GLEMHAM, Henry (c. 1603-70)

GLEMHAM, Henry (c. 1603–70)

cons. 13 Oct. 1667 bp. of ST ASAPH

First sat 21 Oct. 1667; last sat 29 Nov. 1669

b. c.1603, yr. s. of Sir Henry Glemham and Anne, da. of Thomas Sackville, earl of Dorset; bro. of Sir Thomas Glemham. educ. Trinity, Oxf. matric. 1619, BA 1621, MA 1623, BD 1631, DD 1633. unm. d. 17 Jan. 1670; will 24 June 1662, pr. 20 July 1671.1

Rect. Symondsbury, Dorset 1631–45, 1660–70, seq. bef. 1645, Llandrinio 1667–70; dean, Bristol 1660–7.

A worldly and irascible man, Glemham was described by Samuel Pepys as ‘a drunken, swearing rascal and a scandal to the Church’.2 His behaviour as a Restoration bishop was clearly unorthodox and he appears to have regarded himself more as a courtier than as a churchman. His elevation to the see of St Asaph owed more to his social and political connections at court than to ecclesiastical merit. Glemham’s father, Sir Henry, had served as a Member of the Commons under both Elizabeth I and James I, while his elder brother, Sir Thomas, distinguished himself during the civil wars.3 Related through his mother to the earls of Dorset, his sister Mary (d. 1633) was the first wife of William Paul, who became bishop of Oxford in 1663, and his nephew was the influential Henry Pierrepont, marquess of Dorchester. More importantly for his chances of preferment after the Restoration, his great-niece was Barbara Palmer, countess of Castlemaine, Charles II’s powerful mistress.

Deprived of his Dorset living in 1645, Glemham had joined Charles II in exile, where, it was later alleged, he witnessed the king’s marriage to Lucy Walter.4 Promoted to the deanery of Bristol at the Restoration, when the see of St Asaph fell vacant at the end of 1666, Glemham became the first Englishman appointed to the diocese since the Reformation.5 St Asaph was a poor diocese and in March 1667, when Glemham was still only bishop elect, he petitioned Gilbert Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury for two rectories to be held in commendam as well as a concurrent appointment as archdeacon of St Asaph, arguing that the income of the diocese was ‘no way able to support the dignity episcopal … without the help of some other seasonable remedy’.6 The congé d’élire was issued in December 1666 and the chapter elected him in February 1667, but finalization of the appointment was delayed because Castlemaine was attempting to have him installed in the much more prestigious see of Carlisle instead (the rumour that she had succeeded appalled and provoked Pepys). It is not possible to catch more than a glimpse of the complex series of negotiations that ensued, but it is clear that Glemham himself hoped for Lincoln. When that diocese went to William Fuller, he reluctantly settled for St Asaph.7

Any account of Glemham’s episcopate is limited by an absence of personal correspondence. Historians of Welsh religion have found little positive to say of him. He was clearly regarded as something of an interloper and is remembered as ‘indolent’ in his management of the diocese, allowing standards of discipline to fall.8 There is no evidence to suggest that he exerted himself to enforce conformity; on the contrary, he disclaimed responsibility for the conventicles that flourished in north-east Wales, claiming that they built ‘their impunity upon the example of London and other places in the kingdom’.9 Within months of taking office, Glemham had become involved in a bitter feud with the archbishop over the right to lease the profits of Whitford rectory to the Flintshire magnate Sir Roger Mostyn. In a lengthy dispute, during which neither Glemham nor Sheldon would back down, Glemham was opposed by his dean, Humphrey Lloyd, later bishop of Bangor, and undermined by his own secretary, Water Lloyd, who kept in close touch with Sheldon’s secretary Miles Smyth. The issue was not resolved until after Glemham’s death.10

Glemham’s consecration in October 1667 only a week before Parliament was due to sit and expected to take action against Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon may suggest that his choice as a bishop had some political motive; but although he had the use of rooms in Dorchester’s London residence, his attendance in the House of Lords was as poor as his administration of the diocese.11 Parliament sat for a total of nine months during his episcopate: Glemham appeared in the House on only 33 occasions and was named to just one committee. Within days of him taking his seat, Parliament was caught up in the furore over the impeachment of Clarendon. Lady Castlemaine was among Clarendon’s opponents; given that Glemham was beholden to Lady Castlemaine for his position, and was also in the habit of borrowing money from her, it seems surprising that he did not sign the dissent of 20 Nov. 1667 against the Lords’ refusal to take Clarendon into custody. The journal of John Robartes, 2nd Baron Robartes, reveals that he intended to do so: Glemham ‘wrote his name but blotted it out again because he was not there present at the passing of the vote’.12 Two days earlier, in what was probably an indication of his sympathies, Glemham had left his proxy with Herbert Croft of Hereford, one of only three bishops who did sign the dissent. For the remaining five months of the session, Glemham did not attend the House. When he returned in November 1669, it was for nine days only. The reasons for his resumption of attendance are unclear. 

On 17 Jan. 1670, Glemham died at the family home in Little Glemham, Suffolk, and was buried in the family vault of the parish church, his funeral private and its expenses minimal for a man of such exalted connections.13 His involvement in an intricate network of financial dealings immediately became apparent. Lady Frances Glemham, his niece by marriage and the mother of the young Thomas Glemham (c. 1647-1704) scrambled to gain control of his personal estate. The business of probate was complicated, however, by the bishop’s role in the administration of the estate of Paul Bayning, 2nd Viscount Bayning, and the claims against that estate by Aubrey de Vere, 20th earl of Oxford. A dispute in the prerogative court of Canterbury ensued and administration of the bishop’s goods and chattels was granted to Lady Castlemaine, now duchess of Cleveland.14


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/327.
  • 2 Pepys Diary, viii. 364–5.
  • 3 Oxford DNB (Thomas Glemham).
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1667–8, p. 165.
  • 5 Esgobaeth Llanelwy, i. 121.
  • 6 Bodl. Tanner 146, f. 55.
  • 7 CSP Dom. 1667, pp. 121, 500; Bodl. Rawl. Letters 113, f. 54; Pepys Diary, viii. 364-5.
  • 8 Jenkins, Foundations of Modern Wales, 177.
  • 9 Jenkins, Protestant Dissenters in Wales, 59; LPL ms 639, f. 139.
  • 10 T. Richards, ‘The Whitford Leases’, Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmorodorion, 1924-5, pp. 1-76; Bodl. Add. C 304a, ff. 72, 76–77, 80, 83, 87, 89, 93, 98, 107, 109, 111–13, 115, 117; Add. C 305, ff. 325, 340; Add. C 308, ff. 124, 131v, 137v–138.
  • 11 TNA, C10/106/144.
  • 12 Harl. 2243, f. 61.
  • 13 Ath. Ox. iv. 837.
  • 14 TNA, C10/106/144, C10/206/39, C10/474/200, PROB 11/327, PROB 11/336, PROB 36/1.