HENSLOWE, Ralph (by 1520-77), of Boarhunt, Hants.

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 1520, s. of Thomas Henslowe of Southwick by Emmotte. m. (1) by 1545, Clare, da. of William Pound of Drayton, 2s. 2da.; (2) 1570/71, Catherine, da. of (Sir) Geoffrey Pole of Lordington, Suss., wid. of Anthony Fortescue.1

Offices Held

Clerk of the crown, Hants Dec. 1541-c.75; burgess, Portsmouth 1550, mayor’s assistant 1559.2


Ralph Henslowe’s father, who held land at Southwick and Boarhunt, a few miles inland from Portsmouth, was probably an official of Southwick priory: it was under the aegis of the prior that in 1535 he made a loan to Lady Lisle, the wife of Viscount Lisle, which was to be repaid at a rate of £7 a year from the fees of Portchester castle. With the dissolution of the priory and the ascendancy in the area of Thomas Wriothesley, afterwards 1st Earl of Southampton, Ralph Henslowe attached himself to the new magnate, with whom he could soon claim a marriage connexion, his first wife’s brother being married to Wriothesley’s sister. It was as Wriothesley’s servant that in August 1545 Henslowe acquired from Wriothesley the manor of West Boarhunt, including his father’s holdings there. He was to remain in the family’s service, rendering an account in 1570-1 as receiver-general for Hampshire and other counties to Henry Wriothesley, the 2nd Earl.3

To the patronage at Portsmouth of Wriothesley as lord of the manor of Portsea, Henslowe could add that of his first wife’s family. The Pounds held the manor of Drayton by the service of guarding the eastern gate of Portsmouth castle for five days in wartime, and their association with the town had led two of them to sit for it in 15th-century Parliaments: more recently Sir Richard Wingfield, captain of Portsmouth and one of the town’s Members in March 1553, was brother-in-law to Clare Henslowe. The return of Henslowe in 1555 may thus be seen as the product of Wriothesley-Pound patronage, whereas his fellow-Member Edmund Cockerell reflects the rival Paulet interest. As neither is to be found on the list of Members of this Parliament who opposed one of the government’s bills it is to be inferred that both were supporters of the Catholic Restoration. Henslowe was to appear as a recusant in 1572 and his family was later Catholic.4

Henslowe’s first wife was still alive in 1559 when they were both parties to an agreement concerning the manor of Wick in Sussex, but she died before 1570 or 1571 and he then married Catherine Fortescue. He acquired further lands, in 1569 the manor of Iwerne, Dorset, from his master Southampton, and later the manor of Wield, Hampshire, from Thomas Sackville, Baron Buckhurst: on his death on 18 June 1577 the last went to his son and heir Thomas, while his wife was left the Dorset property as her jointure. During his later years Henslowe’s only intervention in the affairs of Portsmouth appears to have been the inquiry which he and William Uvedale conducted in 1565 into a dispute between Sir Adrian Poynings and Henslowe’s ‘cousin’ Henry Bickley over the relative jurisdictions of the captain and the mayor and burgesses: the two made a careful survey of the town, which the lord treasurer used when making his award.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 14 Bucke; Portsmouth city lib. A. T. Everitt, Church notes, ii. 83, 130; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 89. Catherine Pole’s first husband, a Catholic conspirator, is not to be confused, as he is in DNB, with a younger brother of Sir John Fortescue†, N. and Q. (ser. 9), vii. 327, 435-6; viii. 73, 449-51; ix. 53-54.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvi; E. Stephens, Clerks of the Counties, 94; R. East, Extracts from Portsmouth Recs. 325, 342.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vi, viii, xx; NRA 8800 (Hants RO, Wriothesley mss (estates), 588, 947); 11960 (Hants RO, Daly mss 5M50/1148).
  • 4. N. and Q. (ser. 10), iv. 184-5, 268-72, 472-4; Stephens, 94; Cath. Rec. Soc. i. 116; vi. 316; xxii. 41, 100; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 53.
  • 5. Suss. Arch. Colls. lxxvii. 258; VCH Hants, iii. 145, 346; PCC 44 Holney, 4, 40 Peter; CPR, 1566-9, p. 409; Wards 7/19/22; APC, vii. 207; East, 422-35.