PENRUDDOCK, Robert (c.1559-1615), of Compton Chamberlayne, Wilts.

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.1559, 2nd s. of Sir George Penruddock by his 1st w. and bro. of Edward. educ. Oxf. BA 1575, MA 1578; ?Barnard’s Inn. prob. unm. Kntd. 23 July 1603.

Offices Held

Feodary, Wilts. 1591.


This Member must be distinguished from two namesakes: his uncle, the Marian MP, of Hale, Hampshire, a j.p. for Wiltshire who died in 1583, and his nephew the sixth son of his brother Sir Edward. Penruddock’s mother may have died giving birth to him, for his father married again before April 1560, after which he divided his time between Wiltshire and his wife’s county of Hertfordshire, but it is likely that Robert and his elder brother Edward passed their boyhood in Wiltshire, where they were to spend most of their lives. Unlike his brother, Robert went to Oxford, where his gaining of a BA and MA might have seemed to presage a learned profession. After leaving Oxford he may, indeed, have entered Barnard’s Inn, but it is as a soldier that he is next heard of. This had been his father’s métier, and it was perhaps before Sir George’s death in 1581 that Robert went to serve with Rowland York in the Netherlands. York eventually defected to the Spaniards, but Penruddock evidently had no part in that act of treachery; on the contrary, in April 1587 his evidence of a rumour implicating Leicester in it was included in a list of such slanders drawn up as a state paper.1

Penruddock was probably back in England by the early summer of 1588, when his name appears on a list of gentlemen who had seen active service, compiled by or for the 2nd Earl of Pembroke against the threat of invasion. When Parliament was summoned in the following September Penruddock was returned for Pembroke’s borough of Wilton. By 1601 the 2nd Earl was dead, and Penruddock was returned for another borough open to Pembroke influence. Despite the regularity of his appearances in the Commons Penruddock made little mark there. On 28 Mar. 1593 he was named to a legal committee, and as burgess for Wilton, he could have sat on the committee for cloth, 15 Mar. Soon afterwards (31 Mar.) he was given leave to depart on the Queen’s and his own business, and his name does not appear again in the proceedings.2

Although we are not told the nature of the public business which helped to excuse Penruddock in March 1593, it may well have been his duties as feodary of the court of wards in Wiltshire. His service in it doubtless attached him to Burghley and Robert Cecil, his official chiefs; either he or Thomas gave Cecil a salt weighing 28 ounces at Christmas 1602 and Cecil for his part perhaps lent his support to Penruddock’s election at Ludgershall in 1601. The, probably honorary, admission of Penruddock to Gray’s Inn in 1591 may have been connected with this appointment. Penruddock also assisted in the administration of the family estate; it was he who with William Bower compiled a field-book of the manor of Compton Chamberlayne in 1597. He also acquired landed interests of his own; in July 1590 he took a lease from the Crown, at £13 6s.8d. a year, of the sequestrated property of a recusant at Compton Chamberlayne.3

In the early 1590s Penruddock was involved in a feud lasting several years between his brother Edward and the family of Errington of Great Woodford. This was largely fought out in Salisbury, where the Penruddock and Errington houses stood in hostile propinquity, and for Robert it culminated in an affray in 1592 in which Thomas Errington was forced into a water-course and drowned. Penruddock’s claim that he killed Errington in self-defence was evidently accepted.4

Both Edward and Robert Penruddock were knighted at the coronation of James I, as was their cousin Thomas, but the new reign brought them no further advancement. Robert died in 1615; he had no issue, and he may not have married.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. T. Bindoff


  • 1. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 148-9; Al. Ox. 1143; Lansd. 47/118, f. 94v; Mins. Proc. Sess. (Wilts. Arch. Soc. rec. br. iv), 17, 24, 41; HMC Var. iv. 134; CSP For. 1587, p. 43.
  • 2. CSP For. 1587, p. 43; D’Ewes, 501, 511, 513.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, xii. 528; Wilts. RO, 332 no. 252; Recusant Roll no. 1 (Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii), 353.
  • 4. St. Ch. 5/P6/19, P11/8, 33, P13/23, P33/36, P39/12.