BELLINGHAM, Edward (by 1507-50).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. by 1507, yr. s. of Sir Edward Bellingham of Erringham in Old Shoreham, Suss. by Jane, da. of John Shelley of Michelgrove, Suss. Kntd. Sept. 1547.1

Offices Held

Member, order of St. John of Jerusalem by 1523, preceptor of Swingfield, Kent in 1528, Willoughton, Lincs. 1528-9, Dinmore, Herefs. 1529-740, lt. turcopolier 1533-4; gent. pens. 1540, standard bearer in 1545; gent., privy chamber by 10 Dec. 1544; lt. I.o.W. 1545; keeper, Dedisham, Suss. Jan. 1547; j.p. Wilts. 1547; ld. dep. [I] 22 Apr. 1548-Dec. 1549.2


Edward Bellingham was descended from the ancient northern family of that name but his grandfather had settled at Lyminster in Sussex and his father married into the Shelley family of nearby Michelgrove. After his father’s death, probably on service in France, Bellingham and his elder brother became wards of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, who in December 1514 sold Bellingham’s wardship to his mother, her new husband William Everard and her brothers John and William Shelley; in his will of 1524 Everard stated that he had provided for the schooling of his stepsons, who were still under age. The younger had entered the order of St. John of Jerusalem by 1523; his avocation doubtless owed something to the example of his uncle Sir John, a member of the order who had fallen at the siege of Rhodes, and perhaps to the influence of Norfolk, one of its English patrons. In 1533 he was one of those appointed to investigate complaints against the turcopolier, Sir Clement West, whose dismissal affronted both the duke and the grand prior. He probably held the preceptory of Dinmore from 1529 until 1540 when the order was dissolved in England.3

Bellingham’s ready acceptance of the new state of things, and the King’s appreciation of his utility, led to his swift advancement. Before the close of 1540 he was made a gentleman pensioner and granted an annuity out of the Sussex possessions of the Hospitallers, and in the summer of 1542 he accompanied Sir Thomas Seymour II on an embassy to Vienna, whence he moved on into Hungary. He fought in the French campaign of 1543, was taken prisoner in November but was released in time to join the King’s expedition to France in the following summer. In July 1545 he organized the defence of the Isle of Wight against a French invasion and in December he was sent to assist the Earl of Surrey in the defence of Boulogne. By that time he had become a gentleman of the privy chamber and had been returned to his only Parliament. He owed his seat for Gatton to his cousin Elizabeth Copley, whose husband Sir Roger Copley was free to choose the Members, but the King recommended him. He certainly received several marks of royal favour: in the last three months of the reign he was granted a manor and the lease of a hundred in Wiltshire, another manor in Devon and the keepership of a park in Sussex, and in his will the King left him 200 marks.4

Bellingham’s first task for the new government was to announce the change of monarch to the Emperor; his letters for this embassy were dated 1 Feb. 1547, the day after the Parliament of which he was a Member had been informed of Henry VIII’s death and thereupon dissolved, and he was back within the month. In May he was sent to Ireland with 1,000 foot and 500 horse to put down the rebellion of O’More and O’Connell. The success of this mission brought Bellingham a knighthood and, in the following year, the succession to Sir Anthony St. Leger as lord deputy. His discharge of this office evoked both praise and blame. Admired for his skill as a soldier and for his honesty as an administrator, he alienated his subordinates on the spot and his superiors at home by his high-handedness and resentment of criticism: the Irish chancellor Sir John Allen summed it up by wishing that Jupiter and Venus had shown as much bounty to him as Mars and Saturn had done. Among those he crossed was the Earl of Warwick, and it was on Warwick’s assumption of power that he was recalled, leaving Ireland for the last time in December 1549. According to Holinshed he defended himself on his return so convincingly that he would have been sent back had he not pleaded ‘his infirmity, the which was a fistula, and other good reasons’. It was presumably that disease which brought about his death on 10 Apr. 1550. His heir was a young nephew John Bellingham.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. R. Johnson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from entry into order of St. John. Harl. 1435, f. 28; Comber, Suss. Genealogies (Lewes), 7-9; C142/90/50; DNB.
  • 2. H.P. Scicluna, Eng. Tongue 1523-67, pp. 3, 4, 17, 58, 64; LP Hen. VIII, vi, vii, xv, xvii, xviii, xx, xxi; C219/18C/115; CPR, 1547-8, p.91; 1548-9, p. 57; CSP For. 1547-53, p. 2.
  • 3. Northumb. Co. Hist. vii. 191-4; LP Hen. VIII, i, vi, vii, xvi; Arundel Castle mss G1/4; PCC 30 Bodfelde; Whitworth Porter, Kts. of Malta, ii. 224, 325; Statutes, iii. 778-81.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xv-xxi; CSP Span. 1547-9, p. 7.
  • 5. CSP For. 1547-53, pp. 2-3, 5; CSP Span. 1547-9, pp. 90, 492, 494; APC, ii. 93; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 56, 57; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 78, 81, 91, 93, 95, 97, 103; R. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, i. 326, 328-49; M. L. Bush, Govt. Pol. Somerset, 133; CP and CR Ire. i. 66, 189; Holinshed, Irish Chron. 323-4; C142/90/50.