DALE, Valentine (by 1527-89), of St. Gregory's by St. Paul's, London and Fyfield, Hants.

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 1527, s. of John Dale. educ. Oxf. supp. BA 1541, fellow of All Souls 1542-aft. 1550, BCL 1545, supp. DCL 1552; Orleans Univ. DCL c.1550; Camb. incorp. LLD. 1562. m. Elizabeth, wid. of one Forth, 1da. suc. cos. William Dale at Fyfield 1566.1

Offices Held

Vicar of Winterbourne Earls, Wilts. 1550, rector of Llandyssul, Card. 1554; adv. 1553; on embassy to France 1553-Mar. 1554; surrogate of ct. of Admiralty by 1557; on embassy in Flanders Dec. 1563-4; resident ambassador in Paris Apr. 1573-Oct. 1576; archdeacon of Surr. Feb. or Mar-Oct. 1573; dean of Bath and Wells from Jan. 1574; master of requests from 5 Nov. 1576; master in Chancery by 1579; eccles. commr. c.1581; jt. commissary-gen. of ct. of Admiralty from 30 Jan. 1585; j.p. Hants from c.1583, bpric. of Dur. to c.1591; master of Sherburn House hospital, Durham from Mar. 1585; on embassy to Duke of Parma 1588.2


There are indications that it was under the patronage of a fellow-civilian, Sir William Petre, that Dale entered upon a career in law and public affairs. In June 1553 he seems to have been working for Petre to secure an agreement between England and France on mercantile suits, and he was in France with Nicholas Wotton on a similar diplomatic mission in the early months of 1554. The latter wrote to Petre praising Dale’s ability—his competence in the classics and law, his sobriety and discretion, his fluent French. ‘I believe’, prophesied Wotton, ‘he will prove one of the meetest men you have at home to do the Queen’s highness service abroad’. His work in the Admiralty court soon established his reputation as an expert on maritime law, and he advised Cecil on this subject during the critical years 1569-71. In 1571 he was put on the commission to consider complaints concerning the seizure of the Spanish treasure two years earlier, and in 1579 he was one of those ordered to see to the execution of the treaty of Bristol. His counsel was also sought in other matters of international law and jurisdiction. In January 1569 he advised that the Spanish ambassador was liable to punishment for working against the security of England; two years later he gave the same opinion on the activities of the bishop of Ross. In 1581 he was asked to comment on the Anjou marriage treaty. In 1585-6 he was on the commission to examine Dr. William Parry and Babington, and he was present at the trial of Mary Queen of Scots. At Burghley’s suggestion he wrote, in October 1586, specifically for the comfort of Elizabeth, a justification of Mary’s execution.3

The qualities that Wotton found in Dale in 1554 were extensively used in diplomatic work during the following 35 years. His mission in 1564 to negotiate about the Flemish embargo on English imports, though unsuccessful, seems to have been efficiently carried out. In 1569 the Privy Council used his knowledge of French in negotiations with the French ambassador. When Walsingham’s requests to return to England became pressing in 1572, Burghley recommended Dale to succeed him in the onerous and delicate post of resident ambassador in France. Though he was appointed in December 1572, the Queen’s vacillations prevented his departure before the following April, and he arrived in Paris about 15 Apr. 1573. Judging from his letters he was a diligent and intelligent ambassador during a critical stage in Anglo-French relations.4

His final diplomatic mission took place on the eve of war with Spain in September 1587, when he was sent with the mission to the Duke of Parma to negotiate for peace. He was ill during much of the protracted negotiations, but took a leading part, many of the reports to England being largely his work. He also corresponded privately with the Queen and Burghley, especially towards the end of the mission. In all his service, he wrote, he had never taken so much care over an embassy as over this. In March 1588 Parma described Dale to King Philip as old and stout, and one of the Queen’s favourites who resided in her palace. He was certainly trusted by the Queen and, more especially, by Burghley, who sought his advice on all manner of problems, and frequently corresponded with him on matters of state. Dale took with him on his last embassy the young Robert Cecil and wrote to Burghley praising his son, claiming that he was ‘assured he loveth and liketh me and he is assured I love and like him’.5

