ANDERSON, Henry (by 1484-?1559), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1484, 1st s. of John Anderson of Newcastle by Marian, da. of Thomas Lockwood of Richmondshire, Yorks. m. Anne, da. of Robert Orde of Orde, Northumb., 5s. inc. Bertram 5da.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Newcastle 1520-1, alderman by 1524, mayor ?1532-3, 1539-40, 1542-3, 1546-7; commr. musters 1539, relief from aliens 1550; gov. merchant adventurers of Newcastle Sept. 1547.2


Henry Anderson came of a minor merchant family in Newcastle which had probably not been settled there for more than one generation, but his maternal grandfather had been sheriff and mayor, and he himself was to found a municipal, commercial and parliamentary dynasty. His municipal career began in 1520. Four years later he was a witness to a grant of additional buildings to Newcastle Trinity House, and also joined with Robert Brandling in a defence of the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle against an attack upon their privileges by the inhabitants of Aldeburgh, Suffolk: in the following year he was a witness of the foundation charter of the grammar school at Newcastle. His status in the town answered to his increasing merchant shipping interests. That he had a considerable stake in the important coal trade of Newcastle is indicated by his inventory, which further reveals the variety of his merchandise. In a schedule of assessment of the 39 ships in Newcastle in 1544 he is named as the owner of six vessels, although his inventory shows that he was but part-owner of them.3

Anderson was already of sufficient importance in the town to be an appropriate choice in 1529 as second string to the recorder Sir Thomas Tempest. He may even have sat in the Parliament of 1523, for which the Newcastle names are unknown, and he was probably to be returned again in 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the re-election of the previous Members, and perhaps also in 1539 and 1542 when the names are likewise lost. Nothing is known of his activity in the House but in the session of 1529 he presumably played a part in securing the passage of the Act (21 Hen. VIII, c.18) regulating the loading and unloading of goods in the Tyne area. In October 1531, between the second and third sessions, he delivered a letter to Cromwell from Thomas Baxter, another prominent Newcastle merchant and evidently an old friend of the new councillor. There is no other evidence of contact between Anderson and Cromwell.4

The circumstances of Anderson’s first election to the mayoralty are somewhat obscure. The election held at Michaelmas 1532 was invalidated by the deliberate abstention of James Lawson and his faction in the town, which prevented the required number and quality of electors from being obtained. After an appeal to Cromwell, the previous mayor, Robert Brandling, was retained in office but at some time unknown, probably still in 1532, Anderson emerged as the new mayor. With the outbreak of the Pilgrimage of Grace he was one of the aldermen of Newcastle who, together with the mayor, were praised by Ralph Sadler for their part in staying the unruly commons and making Newcastle a royal outpost in rebel country: it may have been as a reward that in 1539 he was appointed keeper of the Dominican friary in Newcastle. In the same year he contributed 290 men to the muster from his wards in the town, West Spital Town, Denton or Neville Town, White Friar Town and Close Gate, comprising a large and ill-armed riverside population: his personal contribution consisted of ‘himself, three servants with halberts and other three with bows with things belonging thereto’. In 1543, when Newcastle again became an important base for warfare against the Scots, Anderson supplied ships, equipment and victuals for the King’s army and fleet, and early in the following year the Earl of Hertford, Bishop Tunstall and Sadler urged on the Council his claim to compensation for the loss of a ship taken by the Scots. After the accession of Edward VI further favours were bestowed upon Anderson. He was made first governor of the merchant adventurers of Newcastle, newly incorporated under a charter granted in 1547.5

Although he does not seem to have been a particularly quarrelsome man, in 1527 Anderson had been granted a pardon for the murder of one William White, perhaps of Redheugh, County Durham: before receiving the pardon he may have been forced to take sanctuary but such episodes were too common on the borders for this one to have had any serious repercussion on his career. Some 20 years later he brought a case in the Star Chamber against Thomas Carey, constable of Prudhoe, over the very profitable fishing rights at Ovingham in the lordship of Prudhoe which had been leased to Sir Reynold Carnaby by the 5th Earl of Northumberland and later sub-let to Anderson. There was some question whether the original lease had been for Carnaby’s lifetime only or for 90 (or 99) years and this may have been the occasion of the dispute with Carey.6

Anderson died a rich and successful man: his goods, chiefly coals, ships, general merchandise and plate, were valued at £2,786 and he had accumulated property in Gateshead, Morpeth and Newcastle. He was probably the ‘Henry Avetson’ who in August 1544 shared with Sir William Barentyne and Kenelm Throckmorton in the purchase for £671 of monastic lands, including those of the nunnery of St. Bartholomew, Newcastle, which he secured for himself after a further transaction with Robert Brandling. Anderson made his will in January 1559. He bequeathed his soul to God and to all the holy and blessed company in heaven, asked to be buried beside his wife in St. Nicholas’s church, to which he gave £10, but did not invoke the Virgin Mary or provide for the saying of masses after his death. (His grandson, Henry Anderson, was to be the only leading merchant of Newcastle during the late Elizabethan period who was a Protestant.) He made ample provision in cash, property and goods for his four surviving sons, left £40 to his grandchildren, gold rings to his sons-in-law and grants of varying sums of money to his servants and others. Although his inquisition post mortem gives his date of death as 6 Apr. 1560, it is probable that the year was 1559, for his inventory was taken, presumably when he was on his deathbed, on 23 Mar. 1559. His heir and executor was his 55 year-old son Bertram.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. J. Taylor


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from that of eldest son. Vis. Northumb. ed. Foster, 6; Vis. of the North (Surtees Soc. cxxii), 173; Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 4.
  • 2. R. Welford, Newcastle and Gateshead, ii. 524; LP Hen. VIII , xiv; CPR, 1547-8, p. 66; 1553, p. 365.
  • 3. J. U. Nef, Rise of Coal Industry, ii. 39; J. Brand, Newcastle, ii. 429, 431; Welford, ii. 77-79, 88, 524; LP Hen. VIII, iv, xix; A. R. Laws, Schola Novocastrensis, i. 25-27; Wills and Inventories, i (Surtees Soc. ii), 167-8; Newcastle Merchant Adventurers (Surtees Soc. xciii), 88.
  • 4. Nef, i. 140 et passim; LP Hen. VIII, v.
  • 5. Welford, ii. 121, 126, 132-7, 154-7, 169-70; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xviii-xx; Welford, Men of Mark Twist Tyne and Tweed, i. 67; HMC Bath, iv. 39, 73; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 34.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, iv; Welford, Men of Mark, i. 67-68; St.Ch.3/6/72; Northumb. Co. Hist. xii. 148-50.
  • 7. Wills and Inventories, i. 164-8; C142/135/47; LP Hen. VIII, xix; Nef, i. 153.