HORSLEY, Cuthbert (by 1517-81/86), of Lincoln's Inn, London and Horsley, Northumb.

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



Oct. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1517, 1st s. of John Horsley of Scrainwood and Long Horsley. educ. L. Inn, adm. 2 Nov. 1531, called 1537. m. by 1551, Elizabeth, at least 1s.2

Offices Held

J.p. Northumb. 1538-62; receiver, ct. of augmentations, bpric. of Durham and archdeaconry of Richmond 1 Oct. 1544-16 Mar. 1546; commr. chantries, Cumb. and Westmld. 1546, Cumb., Westmld. and Carlisle 1548, goods of churches and fraternities, Northumb. 1553; other commissions 1551-65; escheator, Northumb. 1556-7; agistor, Acklington park Northumb. for Henry Percy, and Earl of Northumberland 1578.3


The family of Horsley had long been established in the Northumbrian village of that name, which lies ten miles from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Cuthbert Horsley’s father was twice sheriff of the county. Horsley’s training at Lincoln’s Inn nevertheless went far beyond that of an heir to landed property and his continued residence is to be inferred from the fact that when he was chosen butler, first at Christmas 1542 and again for All Saints Day 1544, he was neither excused nor fined for non-performance. The break probably came with his appointment on 1 Oct. 1544 as one of the particular receivers of the court of augmentations. He was to hold the office for less than 18 months and had probably not intended to keep it for long: the patent of 16 Mar. 1546 appointing his successor, Richard Bunny, mentions Horsley’s decision to resign. In the previous month he had been named one of the seven commissioners to survey chantries in Cumberland and Westmorland; this and the similar commission of two years later probably absorbed most of his attention during the early years of Edward VI. That they did so at the cost of his sojourns at Lincoln’s Inn is shown by the order of the benchers in February 1549 that his deserted chambers there should be broken into and his goods taken into safe custody, ‘Mr. Horsley having been absent for the space of three years and not having answered the letters of the benchers’.4

Horsley is first known to have been returned to Parliament as a Member for Appleby in 1542, although he could have sat in 1539, the year after he was put on the Northumberland commission of the peace. As a lawyer resident in London he would not have required wages (which Appleby almost certainly did not pay) and his nomination could have come from the 1st Earl of Cumberland or one of the other magnates who shared the patronage. Between this and his next known election, as a knight of the shire for Northumberland in the Parliament of October 1553, it is highly probable that Horsley sat again: the names of the knights for Northumberland are missing for 1545 and March 1553, and those for boroughs within his reach are incomplete. With Newcastle he was later to be professionally connected, being one of three counsel who in 1564 shared a fee of £9 ‘anent the pottegarye’, and the townsmen of his name, one of whom was three times mayor, were probably his kinsmen. At Morpeth—if the doubt arising from the damaged state of the return is ignored—Horsley was one of three men who also sat for Appleby, the others being Robert Wheatley and Nicholas Purslow: all were presumably nominated by the 3rd Lord Dacre. His parliamentary record illustrates Horsley’s attitude towards the religious changes of the time. The sheriff who returned him and Sir Thomas Grey to Mary’s third Parliament responded to the Queen’s request for Catholic Members by describing them on the indenture as ‘two of the grave and Catholic persons [within] the said county’. More convincingly, neither Horsley nor Grey had ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism, in the first Parliament of the reign, and Horsley’s name is not to be found on the list of Members of the fourth who voted against one of the government’s bills.5

Horsley is not known to have profited from his receivership in the court of augmentations by obtaining land from the crown. He did purchase in May 1546 the next presentation to St. Sepulchre’s chapel in York Minster and he also acquired at least three wardships; one, in 1542, was of a relation, Roger Horsley. Another purchase made during Edward VI’s reign for £30 was a joint one and Horsley, who described himself as of Horsley in the county of Northumberland, gentleman, paid the whole sum, and in 1554 or 1555 sued in the court of requests the defaulting co-purchaser, with what result is not known. In October 1551 Horsley was granted by Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, an annuity of £5 from the revenues of the manor of Loughborough; after Dorset’s attainder Horsley obtained a confirmation of the annuity in the court of Exchequer and appears to have enjoyed it for the rest of his life. He died between 1581 and 1586.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. Only the surname ‘Horsley’ is clearly legible on the return, C219/24/122, but traces of the christian name can be distinguished.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from education. Arch. Ael. (ser. 3), iv. 12; vi. 88; (ser. 4), xii. 127.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 87; 1548-9, p. 136; 1550-3, pp. 142, 395; 1553, p. 415; 1553-4, p. 22; 1557-8, p. 71; 1560-3, p. 441; APC, vii. 283; Surtees Soc. clxiii. 53.
  • 4. Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 246-7, 262, 269, 289; LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xx, xxi; E315/236, ff. 75, 175-6; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 49 incorrectly dates Horsley’s receivership 20 Sept.-1 Oct. 1544 only.
  • 5. Surtees Soc. ci. 174, 185; C219/23/95; CPR, 1557-8, p. 71.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1558-60, p. 53; 1560-3, pp. 465, 576; Req.2/22/97; E405/121, f. 32.