KEMPE, Francis, of Yedding, Mdx., Plumstead, Kent, and Mitcham, Surr.

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

Yr. s. of Sir William Kempe of Wye, Kent by Eleanor, da. and h. of Robert Browne of Betchworth Castle, Surr.; bro. of Sir Thomas and Anthony. m. Eleanor, da. and coh. of Henry Carew, at least 1da.2

Offices Held

Servant, household of Stephen Gardiner by 1555; jt. (with Sir Ralph Sadler) clerk of hanaper Aug. 1557-?64; macebearer to Nicholas Heath, ld. chancellor and abp. of York by Dec. 1557; jt. (with Sadler) prothonotary in Chancery 1573.3


Kempe belonged to a Kent family with north-country connexions; his brother Anthony settled there and sat for Westmorland in the 1558 Parliament. Their mother, a Catholic, was a favourite of Queen Mary, in whose household she served, and no doubt it was through her that Francis became known to the and Earl of Rutland, to whom he owed his parliamentary seat at Lincoln, and to Nicholas Heath, still archbishop of York at the time of the election, who nominated both the 1559 Members for Ripon.4

Another influential friend, though at the other end of the religious spectrum, was Sir Ralph Sadler. When John Hales I was abroad, and temporarily deprived of his clerkship of the hanaper, the post was filled by Sadler, one of his intimates, jointly with Kempe, whose family was connected with Hales. If this arrangement was meant to keep the office open for Hales, it was not successful, as he and Kempe later became embroiled in conflicting lawsuits over claims to the clerkship. In any case Kempe found the post less remunerative than he had hoped, and about 1564 petitioned Lord Keeper Bacon, outlining his grievances and complaining that as clerk he was not sharing sufficiently in the profits. In January 1573, after the death of Hales, who seems finally to have been confirmed in his office, a new patent was issued in favour of Sir Ralph Sadler and his son Henry. In November of the same year Kempe and the elder Sadler were jointly appointed as prothonotaries in Chancery, the second office they had held together.5

Little has been discovered about Kempe’s private life. The pardon roll of 1559 styles him, ‘of Yedding, Mdx.’, but in the previous year he and his brother Edward had bought land at Plumstead, Kent. His mother, who died early in Elizabeth’s reign, had received large grants of land in Somerset and Wiltshire from Queen Mary as a reward for long service, but there is no evidence that Francis inherited any of these. By his mother’s will he received plate and household furniture only. In 1567 his brother Anthony made over to him some manors in Yorkshire, Northumberland and Lincolnshire. Much later in the reign, about 1592, he was holding land at Mitcham, probably through his wife. There is no indication that he became a landed gentleman of any consequence, probably for the same reason that his name does not appear on the commission of the peace—his religion, for there can be little doubt that, like his mother and his patron Heath, he remained a Catholic. He was alive in 1597, when his brother John left him £100; no later reference to him has been found.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. E371/402(1); OR has Knipe.
  • 2. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 62-3; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 9; F. H. Kemp, Gen. Hist. Kemp and Kempe Fams. i. 14, 20-8; ii. 25; iv. 20-1.
  • 3. CPR , 1557-8, pp. 191-2; 1560-3, p. 62; Lincoln common council bk. 1541-64, f. 135; M. G. Price, ‘English borough Representation 1509-58’ (Oxf. DPhil. thesis 1959), 466-7.
  • 4. CPR, 1554-5, p. 74; Kemp. i. 26; iv. 20-1; Lincoln common council bk. 1541-64, f. 135.
  • 5. CPR, 1557-8, pp. 191-2; 1560-3, p. 62; Stowe 415 b, f. 86; Kemp, i. 27; APC, vii. 192, 196; HMC 4th Rep. 370; Sadler State Pprs. i. 370; SP12/46/30; Price thesis 466-7.
  • 6. CPR, 1554-5, p. 37; 1557-8, p. 228; 1558-60, p. 208; 1566-9, p. 117; PCC 59 Mellershe; Kemp, i. 26-8.