OSBORNE, John (?1549-1628), of Ivy Lane, London and Chicksands, Beds.

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. ?1549,3 1st s. of Peter Osborne and bro. of Christopher. educ. Eton, King’s scholar 1565; King’s, Camb. 1568, BA 1573, fellow 1571-4; L. Inn 1574. m. Dorothy, da. of Richard Barlee of Easingham Hall, Essex, lady of privy chamber to Anne of Denmark, 5s. 1da. suc. fa. 1592. Kntd. 1619.

Offices Held

Auditor of the Exchequer by 15 Mar. 1571, ld. treasurer’s remembrancer from 1592; commr. for the navy and household 1618.

J.p. Beds. from c.1591.4


Osborne inherited his father’s Bedfordshire lands and his Exchequer office, the reversion of which had been obtained for him in December 1577 or January 1578 by Lord Burghley. This office remained in the possession of the Osbornes until 1698.5

It was probably through Burghley that Osborne obtained his earlier parliamentary seats. Burghley was high steward of Westminster, for which Osborne sat in 1576, and would have been able to bring him in for Newport in 1586 and for Penryn in 1593. Seats had been obtained for Exchequer officials there in 1571 and 1572, perhaps through Burghley’s relatives, the Killigrews. It is not clear how Osborne secured a seat at Bramber in 1588. Presumably Burghley was again responsible, perhaps through Lord Buckhurst. At Dartmouth and St. Germans, Osborne probably owed his returns to Robert Cecil, to whom, after Burghley’s death, he transferred his allegiance. It is assumed that the Mr. Osborne who sat on committees in the 1572, 1586 and 1589 Parliaments was Peter. No record has been found of any activity that can certainly be attributed to John. In July 1598 the Earl of Essex referred to Osborne as ‘my good friend’, but Osborne avoided compromising himself with that rash nobleman. In the debate on the Exchequer bill (21 Nov. 1601), the question arose whether the clerks of Mr. Osborne’s office should be heard before the commitment. It was decided that the bill should be committed first, and that the clerk’s counsel should be heard later.6

One of Osborne’s duties as an Exchequer official was the collection of debt’s. In 1593 he was responsible for distraining the manor of Wanstead in satisfaction of the Earl of Leicester’s debts to the Crown, and the debts of (Sir) Thomas Shirley I occupied him intermittently between 1597 and 1624 when final payments were completed. In 1598 he wrote for the Queen a ‘book’ of some dozen folios on the ‘state of the revenue’ and ‘what means I could think of to make any mass of money for your highness’. During James I’s reign his duties included managing the sequestrated lands of recusants and it was to him that Salisbury wrote in 1608 to implement a grant of ‘the benefit of four recusants’ to one of his servants.7

In 1618 Osborne was appointed to a commission to investigate the state of the navy, under the chairmanship of his relative by marriage, Lionel Cranfield. Osborne’s experience in dealing with recusants’ lands may have suggested the proposal that part of the money for the new ships be raised by greater severity in exacting recusancy fines north of the Trent. His work on the commission was rewarded with a knighthood in 1619. By the beginning of 1627 he was in poor health, being excused from acting as a commissioner for the loan in Bedfordshire because he ‘has lately been visited with gout and cannot travel’. He had already made his will in the belief that at the age of 77 he must be prepared for imminent death. He died 2 Nov. 1628, and was buried in Campton church, Bedfordshire.8

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: Irene Cassidy / P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Folger V. b. 298.
  • 3. Osborne’s will, PCC 25 Ridley, suggests he was born in 1549; Venn, Al. Cant. iii. 285, gives 1551 and Peter Osborne’s i.p.m., C142/249/59, suggests 1559, which is much too late. For other facts in this paragraph see DNB (Osborne, Peter).
  • 4. CPR , 1569-72, p. 290; CSP Dom. 1590-4, p. 234; Hatfield ms 278; C66/1549; APC, 1618-19, 174, 179.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, ii. 171; DNB; VCH Beds. ii. 271.
  • 6. HMC Hatfield, viii. 284; xi. 5, 513; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 237.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 386; 1595-7, p. 413; 1623-5, pp. 353-4; Add. 1580-1625, p. 509; Egerton 3369; Lansd. 153, ff. 161, 163.
  • 8. APC, 1618-19, 174, 179; 1627 (Jan.-Aug.), 283-4; SP14/100/2; 101/2-3; S. R. Gardiner, Hist. England 1603-42, ii. 187; iii. 203; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, ii. 210; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 30; PCC 25 Ridley; C142/451/106; DNB.