FLOWERDEW, Edward (c.1534-86), of Hethersett and Stanfield Hall, Norf.

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. c.1534, 4th s. of John Flowerdew of Hethersett by Catherine, da. of William Sheres of Ashwellthorpe. educ. Camb.; I. Temple 1552, called. m. Elizabeth, da. of William Forster of Wymondham, s.p.

Offices Held

Bencher I. Temple 1567, Autumn reader 1569, Lent reader 1571, treasurer 1579; serjeant-at-law 1580; j.p. Norf. from 1570; recorder, King’s Lynn 1577, Norwich 1580; steward, Norwich 1578, Great Yarmouth 1580; dep. chief steward, south parts, duchy of Lancaster; baron of the Exchequer from 1584.


Flowerdew was a lawyer who acquired considerable estates in Norfolk, and with them the reputation of a harsh landlord. He had an important clientele in Norfolk, receiving retainers from a number of local gentry, from the dean and chapter of Norwich, from Thetford, Norwich and Great Yarmouth. His appointments as steward of Yarmouth and recorder of King’s Lynn he owed to the Earl of Leicester, high steward of both boroughs. Flowerdew acknowledged his indebtedness in his will, when he besought ‘his lordship to continue his like favour and goodness toward my nephew Anthony and to my brethren as he hath done unto me throughout my lifetime’. Flowerdew’s particular enemy was Sir Arthur Heveningham, with whom he carried on constant disputes over hunting and hawking on their respective lands—disagreements which were soon reflected in county administration. During Heveningham’s year as sheriff, 1581-2, Flowerdew complained of his interference with the work of the justices of the peace. Other disputes arose over Heveningham’s method of raising money to repair highways, and here as in other county business Flowerdew joined the group of justices, largely radical in religion, who opposed, inter alia, Heveningham’s reliance on Privy Council directives about having matters settled at county level. Early in 1583, when Flowerdew was riding to the Epiphany sessions at Norwich, Heveningham set on him and gave ‘the knave serjeant a knock on the cock’s comb’. Both men were temporarily removed from the commission of the peace, but so far as is known they did not fight a projected duel.1

It is difficult to account for Flowerdew’s parliamentary seat at Castle Rising in 1572; in the vacuum left by the fall of the Duke of Norfolk he may have owed it either to local friends or to some connexion at court, perhaps the Earl of Leicester. In 1581, when there was confusion over the validity of a number of elections to replace sick and absent Members, D’Ewes reports (19 Jan.):

One Mr. Flowerdew was the last session burgess for Castle Rising in Norfolk, and in the vacation was sick. Upon suggestion of which sickness a writ went to choose a new. Whereupon Sir William Drury is chosen and returned for Castle Rising, who now appeareth, and Mr. Flowerdew also. In the same vacation, one Beaumond [Thomas Beaumont], a citizen for Norwich, is sick of the gout, upon suggestion whereof a writ went out to choose a new for Norwich; Mr. Flowerdew is chosen, returned and newly sworn for Norwich.

In the debate that followed on the same day, Flowerdew was one of those who supported the replacement of absent burgesses. The House confirmed these replacements, but on 18 Mar., near the end of the session, declared them invalid. Thus Flowerdew, ostensibily representing Norwich, legally remained MP for Castle Rising in 1581.

Flowerdew was an active Member of the 1572 Parliament. He was appointed to a committee on outlawries on 12 May 1572, and spoke in the debate on Mary Queen of Scots on 7 June, being named to the committee on the subject on the same day. In the second session he served on committees concerning jeofails (15 Feb. 1576), bastardy (15 Feb.) and sheriffs (18 Feb.), and spoke on a legal topic on 18 Feb. In 1581 he was extremely active, serving on committees concerned with the Queen’s safety (25 Jan.), legal matters (26, 28 Jan., 4, 14, 20 Feb.), the Arthur Hall privilege case (6 Feb.), children of aliens (7 Feb.), private bills (14, 20 Feb.), defence (25 Feb.), the Family of Love (27 Feb.) and London merchants (2 Mar.). He spoke in favour of Paul Wentworth’s motion for a public fast on 21 Jan., but three days later, while protesting ‘the sincerity of his intention in speaking for the fast when it was first moved’, he recanted and advised the House to ‘make their submission to her Majesty’. On 8 Feb. he spoke on the bill to avoid encumbrances against purchasers and was one of those appointed to confer with the Lords on the subject.2

Flowerdew died 31 Mar. 1586, of gaol fever contracted at the Exeter assizes. In his will, made 16 June 1585 and proved 5 May 1586, he left plate to the Earl of Leicester, to the overseer of his will, Lord Chancellor Bromley, to Lord North and Sir Thomas Knyvet, one of his executors, Remembering that he had already bestowed two gilt pots on the city of Norwich, he provided King’s Lynn and Yarmouth each with a silver bowl. He left money to Hethersett church for

the buying of a new great bell, there to be rung and used in the extremities of the people of that parish in sickness, and to stir up the living to pray for them so visited, and to call themselves thereby home to a consideration of their own mortal estates, and by the knell thereof to warn people to come and frequent the collations and sermons ... the same to have mine arms upon it and to remain in succession to every mayor as a memory of my office there, and my good will towards the town.


Concerning the superstitious use of bells and ringing of bells, I utterly condemn them in my conscience.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.N.


  • 1. Vis. Norf. (Norf. and Norwich Arch. Soc.), ii. 276, 291-2, 300, 324-5, 348; Somerville, Duchy, i. 432-3; Blomefield, Norf. i. 721, 724; ii. 500, 502, 506, 518; v. 24-5, 32, 268; CPR, 1558-60, p. 132; 1563-6, pp. 263, 337; Burgon, Gresham, ii. 493, 499; Norwich ass. minute bk. 1568-85, ff. 85, 115, 192; ancient deeds of Thetford arr. G. B. Burrell, p. 281; Yarmouth ass. bk. 1570-9, f. 62; 1579-98, ff. 13, 19, 106; King’s Lynn congregation bk. 1569-91, ff. 135, 283; PCC 23 Windsor; A. H. Smith thesis, 41, 146-61.
  • 2. D’Ewes, 206, 222, 249, 281, 282, 284, 289, 291, 292, 293, 295, 299, 307, 308; CJ, i. 94, 101, 106, 120, 122, 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130, 135; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. f. 54.
  • 3. Leycester Corresp. (Cam. Soc. xxvii), 224; PCC 23 Windsor.