Poulett, John (1586-1649) (DNB00)

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POULETT, JOHN, first Baron Poulett (1586–1649), cavalier, eldest son of Sir Anthony Paulet or Poulett, governor of Jersey from 1588 to 1600 [see under Paulet, Sir Amias], was born in 1586. He matriculated (from University College) at Oxford on 21 June 1601, but did not graduate, and on 27 Nov. 1608 received a colonelcy of cavalry from Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford. In 1610 he was admitted a student at the Middle Temple, and in the same year (22 Oct.) was returned to parliament for Somerset, which seat he retained in the Short parliament of 1614. In the parliament of 1621–2 he sat for Lyme Regis, Dorset.

Being of puritan ancestry, and patron of the living of Hinton St. George, Somerset, held by the puritan Edmond Peacham [q. v.], Poulett incurred some suspicion of complicity in Peacham's alleged treasons, and was twice examined by the council in November 1614 and again in March 1615, without, however, any charge being formulated against him.

At the instance of Charles I, who had recently visited him at Hinton St. George, Poulett early in October 1625 received into his house the Huguenot admiral the Duke of Soubise, the latter having put into Plymouth Sound after his defeat by the Duke of Montmorency. Soubise remained at Hinton St. George nearly a year, during which time Poulett discharged his duties as host so much to the king's satisfaction that, by letters patent of 23 June 1627, he was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Poulett of Hinton St. George. He took his seat in the House of Lords on 20 March 1627–8.

Poulett was appointed on 30 May 1635 to the command of the Constant Reformation; this ship formed part of the Channel fleet commanded by the lord high admiral, the Earl of Lindsey [cf. Bertie, Robert, first Earl of Lindsey], by whom, on 23 Sept. following, he was knighted on board the Mary Honour. Poulett was summoned to the great council which met at York on 24 Sept. 1640, and was one of the royal commissioners for the negotiations with the Scots at Ripon in the following month. He was at this time regarded as a ‘popular’ man; but in 1642, on the passing of the militia ordinance, he withdrew from parliament, and, after signing the York manifesto of 15 June, united with the Marquis of Hertford at Wells in putting the commission of array into execution, and forcibly resisting the execution of the militia ordinance. Parliament voted him a delinquent, issued a warrant for his apprehension, and on 17 March impeached him of high treason. In the meantime he had retreated with Hertford to Sherborne Castle, and, after its evacuation, recruited with him in Wales, and was taken prisoner on 4 Oct. by Essex in a skirmish near Bridgnorth.

Having regained his liberty, Poulett served for some time under Hopton, for whom, during the autumn of 1643, he raised in the neighbourhood of Oxford (his name appears among the signatures to the expostulatory letter to the Scottish privy council issued thence on the eve of the Scottish invasion) a brigade of 2,500 men, which he led into Dorset in the winter. He took and burned on 18 Jan. 1643–4 Lady Drake's house at Ashe, defeated a detachment of Waller's army at Hemyock Castle, occupied Wellington in March, and thence advanced upon Lyme Regis, which, on the arrival of Prince Maurice with reinforcements on 20 April, was closely invested. Though the siege was pressed with great vigour, the town succeeded in holding out until relieved by Essex on 15 June. Poulett then retreated to Exeter, not without considerable loss by the way in skirmishes with Waller's forces. A quarrel with Prince Maurice, who appears to have caned him and refused satisfaction, led to their separation. Poulett was appointed commissioner of Exeter, where he was taken prisoner on the surrender of the city on 13 April 1646. He was brought to London in extreme ill-health, and, by the intercession of Sir Thomas Fairfax, was permitted to reside in his own house at Chiswick, and was eventually allowed the benefit of the Exeter articles. He thus escaped with payment of a fine of 2,742l., 1,500l. by way of compensation to Lady Drake for the loss of her house, and the settlement of a perpetual annuity of 200l. on the town of Lyme Regis. He died on 20 March 1648–9. His remains were interred in the parish church of Hinton St. George, where a stately chapel was built and dedicated to his memory.

Poulett married, about 1614, Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Kenn of Kenn Court, Somerset, who survived him, and married John Ashburnham [q. v.], ancestor of the Earls of Ashburnham. By her Poulett had issue (with five daughters) three sons. His youngest daughter, Elizabeth, married, first, William Ashburnham, eldest son of the above mentioned John Ashburnham; and, secondly, Sir William Hartopp of Rotherby, Leicestershire. A portrait of Poulett by an unknown artist has been engraved.

