PICKERING, Christopher (c.1556-1621), of Threlkeld, Cumb.; later of Ormside alias Prinshead, 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

b. c.1556, o.s. of William Pickering by Winifred, da. of Sir Lancelot Threlkeld of Threlkeld. unm., 1da. suc. fa. 1587. Kntd. 1607.

Offices Held

J.p. Cumb. from c.1590; sheriff 1590-1, 1605-6, 1607-8, 1611-12; dep. warden of the west march 1601; commr. for the borders 1608.


The senior line of the Pickering family died with Sir Christopher Pickering in 1516. His only daughter, Anne, was married first to Sir Francis Weston, the reputed lover of Anne Boleyn, and secondly to Sir Henry Knyvet. She was thus the mother of three Elizabethan parliamentary figures: Sir Richard Weston, Sir Henry Knyvet and his brother, Thomas. The family name of Pickering was preserved in Cumberland by Sir Christopher’s brothers, the youngest of whom, William, married Winifred, coheir of Sir Lancelot Threlkeld, and thereby acquired the manor of Threlkeld, to which Christopher Pickering succeeded in 1587.1

Pickering enjoyed the favour of Lord Scrope, warden of the west march, whose influence may have helped Pickering’s election in 1597. As knight of the shire in 1597 he could have attended committees on enclosures (5 Nov.), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), the penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.) and the subsidy (15 Nov.). About this time Pickering signed a report, drawn up by Scrope and other Cumberland justices, deploring the unwillingness of some inhabitants to pay for arms for the defence of the border. In October 1598 he was declared by Lancelot Carleton, brother of Thomas Carleton, to be ‘affected to Francis Dacres and to have entered into a most dangerous combination by oath and league’ with other gentlemen of the march, but these accusations, made in a letter to Robert Cecil, had no effect. Scrope appointed Pickering to be his deputy when he went to court in March 1601.2

The problems of the border were not solved by the accession of James I, and the lawlessness of the Graham family continued to disturb the peace of the locality. In September 1605 Pickering was sworn in by the Earl of Cumberland as one of eight constables of the forest of Nichol and the parish of Arthuret, near the border. On 25 Apr. in the following year he and six other gentlemen complained to the border commissioners that ‘forebearance used towards any that were border malefactors’ merely ‘bred greater hurt to the country and greater insolence in them’, for they were so rooted in a ‘desolate’ kind of life that it was impossible to reform them. Later in the year, when it was decided to transport the Grahams to Ireland, Pickering, as sheriff, offered to contribute £5 towards the project, but his example was followed by few of the gentry. In 1608 he became a border commissioner with an annual fee of 100 marks, and in November 1609 he and (Sir) John Dalston were instructed by Salisbury to survey Carlisle castle.3

Some time before his death he acquired the manor of Ormside in Westmorland with extensive adjacent property. He died 15 Jan. 1621 and was succeeded by his two sisters, Winifred, formerly wife of Christopher Crackenthorpe, and Mary, wife of Thomas Dalston.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. C142/222/31; Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 250-1; Border Pprs. ii. 736; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 440; Nicolson and Burn, Hist. Cumb. and Westmld. i. 261, 499.
  • 2. D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561; Border Pprs. ii. passim.
  • 3. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 237, 252, 260; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 440, 576.
  • 4. Nicolson and burn, i. 413; C142/389/112.