BIRDE, Henry.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

Offices Held


Two Henry Birdes active in the 1590s have been identified: neither had any known connexion with Tregony. One was captain of the good ship Unity of London. He was caught out in August 1589 with £7,000 worth of gold ‘recovered in the late voyage against the Spaniards’ hidden among the powder and ammunition, and was summoned before the Privy Council to explain himself. The other was the registrar of the court of high commission in Ireland, who was sentenced to stand in the pillory and to a year’s imprisonment for forging the lord deputy’s signature to certain warrants. The papers in the case were remitted to England in May 1590; the following November it was decided that he had been falsely accused, but he was not to be restored to his offices because he had exercised these ‘corruptly’. He had been released from prison by 20 Mar. 1591. It was suggested against him that this Henry Birde was a papist. One of this name was a commissioner for musters in Ireland on 10 Mar. 1600.1

Some five miles from Tregony was the estate of Golden or Volveden, in the parish of Probus, seat of the Tregian family, the head of which, Francis, father of the supposed compiler of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, was, in 1597, in prison for recusancy. By the time of his release about 1602 he had been confined for almost a quarter of a century. In a letter dated 28 May 1594 an informer wrote to one Morgan Jones of Gray’s Inn:

meeting with one Bird, brother to [William] Bird of the Chapel [Royal] I understand that Mrs. Tregian, Mrs. Charnock and Mrs. Sybil Tregian will be here at the court at this day.

As is well known William Byrd was himself a Catholic, one of the few holding court office at this time. Many of his compositions are in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, and one is actually called Tregian’s Ground. Unhappily, efforts to trace the first name of this ‘one Bird, brother to Bird of the Chapel’ have proved unsuccessful. If it were found to be Henry it would be tempting to identify him as the 1597 MP. He might even have been the (by this time ex-) Irish ecclesiastical official.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. APC, xviii. 11-12; xxx. 158; CSP Ire. 1588-92, pp. 342, 370, 371, 389; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 662,663.
  • 2. Fitzwilliam Virginal Bk. (Dover 1963), p. vii; SP12/248/118; E. H. Fellowes, Wm. Byrd (2nd ed.), 42, 43.