DISNEY, Richard (by 1505-78), of Norton Disney, Lincs.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1505, s. of William Disney of Norton Disney by Margaret Joiner. m. (1) by 1537, Neile, da. and coh. of (Sir) William Hussey II of Beauvale, Notts., 7s. 5da.; (2) Jane, da. of Sir William Askew of Nuthall, Notts. and Stallingborough, Lincs., wid. of George St. Poll (d.1558/59) of Snarford, Lincs., s.p. suc. fa. Dec. 1540.1

Offices Held

J.p. Lincs. (Kesteven) 1547-64, q. 1569-d.; commr. relief, Lincs. (Kesteven), Lincoln 1550, food prices, Lincs. (Kesteven) 1551, eccles. dioceses of Lincoln and Peterborough 1571; sheriff, Lincs. 1556-7, 1566-7.2


Richard Disney was a member of an old Lincolnshire family and his two marriages linked him with several leading ones in the county. His father was the 1st Earl of Rutland’s treasurer, and several other Disneys, although apparently not Richard, served in Rutland’s household. In the Lincolnshire rebellion of 1536 the Disneys, father and son, played an ambiguous role. According to Thomas Moigne they were brought forcibly to the rebel camp at Lincoln by 200 men, but their reluctance to be drawn into the cause may have been feigned. Richard Disney’s name was later to be struck off the panel of the grand jury at Lincoln for the trial of Lords Darcy and Hussey, but whether because he was believed to have favoured the rebels or because he had married Hussey’s granddaughter it is impossible to say.3

In 1541 Disney served on the grand jury to indict Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham for treasonable conduct with the Queen at Lincoln. In 1544 he made his only substantial purchase of monastic land when, jointly with William Rygges of Clerkenwell, he obtained the manor of Swinderby and the rectory of Stapleford, Lincolnshire, both near Norton Disney, lands in the tenure of Robert Sutton at Eagle not far away, and others in Nottinghamshire and Middlesex, all in fee for £1,012. He does not appear to have served in the military campaigns of this decade, but from 1547 he was regularly employed in local administration, especially in the parts of Kesteven.4

Disney was thus a man of standing and experience when he was elected for Grantham to the Parliament of April 1554, but he would also not have wanted for support. The 2nd Earl of Rutland had nominated one of the Grantham Members for the last four Parliaments at least, his most recent nominee having been Sir Edward Warner, who was not eligible again because of his imprisonment. If Disney was Rutland’s nominee, he was probably, like Warner, a Protestant. He was to be described as ‘earnest in religion’ by the bishop of Lincoln in 1564, and the Old Testament names which he gave to his children have a Puritan ring; on the other hand, his role in 1536 had not been beyond reproach and he was to serve as a Marian sheriff. The Hussey connexion could hardly have failed to help Disney: his father-in-law had sat for Grantham in the Parliament of 1529, and Disney’s fellow-Member was Thomas Hussey I. As Hussey was a protégé of Cecil, it is possible that Cecil, who had tried to obtain the nomination of both Members in March had a hand in Disney’s election as well as Hussey’s. Cecil was himself distantly related to the Disneys: in a letter to the Countess of Rutland in 1564 he refers to ‘my cousin Disney, your officer’, probably Richard’s cousin Thomas Disney.5

In 1558 Disney was rebuked by the Privy Council for slackness in providing the lord lieutenant of Lincolnshire with the required number of demilances; he was ordered either to make good the default or to appear in person, but the upshot is unknown. In his closing years he again seems to have been under a cloud: in 1576 he apologized in writing to the 3rd Earl of Rutland for his servants’ hunting on the earl’s land at Eagle, and when in the same year (Sir) Christopher Wray complained to Rutland that the commission of gaol delivery at Lincoln castle had left out ‘most of those of best worship’, Disney was one of them. He made his will on 22 Jan. 1578, remembering various kinsmen and providing for his wife and children. As executors he appointed Francis Mauby, Thomas Morrison and Richard Towneley and as overseer Sir Christopher Wray. Disney died on 30 Mar. 1578, leaving extensive property at Norton Disney, which nearly 30 years before he had vested in feoffees to his own and his heirs’ use, the feoffees including Sir William Hussey II, William Thorold and Anthony Thorold. An unusual brass at Norton Disney depicts Richard Disney and his father together with effigies of their families, and an inscription which reads: ‘The life, conversation and service, of the first above named William Disney and of Richard Disney his son were commendable amongst their neighbours, true and faithful to their prince and country, and acceptable to the Almighty’.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/64/100, 120. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. l), 304-6; CP, vii. 17-18; C142/182/2; HMC Rutland, iv. 302; Rep. Assoc. Arch. Soc. xxv. 93-96.
  • 2. CPR , 1547-8, p. 86; 1550-3, p. 141; 1553, p. 355; 1553-4, p. 21; 1554-5, pp. 106, 109; 1560-3, p. 439; 1563-6, p. 23; 1569-72, pp. 225, 277.
  • 3. HMC Rutland, iv. 284-5, 302, 325; LP Hen. VIII, xi, xii.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xix; Rep. Assoc. Arch. Soc. xxv. 80.
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 26; HMC Rutland, i. 89.
  • 6. APC, vi, 355; CPR, 1566-9, p. 203; HMC Rutland, i. 109, 110; C142/182/2; Lincoln consist ct. 1578/88; Pevsner and Harris, Lincs. 614; Rep. Assoc. Arch. Soc. xxv. 93-96.