BERKELEY, Sir Maurice I (bef.1514-81), of Bruton, Som.
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Family and Education
b. bef. 1514, 2nd s. of Richard Berkeley of Stoke by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Humphrey Coningsby. m. (1) Catherine (d.1560), da. of William Blount, 4th Lord Mountjoy, wid. of John Champernown (d.c.1541) of Modbury, Devon, 3s. inc. Edward and Henry Berkeley II 5da.; (2) 1562, Elizabeth, da. of Anthony Sands of Throwley, Kent, 2s. inc. Robert 1da. Kntd. 30 Sept. 1544.1
Servant of Thomas Cromwell c.1537; gent. of privy chamber 1539-53; constable, Berkeley castle Nov. 1544; chief banner bearer of England Sept. 1545; commr. musters, Som. Jan. 1546; keeper of Norwood park, Som. 1552-3, j.p.q. 1559; sheriff, Dorset, Som. 1567-8.2
Berkeley’s first wife was, in the words of Roger Ascham, ‘an accomplished lady’, the governess of Princess Elizabeth, and it was after Elizabeth’s succession that Berkeley became eminent in Somerset. An obvious choice as knight of the shire, he was on a number of parliamentary committees in both his Elizabethan Parliaments. On 31 Oct. 1566, he was named to the succession committee, and was one of 30 MPs summoned from the Commons on 5 Nov. 1566 to hear the Queen’s message on the succession. In his next Parliament he served on committees concerned with Mary Queen of Scots (12 May 1572), calivers and days (22 May), the Duke of Norfolk (28 May), a private bill (30 May) and sheriffs (18 Feb. 1576).3
Berkeley had considerable property in Somerset, most of it acquired by purchase and grant since the dissolution of the monasteries. His main estates were around Bruton, but he also had a manor in Gloucestershire and one in Kent. Most of these descended to his son Henry, but by his will, dated 10 Feb. 1580 and proved 16 Nov. 1581, he left to his wife in jointure his manor house and lands at Bruton. To his four younger sons he bequeathed a number of his leases of property in Buckinghamshire and Somerset and his Kent lands. He left £600 each to his two unmarried daughters, and to his wife half her apparel and jewels. The residue went to his son Henry, the sole executor. Overseers were his nephews, Sir George Speake, Sir Richard Berkeley and John Fraunces. By a codicil he left £20 to be distributed to the poor at his funeral; commenting, ‘though I know it will do me no good, yet I am persuaded it will do them no harm’. He died 11 Aug. 1581.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: Roger Virgoe
- 1. Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 6; PCC 40 Darcy; LP Hen. VIII , xix(2), p. 174; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), p. 129; Haynes, State Pprs. 387.
- 2. CPR, 1553-4, p. 411; Stowe 571, ff. 30, 57; LP Hen. VIII, viii. 2; xiii(2), p. 272; xiv(1), p. 242;(2), p. 306; xix(2), p. 415; xx(2), pp. 182, 227; xxi(1), p. 41.
- 3. Strype, Grindal, 5; E. Herts. Arch. Soc. iii. 202, 214; CJ, i.94, 96, 98, 99, 106; D’Ewes, 126, 206, 213, 219, 220, 225; Camb. Univ. Lib. Gg. iii. 34, p 209.
- 4. C142/197/56; PCC 40 Darcy.