WOODHOUSE, Henry (c.1545-1624), of Hickling and Waxham, Norf.

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.1545, 1st surv. s. and h. of Sir William Woodhouse of Hickling by his 1st w. Anne, da. of Henry Repps of Thorpe Market. educ. Corpus, Camb. 1556; L. Inn 1561. m. (1) c.1574, Anne, da. of Sir Nicholas Bacon, at least 2s. inc. Sir William 4da.; (2) Cecily, da. of Sir Thomas Gresham, at least 1s. 11 ch. in all suc. fa. to Hickling 1564, uncle Sir Thomas to Waxham 1572. Kntd. 27 Aug. 1578.

Offices Held

V.-adm. Norf. and Suff. c.1570-8; j.p. Norf. from c.1573, (temp. rem. 1595); commr. survey Great Yarmouth harbour 1571, musters c.1578; sheriff 1584-5; gov. Yarmouth May-Aug. 1588.


Woodhouse continued the close connexion which his father and his uncle had maintained with Admiralty affairs in East Anglia. As vice-admiral of Norfolk and Suffolk he compiled in 1570, jointly with Sir Thomas, a list of ships of over 30 tons in the two counties. From this time there are numerous references to his work on and around the Norfolk coast, and he was included in many commissions concerning such matters as assessment of losses at sea, executing Admiralty judgments, sewers, the control of grain, the trial of coiners, and recusancy. This last was the subject of the only committee to which he was appointed by name in his two Parliaments (25 Jan. 1581). As a first knight of the shire in 1589 he was appointed to the subsidy committee (11 Feb.) and as a Member for Norfolk he was put on the committee discussing the excessive number of attorneys (17 Feb. 1589).

Woodhouse’s candidature in 1572 was promoted by the lord keeper who soon afterwards became his father-in-law, but by and large Woodhouse managed to remain outside the county faction fights of this period. In any case despite, or perhaps because of, his extensive estates, he ran into serious financial difficulties, to meet which in 1578 he sold his office of vice-admiral to his father-in-law, who lent him money and gave him good advice. In 1595 he was turned off the commission of the peace, but through the intervention of other county gentlemen he was soon re-appointed. Early in 1597 a schedule of his estates was drawn up in an attempt to regularize the position. In danger of imprisonment for debt, he wrote a desperate letter to the Queen, mentioning his various services, and that August he was granted 12 months’ protection. Things were no better by May 1599, when he was again given protection ‘till the Queen is satisfied of the debts due to her’, probably a reference to his embezzlement of the fifteenths and tenths voted by the 1589 Parliament that he should have collected in Norfolk. As late as 1607 he had not paid up, and was allowed another five years’ grace. He died on 8 Oct. 1624. Among his debts still outstanding were £400 to John Dee, a London goldsmith, and £100 to one William Engham. The widow was executrix and residuary legatee.

Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 321; HMC Hatfield, xi. 110; xiv. 14; E150/658/2; C142/161/116; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 388; 1581-90, p. 290; 1595-7, pp. 413, 495, 508; 1598-1601, p. 202; 1603-10, p. 377; Yarmouth ass. bk. 1579-98, f. 150; bk. of entries 1538-1635, ff. 204 seq., 320; APC, viii. 99, 253; x. 314-15; Lansd. 48, f. 136; 54, f. 134; 56, f. 168; 146, ff. 9, 18; CPR, 1569-72, p. 217; CJ, i. 119; D’Ewes, 288, 431, 433; A. Simpson, Wealth of the Gentry, 13, 15, 57n, 59, 73; Wards 7/86/162; PCC 15 Clarke.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge