BIRKHEAD, Martin (d.1590), of Wakefield and York.

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

2nd s. of Richard Birkhead of Halifax by his w. Isabell. educ. G. Inn, called by 1570. m. (1) Alice, da. of John Lacy of Cromwellbotham; (2) by 1585, Mary; 6s. 7da.1

Offices Held

Steward of the manor court, Wakefield 1560s; Queen’s attorney in the north 1574;2 j.p.q. Yorks. (W. Riding 1577, all ridings by 1584).


Birkhead was a Yorkshire lawyer, whose returns at Ripon were no doubt due to the 3rd Earl of Sussex, president of the council in the north. In Parliament he sat on several committees concerned with legal problems. During the first session of the 1572 Parliament he spoke on fraudulent conveyances (3 June) and was presumably the Mr. ‘Berkin’ who complained (8 June) that it was safer to be a papist than a protestant in the north of England. In 1576 he served on the committee to examine Peter Wentworth (8 Feb.), and on committees concerned with cloth (16 Feb.), the authority of the justices of the Queen’s forests (8 Mar.) and Lord Stourton’s bill (13 Mar.). On 18 Feb. 1576 he took part in a debate about land, and sat on a committee to examine fraudulent conveyances made by the northern rebels. During the third session, he was on the committee dealing with slanders and seditious practices against the Queen.3

He died 6 duly 1590, holding the manors of Harden and Haworth, lands in Bingley Marley and Keighley and other properties in Calverley, Fansley, Lofthouse, Bolton and Wakefield. In his will, besides the distribution of his estates, Birkhead left to his son Nathaniel a copy of Fitzherbert’s Abridgement. The supervisors included William Savell and Thomas Cave, feoffees of Harden and Haworth to the use of Birkhead’s wife and children. Birkhead requested the 4th Earl of Huntingdon to look after his sons.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. St. Ch. 5/V4/6; Lansd. 683, f. 65; York wills 24/486; Yorks. Peds. (Harl. Soc. xciv), 60.
  • 2. J. J. Cartwright, Chapters in Yorks. Hist. 44; Reid, Council of the North, 251 n.
  • 3. St. Ch. 5/V4/6; Yorks. Deeds (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. 1), 23; Cartwright, 44, 157; CJ, i. 104, 106, 108, 112, 115, 121, 122; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. ff. 48, 55; D’Ewes, 241, 249, 255, 262.
  • 4. C142/225/104; York wills 24/486.