BERKELEY, Richard (by 1465-1513 or later), of Winchelsea and Rye, Suss.

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 1465.3

Offices Held

Yeoman of the crown in 1494; jurat, Winchelsea from 1494, mayor 1497-9; mayor, Rye 1503-4, jurat 1504-10; bailiff to Yarmouth 1501, 1510; customer, Chichester, Suss. Oct. 1500.4


Richard Berkeley was described as a yeoman of the crown when he was elected jurat of Winchelsea on 18 Jan. 1494, and again when he was returned to Parliament for Winchelsea. His services to the King seem to have been chiefly if not wholly maritime: between 1486 and 1488 he was employed to take up seamen and victuals for the navy and to ‘waft’ or protect fishermen on their voyages. He is known to have owned three ships, the Fool, Mary and Anthony, all of Winchelsea, and at different times to have been master of two of them. When towards the close of hostilities he was accused of despoiling friendly ships he was defended by the admiral, the 13th Earl of Oxford, who willed it to be known, despite rumours to the contrary, ‘that I take him as my servant’.5

In October 1500 Berkeley was appointed collector of customs at Chichester and neighbouring ports, including Winchelsea and Rye; he was not to hold the office for long, but it may have accounted for his first change of domicile. His election as mayor of Rye before he became a jurat, and his choice as one of the port’s Members in the next two Parliaments, must have owed something to his previous experience and perhaps also to his service to the crown, although it was as a former yeoman of the crown that he was granted a pardon and release in June 1505 and a general pardon four years later. For his attendance at the Parliament of 1504 he was 6s.8d. forthwith and the balance of 24s.4d. after a lapse of five years; it is tempting to attribute the deficit of 1s. on the total due for 66 days to the inclusion of the bissextile day in February 1504. For the Parliament of 1510, and the coronation which preceded it, he received £4.6

Within a year of the close of his last Parliament Berkeley had returned to Winchelsea. He took this step after the incoming mayor of Rye, Nicholas Sutton, had deprived him of his juratship in December 1510 for demanding the reinstatement of Thomas Basseden. The enmity between the two may have been of long standing, for although Sutton was Berkeley’s fellow-Member in 1510 he himself had been dropped from the list of jurats while Berkeley was mayor. Berkeley’s latest move, like his earlier one, was reflected in his attendance at meetings of the Brotherhood of the Cinque Ports. Between 1488 and 1501 he appeared there for Winchelsea, between 1503 and 1510 for Rye, and in 1511 and 1512 for Winchelsea again; in 1501 and again in 1510 he was bailiff to Yarmouth for both Ports. He did not long survive his return to Winchelsea, being last heard of early in 1513 as a ‘wafter’ of the new expedition to France, a service which may thus have cost him his life. The John Berkeley of Winchelsea whose daughter married John Bowyer was presumably a kinsman.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Winchelsea hundred ct. bk. 1, f. 95.
  • 2. Add. 34150, f. 135.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 4. Winchelsea hundred ct. bk. 1 passim; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 3 passim; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 127, 146-7; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 215.
  • 5. Winchelsea hundred ct. bk. 1, f. 91; CPR, 1485-94, pp. 130, 213, 216, 392, 415; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner iii. 371-4.
  • 6. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 416; LP Hen. VIII, i; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 3, ff. 248, 249v.
  • 7. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 3, f. 252; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 100-27, 130-49; LP Hen. VIII, i.