Sherfield, Henry (DNB00)

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SHERFIELD, HENRY (d. 1634), puritan, probably resided in early life at Walhampton in Hampshire. He chose the law as his profession, and entered at Lincoln's Inn. He was reader in 1623, and from 1622 to his death served as one of the governors (Dugdale, Orig. Jurid. pp. 255, 264 et. seq.). Shortly before 1614 he received the appointment of recorder of Southampton, and he was elected to represent the borough in parliament in 1614 and 1621. In January 1623–4 he was chosen as member of parliament by both Southampton and Salisbury. In March of the same year he became recorder of Salisbury, and he elected to sit for that city. He retained his seat until the dissolution of 1629. He first rendered himself conspicuous by his attacks on Buckingham (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1627–8, p. 23). He embittered the situation in 1629 by calling attention, on 7 Feb., to the fact that Richard Neile [q. v.], bishop of Winchester, had inserted words into the pardons of Richard Montagu [q. v.] and others which freed them from the penalties of erroneous and unorthodox opinions. The dissolution of parliament on 2 March 1629 alone prevented the institution of proceedings against Neile.

Sherfield's stepson, Walter Long, was among the seven members arrested after the dissolution, and Sherfield was one of the counsel employed in his defence (ib. 1628–9, p. 556). But he himself was soon to be brought to account. He had returned to his home at Winterbourne Earls in Wiltshire, and resumed the duties of his office of recorder. Hitherto he had appeared to be a churchman of ordinary opinions. He had been accustomed to kneel for the communion, and to punish separatists. But the revival of ritualism under Laud discomposed him. In the parish church of St. Edmund's, of whose vestry he was a member, there existed a painted window in which God the Father was portrayed as a little old man in a red and blue cloak, measuring the sun and moon with a pair of compasses. To this window some of the people were accustomed to bow. In February 1630 Sherfield obtained leave of the vestry to remove the painting and replace it by plain glass. Davenant, bishop of Salisbury, forbade the churchwardens to carry out the order. After some delay Sherfield, in defiance of this decree, went into the church by himself, and dashed his stick through the window. In February 1632–3 he was summoned to answer for his conduct before the Star-chamber. He was unanimously adjudged in fault, but there was considerable difference as to the fitting penalty. Laud was on the side of severity, and so, naturally enough, was Neile. The sentence finally fixed was a fine of 500l. and a public acknowledgment of his fault to Davenant. Sherfield made the acknowledgment on 8 April 1633, but he died in January 1634, before paying his fine. His house at Winterbourne Earls had been burned in March 1633, and his loss was estimated at 2,000l. (ib. 1631–3 p. 588, 1633–4 p. 542). About 1616 he married Rebecca, daughter of Christopher Bailey of Southwick, North Wiltshire, and widow of Walter Long of Whaddon, Wiltshire. He left one daughter (ib. p. 551).

[Gardiner's Hist. of England, vii. 49, 254; Nicholas's Notes; State Trials, iii. 519; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Prynne's Canterburies Doome, 1646, pp. 102, 491, 494; Butler's Hudibras, ed. Grey, 1810, ii. 147; Earl of Strafford's Letters, ed. Knowler, 1739, i. 206; Official Ret. Members of Parl.; Aubrey's Topographical Collections for Wiltshire, p. 347; Hoare's Wiltshire, vi. 371.]

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