BERKELEY, Henry I (c.1536-87), of Bolney, nr. Cuckfield, Suss.

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.1536. educ. Winchester 1548; scholar New Coll. Oxf., fellow 1554-68; BCL Dec. 1561; DCL Apr. 1567. m. 27 Aug. 1572, Anne (d.1601), da. of John Ashburnham, wid. of John Bolney of Bolney and of Thomas Culpeper of Wakehurst, presumably s.p.

Offices Held

Adv. in court of arches Oct. 1567; commissary of deaneries of the arches, Shoreham and Croydon Nov. 1567; j.p. Suss, by 1571; master in Chancery Nov. 1575.


Apart from the statement that he came to Winchester, aged 12, ‘from Hereford’, nothing has been ascertained about Berkeley’s parentage or early life. He may have secured his return for East Grinstead in 1571 through his legal connexions in London, perhaps with the 12th Earl of Arundel or the Sackvilles, or it may have been connected with his forthcoming marriage to a Sussex widow. He was a j.p. in that county in 1571, and he was assessed for the 1575 subsidy on £30 lands there. In 1577 he and his wife sold the manor of Bolney, with property in Cuckfield and Twineham, and six years later the manor of Wakehurst and houses in Ardingley, Horsted Keynes and other places in Sussex. Berkeley was one of the Sussex justices accused in 1578 of hostility to Bishop Curteys of Chichester; he, Walter Covert and John Apsley were ordered to implement the Privy Council order of 1581 to eject the bishop’s brother from his parsonage.

Berkeley served once only in the House of Commons, when his only recorded activity was his appointment to a committee on religion 6 Apr. 1571. However, after his appointment as a master in Chancery he served as assistant in the Lords in every Parliament until his death, and there are at least 15 references to him carrying out his duties there in 1576, eight in 1581, 13 in 1584-5, and one in 1586-7. According to an eighteenth-century legal work his first appearance in the Lords was inauspicious:

Doctor Barkley, a master of the Chancery, in the 18th of the Queen, sitting in the Parliament house, as the manner is, upon occasion of speech amongst the lords of certain officers to have certain privileges, without asking leave, got up, and entered into a speech of desiring that the masters of the Chancery might also be comprised in the said privilege then on foot. Which request came so unseasonably and was so inconsiderately propounded by the said doctor, as the lords in general took offence thereat, and amongst the rest some of great authority said that whilst the Queen’s learned counsel were silent, it were great presumption in him, being one inferior to them, to be so busy. So, as upon this the next day, the serjeant, attorney and solicitor took place above the masters of Chancery there, which before time had never been done ...

Berkeley died in April 1587, and was buried at Bolney. His will, drawn up in 1584, was proved on 4 May 1587. His brother Edward was to have his lands, while the other property was left to the widow, the executrix.

T. F. Kirby, Winchester Scholars, 128; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 18; Suss. Arch. Colls. xliv. 16, 20; lxxvi. 88; Suss. Rec. Soc. xvii. 100; xix. 52; xx. 455; Cooper, Ath. Cant. ii. 14-15; C. Coote, Civilians, 48; Mousley thesis, 417; E179/190/290; CJ, i. 83; Hargrave, Tracts, 298; PCC 24 Spencer.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge