DALE, Valentine (by 1527-89), of Doctors' Commons, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Family and Education

b. by 1527, s. of John Dale. educ. King’s sch. Worcester; Oxf. supp. BA 1541, fellow, All Souls 1542-50, BCL 1545; Orleans Univ. DCL by 1552; adv. Doctors’ Commons Jan. 1554; Camb. incorp. LLD 1562, m. Elizabeth, wid. of one Forth, 1da. suc. cos. William Dale of Fyfield, Hants May 1566.1

Offices Held

?Sec. to the embassy to France 1553-4; surrogate, ct. Admiralty by 1557, jt. commissary-gen. 1585; ambassador, Netherlands 1563-4, Paris 1573-6, the Duke of Parma 1588; archdeacon, Surr. Feb. or Mar. 1573; dean, Bath and Wells 1574-d.; master of requests 1576-d., of Chancery by 1579, of Sherburn House hosp., co. Dur. 1585-d.; commr. eccles. c.1581; j.p.q. Hants by 1583-d.2


When Valentine Dale wrote to Cecil in October 1550, asking for the minor place of official to the archdeacon of York, he had spent more than 12 years at Oxford in the study of canon and civil law. It is uncertain when he was at Orleans, but in 1552 he supplicated for incorporation at Oxford as a doctor of that university. Although openings for civil lawyers were not plentiful, better employment than a minor ecclesiastical post was found for Dale, either by Cecil or by his fellow-secretary, (Sir) William Petre, another civilian. By June 1553 he was working for Petre to secure an agreement between England and France on mercantile suits, and he was in France with Nicholas Wotton on a similar mission in the early months of 1554. Wotton wrote to Petre congratulating him on his choice of Dale; ‘I believe’, he prophesied, ‘he will prove one of the meetest men you have at home to do the Queen’s highness service abroad.’ Wotton added that a year or two in Italy would improve their protégé, but it is not known that Dale went there.3

Little has transpired of his life under Mary when, having been admitted advocate, he began to practise in the civil law courts, particularly in the Admiralty where by 1557 he was acting as deputy judge. He was one of three civil lawyers returned by the bishop of Winchester’s three boroughs to the Parliament of 1558; the bishop, John White, was doubtless responsible for his election, although whether at the request of the court is not known. Dale’s later returns for Chichester seem to have been due to pressure from Cecil and the Privy Council, which reinforced his own reputation and standing.4

An expert on maritime and international law, Dale advised Cecil on these subjects during the first 30 years of Elizabeth’s reign. He stood well with both Cecil and the Queen, and the important embassies in which he played a leading part mark him out as one of the outstanding diplomatists of the period. A man of considerable wealth by the end of his life, before 1558 Dale seems to have had little income beyond that obtained from his professional work, although he held two livings. He seems never to have invested much money in land, perhaps because he had no son. He died on 17 Nov. 1589, leaving as heir an only daughter.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. C142/152/142; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, pp. 158-9; Lansd. 2(41), f. 99; C. Coote, Civilians, 38; G. D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 151; PCC 92 Leicester; CSP For. 1572-4, p. 415.
  • 2. CSP For. 1553-8, p. 68 passim to 1558, p. 43; D. Lloyd, State Worthies (1705), 564; Sel. Pleas in Ct. Admiralty (Selden Soc. xi), 98; Index 16772, pp. 321, 330; APC, ix. 229; x. 161; xiv. 7; Strype, Aylmer, 62, 87; Annals, iii(2), 462.
  • 3. Lansd. 2(41), f. 99; CSP For. 1547-53, p. 290; 1553-8, p. 68.
  • 4. Neale, Commons, 263-5, 270-2.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1547-80 passim; CSP For. 1587-1603, pp. 234-5; Al. Cant. ii. 4; PCC 92 Leicester; Lansd. 61, f. 195.