Denham, John (1559-1639) (DNB00)

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DENHAM, Sir JOHN (1559–1639), judge, was a native of London. He entered Lincoln's Inn on 19 Aug. 1577, where he was called to the bar on 29 June 1587, and elected reader in Lent 1607. He took the degree of serjeant-at-law in the spring of 1609. At this date he held the post of steward of Eton College, acting also as their counsel. On 5 June 1609 he was appointed lord chief-baron of the Irish exchequer and knighted. He was sworn of the privy council in 1611, and raised to the lord chief-justiceship of the king's bench in Ireland in the spring of 1612. In 1613 he visited England, to report to James the recent action of the catholic party in the Irish parliament, who had withdrawn from the house and elected a speaker of their own. He returned to Ireland in September 1614. Between the retirement of Chichester in November 1615, and the arrival of Oliver St. John in July 1616 the viceroyalty was in commission, Denham being one of the lords justices. In 1617 he was created a baron of the English exchequer, Bacon, in administering the oath to his successor, Sir William Jones, advising him to ‘take unto’ him ‘the care and affection to the commonwealth and the prudent and politic administration of Sir John Denham.’ He is credited by Borlace (Reduction of Ireland, p. 200) with having been the first to raise a substantial revenue for the crown in Ireland. In 1621 he was commissioned to convey to Bacon the intelligence that the confession and submission which he had lately made could not be accepted as adequate. In the following year he was sheriff of the united counties of Bedford and Buckingham. In 1633 he was placed on the high commission. He signed the extra-judicial opinion in favour of the legality of ship-money on the case submitted by the king to the judges in 1636–7. In the spring of the ensuing year, while on circuit at Winchester, he caught a severe ague, which was still upon him when the time for delivering judgment in Hampden's case arrived. He exerted himself sufficiently to write a brief opinion in Hampden's favour. He died on 6 Jan. 1638–9, and was buried at Egham, Surrey, where, as also in Buckinghamshire and Essex, he held landed property. He married, first, Cicely, daughter of Richard Kellefet; secondly, Eleanor, daughter of Sir Garret Moore, knt., first Baron Mellefont and Viscount Drogheda. His son John, the poet, was by the second wife.

[Whitelocke's Liber Famel. 18, 100; Dugdale's Orig. 254; Dugdale's Chron. Ser. 101, 102; Smyth's Law Officers of Ireland, 141; Nichols's Progresses (James I), ii. 258; Cal. State Papers (Ireland, 1608–10), pp. 147, 213, 382, 1611–14, pp. 102, 251, 353, 1615–25, pp. 98–100; Liber Hibern. pt. ii. 6; Cal. State Papers (Dom. 1611–1618), p. 469, 1633–4, p. 326, 1636–7, p. 418, 1637–8, p. 274; Fuller's Worthies (Bucks); Spedding's Letters and Life of Bacon, v. 376, vi. 164, 200, 203, 205, 207; Parl. Hist. i. 1239; Cobbett's State Trials, iii. 1201; Manning and Bray's Surrey, iii. 258–9; Morant's Essex, ii. 229, 235; Aubrey's Letters, ii. 316; Verney Papers (Camden Soc.), 140; Foss's Lives of the Judges.]

J. M. R.