BAGNALL, Sir Nicholas (c.1510-c.1590), of London; Penrhyn, Caern. and Newry and Carlingford, Ireland.

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.1510, yr. s. of John Bagnall, mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme, by Eleanor, da. of Thomas Whittingham of Middlewich, Cheshire; bro. of Sir Ralph. m. c.1555, Eleanor (d.1573), da. and coh. of Sir Edward Griffith of Penrhyn, 6s. inc. Sir Henry 6 or 7da. Kntd. c.1551.1

Offices Held

M.P. [I] 1585; Marshal of Ireland 1547-53, 1565-90; commr. in Ireland to enforce Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy 1568; j.p.q. Caern. and Anglesey by 1561, rem. by 1573; chief. commr. for the government of Ulster 1577, 1584.2


Bagnall, who owed his return at Newcastle-under-Lyme to local family influence (his brother was knight of the shire in 1559), made a career in Ireland where, during Edward VI’s reign, he had received considerable grants of land: a 21-year lease of the farm of Carlingford, the house and site of ‘the late college of St. Mary and St. Patrick of le Newery’, the manors of Morne and Greencastle in Ulster and the castle there, and a number of rectories and advowsons. However, in April 1553 he began negotiations to exchange these grants for property in England, at the same time claiming that he had raised the value of the Carlingford estates from £19 a year to £200. By 1562 he was declaring that his Irish property (which he now valued at £1,000) had been damaged by the depredations of the Irish. In the summer of 1567 he was trying to get £3,000 for his Newry estates. The Queen ordered an inquiry into the value of the property before agreeing to hand over any crown lands in England. Later negotiations are confused: perhaps part of the £3,000 debt which Elizabeth acknowledged in June 1586 as owing to Bagnall and his son Sir Henry was connected with the transaction.3

Outside Ireland Bagnall owned estates in Staffordshire and Anglesey and Caernarvonshire, the Welsh lands mainly in right of his wife. In 1580, some years after her death, he was involved in a lawsuit about the property against one of her relatives, and successfully appealed to Lord Burghley to have proceedings stayed in the court of wards until he could be spared from his work in Ireland to attend.4

The Bagnalls were protestant, and Sir Nicholas lost his marshal’s office under Mary. He had to wait for reappointment until October 1565, when the grant apparently followed complaints made by Sir Nicholas Arnold against Sir George Stanley, the previous marshal. In March 1566 Bagnall tried to pledge the office as security to the moneylender Thomas Stukeley, but the Queen forbade it. From time to time Bagnall was granted positions of special responsibility, such as that of chief commissioner for the government of Ulster, and it was not until August 1583, when his son Sir Henry received the reversion of the marshal’s office, that Bagnall was relieved of much of his work.5

His last years were spoiled by the arrival in Ireland as lord deputy of Sir John Perrot, who described him as ‘not able either to ride or go’ Obviously his powers were failing: Lord Chancellor Loftus, whose opinion was sought, called him ‘the decrepit and (in my conscience) innocent old gentleman’ Determined not to resign, Bagnall attributed malice to Perrot, complaining in March 1587 that Perrot had refused him the wardship of the heir of his son Dudley, killed fighting in Ireland. In May the Irish council was treated to the spectacle of the two men, deputy and marshal, at blows, each accusing the other of being drunk. Though he returned to England in September 1587 Bagnall outlasted Perrot in office, as he refused to retire until October 1590, just before his death. No will or inquisition post mortem has been found.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Harl. 2043, f. 174; 4269, f. 41; T. Pape, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 42; APC, iii. 202, 466; CPR, 1566-9, p. 173.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvii. 652; APC, ii. 462; v. 117; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 266, 276; HMC; 15th Rep. III, 294.
  • 3. APC, iii. 201; iv. 8-9; CPR, 1550-3, p.387; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 130, 192, 337, 380; 1586-8, p. 75.
  • 4. CPR, 1563-6, pp. 227-8; APC, xii. 289-90.
  • 5. CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 266, 276, 292; DNB, supp. 1.
  • 6. CSP Ire. 1574-85, p. 528; 1586-8, pp. 17, 287, 353, 359; APC, xv. 227; DNB, supp. 1.