CHEYNEY (CHEYNE), Henry (1540-87), of Toddington, Beds. and Shurland, Kent.

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. 31 May 1540, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Thomas Cheyne(y) by his 2nd w. Ann, da. and coh. of Sir John Broughton of Toddington. educ. G. Inn 1563. m. Jane (d.1614), da. of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Lord Wentworth, 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. to Kent estates 1558, mother to Beds. estates 1562. Kntd. 1563; cr. Lord Cheyney 8 May 1572.

Offices Held

J.p.q. Kent 1562-c.74, j.p. Beds. 1564, q. by 1574; sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 1565-6; commr. Kent subsidy assessment 1565, musters, Beds. 1570, for trial of Mary Stuart 1586, to raise 200 men from Beds. and Bucks. for service in the Netherlands 1586.


Cheyney was elected knight of the shire for his late father’s county in 1563, and for his late mother’s county in 1572. He was appointed to the succession committee on 31 Oct. 1566, the only time his name appears in the extant records of the Commons before his elevation to the peerage his father had been promised yet never achieved. Cheyney much preferred his mother’s Bedfordshire estate to those of his father in Kent, and he spent vast sums in building at Toddington the mansion where he entertained the Queen in 1563 and 1576. After her first visit he was knighted, and no doubt his lavish hospitality was still in Elizabeth’s mind when the question of his peerage arose some years later. A seventeenth-century inventory at Toddington commemorates her visits in the names of some of the rooms. To finance his extravagance Cheyney sold one Kent estate after another between 1564 and 1567 until in 1574 a note on the Kent commission of the peace described him as ‘not resident’. The Shurland estate and his Minster property on the Isle of Sheppey were so badly decayed that the Privy Council became alarmed at the depopulation of a strategically important coastal district. Negotiations began for the Crown to take over Shurland, and grant Cheyney lands elsewhere in exchange. Typically, Elizabeth haggled over terms, and the arrangement was still not made by October 1578, when Cheyney asked Burghley to expedite matters. A crown lease of Shurland, granted in 1580, contained a clause binding the new tenant to accommodate men-at-arms. The last recorded sale of Cheyney’s estates was in 1581, when he sold the chapel where his ancestors were buried at Minster, together with neighbouring estates, to Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Thenceforth, except for his participation in the trial of Mary Stuart, his activities were for the most part, or perhaps entirely, confined to Bedfordshire. It is not even clear whether, having obtained his peerage, he visited the court; if he did it was seldom. Of his religious views little is known. He was the ward for a few years of his puritan uncle the 2nd Earl of Bedford, and his wife was a well known patron of puritan preachers, but Cheyney’s own classification among those Bedfordshire j.p.s who were ‘earnest’ in religion in 1564 must be taken as reflecting no more than his approval of the Elizabethan church settlement.

He died 3 Sept. 1587, and was buried at Toddington, where his widow erected a monument.

Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 15; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 74; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 340; C142/121/102, 222/19, 235/108; Nichols, Progresses Eliz iii. 660; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 395; 1580-1625, p. 527; CPR, 1558-60, p. 27; 1560-3, p. 149; 1563-6, 1566-9 passim; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 29; Hasted, Kent, vi. 7, 9, 222, 249, 509; E150/53/3; Arch. Cant. xxiv. 125; Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. Pubs. xi. 132-3; SP12/87 (vol. Sheppey surveys); SP12/93/16; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 268, 487, 529, 627; HMC Hatfield, ii. 54, 108, 141, 210; APC, xiii. 223; xiv. 115, 122; D’Ewes, 127; Lansd. 8, f. 78; 62, ff. 9-10.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.