DEBNEY, Robert (-d.1638), of Lower Goat Lane, Norwich, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

s. of John Debney, scrivener, of St. Gregory’s, Norwich and Cicely. m. (1) Anne (d.1631), da. of Thomas Pettus, tailor and alderman of Norwich, 1s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) Margaret (d. bef. 29 Aug. 1634), s.p.1 d.1638.

Offices Held

Freeman, Norwich 1593,2 coroner, Norwich Cathedral 1596-1611;3 common cllr. Norwich 1598-1600, 1602-9, sheriff 1600-1, member, chamberlains’ council 1606-9, 1614-16, alderman 1609-38, clavor 1618-23, mayor 1624-5,4 commr. oyer and terminer 1625-38,5 piracy, Gt. Yarmouth, Norf. 1630.6


Debney followed in his father’s profession as a scrivener, and became a wealthy member of Norwich’s ruling elite. In 1624 he was assessed at £12 for the subsidy, one of the highest ratings in the city,7 and his will lists substantial holdings in numerous Norwich parishes and the surrounding area.8 He was wealthy enough to forgo his mayoral salary in 1624-5 and to accept a reduced payment for his parliamentary service in 1628.9 Despite being in London for both sessions of the 1628 Parliament, he went unmentioned in the parliamentary records.

Debney leased property from the dean and chapter of the cathedral and served as cathedral coroner from 1596 until 1611, when he was removed for refusing to continue executing the office.10 He gave money to the poor of many Norwich parishes and £10 to the children’s hospital in St. Edmund Fishergate, and in 1626 donated 46s. 4d. for the beautification of the parish church of St. Gregory’s.11 The family connection with St. Gregory’s was strong and Debney asked to be buried in the chancel near his two wives and parents. In a lengthy and detailed will he left most of his property to his son, John, including his house in Lower Goat Lane, a road now known as Stonegate Magna.12 Although ‘sick in body’ when he drafted his will in 1634, Debney evidently survived another four years, as the will was not proved until 18 June 1638.13 No further member of the family sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 221.
  • 2. Reg. Norwich Freemen ed. P. Millican, 117.
  • 3. Extracts from Min. Bks. Norwich Cathedral ed. J.F. Williams and B. Cozens-Hardy (Norf. Rec. Soc. xxiv), 38, 45.
  • 4. Norwich City Officers ed. T. Hawes (Norf. Rec. Soc. lii), pp. xxxiv, 51.
  • 5. C181/3, f. 188v; 181/4, f. 123v; 181/5, f. 83.
  • 6. C181/4, f. 50.
  • 7. E179/153/583.
  • 8. PROB 11/177, ff. 251v-4v.
  • 9. B. Cozens-Hardy and E.A. Kent, Mayors of Norwich, 76; Norf. RO, NCR Case 16/D/5, f. 245.
  • 10. Extracts from Min. Bks. Norwich Cathedral, 38, 45; PROB 11/177, ff. 251v-4v.
  • 11. F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. iv. 274, 410.
  • 12. Cozens-Hardy and Kent, 76.
  • 13. PROB 11/177, ff. 251v-4v.