MORE, Edward (c.1555-1623), of Crabbet, Worth, Suss., Canon Row, Westminster and Odiham, 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. c.1555, o.s. of John More of Crabbet by Anne or Agnes, da. of John Moulton of Lancs. and Westminster. educ. ?Hart Hall, Oxf. by 1568; M. Temple 1 May 1571. m. (1) Mary (d. 29 Oct. 1591), da. and coh. of Adrian Poynings of Wherwell, Hants, 5s. 1da.; (2) Lady Frances Brooke, da. of William Brooke alias Cobham, 10th Lord Cobham, wid. of John, 9th Lord Stourton, 1da. Several ch. illegit. suc. fa. 1581. Kntd. 1600.1

Offices Held

Gent. pens. by 1577-d.; j.p. Surr., Suss. from c.1582-c.87, Hants from c.1584.


When More entered the Middle Temple he was bound with his father and Richard Inkpen, a close associate of Edward Banester, one of More’s predecessors as Member of Parliament for Midhurst, but after a fine for absence from readings, and pardon for another on grounds of ill-health, his name disappears from the Temple records, and within a short time re-appears among the gentlemen pensioners at court. From the late 1570s until at least the end of the reign, when he was an official attendant at the Queen’s funeral, he divided his time between the court and his country estates in Sussex and, later, Hampshire. He had a long correspondence with Robert Cecil over the will of Lady Dacre, widow of the 10th Lord Dacre of the South, who died in 1595 leaving a large part of her estates in Sussex and London to the Cecil family. More was one of the executors of the will and may indeed have been in her service in some capacity. The fact that Lord Buckhurst was also interested in some of the property delayed a final settlement for several years; More was one of the principal figures involved in the negotiations.

In 1598 he passed on a message of loyalty to Cecil from the new Lord Cobham, who was brother-in-law to both of them, and in 1602 he wrote to the Secretary asking him to find a military appointment in Ireland for his son Edward, who might ‘in time, by his care and travail, recover some part of the credit he has lost’ (through a marriage of which the father disapproved). Most interesting of all the letters, however, is one dated March 1594 in which More, hearing of the death of George Goring I, offered Cecil and his father £1,000 for the office of receiver of the court of wards, if they could obtain it for him without further expense. He would withdraw his request if the post was likely to go to George Goring II.2

More was first returned to Parliament in 1584 for Viscount Montagu’s borough of Midhurst. It is possible that he owed this to Montagu, who as a fellow-landowner in western Sussex no doubt knew him personally. It has been suggested that More shared the Viscount’s Catholicism,3and indeed he had many Catholic contacts, including Lady Dacre, the Stourtons (into which family his second wife had previously been married), and members of several leading Sussex families, but as he was on the commission of the peace for three counties, he probably conformed outwardly to the Elizabethan church. In any case he may have owed his return at Midhurst not to Montagu himself but to Richard Lewknor, who secured the election of several relatives and friends at Midhurst about this time. Nothing is known of any activity by More in his first Parliament.

A case brought in the Star Chamber by James Colbrand provides evidence of More’s connexion with Lewknor, and suggests that More stood unsuccessfully for one of the Sussex county seats in 1586. During the election campaign at Chichester, when More was supporting Lewknor, he became involved in a dispute with Colbrand over their respective social standing and the number of tenants’ votes at their command. Colbrand made the disobliging assertion that More’s father cut bread in the pantry at court. The entry in D’Ewes’s Journal for the 1597 Parliament recording that ‘Mr. Edward Moore’ brought into the House a bill concerning armour and weapons must refer to George More, who did sit on this committee—there is no evidence that Edward was in the Parliament.4

At some time in the 1580s More moved to Odiham in Hampshire, where his social position and work as a local administrator enabled him to acquire a county seat in the last Parliament of the reign. During this Parliament he was named to a committee concerning London hospitals on 23 Nov. (which he reported on 8 Dec.), to a private committee on 28 Nov. and to a committee concerning kerseys on 14 Dec. He was probably the ‘Mr. Moore’ who reported the committee on Cree church on 9 Dec. As knight for Hampshire he was entitled to attend the main business committee (3 Nov.), and committees on clothworkers (18 Nov.) and monopolies (23 Nov.). Though no surviving parliamentary returns of a later date bear his name, this may not have been the end of his career in the Commons. In February 1606, while Parliament was sitting, the Earl of Mar, owner of the manor of Odiham where More lived, reported to Robert Cecil that More intended to seek satisfaction with regard to some leases he held from the Earl ‘in a bill which he has brought into Parliament’.5

After the turn of the century More spent more time on his country estates and less at court. By that date his possessions were extensive. He enlarged the family holdings at Crabbet, Sussex, building a new house there, and also held the adjoining manor of Worth, with land in seven other parishes. In Surrey he had sold Kinnersley manor, Horley, but still owned some smaller properties. To these he later added Hurtmore, near Godalming, bought in 1606, and Drockenfield manor in Frensham, purchased, with two other men, from Viscount Montagu in 1614. George More of Loseley, a relative by marriage, sold him Witley Park and leased him iron works at Thursley and Witley for ten years at £95 a year. The lease included equipment and workers’ houses. In London he owned land at St. Margaret’s and two houses in Canon Row, Westminster, one of which was occupied by Sir Thomas Waller. In Wales he owned monastic property in Anglesey. An indenture which More drew up in 1602 estimated his lands as being then worth £790 p.a. and that their value would run into four figures within seven years. This indenture throws more light on the quarrel in the More family to which reference has already been made, for it was drawn up to disinherit Edward, the eldest son:

Whereas Edward More ... notwithstanding the tender love and care that ... Sir Edward has always had over him and the education he [has] given him in schools of learning, universities and travel in foreign countries, to his great charge, hath of late married himself without the ... consent of the said Sir Edward and upon small acquaintance with the woman, which the said Sir Edward for many respects utterly misliketh, [he] is thereby grown out of hope of his well doing and resolved not to trust him with any immediate estate or remainder of his lands and inheritance.

The reasons for his hostility to the lady, who was Dutch, are not clear. Now, surprisingly, he declared his heirs not to be his other children by Mary Poynings, but illegitimate children by three other ladies including Dorothy, daughter of Francis Moore of the Middle Temple, and Amy, daughter of William Gibbs, also of the Middle Temple. Francis Moore was a witness to the arrangement together with Sir George More of Loseley and Sir Thomas Drewe of Broadhembury, Devon, Sir Edward’s son-in-law. The document was drawn up after he had married Lady Stourton as his second wife, but before their daughter was born.6

Later in his life More rescinded part of this settlement, giving property to his second legitimate son Adrian on the occasion of his marriage, but he does not seem to have forgiven Edward. Ironically, Sir Edward outlived all his sons, and the eventual heir, when he died in the spring of 1623, was a grandson, the son of the disinherited Edward and his Dutch wife. In his will, More hoped ‘to be saved by that bitter death and bloody passion which I believe that Jesus Christ suffered for me, and not by any other works or means’, and a letter which he wrote in 1614 provides further evidence about his religious beliefs in the last years of his life. Robert Johnson, vicar of Odiham, accompanied his supplication for a divinity degree at Oxford with the following letter from More:

Mr. Johnson has been careful in his study and diligent in his preaching, which has been appreciated by his auditory of the best understanding. On account of the smallness of the living, he accepted a lectureship at Great Allhallows, London, for a year and put in a curate here who, in his absence, joining with a faction of troublesome spirits (that profess preciseness of life but practise for the most part malice and dissension) went about to supplant him and to leave no course unattempted that might give them hope of getting his living from him. In this they failed. They had an old quarrel with him because he had, at his first coming, to oppose another troublesome minister of their profession who made some pretence to the vicarage. On this occasion they preferred articles to the High Commission against him. I am one of these commissioners and I have never heard that he was ever censured ... for any matter contained in these articles.

More’s will, drawn up 24 Apr. 1623, was proved on 19 May; he asked to be buried in the chancel of Odiham church, ‘near unto my two wives’. The executors were given a lease of all his property, in the hope that they could buy the grandson’s wardship. More had founded almshouses at Odiham, modelled on Lady Dacre’s Emmanuel hospital, Westminster, and he left money for their maintenance. The lease of the manor of Odiham, which may not have had long to run, he left to his daughter, Lady Drewe, on payment of £800. Other relatives were left small annuities. In a codicil, he bequeathed his second wife’s clothes to their daughter, now Lady Stourton, and to a grandson a gilt basin bearing the Poynings arms. To his friend Sir Robert Heath, the King’s ‘solicitor’, he left ‘my salt which standeth upon pillars of crystal’, and to Sir William Pitt ‘a ring which my Lord of Salisbury gave me’. There is no mention of his illegitimate children.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiii. 1, 16; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 172-3; Manning and Bray, Hist. Surr. i. 626, 628; CPR, 1553 and App. Ed. VI, 310; VCH Hants, iv. 97.
  • 2. M.T. Recs. i. 177, 182, 190; LC2/4/4; HMC Hatfield, ii. 218; iv. 497; v. 205-6, 241, 293; vi. 440; viii. 38, 222; x. 309, 311, 313; xii. 199; Lansd. 77, ff. 71 seq.; 86, ff. 164 seq.
  • 3. W. S. Blunt, Hist. Crabbet, i. 7.
  • 4. Neale, Commons, 266-8; D’Ewes, 624, 642, 648, 649, 658, 670, 674, 684.
  • 5. APC, xxii. 222; xxiii. 161-3; xxiv. 78-9; D’Ewes, 648, 658, 684; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 286.
  • 6. VCH Suss. vii. 195; Suss. Rec. Soc. xix. 218, 219; xx. 505; xxxiii. 110; Blunt, i. 2, 6, 11-14, 15-17, 25-6; VCH Surr. ii. 273-4, 614; iii. 34, 64, 65, 203; Surr. Arch. Colls. xviii. 27, 78; CPR, 1563-6, p. 94.
  • 7. Blunt, i. 18-24; W. H. Mildon, ‘Puritanism in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’ (Univ. London PhD thesis, 1934), pp. 91-2; PCC 53 Swann.