KNOLLYS, Henry II (c.1542-82), of Ewelme, Oxon. and Kingsbury, Warws.

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.1542, 1st s. of Sir Francis Knollys and bro. of Edward, Francis, Richard, Robert and William. educ. Magdalen Coll. sch. Oxf.; ?Magdalen Coll. Oxf.; ?G. Inn 1564. m. 1565, Margaret (d.1606), da. and h. of Sir Ambrose Cave, 2da.1

Offices Held

Keeper of Moulton park, Northants. 1568; esquire of the body by 1570; master of the toyles 1570; capt. in Ireland 1573; j.p.q. Warws. from c.1574, Oxon. from c.1578; commr. musters, Warws. by 1573, Oxon. 1580; constable, Wallingford castle and steward of honour of Ewelme and keeper of park 1578.2


Under Mary, Knollys either went abroad or continued quietly with his education at Oxford. His father, who had returned from Strasbourg by the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, was no doubt responsible for bringing him into Parliament for Reading. No mention of him has been found in the journals for his first two Parliaments. In the first session of the 1572 Parliament his name appears next to his uncle Henry’s in the list of the conference with the Lords to consider the question of Mary Queen of Scots, 12 May 1572, and in the last session he was named to the committee of the seditious practices bill, 1 Feb. 1581, and to examine the charge of outlawry against Walter Vaughan, 6 Feb.3

Knollys succeeded in right of his wife to estates in Hemlingford, Kingsbury and Nuneaton, Warwickshire, much of it formerly monastic property, and to lands in Herefordshire and Leicestershire. He had a residence at Ewelme, Oxfordshire, and a house at Greenwich. He served against the northern rebels in 1569, and on 16 Jan. 1570 the Queen wrote to the Earl of Sussex and Sir Ralph Sadler asking them to give custody of rebels’ lands and goods to Knollys, ‘whom you know what reason we have to regard, in respect of his kindred to us’. Sussex would gladly have ‘pleasured my cousin [Knollys] before any man in the southern army except Charles Howard’ but had already granted the property in question to Sadler’s son.

Next, Knollys served in Ireland under his brother-in-law Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, and in 1578 he sailed with Sir Humphrey Gilbert on his voyage to North America. In November Gilbert wrote to Walsingham about ‘Mr. Knollys’s unkind and ill dealing ... and of his separating company on the voyage’ Between October and December 1579 Knollys was accused of receiving goods taken by pirates, and of spoiling a subject of the King of Spain on the seas. Finally, just before his early death, Knollys fitted out an expedition in the service of the Portuguese claimant Don Antonio. The Privy Council objecting, he was ordered to return to court upon his allegiance. He made his will in the Netherlands on the day he died, 21 Dec. 1582, committing it to his ‘cousin’ John, later Sir John Norris. Apart from a religious preamble the whole will deals with his debts. His wife, the executrix, was to sell his house at Greenwich and take the advice of ‘Mr. Edward Williams, of the Inner Temple, whose counsel I have always used in my business’. Two daughters are mentioned, Elizabeth, who married Henry Willoughby, and Lettice, later the wife of William, 5th Lord Paget. The will was proved 14 May 1583.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. EHR, liv. 501-4; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 19; VCH Warws. iv. 166; CSP Span. 1558-67, pp. 446, 450-2.
  • 2. CPR, 1566-9, p. 267; 1569-72, p. 73; Somerville, Duchy, i. 548, 573 n. 2; CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 523; APC, xii. 17; Lansd. 56, f. 168 seq.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 206, 292; CJ, i. 95, 121, 122.
  • 4. CPR, 1563-6, p. 143; 1566-9, p. 377; Dugdale, Warws. ii. 870, 1060; VCH Warws. iv. 105, 166; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 523, 526; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 605; 1581-90, pp. 28, 41; Add. 1566-79, pp. 198, 205; CSP For. 1582, no. 523; Lansd. 683, f. 50; APC, xi. 273, 285, 351; xiii. 235; PCC 27 Rowe; CP, x. 284; VCH Berks. iv. 166.