The increasing estrangement between him and the nation made him averse from the natural remedy of a parliament, and he reverted to the absolute practices of the middle ages, in order that he might strain them far beyond the warrant of precedent to levy a tax under the name of ship-money, first on the port towns and then on the whole of England.
Rowland's second son, Sir Robert Berkeley, the king's bench justice who supported the imposition of ship-money, was ancestor of the Berkeleys of Spetchley, now the only branch of the house among untitled squires.
In 1638 ship-money was levied on Bedfordshire, and in the Civil War that followed, the county was one of the foremost in opposing the king.
He did not thrust members of the Commons into prison, or issue writs for ship-money.
Even the ship-money Johnson would not pronounce to have been an unconstitutional impost.