BAGNALL, Sir Ralph (by 1508-80), of Dieulacresse, Staffs.

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

b. by 1508, 1st s. of John Bagnall of Newcastle-under-Lyme; bro. of Sir Nicholas. m. (1) by 1546, Mary, da. of John Onley ‘of Salop’, wid. of Sir George Cotton of Combermere, Cheshire; (2) Elizabeth, da. of Robert Whitgreve of Burton, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1558. Kntd. 29 Sept. 1547.2

Offices Held

Lt. of the army in Ireland and member of the council in Ireland July 1550-3; surveyor of kerseys at London and Southampton 23 Nov. 1549-16 Oct. 1553; mayor, Newcastle-under-Lyme 1554-5, lessee of the manor from c.1567; j.p. Staffs. from 1564, sheriff 1560-1.3


Bagnall was the sole Member of the November 1554 Parliament to refuse his assent to the reconciliation with Rome and it was therefore fitting that he should have been elected a knight of the shire to Elizabeth’s first Parliament when the religious settlement was under consideration. Thenceforth he retreated to his local borough, possibly after a contest for the county in 1563, certainly after a contest in 1571 when he was defeated by the Harcourt faction and the partiality of the sheriff.

By the 1560s Bagnall was in low water financially. He had made over his lands to his brother Sir Nicholas in the previous reign, and for the rest of his life he was reduced to selling any remaining small parcels of land to the sitting tenants at low prices, not, as has been suggested, through open-handedness, but because he needed a quick sale. Next he thought of obtaining a lucrative post. Writing to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton in 1565, asking him to stave off a creditor, he hoped his ‘good lord’ (probably Leicester), would get him a job in return for ‘all the goodwill I have borne towards his Lordship’s house’, a reference, no doubt, to his earlier dependence upon Leicester’s father the Duke of Northumberland. But all he obtained in 1572 was a grant of the right to compound with offenders against the injunction forbidding clerical non-residence, plurality and other offences. This he applied with such severity that the bishops protested, and in 1575 the Privy Council forbade him to proceed. To that year probably belongs the petition to the Council in which Bagnall explains his poverty as due to his sacrifices for the protestant cause under Mary, and asks for a grant of land to support his old age. He died early in 1580, probably intestate, since no will or inquisition post mortem has been found. He recommended his son, Samuel, ‘to advance himself by his valour, as he before had done’4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: Roger Virgoe / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. N. and Q. (ser. 4), ii. 292; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), i. 325-7; Erdeswick’s Surv. Staffs . 493; Ormerod, Cheshire, iii(1), 414-15; LP Hen. VIII, xxi(1), pp. 323, 777.
  • 3. CPR, 1548-9, p. 247; 1553-4, p. 392; Cal. Carew Pprs. 1515-74, p. 227; Cal. Pat. and Cl. Rolls, Chancery in Ireland, i. 219; T. Pape, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 192; VCH Staffs. viii. 184.
  • 4. Narr. of Reformation (Cam. Soc. 1xxvii), 158; CPR, 1555-7, p. 318; Strype, Memorials, iii(1), 324; Annals , ii(l), 313; Parker, i. 224-5, 419; Colls. Hist. Staffs. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xii, xiii), passim; (ibid. n.s. ix), 9-12, 72-3, 113-16, 128-9; Erdeswick’s Surv. Staffs . 493; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 660; Add. 1547-65, p. 556; SP 63/1/20.