WATERHOUSE, Robert (1544-98), of Shibden Hall, Halifax, Yorks.

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. 1544, 1st s. of John Waterhouse, and bro. of David. educ. I. Temple 1562, called 1570. m. Jane, da. of Thomas Waterton of Walton and Sandal, 4s. 1da. suc. fa. 1584.

Offices Held

J.p.q. Yorks. (W. Riding) from c.1583; bencher, I. Temple 1587; farmer of alnage, Hull and Yorks.1


Waterhouse, whose family owned the manor of Halifax, was not content to remain a country gentleman, but was called to the bar and practised as a lawyer at York, maintaining, however, his connexion with the Inner Temple. There are a number of entries in the Inner Temple records relating to his attempts to secure a chamber in which to live whilst in London, the inn objecting on the ground that his visits were infrequent. On two occasions, in 1585 and 1590, the order admitting him to a chamber was revoked, and in 1591 Dr. Caesar was allowed to use the chamber previously granted to Waterhouse, provided the latter was allowed to reside there when in London.2

Both Robert and his younger brother David, who represented Aldborough in the Parliament of 1589, owed their election to the influence of the council in the north. Robert had powerful friends in Yorkshire: Cotton Gargrave, for example was married to his wife’s sister and appointed him one of the supervisors of his will. In the 1584-5 Parliament Robert Waterhouse was one of those ‘learned in the law’ appointed to a committee to compile a list of bills that ought to be renewed.3

Perhaps it was through acting as his lawyer that Waterhouse became the ‘loving friend’ of the great northern magnate, George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, of whose will he was both witness and supervisor. At his death Waterhouse left an estate worth about £800 a year. From his cousin, Nicholas Waterhouse, he had purchased a number of properties close to the family estates, including two fulling mills in Southowram, and the old Hall in Halifax, for which he still owed his cousin £400 when he made his will on 10 Feb. 1598. The will, which was proved on 1 Apr. in the same year, stipulated that his lands in Ackworth and a capital messuage in the parish of St. Helen’s in York were to be sold to pay his debts. To his eldest son Edward, his heir, he bequeathed all his books, and a chain of gold which the Countess of Shrewsbury had bequeathed to Edward but which was then in the testator’s custody. As her marriage portion his daughter Jane was to receive what was left from the sale of lands mentioned above, after his debts had been paid. Among the supervisors was Richard Gargrave, Sir Cotton Gargrave’s son. Waterhouse died on 3 Mar. 1598, and was buried two days later in the church of St. Michael-le-Belfrey, York.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. Halifax Antiq. Soc. Pprs. 1915, pp. 149-51; 1916, pp. 201, 261; York prob. reg. 27, f. 229; Vis. Yorks. 1584-5, ed. Foster, 353; Cal. I. T. Recs. i. 344; Royal 18 D 111; SP13/Case F/11, ff. 12-13; C66/1549; Lansd. 114, f. 124.
  • 2. Halifax Antiq. Soc. Pprs. 1913, p. 174; 1942, p. 11; Watson, Hist. and Antiquities Halifax, 212; Cal. I. T. Recs. i. 320, 336, 354, 366, 369, 372.
  • 3. Vis. Yorks. 353; York prob. reg. 24, f. 183; Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xxii. 48; D’Ewes, 334.
  • 4. North Country Wills (Surtees Soc. cxxi), 150; HMC Hatfield, vi. 252; vii. 506; Halifax Antiq. Soc. Pprs. 1916, pp. 278-9; York prob. reg. 27, f. 229; C142/254/11.