WALTER, Robert (d.c.1594), of Mortlake, Surr.

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

2nd s. of William Walter of Wimbledon by Katherine, da. and h. of Humphrey Lawston of Wimbledon. educ. Westminster; Christ Church Oxf. 1565, BA 1568. m. by 1580, Elizabeth, 2s.

Offices Held


Walter was a stranger to Droitwich, which usually returned local men; presumably he came into Parliament for the borough because of his connexion with Ralph Sheldon, who owned salt-pans there. His father, of Finedon in Northamptonshire, had settled in Wimbledon on his marriage, maintaining, however, old friendships with the Sheldons, the Lucys and others. He also had influential friends in London, such as Dr. Gabriel Goodman, dean of Westminster, where he sent Robert to school. Robert Walter’s mother remembered yet more powerful friends in her will: the Countess of Bedford and the then principal landowner in Wimbledon, Sir Thomas Cecil. Walter himself was connected with Cecil in land transactions, and all his nearest friends were associates or servants of the Cecils. That he could expect such influential men as Sir Thomas Wilkes, Sir Thomas Lake, and Henry Maynard, all fellow-Members of the 1593 Parliament, to act as his executors, further shows that Walter had greater standing than the scant surviving references to him suggest. Still, though he went to court, he obtained no advancement. Under his father’s will, of which he was joint executor, he received the family lands in Wimbledon, after his mother’s death—which followed his father’s within months—subject to the proviso that he might sell them only to his brother William. His mother further left him half her goods. Nevertheless, he found himself in some difficulties, and when his cousin Nathaniel, only child of his uncle Richard, a wealthy London merchant, died a childless minor, he saw an opportunity to improve his position. Although Richard, who did not mention Robert in his will, had left instructions that if Nathaniel died young, the estate was to be distributed to charity, Robert sought a share in it. He obtained the support of the Privy Council, which directed a strong letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, who had jurisdiction over the will, recommending Robert’s suit on the ground that relieving Robert’s necessities would ‘stand both with charity and good discretion’.

In the late autumn of 1593, Walter felt obliged to draw up his own will, although it was not proved until early in 1595. His estate he left to be equally divided between his two sons when they came of age. To Ralph and Edward Sheldon, whom he made supervisors, he left a book containing ‘all the maps of the shires of England in colours’. To Henry Maynard he left a ‘harpsichord or great virginals’—one of several bequests which suggest a man of cultivated tastes. Though his will makes no reference to his religious belief, he was doubtless, like the rest of his family, protestant.

Surr. Arch. Colls. x. 151; Wimbledon Par. Reg. (Surr. Rec. Soc. xxii), 7, 138; PCC 71 Scott, 6 Rutland, 20 Rutland, 54 Spencer; W. A. Copinger, Suff. Manors, ii. 58; VCH Surr. iv. 70; cal. and index pat. rolls, 31-7 Eliz., 31(6), p. 9; 36(4), p. 10; 36(8), p. 21; APC, xviii. 178.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. M. Thorpe