Nicholas Hyde

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Arms of Hyde: Azure, a chevron between three lozenges or

Sir Nicholas Hyde (c.1572 – 25 August 1631) was Lord Chief Justice of England.


Hyde was born at Wardour, in Wiltshire, a son of Lawrence Hyde (d.1590) of West Hatch, Wiltshire, MP for Heytesbury in 1584, by his second wife Anne Sibell, daughter of Nicholas Sibell of Farningham, Kent, and widow of Matthew Colthurst of Claverton, Somerset.[1] He was the brother of Henry Hyde (c.1563–1634), MP, and Lawrence Hyde (1562–1641), attorney-general to Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I.


Hyde was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, entered the Middle Temple and was called to the bar in 1598.


Hyde entered the House of Commons in 1597 as one of the two members for Old Sarum. He represented Andover in 1601, Christchurch in 1604, Bath in 1614 and the county seat of Bristol in 1625. He soon became prominent as an opponent of the king's court, although he does not appear to have distinguished himself in the law. Before long, however, he deserted the popular party and in 1626 was employed by George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, to defend him against impeachment by the House of Commons.

In the following year be was appointed a Serjeant-at-law and Chief Justice of the King's Bench, in which office it fell to him to give judgment in the celebrated case of Sir Thomas Darnell and others who had been committed to prison on warrants signed by members of the Privy Council, and which contained no statement of the nature of the charge against the prisoners. In answer to the writ of habeas corpus the Attorney General relied on the Royal Prerogative, supported by a precedent of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Hyde, three other judges concurring, decided in favor of the Crown but without going so far as to declare the right of the Crown to refuse indefinitely to show cause against the discharge of the prisoners. He was knighted the same year (1627).

In 1629, Hyde was one of the judges who condemned Eliot, Holles and Valentine for conspiracy in parliament to resist the King's orders, refusing to admit their plea of parliamentary privilege that they could not be called upon to answer out of parliament for acts done in parliament.


He married Mary Swayne, daughter of Arthur Swayne of Sarson in Amport, Hampshire.


He died of Gaol fever in 1631.


  1. History of Parliament biography of Lawrence I Hyde[1]
Legal offices
Preceded by
Ranulph Crewe
Lord Chief Justice
Succeeded by
Thomas Richardson