PRINCE, Richard (c.1523-98), of Whitehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Salop.

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.1523, 1st s. of John Prince, master of St. Giles’s hospital, Shrewsbury, by Alice, da. of John Bradley of Wenlock. educ. I. Temple Nov. 1553. m. (1) Margaret (d.1584), da. of Geoffrey Manchester of Manchester; (2) Dorothy, da. of William Leighton of Plaish, 4s. 5da. 1da. illegit. suc. fa. 20 July 1557.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Shrewsbury 1551; feodary, Salop by 1562-73, commr. musters 1577.2


In 1551 Prince (or Prynce as it is sometimes spelled) was granted the two chambers over the porch of Shrewsbury abbey as a reward for his ‘good service, labour and travail’ on behalf of the parishoners. He obtained a considerable portion of the abbey lands, and with the stone from its dismantled buildings constructed the house in Abbey Foregate now known as Whitehall, which took four years to build and was completed in 1582. He was still living there in July 1598 when he made his will, directing that he should be buried in the abbey church.3

Throughout this period his name occurs frequently in the town records, the bailiffs and common council often consulting him on their legal problems. In 1578 the bailiffs were instructed to take his advice on the best means for suppressing idleness, drunkenness and disorders. His counsel was sought by the borough on certain letters, sent to the president of the council in the marches, concerning the voyage of Sir Walter Ralegh in 1584, although at this time he was in disfavour with the bailiffs for allowing his men to sow barley on the common land. Two years later he subscribed £25 for the defence of the kingdom, and in 1593 he wrote to the bailiffs, asking that a collection be made at the next sermon at St. Chad’s on behalf of a poor man, who was aged 91, and no longer able to work. Prince also had connexions with Ludlow, where as a ‘counsellor-at-the-bar’ he practiced in the council in the marches of Wales. On one occasion he was removed from this position because he was not an utter barrister of five years standing, but no doubt the fact that his father-in-law, William Leighton, was a member of the council led to his reinstatement after an appeal to the Privy Council in 1577. This connexion with the council in the marches probably explains his return to Parliament for Bridgnorth.4

His will reveals him as a provident and charitable man. Although he had suffered ‘great losses of late, sustained of bankrupts and others’, he made meticulous provision for his family and dependents, not omitting a bastard daughter, a debilitated brother-in-law, and four paupers he maintained in St. Giles’s hospital. A clue to Prince’s religious convictions occurs in a letter he wrote to the bailiffs of Shrewsbury in 1576 at the height of the plague. In it, he compared them to ‘Moses and Aaron’ leading God’s ‘peculiar people, the Israelites ... in the wilderness’, and admonishes them to ‘let not the sheep perish by default of the shepherds’. There are hints of puritanism here, perceptible again in the preamble to his will, where he hoped to ‘inherit the kingdom celestial provided for His elect’. Prince died in October 1598, his will, dated July 1598, being proved in 1599. An inquisition post mortem was held in 1599.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.J.C.


  • 1. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 410; H. Owen and J. B. Blakeway, Shrewsbury, ii. 140; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 4), v. 47; viii. 122.
  • 2. CPR, 1560-3, p. 449; 1572-5, pp. 154, 354; C. A. J. Skeel, Council in the Marches, 255.
  • 3. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), iii. 290; (ser. 4), v. 47; Owen and Blakeway, ii. 351; town chronicle 1582; PCC 20, 21 Kidd.
  • 4. HMC 15th Rep. X, 19, 56, 59; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 173, 190; Owen and Blakeway, i. 389, 550, 564; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), iii. 302, 325.
  • 5. Owen and Blakeway, i. 369; PCC 20, 21 Kidd; C142/252/41.