AMYCE, Israel (c.1548-1607), of Tilbury, Essex and Cheshunt, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1548, 1st of s. Roger Amyce by his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir George Lawson of York, wid. of William Rigby. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1560, aged 12, BA 1563-4, MA 1572; M. Temple 1564. m. (1) Anne, da. of Richard Forsett by Margaret or Martha, 2nd w. of Roger Amyce, s.p.; (2) by 1573, Martha, Merilla or Muriel, da. of Vaux Van Marys or Murys of Holland, 1s. 2da.; (3) Thomasine, da. of William Carew of London and Stone Castle, Kent, s.p. suc. fa. c.1574.1

Offices Held

Escheator, Essex and Herts. 1576-8; j.p. Essex c.1584-c.96, Herts. from 1604.

Servant of Lord Burghley by 1591.


Amyce’s patron at St. Mawes is unknown. Though he was later closely connected with Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, no date has been found for his entry into Burghley’s service, and he may have owed his seat to his father’s influence at court. Inheriting property at Wakes Colne and elsewhere in Essex, he added to his estates between 1583 and 1587 by buying the manor of Tilbury, with other land in the county, from the Earl of Oxford. In 1595 he and his son Thomas sold the Tilbury property to Edward Cotton, and at about the same time the manor of Little Ilford to Robert Cecil. Amyce now moved from Essex to Hertfordshire, where he leased the demesne lands of the Cheshunt nunnery. Except for his contribution of £50 to the Armada fund, most of the information about Amyce falls within the period 1591-1604. In May 1591 the Earl of Oxford wrote to Burghley accusing ‘Amise’ (no christian name is given) of some minor fraud, recommending that the offender should be ‘put in fear’, not prosecuted. By the time this letter was written Amyce was probably already in Burghley’s service, as a land agent and surveyor; his survey of Castle Hedingham, Essex, an estate which Burghley had acquired from the Earl of Oxford, shows him to have been a conscientious servant: the volume has 200 pages of precise descriptions and neatly drawn plans. One other survey made by him survives, dated December 1599, covering Sir Robert Cecil’s lands in Edmonton, Tottenham and Enfield. Among the Hatfield and Lansdowne manuscripts are several letters from him to Burghley, dated January to May 1598, about land sales in Essex and Hertfordshire.2

After Burghley’s death Amyce remained in Sir Robert Cecil’s service. In March 1601 John Skinner wrote to Cecil that he had ridden to ‘Mr. Amyas, my old friend, whom I found surveying a goodly thing of your honour’s at Haddam’ (? Hadham, Herts.) and in June of the same year Michael Hickes sent a message to Amyce on Cecil’s behalf, thanking him for his care ‘touching the field book’. Hickes added his own thanks for Amyce’s pains in riding to Hertford priory for him. Early in James I’s reign Cecil, now Viscount Cranborne, asked him for his opinion on how a new scheme for bringing water to London from Hertfordshire and Middlesex was likely to affect Theobalds Park.3

Little more is known about Amyce. At the time of the Essex rebellion he tried to turn his Cecil connexion to good account by writing to Sir Robert on behalf of his wife’s brother Sir Henry Carey, one of the Earl’s followers. In 1604, nominated by Cecil, he served on a commission to preserve parts of the river Lea for hawking. The only reference found to his activities as a justice of the peace is dated November 1605, when he and Thomas Wilson reported to the Privy Council on their search of a recusant’s house at Enfield.4

The exact date of his death is not known, but it was probably during the summer or early autumn of 1607. Since he left no will, letters of administration were granted on 8 Oct. that year to his son Thomas.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 19; Morant, Essex ii. 334-5; PCC 32 Martyn.
  • 2. PCC 32 Martyn; Morant, i. 26; ii. 222, 334-5; J. Norden, Desc. Essex (Cam. Soc. ix), 38; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 406; T. C. Noble, Names of Those Who Subscribed, 19; Lansd. 68, f. 12; 116, f. 46; Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. i. 78; iv. 240 seq.; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1(1881), p. 635; HMC Hatfield, viii, 2, 18.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, xi. 152, 248; xvii. 181.
  • 4. HMC Hatfield, xi. 68; xvi. 446; APC, xxxi. 149 et passim; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 250.
  • 5. PCC admon. act bk. 1607, f. 90.