Sir Dudley Digges
|Born||19 May 1583|
|Died||18 March 1639(aged 55)|
|Parent(s)||Sir Thomas Digges |
Anne St Leger
Sir Dudley Digges (19 May 1583 – 18 March 1639) was an English diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1610 and 1629. Digges was also a "Virginia adventurer," an investor who ventured his capital in the Virginia Company of London; his son Edward Digges would go on to be Governor of Virginia. Dudley Digges was responsible for the rebuilding of Chilham Castle, completed in around 1616. 
Digges was the son of the mathematician Sir Thomas Digges of Digges Court, Barham, Kent, by the same's wife Anne St. Leger (d. 1636), the daughter of Warham St Leger. Dudley matriculated at University College, Oxford on 18 July 1600, when aged 17, and was awarded BA on 1 July 1601.
Digges was knighted by James I at Whitehall on 29 April 1607.
In 1610 he was elected Member of Parliament for the newly enfranchised constituency of Tewkesbury. He was a friend of Henry Hudson and in 1610 he was one of those who fitted out Hudson for his last voyage. As a result, Digges' name was given to Digges Islands, at the mouth of Hudson Bay in Canada, and to Cape Digges, at the easternmost extremity of these islands. In 1614 Digges was re-elected MP for Tewkesbury to the Addled Parliament. He backed the explorations of William Baffin in 1615 and 1616, with several of the same group of "adventurers". In 1616 he completed his mansion of Chilham Castle, Kent.
Digges became a gentleman of the privy chamber in 1618. He was named ambassador to Muscovy in 1618–19 and Special Ambassador to Holland in 1620. He was re-elected MP for Tewkesbury in 1621, 1624, 1625 and 1626. In the latter parliament, he was active in the impeachment of the Duke of Buckingham during the crisis of 1626 that followed the aborted expedition to Cadiz, when Digges and Archbishop Abbot co-operated to co-ordinate the attacks in the Houses of Lords and Commons. Digges was for a time imprisoned in the Fleet Prison by order of the King, but was released on apologizing to the King, an act that John Eliot was unwilling to perform. In 1628 Digges was elected MP for Kent and sat until 1629 when King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years.
In 1631 Digges became a bencher of Gray's Inn and was master in chancery from 1631 to 1637. In the same year, he was one of the commission appointed by the Privy Council "to consider how the plantation of Virginia now standeth, and to consider what commodity may be raised in those parts," and in 1634, he was appointed Commissioner for Virginia Tobacco. In 1638 he was appointed Master of the Rolls until his death in 1639.
Digges published several political and economic works, The Worthiness of Warre and Warriors (1604), The Defence of Trade (1615), Rights and Privileges of the Subject (1642), and, posthumously, The Compleat Ambassador: or Two Treaties of the Intended Marriage of Qu. Elizabeth of Glorious Memory (1655), a notable study of the two French marriage embassies, of Anjou and of Alençon, which revealed in unprecedented fashion the official despatches and correspondence and is a landmark in English historiography.
Digges left a fund in his will that provided, for some 200 years after his death, an annuity of £20 as prize money for races between the men and women of the parish of Chilham, Kent.
Digges married Mary Kempe, daughter and co-heir of Sir Thomas Kempe of Olantigh, Kent. They had eight sons and three daughters. Digges's son Edward was among the "planters," who emigrated in the 1640s and became Governor of Virginia. Another son, Dudley (c. 1612–1643) published a treatise on the Illegality of Subjects taking up Arms against their Sovereigns (1643).
Sir Dudley Digges and Lady Mary Kemp had 11 children, 8 boys and 3 girls, of who 8 survived to adulthood: