BELL, Edmund (1562-1607), of Southacre, Norf.

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. 1562, 1st s. of Robert Bell by his 3rd w. Dorothy, da. and h. of Edmund Beaupré of Beaupré Hall. educ. ?Pembroke, Camb. 1579. m. (1) Anne, da. of Peter Osborne, 5s.; (2) Elizabeth; (3) Muriel, da. of Sir Thomas Knyvet of Ashwellthorpe, at least 3da. suc. fa. 1577. Kntd. 1603.

Offices Held

J.p. Norf. from c.1599.


Bell inherited property in Norfolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent, the major part from his mother, who after his father’s death married John Peyton I. Bell invested heavily in privateering, and four months before his return to Parliament he was a prisoner in the Fleet, owing £1,500. The Privy Council intervened on his behalf, instructing the commissioners for the relief of poor prisoners to compound with his creditors—‘decayed young fellows, their companions and other wily and unconscionable men’—that he might be released ‘before the heat of the year and contagions of the place ... may be dangerous to his health’. He may indeed have sought election to Parliament to escape his creditors. It is not clear whether he came in for Aldeburgh through his own influence or that of a relation, perhaps Peter Osborne, whose daughter he married, and who was a former Exchequer colleague of his father. In the end Bell settled down as a country gentleman, interested in draining the fens. He died towards the end of 1607 and was buried at Southacre. His will, dated 22 Dec. 1607, was proved 9 Feb. 1608.

Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 34; Blomefield, Norf. vi. 79; vii. 460; viii. 269, 455, 457; C142/182/28; APC, xiv. 154; xxvii. 274, 367; SP12/190; PCC 9 Windebanck; information from A. H. Smith.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.