BOWYER, Richard (by 1527-58/59), of Arundel, Suss.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1527. m. Alice.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Arundel Nov. 1548-d., mayor 1554-5.2


Richard Bowyer was an Arundel merchant who exported kerseys and timber and imported dyes and Rochelle wine; most of his trade was carried on in small boats from Arundel, or in French ships from Dieppe. He was made a burgess of Arundel at the same time as his friend John Burnet, with whom he was to sit in Parliament. Bowyer attended the meetings of the burgesses regularly but this did not avail him when he was threatened with ejection from the body for refusing the office of portreeve. Although the date of this incident is not known, it doubtless occurred before 23 Sept. 1554 when he signed the order that a burgess should be fined for a first offence, not put out of his place. The reconciliation between Bowyer and his colleagues was taken a stage further when later in the same year he was elected one of the town’s Members and then its mayor.3

The return of two townsmen to Mary’s third Parliament is a unique exception to Arundel’s record of representation in the early 16th century, although for a number of Parliaments the names of the Members are missing. At first sight this looks like a direct response to the government’s directive in the matter, but the explanation may be that the 12th Earl of Arundel was deterred from wielding his habitual patronage by his difficult position at court and in the Council during the latter part of 1554. Whatever the reason, Bowyer and Burnet were given an opportunity of sitting in the Commons which they could hardly have expected and which was not to recur. Unlike Burnet, Bowyer quitted the Parliament before its dissolution and he was informed against in the King’s bench. For failing to appear he was distrained 40s. at Michaelmas 1555. Twelve months later he asked for a day to answer in the next term, which was granted, but no more is recorded of the case.4

Bowyer’s last known attendance at a meeting of the burgesses of Arundel was on 6 Sept. 1558. He died intestate and on 15 Apr. 1559 the administration of his goods valued at £77 2s.4d. was granted to his widow. On 28 Apr. 1562 an Alice Bowyer, possibly his widow, married John Patching at Horsham.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth essential from first reference. W. Suss. RO, wills 3/A29.
  • 2. Arundel corp. mins. 1539-1835, f. 4; C219/24/164.
  • 3. CPR, 1553-4, p. 442; E122/37/4, f. 8v, 37/9, f. 2v; 200/9, ff. 15, 15v; Arundel corp. mins. 1539-1835, ff. 7, 10.
  • 4. KB 27/1176, 1180.
  • 5. W. Suss. RO, wills 3/A29; Par. Reg. Horsham (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxi), 15.