BERKELEY, Henry II (1547-1601), of Norwood Park, Stoke and Bruton, Som.

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.1547, 1st s. of Sir Maurice Berkeley I by his 1st wife; bro. of Edward and half-bro. of Robert. educ. M. Temple 1565. m. Margaret, da. of William Lygon of Madresfield, Worcs., wid. of Sir Thomas Russell, 3s. inc. Sir Maurice II. suc. fa. 1581. Kntd. c.1585.1

Offices Held

Keeper of Selwood forest and Norwood park, Som. from 1581, j.p. from 1582, dep. lt. 1585-90, from 1591, sheriff 1587-8; dep. lt. Worcs. from 1595.2


Berkeley owned estates in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, and, through his wife, Worcestershire. Until 1585 and the death of his stepmother, in whom the manor of Bruton was vested, he lived at Norwood Park, Glastonbury. He was influential in local affairs, and active in many inquiries and commissions, serving as a grain commissioner in 1586, and hearing the oath of supremacy from the other j.p.s in 1591. As keeper of Selwood and Norwood, he initiated numerous Star Chamber suits against poachers, deer-stealers and others. As deputy lieutenant, he concerned himself with musters, was colonel of militia from 1583 or thereabouts, and as sheriff during Armada year himself raised a regiment 800 strong and assumed the command of 4,000 foot levies. He was also responsible for raising money to defray the charges of a ship which took part in the battle. Various accusations of profiteering, notably out of the supply of soldiers’ coats, were followed by litigation in the Queen’s bench and the Star Chamber. The 2nd Earl of Pembroke, who disputed Berkeley’s rights of office in Selwood forest, found the moment opportune to bring charges of disorder against him and secured his dismissal from the deputy lieutenancy. Replaced by Francis Hastings and dismissed from his military command, Berkeley was reinstated as deputy lieutenant after an appeal to the Privy Council. The quarrel over Selwood forest continued, and at the turn of the century the attorney-general filed a bill in the Star Chamber, claiming that Berkeley had committed forcible entry. Sir Henry also quarrelled with the Earl of Essex and, in 1593, was ordered to desist from hindering Gelly Meyrick, Thomas Crompton and other servants of the Earl.3

Berkeley took an active part in the proceedings of the House in the 1584 and the 1586 Parliaments. He served on a legal committee concerning juries (12 Dec. 1584), on a conference with the Lords to discuss the progress of the fraudulent conveyances bill (15 Feb. 1585), and on the committee for the subsidy (24 Feb.). In the 1586 Parliament he was one of those appointed to petition the Queen for the speedy execution of Mary Queen of Scots (11 Nov.). On 22 Feb. the following year he might have served on the subsidy committee in his capacity as knight of the shire for Somerset.

He died 7 Sept. 1601. His will, made 30 May 1600 and proved at Oct. 1601 shows neither affluence nor financial embarrassment. Berkeley received a comfortable income from his estates, much of which must have gone in litigation. Until the debts were paid Norwood was to remain in the hands of his four overseers, each of whom was to receive £10. The widow, named as sole executor of goods and chattels, was to enjoy a life interest in Bruton. The remaining lands were divided among his three sons.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. C142/197/56; Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 7; Collinson, Som. iii. 280-1; St. Ch. 5/B80/29.
  • 2. Harl. 474, f. 68; St. Ch. 5/B47/23; APC, xxv. 18.
  • 3. Harbin, Som. MPs, 129; PCC 4 Darcy; PRO Index 6800; St. Ch. recs. passim; Lansd. 57, f. 136 seq.; 67, f. 17; 73, f. 162; HMC Hatfield, iv. 340; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 358, 643; 1591-4, p. 80; Som. Rec. Soc. xx. p. xix; li. 216, 381, 382, 395; APC, xiv. 275, 346, 353; xv. 53, 59; xvi. 209, 304; xvii. 108; xx. 25; xxi. 159, 299; xxiii. 259; xxiv. 23, 219, 248, 374, 399, 408; xxv. 18; xxx. 386.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 339, 349, 356, 399, 409; PCC 68 Woodhall; C142/270/148.