It was presumably through the influence of the bishop of Winchester that Dale was returned for Taunton in 1558, and through the patronage of a later bishop for Hindon in 1584; however, he preferred to retain the seat at Chichester, where Burghley, steward of the bishop of Chichester’s lands, could bring him in, and where Dale’s position as a civilian and Admiralty court judge would make him a useful representative. He continued to be elected without difficulty during the contests of 1584 and 1586; an attempt in the latter year to get him to resign his seat drew a rebuke from the Privy Council. Dale is not known to have spoken in the House. On 19 May 1572 he served on a committee concerning presentations, his only mention in the journals of this session. In 1576 he was away in Paris. However in 1581 he was an active committeeman, being named to committees concerning children of aliens (25 Jan.), unlawful marriages (31 Jan.), attorneys (17 Feb.), merchant adventurers in London (2 Mar.), Dover harbour (6 Mar.), the Queen’s safety (14 Mar.) and seditious words and practices (17 Mar.). In 1584 he served on a legal committee (2 Dec.) and one concerning appeals out of the ecclesiastical courts (18 Dec.). In 1586 his committees dealt with Mary Queen of Scots (4 Nov.), a learned ministry (8 Mar.), and a subsidy for the Low Countries (11 Mar.). In 1589, after his return from an embassy, he was named to committees concerned with forestallers (12 Feb.) and ’disorders in common inns and victualling houses’ (13 Feb.).6

Apart from the manor of Fyfield, Hampshire, which he inherited, and property in London purchased or leased by him, there is no evidence that Dale possessed much land. He is said to have had two livings early in his career, and in 1561 he obtained a lease of the rectory of Devynock, Breconshire. On 24 May 1583 he was granted the rectory and grange in the Isle of Thanet. Most of his income, however, came from his offices and their perquisites, which were considerable. He had a £100 annuity as master of requests and in 1583 was granted a further annuity of £40 from the bishopric of Ely. He is said to have claimed large expenses for his French embassy, and he left in France at least one unsatisfied creditor, who spent the next 15 years trying to obtain repayment of a loan. Dale died 17 Nov. 1589, and his will was proved next day. Apart from a bequest of £100 to his grand-daughter at her marriage, he left all his property, real and personal, to his wife for life, with remainder to his daughter Dorothy, wife of John North.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. DNB; C142/152/142; Cooper, Ath. Cant. ii 62-3; Lansd. 2, f. 99; PCC 92 Leicester; CSP For. 1572-4, p. 415.
  • 2. C. Coote, Civilians, 38; Sel. Pleas in Ct. of Admiralty, ed. Marsden (Selden Soc. xi), 98; CSP For. 1553-8, p. 68; 1563, p. 644; 1564-5, pp. 12, 44-5; 1572-4, p. 311; 1575-7, p. 388; 1588 (Jan.-June), p. 43; CSP Span. 1558-67 passim; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 224; PRO, Ind. 16772, pp. 321, 330; Lansd. 17, f. 110; APC, ix. 229; xi. 161; xiv. 7; Strype, Aylmer, 61, 85; Annals, iii(2), p. 462; DNB.
  • 3. Lansd. 2, f. 99; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 314, 328, 386; CSP For. 1569-71, p. 523; 1579-80, p. 1; 1583 and Add. p. 720; HMC Hatfield, i. 538; DKR, 4, pp. 273, 276; Howell, State Trials, i. 1173; Strype, Annals, iii(1), pp. 529-31.
  • 4. CSP For. 1564-5, pp. 12, 23, 44-5; 1569-71, pp. 101, 111-12; 1572-4, pp. 232, 311-587; 1575-7, pp. 5-372; Read, Walsingham, i. 258-9; Lansd. 16, ff. 74-5.
  • 5. CSP For. 1588 (Jan.-June), pp. 98-521; (July-Dec.), pp. 10-36 passim; Cotton Vespasian, 107, passim; CSP Span. 1587-1603, p. 234-5; CSP Dom. 1547-80 passim.
  • 6. W. Suss. RO, Chichester acct. bk. Liber T, f. 98b; Neale, Commons, 263-5, 270-2; CJ, i. 95, 119, 121, 130, 131, 134, 135; D’Ewes, 285, 290, 298, 301, 302, 306, 307, 335, 341, 394, 413, 414, 432.
  • 7. Req. 2/132/16; CPR, 1560-3, p 217; PRO Index 16774; APC, x. 17; CSP For. 1582, pp. 254, 264; Lansd. 51, f. 31; 61, f. 195; PCC 92 Leicester.