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Sir John Puckering (1544 in Flamborough, Yorkshire — 30 April 1596) was a lawyer, Speaker of the English House of Commons, and Lord Keeper from 1592 until his death. He married Anne Chowne, daughter of George Chowne, and had one son, and at least one daughter.


Early life

Puckering was born in 1544 in Flamborough, East Riding of Yorkshire, and was the second son of William Puckering.[1] He entered Lincoln's Inn on 10 April 1559[2] and he was called to the bar on 15 January 1567. After some years' practice, he became a governor in 1575, and in 1577 became an elected reader in Lent.[1] He became a sergeant at law in 1580.[3]

Work in Parliament

Puckering became a member of parliament in 1581.[4] On 23 November 1585, Parliament met and elected Puckering, who was returned for Bedford, as Speaker of the House of Commons.[1] During this Parliament, a bill against Jesuits was brought up for discussion.[5] Dr William Parry, who was later executed for high treason, said the bill was "cruel, bloody and desperate". Puckering ordered him into the custody of the sergeant-at-arms for his use of language, and after some discussion, Parry apologised and retook his seat.[6] Puckering's skill with dispute solving and speeches was recognised, and he was elected as the Speaker in the next parliament, which opened on 15 October 1586.[7] This was the parliament that decided the fate of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Puckering was heavily involved with the decision.[8] On 1 March 1587, shortly following Mary's execution, a Member of Parliament named Wentworth asked Puckering to answer some questions regarding the liberties of the House. Puckering refused, but showed one of the questions to Sir Thomas Heneage of the Privy Council. Wentworth, and four other members of parliament who seconded his motion were imprisoned in the Tower of London for an unknown length of time. The following year, Puckering was knighted[9] and according to some sources was made Queen's Sergeant, though other sources claim he had been made sergeant two years before.[1]

Queen's Sergeant

Puckering took part in several trials as Queen's Sergeant. He was successfully leader for the crown in the trial of Philip, Earl of Arundel, who was accused of high treason. He joined in the commission with Judge Clarke, in July 1590 in the trial of John Udall who had published libel about the queen.[7] His final trial was that of Sir John Perrot, the lord deputy of Ireland.[10] On 28 May 1592, Puckering was made the Lord Keeper.[11]

Lord Keeper

Puckering was Lord Keeper for four years, but only presided over one Parliament. During this period, he lived at Russell House, near Ivy Bridge, and then York House in the Strand.[12] He also owned a country house in Kew, where he entertained the queen on 13 December 1595.[13]

Personal life

Puckering married Anne Chowne, daughter of George Chowne, Esq. of Kent. They had several children; their son, Thomas was made a baronet in 1612 but died without issue. His other children also died without issue, and his line died out by 1700. Puckering died on 30 April 1596 of apoplexy, at his home, and is buried in Westminster Abbey.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d Foss, p531
  2. ^ Paley Baildon, p65
  3. ^ Chauncey, p134
  4. ^ Campbell, p184
  5. ^ Manning, p250
  6. ^ Manning, p.251
  7. ^ a b Foss, p.532
  8. ^ Manning, pp.252-254
  9. ^ Manning, p.255
  10. ^ Campbell, p.187
  11. ^ Campbell, p.188
  12. ^ Foss, p.533
  13. ^ Foss, p.534
  14. ^ Campbell, p.192


  • Campbell, John (1869). The Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of England. J. Murray.  
  • Chauncy, Henry (1826). The historical antiquities of Hertfordshire. Oxford University.  
  • Foss, Edward (1857). The judges of England, from the time of the Conquest. Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans.  
  • Manning, James Alexander (1851). The Lives of the Speakers of the House of Commons. G. Willis.  
  • Paley Baildon, William (1896). The Records of the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn. H.S. Cartwright.  
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir John Popham
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Thomas Snagge
Preceded by
In Commission
Lord Chancellor
and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal

1592 – 1596
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Egerton


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