MUSGRAVE, Sir Simon (d.1597), of Eden Hall, Cumb and Hartley Castle, Westmld.

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

3rd s. of Sir Edward Musgrave of Hartley Castle by his 2nd w. Joan, da. and coh. of Sir Christopher Ward of Givendale, Yorks. m. Julian, da. of William Ellerker of Ellerker, Yorks., 4s. (inc. Christopher d.v.p.) 1da. Kntd. 28 Aug. 1570.1

Offices Held

Constable, Bewcastle from 1555; dep. receiver, Pickering forest bef. 1566; j.p. Cumb. from c.1569, sheriff 1569-70; j.p.q. Westmld. from c.1574, sheriff 1575; border commr. 1581; master of ordnance in the north from 1583.2


The Musgraves were among the oldest and most numerous of the west border families, with estates in Cumberland and Westmorland, and connexions with such prominent north country families as the Cliffords and Whartons. To these estates, and others in Northumberland and Yorkshire, Simon Musgrave succeeded when the male line failed in 1565. Next year he even tried to usurp the rights of his great-niece Eleanor (who about this time married Robert Bowes I) on the grounds of her bastardy. Sir Thomas Gargrave, in 1572, listed him as a protestant and one of the principal gentlemen of the West Riding; but it was in the border counties that he had his roots.3

As constable of Bewcastle, where he had succeeded another Musgrave, his patent being re-issued in December 1558, his income was estimated in 1594 at not less than £400, derived from lands, rents and fees, but it was an onerous and at times dangerous appointment. The castle, where the constable was required to reside, faced across the ‘wastes’ into Liddesdale, home of the unruly Grahams and Armstrongs, between whom and the Musgraves there was a violent personal feud. In one raid, the constable’s own mill and barns were burnt down, and in another he narrowly escaped with his life. So intense became the raids, which drove away the tenants on whom the castle depended for its defence, that reinforcements were brought in from Berwick, but they quickly departed, leaving the area again open to attack. The ultimate cause of these disorders, in Musgrave’s view, was the instability of government in Scotland and the frequent changes among Scottish border officials. He advised more rigorous punishment of offenders and the prohibition, except on licence, of marriages between English and Scottish borderers, ‘the greatest occasion of the spoils and robberies’.4

In 1569 Musgrave commanded 400 horse against the northern rebels and in the following year again served under Lord Scrope, warden of the west march, and the Earl of Sussex in their punitive expedition into Scotland. ‘Very forward’, in the opinion of Sir George Bowes, though less satisfactory in the view of his bishop, his ability in the field won him Scrope’s commendation and from Sussex a knighthood, at Carlisle, both valuable preliminaries to his election to Parliament for his county in 1571 (when his son Christopher also became an MP) and 1572. How often he attended the House is not known; during his known visits to London Parliament was not sitting. In 1577 he was evidently thought suitable for appointment to the council in the north but Huntingdon, the president, did not press for his inclusion and he was never appointed.5

Deputing one of his sons, first Christopher, then Richard, then Thomas, to take command at Bewcastle, Musgrave from 1583 discharged the physically less exacting duties of master of the ordnance, being responsible for its receipt, storage and distribution at Berwick, Newcastle and elsewhere. As his years advanced, complaints of his absences and neglect of duty changed to accusations of mismanagement and peculation. In 1593, after entertaining the Earl of Bothwell at Eden Hall in March, ‘very pleasant and merry’, he was again in the county ‘at his ease’ in April. The following month, Burghley’s busy correspondent at Berwick, its captain and chamberlain John Carey, reporting on Musgrave’s excessive demands for munition, likened him to ‘an old Parliament man who goes about to overthrow a bill by clogging it with more devotion’.6

After 40 years of service on the borders, Musgrave died on 30 Jan. 1597. Eden Hall and other property in Cumberland and Westmorland passed to his grandson Richard, Christopher’s son.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: B.D.


  • 1. Nicolson and Burn, Hist. Cumb. and Westmld. i. 594-6.
  • 2. CPR, 1555-7, pp. 21, 167; Somerville, Duchy i, 535; Border Pprs. i. 35; AO 1/1832/5.
  • 3. CPR, 1563-6, pp. 105-6; 1565-6, pp. 487-8; Yorks. Fines, Tudor period (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser.), i. 334, 350, 360; VCH Yorks. N. Riding, i. 393; J. J. Cartwright, Chapters in Yorks. Hist. 68.
  • 4. CPR, 1555-7, pp. 21, 167; 1558-60, pp. 59-60; HMC Hatfield, v. 65; APC, xiii. 263-4; Border Pprs. passim.
  • 5. Sharp, Memorials of the Rebellion, pp. 86, 102; Miscellanea xii (Cath. Rec. Soc. xx), 117; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 516 et passim.
  • 6. Border Pprs.
  • 7. C142/248/14.