HEIGHAM, Clement (by 1495-1571), of Barrow, Suff.

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



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1495, 1st s. of Clement Heigham of Lavenham by Maud, da. of Lawrence Cooke of Lavenham. educ. L. Inn, adm. 1517, called 1525. m. (1) c.1520, Anne, da. of John de Moonines of Semer Hall or of Thomas Monnynge or Munnings of Bury St. Edmunds, 1s. d.v.p. 5 da.; (2) by 1528, Anne, da. of George Waldegrave of Smallbridge, wid. of Henry Bures of Acton, 3s. inc. John 2da. suc. fa. 1500. Kntd. 27 Jan. 1555.2

Offices Held

Pensioner, L. Inn 1531, Autumn reader 1537, keeper of black bk. 1538, treasurer 1540, Lent reader 1548, gov. 1548-57.

Chief bailiff, Bury St. Edmunds abbey, Suff. by 1528; j.p. Suff. 1529-d., Norf. circuit 1540, eastern circuit 1542; commr. relief, Suff. 1550; other commissions, London and E. Anglia 1534-66; PC May 1554-Nov. 1558; chief baron of Exchequer Mar. 1558-Jan. 1559; custos rot. Suff. 1561-d.3

Speaker of House of Commons 1554 (Nov.).


Clement Heigham’s family probably took its name from Heigham, a hamlet of the parish of Gazeley, where one branch held lands of the honor of Clare. Heigham and his brothers may have received their early education at the hands of the monks of Bury St. Edmunds and, as Heigham himself apparently entered Lincoln’s Inn rather older than was usual, he had perhaps also spent some time at Cambridge or an inn of chancery. It was doubtless his professional qualifications as much as his local standing which led the abbey to appoint him its attorney and in 1528 its chief bailiff; he leased the manor of Semer, about ten miles from Ipswich, and other properties from the abbey. He purchased Semer after the Dissolution and in the meantime acquired Barrow from Sir Thomas Wentworth I, 1st Baron Wentworth, to whom he was distantly related by marriage; he made this his country seat, building Barrow Hall, which survived until the early 18th century.4

Until the accession of Mary, Heigham’s public service was largely confined to his own county although in July 1544 he was appointed to convey £40,000 to Calais. During the succession crisis following the death of Edward VI he was among the first to rally to Mary with other Suffolk gentlemen including his brother-in-law Sir William Waldegrave. His immediate reward was an annuity of £50 and it was probably to the crown, acting through Sir Thomas Cheyne as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, that he owed his return for Rye to the Queen’s first Parliament. Despite his new standing and his later promotion to the Privy Council Heigham was unable to secure his regular return for any constituency and he never achieved a knighthood of the shire. In the spring of 1554 he found a seat at Ipswich, probably thanks to his kinship with the Wentworths, who lived nearby; at West Looe, where he was chosen as Speaker-designate, he was one of several Lincoln’s Inn lawyers returned at this time; and at Lancaster in 1558 he was doubtless indebted to his kinsman Sir Edward Waldegrave: he is not known to have sat in 1555.5

Heigham was an active Member from the start of his brief but distinguished parliamentary career. In his first Parliament two important bills were committed to him, for tonnage and poundage on 11 Oct. 1553, and to avoid rebellious and unlawful risings on 24 Nov., and in his second the bill for ordinances in cathedral churches on 24 Apr. 1554. He was also appointed to the committee to deal with the case of privilege raised by William Johnson I. On 10 May 1554, soon after the dissolution of Parliament, he made his first recorded attendance at the Privy Council. It was in the following House of Commons that Heigham was elected Speaker. He made an ‘excellent oration, comparing a body politic to a body natural’. It was a difficult Parliament, although efforts had been made to secure the election of Members of known Catholic sympathies, and Heigham co-operated closely with the Privy Councillors in the House in carrying out the heavy programme of government business. On 29 Nov. he ‘declared the legacy [legate’s office] of the lord cardinal [Pole] was to move us to come again to the unity of the Church from the which we were fallen’, and the religious settlement was finally made, after debates continuing into the new year. Those on the heresy laws extended over seven days, while discussion of the powers to be assigned to the King consort caused dissension between Lords and Commons. In addition to these weighty affairs Heigham had to deal with a disciplinary matter when, despite the official order that the usual Christmas vacation should not be taken, a large number of Members were found to be absent when the House was called early in January 1555. Heigham’s performance as Speaker gave satisfaction to the crown; on 27 Jan. he was knighted by King Philip and in the following March he was granted the reversion of the manor of Nedging in Suffolk ‘in consideration of his service, especially in the rebellion against the Queen at Framlingham, Suffolk, and for his labour in the late Parliament whereof he was Speaker’.6

