John Harington (1539/40 – 23 August 1613, was an English courtier and politician.Sir_John_Harington_(1561-1612)

Harington was the eldest son of James Harington (lawyer). Sir James Harington (c.1511–1592) of Exton Hall, Rutland, and his wife, Lucy Sidney (c.1520–c.1591), daughter of Sir William Sidney and his wife, Anne Pagenham. His family was said to have held ‘the most extensive estates in Rutland during the late sixteenth century’.

Harington was knighted in 1584. He joined the Inner Temple in 1558, and was Member of Parliament for Rutland (UK Parliament constituency) in 1571.

He was commissioner of the peace for Kesteven from about 1559 to 1593, servant to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester in the Netherlands 1585, keeper of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, for Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick (1588–90), High Sheriff of Warwickshire (1582-3), and knight of the shire (MP) for Warwickshire (UK Parliament constituency)|in 1586. He accompanied Mary, Queen of Scots, through Warwickshire on her way to Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire 1586, MP for Rutland in 1593 and 1601, Deputy Lieutenant of Rutland and Warwickshire during the 1590s. He was also High Sheriff of Rutland in 1594,1598 and 1602.

Sir John Harington was created Baron Harington in July 1603 at the coronation of James I of England, the first Baron Harington of Exton, Rutland. He was made guardian of James’ daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia. The high cost of entertaining the Princess ruined him. As partial recompense Harington was granted a licence to mint the first copper farthings by the King. Princess Elizabeth married the Frederick V, Elector Palatine, to become the “Winter Queen”. Lord Harington accompanied her to Bohemia, but died on his way back in 1613. After his death, the Exton Hall estate was sold to pay his creditors, being purchased by Sir Baptist Hicks.

Marriage and children
His wife was Anne, daughter of Robert Keilway, Surveyor of the Court of Wards and Liveries.
He was succeeded by his son John Harington, 2nd Baron Harington of Exton. Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford was his daughter.




John Harington, 2nd Baron Harington of Exton (1592 – 27 February 1614), was a young English peer and politician. He was the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland and Baron Harington of Exton. He was educated with the Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales and they remained close friends until the prince’s death. He was admitted to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1607. He succeeded his father as Baron in August 1613.

Early life

He was the surviving son of John Harington, 1st Baron Harington of Exton later created Baron Harington of Exton in 1603, and his wife, Anne Keilway, daughter of Robert Keilway, Surveyor of the Court of Wards and Liveries, and was born at Combe Abbey, near Coventry, Warwickshire, in April 1592. He was reputed a scholar at the University of Cambridge; he entered Sidney Sussex College for a time, which had been founded by Frances Radclyffe, Countess of Sussex, Frances Sidney, his mother’s relative, and to which he and his father were benefactors.

On tour

Friend and companion of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, on 5 January 1604 he was created, along with Charles I of England, The Duke of York and others, a Knight of the Bath. In September he went on a foreign tour with John Tovey, a master of the free school at Guildford. While abroad he corresponded in French and Latin with Prince Henry. After seven weeks in the Low Countries, where he visited the universities, courts of three princes, and military fortifications, Harington went to Italy in 1608. He wrote from Venice (28 May 1609) announcing his intention of returning through France to spend the rest of his life with his royal friend. Henry’s death (6 January 1613) greatly grieved him.


In August 1613 21-year-old Harington succeeded to his father’s title and a heritage of debts, and vainly attempted to retrieve the family fortunes by obtaining a royal patent on the minting of lead farthings from the mint under a scheme proposed by Gerard de Malynes on April 10. After the farthings proved unpopular, the young Lord Harington of Exton died at Kew on February 27, 1614, and was buried at Exton.

On 18 February he had sold the lordship of Exton to Sir Baptist Hicks, and by his will, made at the same time, left the overplus of the estates, after the creditors had been paid (according to his mother the debts amounted to £40,000), to his two sisters, two-thirds to Lucy, Countess of Bedford, and one-third to Frances, Lady Chichester (d. 1615), whose kneeling effigy exists in Pilton Church in Devon, first wife of Sir Robert Chichester (1578–1627) of Raleigh. The Countess of Bedford eventually sold the remaining family estates in Rutland.


Harington’s contemporaries wrote of him in the highest terms. Two sermons were published on his death, one preached at the funeral by Richard Stock, pastor of All Hallows, Bread Street, entitled “The Church’s Lament for the Loss of the Godly”, London, 1614, with a small woodprint portrait. The other, by T. P. of Sidney Sussex College, contains an epitaph and elegies by F. Herring and Sir Thomas Roe. At the same time a poem entitled “Sorrows Lenitive, written upon occasion of the death of that hopeful and noble young gentleman”, was written by Abraham Jackson, and dedicated to Harington’s mother and sister Lucy. John Donne took leave of poetry in a funeral ode on Harington (published after his death in the volume of ”Poems”, London, 1633), and Thomas Gataker, in his “Discours Apologetical”, London, 1654, p. 36, styles him a “mirror of nobility”. A portrait is in Henry Holland (printer)’s ”Herωologia”.