AUDLEY, John I (d.1588), of Berechurch, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

s. of Thomas Audley of Gosbecks, Essex. educ. Magdalene, Camb. 1544. Apparently unm.1

Offices Held


It is just possible that the Member for West Looe and Bodmin was the John Audley who was returned in 1593 for both Stockbridge and Lancaster. However, it is more likely that the Cornish Member was of Berechurch, a younger son of Thomas Audley, brother and heir male of the 1st Lord Audley (also Thomas), lord chancellor to Henry VIII. The family was doubtless known to the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who presumably was responsible for Audley’s return at Bodmin, and, probably, at West Looe. The journals mention Audley as sitting on committees concerning rites and ceremonies (20 May 1572) and the reformation of church discipline (29 Feb. 1576), and a ‘Mr. Audley’, probably Henry Audley, was on several committees in 1585. Audley’s only reported speech (20 May 1572) was on the rites and ceremonies bill mentioned above. ‘Although not directly from the bishops’, he said, the bill had ‘been considered by very grave learned men’. Some thought the bill ‘would breed factions’; his hope was that, ‘being referred to the bishops, they will suffer none such to grow’.2

Almost all the information found about this John Audley, who was under 18 when his uncle, Lord Audley, died in 1544, is in his will, drawn up on the day of his death, 21 July 1588, and proved a month later by the executrix, his sister-in-law Katherine, widow of his brother Thomas. The will has no significant preamble. One phrase used, ‘the day of the annunciation of our blessed lady’, has a Catholic flavour, but bequests to Margery Pigge and ‘Oliver Pigge the elder’ (presumably either the puritan preacher of that name, or a relative) suggest that Audley may have had puritan views, likely to gain him the favour of the Earl of Bedford. Richard Pigge, brother of Oliver, had served Lord Audley, and the preacher owed several of his livings, including the vicarage of Aberton, Essex, to John Audley’s brother Thomas. No wife or children are mentioned in the will. Audley’s ‘cousin’, or more accurately nephew, Thomas, was bequeathed lands ‘called Butlers in Peldon and Aberton, Essex’, from which legacies were to be paid to six other nephews and nieces. Audley’s sister-in-law Beatrix was to have ‘all the debt of money she oweth me’ and £10. ‘Mrs. Mary Southwell’, probably a relative of the executrix (a daughter of Sir Richard Southwell, of Norfolk), received two pieces of gold. Other property mentioned was a ‘farm called Trumpingtons and Fithelers in Much Tey’, Essex. This, and the Butlers lands, had been left to Audley in his uncle’s will, together with £8 a year for his education.3

He was buried at Berechurch, where a brass inscription in the church states:

Under this stone lie the bodies of Thomas Audley of Gosbecks, gent. [d. 7 July 1584] and of John Audley, gent. [d. 21 July 1588], both younger brothers unto Thomas Audley of Berechurch, esq., which stone was given to be so laid by the last will of John Audley, gent., son of the said Thomas Audley of Gosbecks, finished accordingly in [June 1599].4


Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 140, 338; (Harl. Soc. xiv), 543, where generations are confused; A. L. Reade, Audley Peds., 132-4.
  • 2. T. Wright, Essex, i. 403; Morant, Colchester, 138; CJ, i. 109; D’Ewes, 365, 368-9; Neale, Parlts. i. 300.
  • 3. PCC 52 Rutland, 1 Alen.
  • 4. Reade, 101, 119. The will of Audley’s nephew and namesake, made Dec. 1597, proved Feb. 1599 (PCC 17 Kidd), left £5 for a stone to be placed on the tombs of his father and uncle, ‘who lie both in one grave’.