In the first session of the Parliament of 1558 Heigham was again employed in a privilege case and had a number of bills delivered to him on their second reading, those for sanctuaries, for the cancelling of letters patent to French denizens, and the provision of horses and armour. On 28 Feb. the clerk noted ‘the bill for armour and the bill for musters delivered to Mr. Heigham and others, with notes in paper’. Near the end of the session he may have vacated his seat on being appointed chief baron of the Exchequer, but no evidence of a by-election survives: he received a writ of assistance to the Lords.7

Throughout Mary’s reign Heigham continued active in his own shire where, according to Foxe, he was particularly zealous in the persecution of Protestants. He was at first retained in office by Elizabeth but in January 1559, shortly after he had sued out a pardon, he was replaced on the exchequer bench by (Sir) Edward Saunders. In April of the same year he served as a commissioner to inquire into all treasons, rebellions and other offences committed in London and elsewhere, but thereafter his activities were restricted to his county. In 1564 he was described by the bishop of Norwich as being ‘not so well bent unto the advancement of the godly proceedings of this realm in causes ecclesiastical as other the justices of that shire be’. He died on 9 Mar. 1571, having made his will in the previous November. The greater part of his lands was left to his wife, to descend after her death to the eldest son John, who also received the manor of Semer and certain of his father’s farm stock. Of the other surviving sons, Thomas received a pasture in Great Sutton and William the manor of Moulton. Apart from a legacy of £100 to a daughter Anne, small bequests to grandchildren, gifts to the poor of neighbouring villages, and remembrance rings to a ‘sister’ Anne Bacon, (Sir) William Cordell and Edmund Wright and his wife, Heigham’s widow received the residue of the property. She and her son John were executors of the will, with her nephew William Waldegrave as supervisor. Heigham’s marble tomb at Barrow church bears a long inscription listing his many offices.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 6, ff. 75. 77; Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from father’s death and number of younger brothers. Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 40-41; Vis. Suff. ed. Howard, ii. 216-17; J. Gage, Thingoe Hundred, 9; DNB.
  • 3. Copinger, Suff. Manors, vii. 5-7; LP Hen. VIII, iv, v, viii, viii, xii, xiii, xv-xviii, xx; CPR, 1553, p. 358; 1553-4, p. 24; 1554-5, p. 109; 1555-7, p. 257; 1557-8, p. 60; 1558-60, p. 67; 1560-3, pp. 442, 443; 1563-6, pp. 141, 222; C66/985; APC, v, vi passim.
  • 4. CIPM Hen. VII, i. 52, 567, 1013; ii. 110, 429, 472; iii. 236; C142/35/123; CPR, 1494-1509, pp. 135, 342; CCR, 1485-1500, no. 777; LP Hen. VIII, xviii; Copinger, vii. 3.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xix; CPR, 1549-51, p. 437; 1553, p. 358; 1554-5, p. 50; Privy Purse Expenses of Princess Mary 1536-44, ed. Madden, 79; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 14; Lansd. 156, ff. 90-94.
  • 6. CJ, i. 27, 31, 35, 37, 38; APC, V. 19; J. S. Roskell, The Commons and their Speakers, 1376-1523, p. 97n; Strype, Cranmer, i. 493-4; Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 245-6, 324, 328; CSP Span. 1554-8, pp. 72, 79-80, 89, 128-31, 133, 134; CSP Ven. 1553-4, p. 592; LJ, i. 478, 489; KB29/188; CPR, 1554-5, p. 50.
  • 7. CJ, i. 48-50; C218/1, mm.1-11.
  • 8. APC, iv. 415; v. 42, 106; vi. 367, 387; Foxe, Acts and Mons. viii. 493, 497, 630; Gage, 13, 21-23; PCC 18 Noodes, 27 Holney; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 104; CPR, 1558-60, pp. 67, 149; Cam. Misc. ix(3) 48; Foss, Judges, v. 511-13; C142/158/40; Vis. Suff. ed. Howard, ii. 248-51.