BICKLEY, Henry (1502/3-70), of Chidham, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1502/3, s. of Thomas Bickley of Portsmouth, Hants by Anne, da. of John Deporte. m. (1) by 1549, Sybil (d.1555), da. of John Morley of Pagham, Suss., 1s.; (2) by 1556, Elizabeth (Eleanor), da. of John Samford, 3s. 4da.; 1s. illegit.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Portsmouth I534-d., constable and chamberlain 1535-6, mayor’s assistant 1535-6, mayor 1539-40, 1546-7, 1551-2; surveyor of victuals at Portsmouth by 1549.2


Henry Bickley probably started his career as a shipowner: in July 1533 John Norton referred to ‘a copper kettle which came out of Bickley’s crayer’. During the reign of Edward VI he was a surveyor of victuals at Portsmouth: in 1551 he and John Chaderton supplied malt, grain and other victuals for the town, and he also received rent from the crown for a timber yard that was used by the garrison. In later years Bickley evidently engaged in some privateering. On 9 May I560 he and two others were granted a licence to transport 900 Irish hides to Guernsey and Jersey to sell to Frenchmen: these were the remainder of a cargo of 1,4oo hides which they had seized from a Breton ship during the recent war with France. The yield of his ventures Bickley invested in land. He inherited property in Portsmouth and Portsea and at the time of the dissolution of God’s House at Portsmouth was lessee of its demesne lands at Fratton. In 1549 he bought the manors of Chidham and Thorney in Sussex, but he retained his interests in Portsmouth and at the time of his death he was the largest property owner there.3

Nothing is known of Bickley’s role in the Commons save that he was not among those Members of Mary’s first Parliament who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism. In I564 Bickley was one of the town’s champions in its conflict with the captain of Portsmouth, Sir Adrian Poynings. Many years earlier he and his successor as mayor had had a dispute with Edward Vaughan, then the captain, which had come before the Privy Council at its last meeting before the death of Henry VIII: the Council had ruled that Bickley and the mayor had ‘misused themselves’ about the gauge of beer and ordered them to pay 14 to the use of the poor. It was perhaps the memory of this episode which led Bickley to take the later dispute so seriously. It came to a head in 1564 when Poynings built three houses on waste land belonging to the town without asking permission from the corporation. The town retaliated with a long complaint to William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester and lord treasurer, accusing Poynings of making unlawful arrests, breaking town regulations and detaining its harbour dues. William Uvedale and Ralph Henslowe, who was Bickley’s cousin, were appointed commissioners to consider the grievances, and Winchester made an award in fayour of the borough, confirming all its earlier privileges: his only concession to Poynings was his decision that the three houses in dispute should remain, on payment of a reasonable rent.4

When Bickley made his will on 2 Apr. 1565, before this battle was won, he declared himself to be ‘in good and perfect memory and mind, notwithstanding in fear of my life from Sir Adrian Poynings, captain of Portsmouth, and his servants’. He left each of his four sons £40 in money and certain lands, made small bequests to his daughters and his illegitimate son, and provided for his second wife. He named his ‘trusty and well beloved cousin’ Ralph Henslowe one of the guardians of his younger sons, and his eldest son Thomas his executor. Bickley died on 15 Dec. 1570 and the marble tomb which he asked to be erected is still to be seen in Chidham church.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Aged 67 at death according to MI, Suss. Arch. Colls. xxxii. 9n. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 137; PCC 40 Peter; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 312, 678.
  • 2. East, 312, 325, 342, 678; APC, ii. 307; Portsmouth Guildhall, liber 1, ff. 7, 10.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vi; APC, ii. 307; iii. 255, 263, 297, 322; CPR, 1558-60, p. 289; East, 119, 312; VCH Hants, iii. 196; Req.2/114/42; Suss. Manors (Suss. Rec. Soc. xix), 99.
  • 4. APC, i. 568; East, 422-34.
  • 5. PCC 40 Peter; Suss. IPMs (Suss. Rec. Soc. iii), 79; East, 312.