EDEN, George (aft.1502-1558/59), of London and Sudbury, Suff.
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Family and Education
Surveyor, ct. augmentations, Cambs. 23 May 1547-55, Exchequer 1553-5, Suff. 1555-?d., commr. chantries, Cambs. and Hunts. 1548.3
George Eden began life as a merchant taylor in London and it was not until 1547, when well into middle age, that he received his first known office, as surveyor of crown lands in Cambridgeshire. This late entry into public service is the more surprising in the light of his brother Thomas Eden’s long tenure of the clerkship of the Star Chamber and of the Eden family’s even longer association with Stephen Gardiner. It was, however, the Gardiner connexion which was to shape George Eden’s further progress. During the bishop’s eclipse under Edward VI he made no headway apart from being named a chantry commissioner and paid £20 for his expenses in that connexion, but with Gardiner restored at the accession of Mary his fortunes improved. Granted an annuity of £5 for life for services to the Queen at Framlingham, he was called her ‘well-beloved subject’ when in August 1554 he was licensed to appoint at will any of his servants to shoot deer and fowl in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire with crossbow or handgun. Five months later he exchanged the surveyorship of Cambridgeshire for that of Suffolk with an annuity of £13 6s.8d.4
Eden probably sat in the Parliament of 1555 and may have done so again in 1558. His Membership of the first rests on the evidence of John Crych, who in a letter written to the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury from London on the day after that Parliament began named him and Henry Fisher as sitting for Knaresborough. No indenture survives for the Knaresborough election but the sheriff endorsed his writ with the names of Fisher and (Sir) Thomas Chaloner, so that if Crych was correct—and it is hard to believe that writing when he did he would have made such a mistake—Chaloner must either have been returned in error or have been elected but then replaced. The doubt might have been resolved if either man’s name had appeared on the list of Members of this Parliament who opposed one of the government’s bills, but as could be expected neither is to be found there. Eden for his part must have owed the nomination to one or more of the leading government figures: apart from Gardiner himself he could have looked to Sir Robert Rochester, chancellor of the duchy and a founder member of the Russia Company in which Eden is likely to have had an interest, or to Rochester’s nephew Sir Edward Waldegrave, with whom Eden was related by marriage and who about this time agreed to discharge the crown of an obligation to repay him £52 16s. for land promised but not granted to him.5
Less strong is the case for identifying Eden with the man of his name returned three years later for Bedwyn. It is true that the other Member, John Temple, had been a lifelong servant of Gardiner, had sat in an earlier Marian Parliament for Ripon and had no more connexion with Wiltshire than did Eden: thus whatever patronage operated on behalf of Temple could have extended to Eden. Whereas in Temple’s case, however, there is no possible confusion of identity, in Eden’s there is, and the claim of George Hidden or Eden appears inherently stronger and has been adopted.
Eden did not long survive the accession of Elizabeth. By his will, made on 20 Dec. 1558 and proved on the following 4 Apr., he left £20 for 20 years to the poor of Bury St. Edmunds, Sudbury and Wickhambrook and provided for his children, the daughters being given £100 apiece and ‘the stock which I have in Muscovia, and the profits thereof’. It is possible that the eldest son Richard was to be the secretary to Cecil who distinguished himself as a translator of works of travel, an interest perhaps inspired by his merchant forbears.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. T. Bindoff
- 1. HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 349.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from that of elder brother. Vis. Suff. ed. Howard, i. 3, 8-9, 18-19; C. Sperling, Sudbury, 209.
- 3. CPR , 1548-9, p. 134; 1550-3, p. 435; 1554-5, p. 89; Stowe 571, f. 11; Rep. R. Comm. of 1552 (Archs. of Brit. Hist. and Culture iii), 41.
- 4. E315/257/107; Lansd. 156(28), ff. 90-94, 104; CPR, 1554-5, pp. 88-89.
- 5. HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 349; E. Lodge, Illustrations, i. 252-3; C219/24/59v; Vis. Suff. 8-9; CPR, 1555-7, p. 185.
- 6. Vis. Suff. 8-9; DNB (Eden, Richard).