PLEYDELL, Gabriel (by 1519-90/1), of Midgehall in Lydiard Tregoze, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1519, 4th s. of William Pleydell of Midgehall, Wilts. and Coleshill, Berks. by Agnes, da. and coh. of John or Robert Reason of Corfe Castle, Dorset; bro. of John. m. (1) Anne, da. and coh. of Henry Stockes (Stokes) of Sussex, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) by 17 Nov. 1563, Elizabeth, s.p.; (3) Jane, s.p.1

Offices Held

Chief ranger and keeper of Savernake forest, Wilts. by ?1554; receiver-gen. for Anne, Duchess of Somerset in 1554.2


Pleydell supported Sir John Thynne in the disputed shire election of 1559, and four years later could doubtless count on Thynne’s influence to augment his own claim to one of the Wootton Bassett seats. He had represented the borough once before; his manor of Midgehall was only a mile to the south, and he had bought houses and land in the borough in 1561 and 1562. He also had property at Chippenham and at Preshute, near Marlborough, the latter doubtless in connexion with his rangership of Savernake.3

Under Mary, Pleydell seems to have been a religious and political radical. After the dissolution of the 1555 Parliament, during which he had voted against a government bill, he had been imprisoned in the Fleet, ostensibly because of a riot though later he asserted before the Privy Council that the real reason had been his ‘speaking his conscience ... in a bill concerning the commonwealth’. As plaintiff or defendant he had appeared more than once in the Star Chamber; the Privy Council had several times put him under recognizance, and he had experienced imprisonment in the Tower. This record he took the opportunity to expunge by suing out a pardon on Elizabeth’s accession.

The record did not remain clean for long. In 1561 or 1562 he acquired from Andrew Baynton properties in Chippenham and also, in partnership with Henry Sharington, the manors of Bremhill and Bromham. The actions in Chancery occasioned by these and others of his property deals were numerous and involved. One such action, concerning the manor of Monkton in Chippenham, was pending when Pleydell again became a Member of Parliament in 1563. It had been brought by Francis Newdigate, into whose possession the manor had passed upon his marriage to the widow of Protector Somerset. How and when the matter came before the Commons is not known, but as the nub of the charge against Pleydell was forgery it is conceiveable that Newdigate, himself a Member, introduced it on some date between 11 and 27 Feb. 1563, while the House was concerned with the bill (later the Act 5 Eliz. c. 14) against the forging of title-deeds. The first reference to the affair in the Journal is dated 22 Mar., by which time the House had appointed a committee of inquiry, consisting of the master of the rolls, the recorder of London, Sir Nicholas Arnold, Walter Haddon and Thomas Norton. The inclusion on the committee of the master of the rolls suggests that the initiative could have been Pleydell’s asking for privilege, since he was being proceeded against in Chancery while he was a sitting Member. This aspect of the matter remains obscure. On 30 Mar. the committee reported that it found ‘great and vehement suspicion’ in Pleydell, and complained that he had disregarded its own order to him. The Commons thereupon instructed the committee to lay its report before them that afternoon, the report to be read to Pleydell who should reply either verbally or in writing, as he preferred. The Journal makes no further reference to the subject until 10 Apr., the last day of the session, when the House ordered that both Pleydell and Newdigate should be supplied with copies of the committee’s documents, and that Pleydell’s own written evidence should be kept in the Rolls office under seal. So far as Parliament was concerned this was the end of the matter; the Journal for the following session does not mention it.4

Between sessions, in November 1564, Pleydell found himself again close prisoner in the Fleet, charged with illegal hunting in Selwood forest, apparently in company with Sir John Thynne and others. Bound to appear in Star Chamber on the first day of the approaching law term, he was allowed out under escort so that he might attend to certain ‘great suits’, a reference perhaps to the litigation resulting from his attempt, again in association with Henry Sharington, to secure yet more of Andrew Baynton’s lands. Some years later he was cited in another forgery case, he and his co-defendants then being described as ‘persons of long time acquainted with such lewd devices and practices’.5

Towards the end of his life Pleydell was again or perhaps still at odds with authority. In some of these proceedings he was described as of Towcester, Northamptonshire, a domicile which he may have acquired from the marriage of one of his kin with a Saunders of Syresham, a manor five miles from Towcester. In 1587 he appeared before the Privy Council, involved in some unexplained way in a dispute composed by the mediation of Sir Henry Knyvet, and in July 1590, described this time as of Midgehall, he was sent for by warrant, presented himself before a clerk of the Council, and had his appearance registered, but again no reason is given.6

On 19 Dec. 1590, when ‘sick in body’, he made his will, leaving his wife Jane ten kine or £20 in money, 100 sheep or £40 in money, and half of all his household goods at Midgehall. The profits of certain lands he left in trust to Sir Edward Baynton, Sir John Danvers, Sir Charles Danvers and John St. John for the benefit of his grandson Charles Pleydell, a minor. Each of his servants was to receive 10s., the parish church of Lydiard Tregoze 10s., and the poor of that parish 20s. The residue was to go to Agnes, wife of William Bayliffe, his only daughter and sole executrix. Richard Danvers and Robert Wells, Pleydell’s nephew by his sister Elizabeth, were appointed overseers, with 20s. each for their pains. Letters of administration were issued to Oliver Frye, a creditor, on 3 Feb. 1591.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Muriel Booth


  • 1. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv), 153; Wilts. N. and Q. v. 175; PCC 12 Sainberbe.
  • 2. St. Ch. 4/1/33, 5/13, 8/48.
  • 3. Wilts. N. and Q. iv. 503, 561-2; CPR, 1558-60, p. 149.
  • 4. Wilts. N. and Q. iv. 559; CPR, 1560-3, p. 381; C3/17/19, 30/9, 132/16, 136/1, 137/60, 138/17, 97, 140/4, 142/3, 144/130, 228/6; CJ, i. 65, 66, 67, 70, 71, 72.
  • 5. APC, vii. 162, 165, 170, 173-4, 176; St. Ch. 7/2/13.
  • 6. Vis. Northants. 1564, 1618-19, p. 132; APC, xiv. 318, 335; xix. 314-15.
  • 7. PCC 12 Sainberbe.