knighted in 1603 at Whitehall Palace on James I's accession shortly after his father.[2] In 1604, he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Grampound.[3] In 1613 he inherited from Belknap Rudston, the brother of his father's first wife, the estate of Boughton Monchelsea. He was elected MP for Grampound in 1614. With his father-in-law, Sampson Lennard, an antiquary of some eminence, he was nominated a member of the Academy of Literature projected with the approval of the court in 1617, but subsequently abandoned. In 1621 Barnham was elected MP for Maidstone. He was elected MP for Maidstone again in 1626 and sat until 1629 when King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years.[3]

In April 1640, Barnham was elected MP for Maidstone in the Short Parliament. He was re-elected MP for Maidstone in the Long Parliament in November 1640.[3] He supported the parliamentarians during the First English Civil War. He died in 1646 as a new writ for Maidstone was issued, to fill a vacancy stated to be caused by Sir Francis's death, but in Sir Roger Twysden's diary he is mentioned in 1649 as urging the release of his eldest son Robert, imprisoned by the Kentish committee.

Twysden described him as "a right honest gentleman." Sir Henry Wotton spoke of him as one of his "chiefest friends" and a man "of singular conversation".


Barnham married Elizabeth Lennard, daughter of Sampson Lennard, of Chevening, Kent, and was the father of fifteen children, of whom the fifth son, William, was mayor of Norwich in 1652, and died in 1676. His eldest son Robert received a baronetcy in 1663. His son Thomas (b.1625) arrived in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1655 (according to Colket, Meredith B., Jr.'s Founders of Early American Families: Emigrants from Europe 1607-1657. Cleveland: General Court of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, 1975). Through Thomas the Barnham maybe related to the Barnum family, namely P. T. Barnum who was the co-founder of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Barnham, Francis". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Gray
John Astell
Member of Parliament for Grampound
With: William Noy
Thomas St Aubyn
Succeeded by
John Hampden
Robert Carey
Preceded by
Francis Fane
Lawrence Washington
Member of Parliament for Maidstone
With: Francis Fane
Succeeded by
Sir George Fane
Thomas Stanley
Preceded by
Edward Mapleton
Thomas Stanley
Member of Parliament for Maidstone
With: Sir George Fane
Succeeded by
Parliament suspended until 1640
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Maidstone
With: Sir George Fane 1640
Sir Humfrey Tufton, 1st Baronet 1640–1646
Succeeded by
Sir Humfrey Tufton, 1st Baronet
Sir Thomas Twisden, 1st Baronet