KEILWAY, Robert (by 1515-81), of Stepney, Mdx. and Coombe, Warws.

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. by 1515, ?s. of Robert Keilway of Salisbury, Wilts. educ. Oxf.; I. Temple. m. by Feb. 1553, Cicely, da. of Edward Bulstrode of Hedgerley and Upton, Bucks., wid. of Sir Alexander Unton of Wadley, Berks., 1da.1

Offices Held

Bencher, I. Temple by 1538; surveyor, ct. of wards 1546; recorder, Bristol c.1544-52; j.p. Wilts. from c.1543, Berks. from c.1549, q. Berks. and Wilts. 1554; custos rot. Berks. 1549; serjeant-at-law 1552.


By the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign Keilway had already spent nearly 20 years as a lawyer and had grown rich on the sales of monastic lands and from the profits of his court of wards surveyorship. He probably did a little money-lending on the side. His return for Steyning was almost certainly due to Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. In this his third Parliament Keilway helped to draw up a book for the subsidy on 31 Jan. 1559, and on 14 Mar. was ordered to draft a bill on the bishop of Winchester’s case. His knowledge and experience made Keilway an invaluable member of royal commissions, and for the first ten years of her reign Elizabeth used him repeatedly. In September 1559 he was one of those who examined the certification of bishops’ lands; when John Fortescue I became keeper of the great wardrobe, Keilway was a surveyor of the accounts; in May 1563 he was on a commission to sell crown lands, and a little over a year later he was one of those appointed to look into unemployment in the Reading and Newbury cloth trade. He remained active until almost the end of his life, in 1576 giving his opinion in the Star Chamber on a letter received from the Oxfordshire and Berkshire justices of the peace. In the following year he was still a justice of the quorum for both Berkshire and Wiltshire, although he had sold most of his Wiltshire property.2

He died in February 1581, and was buried at Exton, where his daughter Anne and her husband John Harington II, the joint executors, erected a monument showing themselves kneeling before Keilway’s recumbent figure. Keilway’s remaining in office under four rulers, through all the changes in religion, suggests that he was no fanatic, neither hot nor cold. The Untons and the Haringtons were protestants, but his ‘dear and assured friend’ John Caryll was not.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Masters of the Bench of I. Temple, 8; Hoare, Wilts. Frustfield, 44; PCC 9 Darcy; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 222; LP Hen. VIII, x. p. 528, where his w. is called Elizabeth.
  • 2. OR, i. 375; LP Hen. VIII, xx(1), p. 316; xxi(1), p. 567; CPR, 1547-8, p. 238; 1548-9, p. 225; 1550-3, p. 355; 1553-4, pp. 17, 25; Lansd. 22. f. 52; 56, f. 168 seq.; C66/816.
  • 3. CJ, i. 53, 57; C3/38/45; PCC 9 Darcy; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 57-8; 1557-8, p. 103; 1558-60, p. 118; 1560-3, p. 624; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 148-9; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 47, 138, 243; APC, viii. 88; ix. 131; SP12/121/6, 32; LP Hen. VIII, xxi(2), p. 347; VCH Rutland, ii. 133; PCC 9 Darcy; C142/193/50.