RUDSTON, Robert (1514/15-90), of Boughton Monchelsea, Kent.

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



Family and Education

b. 1514/15, 1st s. of Sir John Rudston of London by 2nd w. Ursula, da. of Sir Robert Dymoke of Scrivelsby, Lincs. m. by 1549, Anne, da. of Sir Edward Wotton of Boughton Place, Boughton Malherbe, Kent, 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 1531.1

Offices Held

Servant of the Wyatt family by 1539; j.p. Kent 1547, 1558/59-d.; commr. relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, Rochester bridge 1561, 1571.2


Robert Rudston’s family was of Yorkshire origin, but his father, a draper, settled in London where he became an alderman. Sir Robert Constable of Flamborough, Yorkshire, purchased Rudston’s wardship and marriage shortly before he reached his majority, but although Constable was executed for treason in 1537 Rudston’s prospects do not seem to have been harmed. His mother had taken as her second husband Sir Edward Wotton, a courtier and administrator esteemed by Henry VIII, and presumably it was Wotton who introduced his stepson (who by 1549 was also his son-in-law) to his neighbour and colleague, Sir Thomas Wyatt I. Rudston joined Wyatt on his embassy to the Emperor and during 1539-40 he travelled with the imperial court from the Netherlands to Spain, being employed by his master as a courier to Paris and London. On Wyatt’s recall he returned to England, but the termination of the embassy and Wyatt’s death two years later did not bring to a close Rudston’s link with the family, for his services continued to be used by Wyatt’s son Thomas. Rudston was later to be recalled as one of the younger Wyatt’s ‘companions in the profession ... of arms’, so that he probably served with Wyatt at Boulogne.3

On the accession of Edward VI, Sir Edward Wotton became a Privy Councillor and doubtless it was he who recommended Rudston for election to the first Parliament of the reign. The patronage of Steyning had passed on the imprisonment of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk to another Privy Councillor, Admiral Seymour, whom Wotton presumably approached for the nomination: Rudston’s election may also have been encouraged by his uncle Sir Edward Dymoke and by Sir Thomas Wyatt II, both of whom sat in this Parliament. Although the Journal throws no light on Rudston’s activity in the House, he is known to have supported the proposal submitted by Wyatt to the Privy Council for the establishment of a militia. By the following Parliament Sir Edward Wotton was dead and Rudston is not known to have been re-elected; he was not to sit again in the Commons during the 37 years which remained to him.4

Rudston shared Wyatt’s distaste for Queen Mary’s Spanish marriage and in January 1554 he joined Wyatt’s rebellion. Excluded from the general pardon offered to the rebels, he helped to muster their forces at Brentford, Middlesex, for an attack upon London and on 7 Feb. he took a leading part in that luckless enterprise. Within two days of the repulse he had been committed to the Tower, and on 13 Feb. he was tried, found guilty and sentenced. It was through the intercession of his kinsman, Nicholas Wotton, the Queen’s ambassador in France, that he was reprieved, to be released shortly afterwards and pardoned on 1 Apr. About the middle of May he entered into an obligation with William Cromer to pay £500 for their movables and the Council wrote to (Sir) Robert Southwell to effect this restitution: two months later his confiscated estates were returned to him on a 21-year lease at a fixed rent. In 1555 Cromer and Rudston entered into a joint obligation of 4,000 marks for the return of their lands in full ownership, thus bringing their total indebtedness to over £3,000. This sum they paid off in half-yearly instalments of £166 13s.4d. until June 1558, when they entered into separate obligations for the amounts outstanding. Rudston continued to pay reduced instalments until in 1560 the residue was remitted.5

When Elizabeth came to the throne Rudston was restored to the Kent bench; in 1564 he was rated ‘meet’ and he remained a justice until his death. On 12 Apr. 1588 he made his will, remembering the poor and providing for his wife and surviving children. He appointed his wife and one of his sons as executors and his nephew Edward Wotton, his ‘son-in-law’ William Cromer and his ‘loving friend’ William Lambarde as overseers. On 4 Feb. 1590 Rudston completed the division of his property between his sons and he must have died not long afterwards as an inquisition was held on the following 18 June.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Aged 73 on making will, PCC 12 Drury, Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 27; PCC 7 Thower.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiv; CPR, 1547-8, p. 85; 1553, pp. 355, 414; 1560-3, p. 438; 1569-72, pp. 225, 278; Arch. Cant. xvii. 216.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, ix, xiv, xv, xxi; DNB (Constable, Sir Robert and Wotton, Sir Edward); D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 50; Pprs. Geo. Wyatt (Cam. Soc. ser. 4, v), 57.
  • 4. Pprs. Geo. Wyatt, 57.
  • 5. Loades, 71, 108, 113, 117, 199, 120, 127, 254; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 53; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 261, 331; 1554-5, p. 272.
  • 6. APC, ix. 274; Cam. Misc. ix(3) 58; PCC 12 Drury; C142/227/206.