Sir Christopher Earle [Erle] (1590-1634)

of Charborough Dorset - Brother of Sir Walter Erle(1586-1665)

©Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington March 2009

The Earle [Erle] Family:
His grandfather, also called Walter EARLE, became possessed of the estate of Charborough about the year 1540 by his marriage to Mary [Margaret] the daughter and co heir of Richard WIKES of Bindon who according to the History of Commoners had in turn inherited it from the family of CAMEL of Shakwycke [now Shapwick] in Dorset. Walter Erle died in 1581 probate being granted on 25th November that year, leaving the estate to Walter's father Thomas EARLE who married Dorothy the daughter of William POLE of Columpton in Devon. Charborough is situated in the parish of East Morden in Dorset just over 5 miles north by east from Wareham and 8 miles south by west from Wimborne. It rests in a small valley served by the East Morden church of St Mary's, which was more or less completely rebuilt on the site of the old church in 1873. Some additional photographs are available on the OPC page for Morden

Inside the church however are the remains of a monument to his father Thomas Earle and three of his children that predeceased him. It has been split in two with half each side of the entrance to the bell tower. The pictures opposite were taken by me on a visit to the church in 2008. The one on the right shows the figure of Thomas Erle in complete armour, on bended knee, in the act of homage. The original inscription read:-

Here liethe buryed the bodye of Thomas Earle, the
sone of Walter Earle, whoe departed from this lyff the
16 daye of Marche in the yeare of our Lorde God 1597.
his sons wer 4, his daughters 2, of who me John
Thomas and Doritjie are desecid, and remayneth now
livynge Walter, Christopher, and Elizabeth.

Probate on Thomas Earle's Will was granted on 12th November 1597 and a copy is available from the National Archives. I have not seen this but he is said to have died in possession of the manors of East and West Morden, land in Litchet Matravers, Wareham, Sturminster Marshal, County Dorset, the manor of Charborough, Dorset, the manor rectory and advowson of Axmouth, Devon and lands in Bindon Axmouth, Colyford and Colyton, Devon.

The Christopher referred to in this inscription is of course the subject of this short biography, but his brother Sir Walter Earle also invested in the Dorchester Company as did the husband of his sister Elizabeth who was wife to Sir Richard STRODE in Devon.

Birth and Education:
From University records we know Christopher EARLE was born c1590 in Sturminster Marshall. I cannot locate why he would have been born in Sturminster Marshall as opposed to Charborough but this is repeated in the 'History of Commoners' so I have to assume it it correct. Unfortunately the parish registers and Bishops Transcripts for Sturminster Marshall have not survived for that period although a family of this stature may have had their children privately baptised anyway. Christopher was educated at Christ Church college Oxford where he matriculated on 10 January 1608 at the age of 18. From university he entered the Middle Temple in 1617 to become a barrister at law.

Marriage and children:

He married Elizabeth the daughter of Edward DENNY of Stortford on 26 April 1623 ar Birchanger in Essex. A deed relating to the Manor of Sturminster Marshall dated 1622/3 exists at the National Archives which refers to the transfer of a farm as a part of her marriage settlement. They had at least one son also called Christopher born in 1624 as he is mentioned in the Oxford Alumni as " Created DCL 9 September 1651 and MP for Essex in 1653.
Background and Career:
Along with his brother Sir Walter ERLE he was friends with the Rev John White, sharing his puritan ideals. Both brothers were issued shares in the Virginia Company in 1620 and both invested in the Dorchester Company. He went on to hold many civic posts in Dorset which included being MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1621-2, Lyme Regis in 1623/4, Poole in 1626, and Lyme Regis again in 1628-9. An entry in William Whiteways diary for 5 Feb 1628/9 suggests that he was promised the post of recorder of the borough but at the instigation of the Mayor David Giar a Mr King was chosen instead.

According to William Whiteway's diary Christopher Earle died at the relatively young age of 44 on 29 March 1634. He was buried in the middle aisle of the Temple church in London on 4 Mar 1634. Probate of his will was granted on the 30 May 1634.

Sources: DV: OXA: PRO: RT: WW: A Genealogy of Heraldic History of Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland by John Burke Esq Volume IV. International Geanealogical Index: National Archives Bloxworth Estate Archives D/BLX/T23 [12]

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