Poulett was succeeded in title and estate by his eldest son, John Poulett, second Baron Poulett (1615–1665). He matriculated at Oxford (from Exeter College) on 20 April 1632, and was there created M.D. on 31 Jan. 1642–3, having been knighted with his father in 1635. Returned to parliament for Somerset on 12 Oct. 1640, he vacated his seat in 1642 by joining his father in Somerset, and was impeached on 16 Sept. On the outbreak of hostilities in Ireland he served in Munster in command of a regiment of foot, which, on the conclusion of the armistice of 15 Sept. 1643, was transferred to Bristol, and formed part of the garrison of Winchester Castle on its surrender to Cromwell on 5 Oct. 1645. He afterwards joined his father at Exeter, and on the surrender of that city was, after some demur, allowed to compound on the basis of the articles of capitulation. He was suspected of complicity in the royalist plot of 1654–5, and went abroad in February 1657–8. On the Restoration he was made deputy-lieutenant for Somerset. He died at his manor house, Court de Wick, Yatton, Somerset, on 15 Sept. 1665, and was buried at Hinton St. George. He married twice: first, Catherine, daughter of Sir Horatio Vere [q. v.], widow of Oliver St. John; secondly, Anne, second daughter of Sir Thomas Brown of Walcote, Northampton, baronet. He had issue by his first wife two sons (John and Horatio) and three daughters; by his second wife two sons (Amias and Charles) and four daughters. His second wife survived him, and married Sir John Strode. He was succeeded in title and estates by his eldest son, John, father of John, first Earl Poulett [q. v.]

[Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, iv. 9, 260–1; Falle's Jersey, 1837, p. 130; Bertrand Payne's Armorial of Jersey, p. 81; Collinson's Somersetshire, ii. 166, iii. 592; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Addit. MS. 5496, f. 52b.; Bacon's Works, ed. Spedding, xii. 122; Court and Times of Charles I; Metcalfe's Book of Knights; Members of Parliament (Official Lists); Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1591–4 p. 451, 1665 p. 344; Cal. Comm. Comp. p. 1052; Yonge's Diary (Camden Soc.), p. 86; Notes of the Treaty at Ripon (Camden Soc.); Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. pp. 16, 17, 43, 447, 8th Rep. App. pt. ii. p. 57, 10th Rep. App. pt. iv. p. 291, 11th Rep. App. pt. i. p. 38; Rushworth's Hist. Coll. vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 1262; Clarendon's Rebellion, ed. Macray, bk. ii. § 107, v. §§ 343–5, 441 n., 443, vii. § 369 n.; Comm. Journ. ii. 685, 708, 711, 745, 770, iii. 524, iv. 145, 529, 627, vi. 156; Lords' Journ. iii. 691, v. 286, 332, 360, viii. 341, 612, x. 165, 325, 336; Hutchins's Dorset, ii. 53; Roberts's Hist. Borough of Lyme Regis, 1834, pp. 78 et seq.; Symonds's Diary (Camden Soc.), p. 110; Whitelocke's Mem. pp. 201, 203, 298, 386; Walker's Hist. Discourses, p. 47; Carte's Orig. Letters (Ormonde), i. 99; Bell's Memorials of the Civil War (Fairfax Corr.), i. 17; Gardiner's Hist. Engl. ii. 274, and Great Civil War, i. 343; The Resolution of Devonshire and Cornwall, 13 Aug. 1642, and Speciall Passages, 9–16 Aug. 1642 (King's Pamph. E 111, 12 and 112, 15); The Court Mercurie, 2 and 20 July 1644 (King's Pamph. E 53, 8 and E 2, 25); Weekly Account, 4 July 1644, and 6 May 1646, and Mercur. Civ. 7 May 1646 (King's Pamph. E 54, 24 and E 336, 7, 11); A Copie of Lieut.-Gen. Cromwell's Letter concerning the taking of Winchester Castle (King's Pamph. E 304, 12); Sir Thomas Fairfax's Further Proceedings in the West, 22 April 1646 (King's Pamph. E 333, 23); Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 223, 276, 3rd ser. vii. 280; Westminster Abbey Registers (Harl. Soc.), p. 14; Miscell. Gen. et Herald. new ser. iv 34.]

J. M. R.