Bankes (1589 – 28 December 1644) was an English lawyer and
politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1624 and 1629. He
was Attorney General and
Chief Justice to Charles I during the English
Civil War. Corfe Castle, his family seat was destroyed during a long
siege, in which his wife became known as Brave Dame Mary.
1 Early life
2 Corfe Castle
Chief Justice and death
Bankes was of the
Bankes family of Keswick, Cumberland. He
Queen's College, Oxford
Queen's College, Oxford on 22 February 1605 aged 15.
He entered Gray's Inn, where he was called to the bar in 1614. In
1624, he was elected
Member of Parliament for Wootton Bassett. He was
elected MP for Morpeth in 1626 and in 1628 and sat until 1629 when
King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years.
Lent Reader of
Gray's Inn and was treasurer to the
Inn from 1631 to 1635. He was knighted at St James on 5 June 1631.
He was also appointed attorney to Prince Charles. In September 1634 he
became attorney-general to the king, holding this position during the
litigation of John Hampden's famous cause of ship money; and his
argument upon that question is still extant. He was also counsel for
Cambridge University in 1634–35.
Corfe Castle with all its manors, rights, and
privileges in 1635 from Lady Elizabeth Coke (née Hatton), widow of
Sir Edward Coke, who had died in 1634. Bankes's ancestors had for many
generations held property in and near Keswick in Cumberland. The Title
deeds and grants from the Crown of the black lead mine at Borrowdale
date back as far as Henry VI. and Edward IV and were again renewed
under the seal of James I.
Chief Justice and death
In January 1640 he was made
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and
afterwards followed the king from Westminster to York; having left his
wife, Mary Bankes, to defend Corfe Castle, which she did with great
courage, until it was betrayed into the hands of the rebels. His name
is signed to the engagement with the lords at York, in June 1642. In
the same year he was sworn of the privy council, and the degree of
LL.D. conferred upon him at Oxford, where he died on 28 December 1644,
aged 55, and was buried in the Cathedral of Christ Church, where there
is a monument to his memory. In 1644, he was at first mentioned in the
list of those persons meant to be excepted out of the general pardon;
his name was afterwards struck out of that list, but he was
notwithstanding impeached of high treason. His estates and property
however passed to his eldest son Sir Ralph Bankes, who became an MP
and built the estate of Kingston Lacy.
^ a b 'Alumni Oxonienses, 1500-1714: Baal-Barrow', Alumni Oxonienses
1500-1714: Abannan-Kyte (1891), pp. 51-78. Date accessed: 15 March
^ Willis, Browne (1750). Notitia Parliamentaria, Part II: A Series or
Lists of the Representatives in the several Parliaments held from the
Reformation 1541, to the Restoration 1660 ... London.
^ "Bankes, John (BNKS634J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University
Bankes miscellanea". United Kingdom Genealogy. Retrieved 10
Kingston Lacy Guide. National Trust.
Christopher W. Brooks, ‘Bankes, Sir John (1589–1644)’, Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography,
Oxford University Press, 2004,
accessed 22 Dec 2006
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Wootton Bassett
With: Sir Roland Egerton
Sir Walter Tichborne
Sir Anthony Herbert
Sir Thomas Reynell
Member of Parliament for Morpeth
With: Sir Thomas Reynell
Parliament suspended until 1640
Sir Edward Littleton
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Oliver St John