BLENNERHASSET (HASSET), John (by 1521-73), of Barsham by Beccles, Suff.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1521, 4th s. but event. h. of Sir Thomas Blennerhasset of Frenze, Norf. by 2nd w. Margaret, da. of John Braham of Wetheringsett, Suff. educ. ?Gonville, Camb. 1535; I. Temple, adm. 22 Apr. 1537, called. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Cornwallis of Brome, Suff., 1da.; (2) by 1546, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Edward Echingham of Barsham, 6s. 5da. suc. to entailed lands of bro. George 1543.2

Offices Held

Common serjeant, I. Temple 1542, 1544, 1545 auditor 1547, 1548, bencher 1550; legal adviser to Thomas, 3rd Duke of Norfolk by 1546, treasurer to Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk 1567-71, comptroller of victuals for army by July 1553; j.p.q. Suff. 1554-?d. , Norf. 1561-?d.; steward, Norwich 14 Jan. 1562-Jan. 1567; other commissions 1564-?d.3


John Blennerhasset came of an ancient family of Cumberland which had established a branch in Norfolk during the 15th century. His father had been a trusted servant and executor of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and the younger Blennerhasset was to spend most of his later life in the household of the 4th Duke.4

Blennerhasset, if it was he who was a pensioner at Gonville, left Cambridge before graduating and entered the Inner Temple under the sponsorship of two prominent members, Nicholas Hare and Thomas Saunders. A Suffolk neighbour, Hare had been at Gonville and had since become a client of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. For the next dozen years Blennerhasset combined the study and practice of law with the administration of the estates which came to him by inheritance and marriage. The account of Robert Holdich, receiver-general for the Duke of Norfolk in the counties of Cambridge, Essex, Lincoln, Norfolk and Suffolk, for 1546 includes the payment of £7 19s.10d. to Blennerhasset and his brother-in-law John Gosnold ‘for divers causes in law’. With the duke’s imprisonment under Edward VI his affairs must have offered little scope for such services, while the government was probably loath to employ Blennerhasset.5

The 3rd Duke’s restoration, soon followed by the transmission of the title and estates to his grandson, transformed Blennerhasset’s prospects. He was given a series of offices in the ducal household culminating in the treasurership, was put on the bench for Suffolk and made comptroller of victuals for the army, and granted an annuity of £20 for his loyalty during the crisis of 1553. It was not, however, until 1558 that he began his parliamentary career, as Member for the duke’s borough of Horsham. He was probably quite well known in Sussex as his father had been steward of the barony of Lewes and his mother-in-law’s first husband had been Edward Lewknor of Kingston Buci. There is no trace of Blennerhasset’s part in the proceedings of this Parliament, although his duties as comptroller of victuals and his relationship to Sir Thomas Cornwallis, treasurer of Calais, may have involved him in the debates on that town’s fall.6

Blennerhasset continued to serve both the crown and its greatest subject until their fatal clash in 1569-72. Although himself not seriously compromised, he was to survive his master for little more than a year, dying in July 1573.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from education and career. The Gen. n.s. xxii. 52-61, 129-33; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 7-8; Copinger, Suff. Manors, vii. 154.
  • 3. LR2/113, f. 123v; APC, iv. 297; vii. 285; CPR, 1553-4, p. 24; 1563-6, pp. 40, 41; 1569-72, pp. 215, 217-19; SP11/5/6, f. 49v; Suss. Arch. Colls. xlviii. 77; P. Millican, Reg. Norwich Freemen, 208.
  • 4. PCC 23 Bodfelde, 14 More.
  • 5. CPR, 1547-8, p. 336; LR2/113, f. 123v.
  • 6. Arundel castle mss G1/7; CSP For. 1572-4, p. 351; Lansd. 156, f. 92; Add. 5071.
  • 7. N. Williams, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, 120-1; SP15/21/116; PCC 5 Martyn.