ROBOTHAM, Robert (by 1522-70/71), of London, Hartington, Derbys. and Raskelf, Yorks.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1522. m. Sept. 1551, Grace, da. of one Paget, wid. of Robert Bull of London, 2s. 3da.1

Offices Held

Gent. household of Prince Edward by 1543; groom of the wardrobe by Jan. 1548; yeoman of the robes by Sept. 1549; comptroller of customs, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb. Aug. 1551-d.; parker, St. John’s Wood, Mdx. May 1552-d., Berry Pomeroy, Devon June 1552.2


Robert Robotham’s origin and parentage are unknown, although one visitation pedigree, taken in 1634, states that his brother came from ‘the northern parts of England’. Robotham himself acquired a coat of arms in 1560, the grant of which recites his ‘true and faithful service’ to Edward VI.3

No trace of Robotham has been found earlier than 1543 when he was already in the service of Prince Edward. The accession of his young master to the throne in 1547 led to his employment in the royal household and by the autumn of 1549 he was a yeoman of the robes and closely associated with Richard Cecil. He attracted the occasional notice of the Council but it was not until after the fall of the Protector Somerset that he received any mark of favour. The sequence of grants he then enjoyed, of lands in Yorkshire, a wardship, a lucrative post in the customs, and several minor positions elsewhere, suggests that he supported the King’s new minister, the Earl of Warwick. It was probably to Warwick, by then Duke of Northumberland, that he owed his return for Reigate to the Parliament of March 1553, perhaps on the recommendation of Secretary Cecil, son to Robotham’s colleague in the robes. The borough was in the control of Lord William Howard, but he was preoccupied with the deputyship of Calais, and neither Robotham nor his fellow-Member Henry Fisher seems to have had any link with him.4

Nothing is known of any part Robotham may have played in this Parliament or in the succession crisis which followed in the summer of 1553. He attended the funeral of Edward VI, and despite his Protestantism he remained in the Household. On 25 Dec. 1553 Mary awarded him an annuity of £23 5s., to take effect from the following June, presumably to compensate him for the loss of his office in the wardrobe, a change which may have been intended as the first stage of his removal from court. Robotham was soon in trouble: on 12 Jan. 1554 the Council ordered his committal to the Fleet for his ‘lewd talk that the King’s majesty should be yet living’. The outcome is unknown, but Robotham appears to have taken up residence not long afterwards in Derbyshire where he acquired some property in June 1554. This and other lands leased from the duchy of Lancaster became a bone of contention which was several times referred to the duchy courts in Mary’s and early in Elizabeth’s reigns. Simultaneously he was a litigant in the courts of Chancery and requests over the estate of his wife’s first husband. Evidently he was not deprived of his yeomanry of the robes since he went to Mary’s funeral in that capacity and he was the recipient of an annuity from her chamberlain, Edward Hastings, Baron Hastings of Loughborough.5

In 1555 Robotham was elected senior Member for Dorchester, where his surname appears on the (damaged) indenture as ‘Roberton’. His colleague Ralph Perne may have been equally strange to the borough and their election broke with its practice of returning Christopher Hole with another, preferably a townsman. Perne and Robotham probably owed their choice to the patronage of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, as exercised during his absence abroad by Sir William Cecil. ‘Mr. Robothim’ followed Sir Anthony Kingston in opposition to a government bill, as did ‘Mr. Perne’, either his fellow-Member Ralph Perne or Christopher Perne (q.v.).6

At the accession of Elizabeth, Robotham was confirmed in his offices and once more became prominent in the Household. He had a further spell in Parliament, and died a wealthy man within a year of making his will on 30 Apr. 1570. Its overseers were three notable Protestants: the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, (Sir) Walter Mildmay and Sir Henry Neville.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. R. Johnson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Herts. (Harl. soc. xxii), 87; C1/1394/7.
  • 2. E179/69/35; 315/220, f. 34, 224, f. 315; 403/2449, f. 60; CPR, 1553, p. 374; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, p. ccxii; PCC 46 Populwell.
  • 3. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xvii), 208; Vis. Herts. 87; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), i. 269.
  • 4. E179/69/35; 315/221, f. 350, 222, f. 34, 224, f. 315; 403/2449, f. 60; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, p. cccxii; Vis. Herts. 87; CPR, 1550-3, p. 229; 1553, p. 374; APC, iv. 94, 197; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, ii(2), 164, 283-5; PCC 47 Holney.
  • 5. CPR, 1553-4, p. 317; APC, iv. 383; DL1/4/36, R.i.a, b, 34, R6, 38, H27, 40, R16, 43, N2.a, R.i-g passim, 46, R5-5a; 3/79, H.i.a-z passim; LC2/4/2; C1/1314/47, 1383/48, 1394/7; C78/7; Req. 2/6/47, 14/77, 121; Lansd. 7(15), f. 34.
  • 6. C219/24/58; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
  • 7. CPR, 1558-60, p. 427; 1560-3, pp. 80, 357; 1569-72, p. 261; PCC 47 Holney.