HILLIARD, Christopher I (c.1523-1602), of Winestead, Yorks.

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.1523, 1st s. of Martin Hilliard of Winestead in Holderness by Emma, da. of Sir Robert Rudston of London and Kent; bro. of William. m. Frances (d.1595), da. of Sir John Constable of Burton Constable by Joan, da. and coh. of Ralph Neville of Thornton Bridge, 1s. 1 surv. da. suc. fa. c.1545. Kntd. May 1578.1

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) from c.1559, (W. and N. Ridings) from c.1583; sheriff, Yorks. 1570-1, 1595-6, commr. piracy 1577; member, council in the north from 1582; muster master, Holderness 1584; commr. recusancy, Yorks. 1593.2


The Hilliard family had lived in Holderness at least since the early thirteenth century and acquired Winestead in the reign of Henry VI. They were related to the Nevilles, and were second in importance only to the Constables, to whom they were also related by marriage. Unlike the Constables, the Hilliards never obtained a county seat, though several members of the family were returned to Parliament, mostly for their local borough of Hedon. During his first Parliament, in 1563, Hilliard was given leave of absence because his wife was ill (4 Feb.). In the session of 1566 he was a member of the committee to consider the Queen’s marriage and the succession question (31 Oct.), while in 1571 (to which Parliament he was elected while sheriff of his county) and 1576 he is recorded as having sat on committees concerning tillage (21 May 1571), wharves and quays (13 Mar. 1576) and the subsidy (10 Feb. 1576). On 5 May 1571, he was one of a group of Members appointed to take two bills to the Lords.3

Hilliard was classified as a ‘favourer’ of the church settlement in 1564. He was active in his duties as a piracy commissioner for over 20 years. In April 1599 he claimed to have spent over £600 on coastal defence in Holderness and, in the following month, complained to the archbishop of York that the absence of the sheriff left him to grapple with this problem unaided. In 1588 he contributed £25 to the Armada fund.4

Hilliard engaged in extensive land transactions. Between 1555 and 1595 he bought the manor of Routh and at least 18 houses, 10 cottages and lands, and sold at least 88 houses, most of them with land, and at least 57 cottages. In addition to this, and all in the year 1592, he bought 26 houses, 7 cottages and lands in Beverley, and a share in 9 manors, 100 other houses, 200 cottages and 7 watermills. Towards the end of his life, his health failed. He was already unwell in 1596, and in 1599 was described as ‘aged and weak and cannot conveniently attend any service’. He died 23 July 1602, being buried the next day, and was succeeded by his nephew Christopher, his only son William having been drowned in the moat surrounding their house at Winestead. Hilliard was buried at Winestead, where a marble monument was erected to his memory.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.


  • 1. Dugdale, Vis. Yorks. iii. 332; Foster, Yorks. Peds. ii.; CPR, 1549-51, p. 174.
  • 2. Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 71; Reid, Council of the North, 495.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 127, 181, 247; CJ, i. 64, 91, 105, 114.
  • 4. Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 71; Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii. 52; Lansd. 13, f. 127; 146, f. 20; APC, xxi. 465; xxii. 257; xxx. 437; HMC Hatfield, viii. 494; ix. 141, 164; Poulson, Holderness, i. 84; Noble, Names of Those who Subscribed, 71.
  • 5. Yorks. Fines (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. ii), 187, 287, 301, 304, 313, 325, 329, 331, 332, 360, 364, 365; (v), 13, 40, 110-12; (vii), 121, 170, 175; (vii), 21, 110, 194; HMC Hatfield, ix. 242; Foster, Yorks. Peds. ii.