BORLASE, John (c.1527-93), of Little Marlow, Bucks.

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.1527, 1st s. of Edward Borlase, citizen and mercer of London, by his 1st w. Parnell or Petronella, da. and coh. of Sir John Baldwin, c.j. common pleas, wid. of Thomas Ramsey. m. c.1561, Anne, 3rd da. and coh. of Sir Robert Lytton of Knebworth, Herts., 1s. 6da. suc. fa. 1544; mat. gd.-fa. 1545.

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. from 1573, sheriff, Bucks. and Beds. 1567-8, Bucks. 1588-9.


Borlase may be regarded as the founder of the Buckinghamshire family which came into prominence in the seventeenth century. His father had supplied wine to Henry VIII, and by judicious marriages and business success provided an ample inheritance for his children. While still a minor, he inherited a considerable estate in Buckinghamshire from his maternal grandfather, the chief justice, including three scattered manors—Upton, Seer and Preston Bisset—and three close together in Little Marlow — Danvers, Monckton and Crawlton. He added to his Marlow estate, purchasing, in several stages between 1561 and his death, the whole of the manor of Little Marlow, and selling that of Seer. He also acquired other estates in Buckinghamshire, as well as the manors of Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire, and Hoobridge Hill, Essex. Through his marriage he was related to Rowland Lytton, a friend of the Cecils. Another connexion with the Cecils was his half-brother, William Borlase, a diplomatic agent.1

He contrived to ride the governmental changes of the fifties, choosing the successful side in 1553, when he was granted an annuity of £10 for supporting Mary against Lady Jane Grey. Though not a leading figure in his county—he was, for example, returned in 1586 as junior colleague of Francis Goodwin, a man nearly 40 years younger than himself—he played his part in local affairs. In 1564 he was regarded by his bishop as ‘earnest in religion and fit to be trusted’, and there is reason to believe that he was placed on the commission of the peace long before 1573. When pricked for sheriff in 1567 he asked his influential neighbour, Lady Elizabeth Hoby of Bisham Abbey, to write to Cecil asking that the office might be bestowed on ‘some person more able to bear the charge thereof than himself’: the request was of no avail. Following his second term of office as sheriff, Borlase brought an action in the Star Chamber against John Lee, one of his subordinates. He was probably the ‘Mr. Burlase’ named on 4 Nov. 1586 to the committee appointed to petition the Queen for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. No further mention of him is to be found in the parliamentary journals. He died on 6 May 1593 and was buried at Marlow, ‘his pennon of arms borne by William Borlase his brother, the helm and crest borne by Bluemantle, pursuivant of arms, his coat of arms borne by Richard Lee, Richmond Herald’, despite his request for burial ‘not with pomp after the worldly fashion’. In his will he made generous provision for his widow, and left money to the poor of Great and Little Marlow, High Wycombe and Burnham. He was succeeded by his son William, the founder of Borlase’s School.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. CPR, 1548-9, p. 94; 1563-6, p. 47; 1569-72, pp. 117-18; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 20; Genealogist, n.s. ii. 225-32; VCH Bucks. ii. 277; iii. 80, 82-3, 229, 280; iv. 217.
  • 2. E403/2451, f. 35; Lansd. 156, f. 93; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 32; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 301; St. Ch. 5/B48/6; B51/37; D’Ewes, 394; Genealogist, n.s. ii. 229-30; PCC 36 Nevell.