Henry Ford (Tiverton MP)

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For other MPs of this name, see Henry Ford (disambiguation).
Arms of Ford of Nutwell:[1] Party per fesse or and sable, in chief a greyhound courant in base an owl within a bordure engrailed all counter-changed

Sir Henry Ford (January 1617[2]-1684), of Nutwell in Devon was four times MP for Tiverton between 1664 and 1685 and twice Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1669–70 and 1672-3.


Ford was the eldest son of Henry Ford (d.1616)[2] of Bagtor in the parish of Ilsington, Devon by his wife Katharine Drake, daughter and sole heiress of George Drake of Spratshays in Littleham, Devon. His grandfather was Thomas Ford (1556-1610) of Bagtor in the parish of Ilsington, by his wife Elizabeth Popham (d.1629) of the Popham family of Huntworth in Somerset.[3] Her monument exists in Ilsington Church.[4] Thomas Ford's grandfather was John Ford (d.1538) of Ashburton[5] (the son and heir of William Ford of Chagford,[6]) who purchased the estate of Bagtor in the parish of Ilsington, which his male heirs successively made their seat.[7] The Elizabethan mansion of the Fords survives today at Bagtor as the service wing of a later house appended in about 1700.[8][9] Sir Henry Ford was a nephew of the dramatist John Ford (1586-c.1639)[2]

Early life[edit]

Henry Ford was born in January 1617 and was baptised at Littleham on 19 January 1617,[2] four months after his father's death in September 1616.[2] His mother remarried five years later in 1621 to John Clobery.[2] Henry matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford on 21 November 1634 aged 17,[10] and went home to look after his inheritance.

Parliamentary career[edit]

In April 1660 Ford was elected Member of Parliament for Lostwithiel in the Convention Parliament, but his election was declared void on 5 May.[10] He purchased Nutwell Court, in Woodbury, near Exeter, which he made his home. He was put in the Commission of the Peace for the county, and was lieutenant-colonel in the militia for the eastern division of the shire, of which he was likewise a deputy-lieutenant.He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1663 [11] On 6 April 1664 he was elected MP for Tiverton in a by-election to the Cavalier Parliament.[12] In 1669 he accompanied John, lord Robartes, the lord-lieutenant, to Ireland as secretary of state, but 'to his no little damage and disappointment' was recalled along with his chief the very next year. In 1672 Ford, having been knighted at Whitehall on 20 July in that year,[13] served in the same capacity for Arthur Capel, 1st Earl of Essex. He did not, however, continue in office long, 'for being sent into England on some important affair, contrived by those who were willing to put him out of the way, he returned no more unto Ireland'.[14] The fact was that his brusque, overbearing manner made him everywhere disliked. He was re-elected MP for Tiverton in the two elections of 1679 and in 1681.[12]

Ford died in 1684, aged 65, at Nutwell Court, and was buried in Woodbury Church.[15]


Ford left a son Charles, supposed to have died in his minority, and three daughters, married to Drake, Holwell, and Egerton.[16]


  1. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, pp.349-351, pedigree of Ford of Nutwell
  2. ^ a b c d e f Vivian, p.350
  3. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.349, pedigree of Ford of Nutwell. No first name given for her father "..Popham of Huntworthie"
  4. ^ Vivian, p.349
  5. ^ Vivian, p.652
  6. ^ Vivian, p.349, pedigree of Ford
  7. ^ Risdon, Tristram (d.1640), Survey of Devon, 1810 edition, London, 1810, p.135
  8. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, p.507; Hoskins, W.G., A New Survey of England: Devon, London, 1959 (first published 1954), p.415
  9. ^ Lysons (1822) gives the following description of the Ford family: "Ford, of Chagford, &c. — Eight descents of this family are described in the visitation of 1620. Prince supposes them to have been descended from the Fords, of Fordmore, in Moreton Hampsted, settled there as early as the 12th century; the heiress of that family married Charles, of Tavistock. The Fords, of Chagford, settled there in consequence of a marriage with the heiress of Hill. John, the fourth in descent, who was of Ashburton, married the heiress of Holwell, by whom he had a daughter and heiress married to St. Clere. The son of a second marriage continued the family. John Ford, of Bagtor, married the heiress of Drake, of Spratshays, in Littleham, and was father of Sir Henry Ford, of Nutwell, who was chief secretary for Ireland, under Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, and was buried at Woodbury, in 1684: he left a son Charles, supposed to have died in his minority, and three daughters, married to Drake, (ancestor of George Drake, Esq., of Ipplepen,) Holwill, and Egerton. John, second son of John Ford above mentioned, continued the line at Ashburton; Mr. John Ford, who died in 1677, is supposed to have been the last of the branch: there was another younger branch at Totnes. Arms: — Party per fesse, A. and S., in chief, a greyhound current; in base, an owl within a border engrailed, all counterchanged. Crest: — A demi-greyhound, charged with a bend, Argent, collar'd, Or, between 2 apple branches fructed of the second".(Lysons, Samuel & Daniel. (1822). Magna Britannia: volume 6: Devonshire, Families removed since 1620. pp. CLXXIII-CCXXV.
  10. ^ a b 'Alumni Oxonienses, 1500-1714: Flooke-Fyrmin', Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714 (1891), pp. 510-541. Date accessed: 23 June 2012
  11. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved "012-03-12.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. ^ a b History of Parliament Online - Ford, Henry
  13. ^ (Le Neve, Knights, Harl. Soc., p. 279)
  14. ^ (Prince, p. 316)
  15. ^ (Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. vi., Devonshire, pt. i. pp. cxcv-vi, pt. ii. pp. 291-292)
  16. ^ (Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. vi. pt: ii. p. 571)

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

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Thomas Carew
Sir Thomas Stucley
Member of Parliament for Tiverton
With: Sir Thomas Carew, 1st Baronet 1664-1673
Samuel Foote 1673-1685
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Acland, 5th Baronet
William Colman
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Page
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
Ellis Leighton
Preceded by
Ellis Leighton
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
William Harbord