CHETWODE, Richard (d.1560), of Chetwode, Bucks. and Warkworth, Northants.

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

s. of Roger Chetwode of Reyse, Cheshire by his 1st w. Eleanor, da. of Thomas Masterson of Nantwich, Cheshire. m. 1556, Agnes (d.1576), da. and h. of Anthony Woodhull or Wahull, baron of Odell or Wahull, Beds., 1s.

Offices Held

Gent. of privy chamber by May 1552.


Chetwode may have owed his Newton seat to one of three patrons: Sir Thomas Newton, the owner of the borough; the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Ambrose Cave, whose signature appears on the return; or William Fleetwood I, who also signed the return. No connexion with Cave or Fleetwood has been traced, but as a member of Edward VI’s household Chetwode made a number of friends at court who became influential at the accession of Queen Elizabeth. He was in the Duke of Somerset’s service by 1548, the heralds’ visitation describing him as ‘captain of a troop of horse at the siege of Hanington’, presumably Haddington, where he served as a volunteer during Somerset’s Scottish campaign of that year.

In 1556 he eloped with a 14 year-old heiress, Agnes Woodhull, and much of the remainder of his life was spent in trying to get their marriage recognized. Agnes’s father, who owned land in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, and Oxfordshire, had died when she was only a few days old, and Sir Anthony Wingfield had bought the wardship for £400. After Wingfield’s death, Frances, Duchess of Suffolk and a certain Margaret Blackbourne both claimed custody of the girl, and as late as April 1559 the Duchess was writing to Cecil about the matter. A Charles Tyrrell, who prosecuted Chetwode in the ecclesiastical courts, was another interested party. Whether or not Chetwode’s committal to the Tower in July 1556 for ‘lewd and presumptuous words’ to the lord steward and ‘evil behaviour before the lords of the Council’ was connected with his abduction of Agnes Woodhull, a second imprisonment there in February 1557 certainly was. Eventually the marriage was voided by the ecclesiastical court, whereupon Chetwode appealed to Rome, and the suit was still pending when Elizabeth came to the throne. Within a fortnight of her accession the Privy Council instructed Sir Edward Carne, the Marian ambassador at Rome who was about to be recalled, not to ‘use his authority in soliciting or procuring of anything in the matter of matrimony depending between Mr. Chitwood and Mr. Tyrrell’. Chetwode now used his friendship with leading statesmen of the new reign and presumably his membership of the 1559 Parliament to secure the insertion in the Act of Supremacy of a proviso protecting his suit or, if matters went against him at Rome, granting him the right of appeal to the archbishop of Canterbury. There is no record of any decision, either by Rome or Canterbury, but the son of the marriage, Richard, inherited the Woodhull property in Bedfordshire and elsewhere.

Chetwode’s will, made 6 Jan. 1560, was proved in October the same year. After a long preamble stressing his many sins, he gave instructions for the burial of his ‘vile carcase’, and for the payment of his debts so far as was possible, though he feared that his property would not cover them. He left bequests to Sir Robert Dudley, Sir William Cecil, and Sir Thomas Parry, whom he called ‘my dear father’, and asked them to continue their friendship to his widow, since he could see no end to ‘those troubles which have been procured by Charles Tyrrell, whom God forgive, against my precious jewel my wife and me’. The 4th Duke of Norfolk had as yet paid none of the money promised for some property in Sussex, and Chetwode instructed the executors, who included the widow and his brother John, to try to collect it.

Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 152; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 62; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 10, 281, 301-2; LC5/4/5, f. 19; C519/26/44; CSP Scot. 1547-63, p. 140; APC, ii. 402; iv. 80; EHR, xxiii. 680; PCC 51 Mellershe.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge