PELHAM, Herbert (c.1546-1620), of Michelham Priory, nr. Hailsham, Suss. and Compton Valence, Dorset.

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.1546, o.s. of Anthony Pelham of Hendall manor in Bucksteep, Warbleton, Suss. by Margaret Hall, wid. of Percy de Buckthorpe of Suss. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1562. m. (1) Katherine (d. by 1612), da. of John Thatcher, of Priesthawes, Westham, Suss., 3s. 1da.; (2) Elizabeth (d. 15 Jan. 1639), da. of Thomas West, 2nd Baron de la Warr, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1566.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Surr. and Suss. Apr.-Nov. 1576, 1590-1; j.p. Suss. 1582-7; brodhull rep. 1583; bailiff to Yarmouth 1583; freeman, Winchelsea 22 Jan. 1583, jurat 7 Apr. 1583.2


In the sixteenth century Bucksteep was the seat of a cadet branch of the Sussex Pelhams. When Pelham became head of this branch, he inherited lands in Sussex, Dorset, Kent, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Surrey, Yorkshire and ‘elsewhere within the realm of England’. Through a fortunate second marriage, he gained the manor of Compton Valance in Dorset.3

An active member of the Winchelsea corporation, Pelham would naturally have found a borough seat there when he was unsuccessful for the county in 1584. He had already served once as sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, and had been imprisoned by the lord treasurer for refusing to do so a second time. When summoned before the Privy Council for this refusal in April 1582, he gave as excuse his residence within the liberty of the Cinque Ports. He was on the commission of the peace for only three years. A 1587 report on Sussex justices explained that he was dropped because his judgment was unreliable.4

Pelham’s purchase, in October 1587, of the site of Michelham priory, was followed by financial troubles, though these may have derived from the failing business of his brother-in-law Anthony Morley, a Sussex ironmaster. In 1590 he borrowed £400 from John Michell of Cuckfield, Sussex, and in 1599 his entire interest in Michelham was made over to his relative, Thomas Pelham of Laughton and two others, as trustees for sale, to provide an annuity of £400 a year and to discharge the debts. On 6 Apr. 1601 the trustees sold Michelham to Lord Buckhurst for £4,700. Pelham also disposed of estates at Whatlington and Peplesham. He died intestate 12 Apr. 1620.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 294; C142/145/12; J. Comber, Suss. Genealogies, Lewes Centre, 211, 287; Collins, Peerage (1812), v. 19; CPR, 1566-9, p. 12.
  • 2. PRO Assizes, 35, S.E. circuit, Suss. 24-7; E. Suss. RO, Winchelsea mss.
  • 3. Suss. Arch. Colls. ix. 220-1; Hutchins, loc. cit.
  • 4. Cinque Ports black bk. f. 45v; Winchelsea mss; Harl. 703, ff. 18v, 19v; HMC Hatfield, ii. 502; Lansd. 53, ff. 160-1; Suss. Arch. Colls. ii. 60; xlix. 30; PRO Assizes, 35, S.E. Circuit, Suss. passim.
  • 5. Suss. Arch. Colls. vi. 160-1; ix. 220-1; xxxvii. 47; liii. 59; lxii. 152; Suss. Rec. Soc. xx. 404; Horsfield, Suss. i. 527; Mousley thesis, 621; Wards 7/64/33; C142/417/8; Lincoln consistory ct. admon. 1624. no. 132.