BELLINGHAM, Alan (c.1517-78), of Helsington, Westmld.

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.1517, 1st surv. s. and h. of Thomas Bellingham of Helsington by Marian, da. of Thomas Beck of Helbeck. educ. M. Temple, called bef. July 1557. m. (1) Catherine, da. of Anthony Duckett of Grayrigg, s.p.; (2) c.1556, Dorothy, da. of Thomas Sandford (Sandforth) of Askham, 7s. 8da.1

Offices Held

Treasurer, Berwick 1557-8; j.p.q. Westmld. by 1559, Cumb., Northumb. and Yorks. (W. and N. Ridings) by 1569; j.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) by 1569; custos rot. Westmld. by 1562; member, council in the north June 1566-Nov. 1571; sheriff, Westmld. 1572-3; surveyor of Westmld. for duchy of Lancaster by 1575.2


Bellingham’s grandfather, also Alan, a deputy warden of the marches, bought Helsington and other lands in Westmorland, and in 1545 received a royal grant of the fourth part of the barony of Kendal, known as the Lumley Fee. The younger Alan inherited this property on the death of his father, probably early in Edward VI’s reign, but he left his mother in possession of Helsington until her death some years later, living himself about 10 miles away on the Fawcett Forest estate which he bought in February 1554 from Sir Edward Hastings. In 1571 he bought a large estate in north Westmorland, including the manor of Strickland, from Sir Simon Musgrave. He also owned considerable house property in Appleby, and the manor of Bellingham, Northumberland.3

Details of his connexion with the Middle Temple are lacking. That he had been called to the bar before 22 July 1557 appears from a Privy Council letter to the ‘ancients’ of the inn asking them ‘to forbear Mr. Bellingham, whom they have appointed to read this vacation, from the same room’, since his services were required at Berwick. In February 1578, when he had presumably become a bencher, the inn agreed that the eight chambers built by him ‘ at the upper end of the old Hall and above the wall thereof’ should be granted to him and his five sons in survivorship.4

He was treasurer at Berwick for only six months, and seems to have heartily disliked the office. He set off for the north early in August 1557, spending some time in Newcastle, and by the end of November had already written two letters asking to be allowed to resign, apparently on the ground of ill-health. Though the Council ‘willed and commanded’ him to continue, his patent, granting him a salary of £20 as treasurer, was annulled in the following January; his accounts were presented in June 1558. The numerous references to his activities in the north after 1557 suggest that he was living there almost continuously.5

In a part of England where the old religion died hard among the gentry, it was often difficult for the government to find enough protestants to fill official positions. In 1564 Bellingham was named among the five ‘grave, witty men, good in religion as favourers of the policy of the realm now established’ whom the bishop of Carlisle consulted about religion in Westmorland; the bishop of Chester also reported favourably upon him. ‘Learned in the law’ as well as sound in religion, he was appointed to local commissions of various kinds, and, lawyer-like, tried to obtain a settlement out of court when he himself was involved in a suit with a Cambridge college. Writing on his behalf to solicit Cecil’s interest in the case in October 1570, his friend Sir Thomas Gargrave, the vice-president of the council in the north, informed Cecil that Bellingham wanted ‘to end the matter without expense; if he is in the wrong, he will make reasonable recompense’. Elected to Parliament in 1571, he was appointed to the subsidy committee before he had been a week in the house (7 Apr.).6

He died 7 May 1578, and was buried in the chancel of Kendal church, where the monumental inscription is dated 1577. To his wife during her widowhood, ‘which I think verily will be during her life by her ... promises’, he left houses and lands, and to each of his daughters £400 at her marriage or 21st birthday. If his eldest son Thomas should be under age when the will was proved, the executors were to do their best to procure the wardship: 200 angels were set aside for this purpose but may not have been needed, since Thomas was over 20 when Bellingham’s inquisition post mortem was taken. The executors, the widow and any surviving sons, were to be assisted by ‘mine especial friend’ Sir Thomas Gargrave and others as supervisors. The inventory attached to the will shows that the furniture at Helsington and Fawcett Forest, as in many northern houses of the period, was plain and the plate not of great value (only a little over £100). He seems to have collected rare coins: Spanish, Portuguese and French as well as English are listed, together with some that baffled the auditors—‘strange pieces of coin of gold and silver together’. The whole estate, including nearly 3,500 sheep and 800 lambs, was valued at about £3,000, with debts owing to Bellingham totalling over £650.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 527; Wills and Inventories, Richmond (Surtees Soc. xxvi), 282 seq.; Vis. Westmld. 1615, pp. 37-8; APC, vi. 128; Wards 7/19/190; Nicolson and Burn, Hist. Westmld. and Cumb. i. 204-5.
  • 2. CPR, 1557-8, pp. 64, 142-3; 1560-3, p. 443; 1563-6, p. 27; 1569-72, pp. 223, 224; Egerton 2345, ff. 3, 5, 9, 12-14, 27, 35; Reid, Council of the North, 494; Lansd. 19, f. 208; I. Temple, Petyt 538, xxxix, ff. 134 seq.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xix(1), p. 502; xx(1), p. 664; Nicolson and Burn, i. 204-5; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 365-6; 1569-72, p. 174; J. F. Curwen, Later Recs. N. Westmld. (Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc.), 350-1; Wards 7/19/190.
  • 4. APC, vi. 128; M. T. Recs. i. 219.
  • 5. APC, vi. 106, 124, 128, 132, 137, 154, 157, 209, 334.
  • 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), pp. 48-9, 51, 80; CPR, 1560-3, p. 485; 1566-9, pp. 223-4; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 323; CJ, i. 83.
  • 7. Wards 7/19/190; Stephenson, 527; Surtees Soc. xxvi. 282 seq.