Sir David Foulis, 1st Baronet

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Sir David Foulis (died 1642) was a Scottish politician.


Foulis was the third son of James Foulis, by Agnes Heriot of Lumphoy, and great-grandson of Sir James Foulis of Colinton (d. 1549). From 1594 onwards he was actively engaged in politics, and many of his letters are calendared in Markham John Thorpe's Scottish State Papers. He came to England with James I in 1603; was knighted 13 May of that year; was created honorary M.A. at Oxford 30 August 1605; and was naturalised by act of parliament in April 1606. He obtained with Lord Sheffield and others in 1607 a patent for making alum in Yorkshire; purchased the manor of Ingleby, Yorkshire, from Ralph, Lord Eure, in 1609; and was made a baronet of England 6 February 1619–20. He acted as cofferer to both Prince Henry and Prince Charles.

Sir David, high in the favour of James I, was the recipient in 1614 of the notorious letter of advice to the king sent from Italy by Sir Robert Dudley, titular duke of Northumberland. In 1629 Foulis gave evidence respecting the document after it had been discovered in the library of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton.

As member of the Council of the North he chafed against Thomas Wentworth's despotic exercise of the president's authority, and in July 1632 not only denied that the council existed by parliamentary authority, but charged Wentworth with malversation of the public funds. Wentworth indignantly repudiated the accusation, and Foulis appealed in vain to Charles I for protection from Wentworth's vengeance while offering to bring the gentry of Yorkshire to a better temper. He was dismissed from the council, was summoned before the Star Chamber, was ordered to pay £5,000 to the Crown and £3,000 to Wentworth, and was sent to the Fleet Prison in default (1633). There he remained till the Long parliament released him, 16 March 1641.

Foulis appeared as a witness against Strafford at the trial in 1641. He died at Ingleby in 1642.


Foulis was the author of ‘A Declaration of the Diet and Particular Fare of King Charles I when Duke of York,’ printed in 1802 by Edmund Turnor in Archæologia, xv. 1–12.


By his wife Cordelia, daughter of William Fleetwood of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire—she died in August 1631 and was buried at Ingleby—Foulis was father of five sons and two daughters.

The eldest son and second baronet, Sir Henry, was fined £500 by the Star Chamber when his father was punished in 1633; was lieutenant-general of horse under Sir Thomas Fairfax in 1643; married Mary, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Layton, knight, of Sexhowe, and was father of Henry Foulis. A second son, Robert, was a colonel in the parliamentary army. The baronetcy became extinct on the death of the eighth baronet, the Rev. Sir Henry Foulis, on 7 October 1876. Through his grandson, the third baronet Foulis is an ancestor of actor Benedict Cumberbatch



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