Sir John Hotham, 1st Baronet

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Hotham in his role as Governor of Hull.
The Tomb of Sir John Hotham in St Mary's Church, South Dalton, supported by figures of the cardinal virtues.

Sir John Hotham, 1st Baronet, of Scorborough (circa July 1589 – 3 January 1645) was an English politician and Member of Parliament, who was governor of Hull in 1642 shortly before the start of the English Civil War. He refused to allow Charles I of England or any member of his entourage to enter the town, thereby depriving the King access to the large arsenal contained within. Later in the Civil war he and his son, John Hotham the younger, were accused of treachery, found guilty and executed.


Hotham, born probably in July 1589[1] belonged to a Yorkshire family. His father was John Hotham (1540-1609), MP for Scorborough, where the family lived, in 1584. His mother has been variously given as Julian, the daughter of Sir Michael Stanhope of Shelford, Nottinghamshire[2] or as Jane, daughter of Richard Legard of Rysome, Yorkshire.[1]

Sir John Hotham fought on the continent of Europe during the early part of the Thirty Years' War.[2]

In 1622 he was made a baronet. He was Member of Parliament for Beverley in the five parliaments between 1625 and 1640, and High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1634. In 1639 he was deprived by the king of his office of governor of Hull, and joining the parliamentary party, he refused to pay ship-money. In January 1642 Hotham was ordered by the parliament to seize Hull, where there was a large store of munitions of war; this was at once carried out by his son (John Hotham the younger). Hotham senior took command of Hull and in April 1642 refused to admit Charles I to the town. Later he promised his prisoner, Lord Digby, that he would surrender the town to the king, but when Charles appeared again he refused a second time and drove away the besiegers.[2]

Meanwhile, the younger Hotham was taking an active part in the Civil War in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, but was soon at variance with other parliamentary leaders, especially with Lord Fairfax and his son Sir Thomas Fairfax, and complaints about his conduct and that of his troops were made by Oliver Cromwell and by Colonel John Hutchinson. Soon both the Hothams were corresponding with the Earl of Newcastle, and the younger one was probably ready to betray Hull; these proceedings became known to Parliament, and in June 1643 father and son were captured and taken to London.[2]

After a long delay they were tried by court-martial, were found guilty and were sentenced to death. The younger Hotham was beheaded on 2 January 1645, and in spite of efforts made by the House of Lords and the Presbyterians to save him, the elder suffered the same fate on the following day. Father and son were buried at the nearby church of All Hallows Barking[1] although a tomb monument (illustrated here) was also erected at St Mary's Church, South Dalton. The baronetcy passed to Sir John's grandson, and the younger John's son, John.


Sir John was married five times. He had sixteen children of whom six sons and three daughters survived childhood.[1]





Further reading[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Henry Carey
Edmund Scott
Member of Parliament for Beverley
With: William Alford
Succeeded by
Parliament suspended until 1640
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Beverley
With: Michael Warton
Succeeded by
Michael Warton
Baronetage of England
New creation Baronet
(of Scorborough)
Succeeded by
John Hotham