BULKELEY, Charles (by 1493-1549/50), of Salisbury, Wilts. and Burgate, Hants.

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 1493, 2nd s. of Robert Bulkeley of Burgate by Anne, da. of John Poyntz of Iron Acton, Glos. educ. M. Temple. m. by 1538, Alice, wid. of William Dale of Hants.3

Offices Held

Clerk of the peace, Wilts. 1515-20 or later; j.p. 1525-d.; receiver for Queen Anne Boleyn, Wilts. 1533, Dorset in 1534, steward, Som. in 1534; jt. (with John Welsborne) ranger, Groveley forest, Wilts. 1534; commr. musters, Wilts. 1539, 1545, subsidy 1540, 1542, 1546, 1547, benevolence 1544/45, chantries, Wilts. and Salisbury 1548; sheriff, Wilts. 1545-6.4


Charles Bulkeley’s grandfather was of Cheshire birth but settled in Hampshire. Bulkeley himself was trained to the law and became a clerk to Sir Richard Elyot, justice of the common pleas, who in 1514 left him a gilt spoon and black gown. In 1514 he and Elyot were named feoffees to use of lands in Berkshire belonging to John Kingston. Bulkeley was almost certainly the ‘Bulkeley junior’ who in November 1518 was chosen as one of the masters of the Christmas revels at the Middle Temple, although his full name is found only on the roll of members assessed there for subsidy in 1523: ‘Bulkeley senior’ was his elder brother Robert. Their kinsman John Poyntz was in the service of Catherine of Aragon, and it was this connexion which presumably accounts for Bulkeley’s own employment by the Queen as one of her solicitors sometime during the 1520s. This association with Catherine does not seem to have endangered his advancement after the divorce, for Anne Boleyn made him receiver and steward of some of her estates in the west country. From his appointment as a clerk of the peace for Wiltshire in 1515 until his death 35 years later Bulkeley was one of the most active figures in the county’s administration.5

Bulkeley may have inherited a connexion with Salisbury, where a chaplain named Robert Bulkeley witnessed the will of William Bensington in 1487 and where another Robert Bulkeley, who had a pew in St. Edmund’s church, was an alderman of New Street ward in 1488. In May 1536 the corporation agreed that Charles Bulkeley should have a 20-year lease of a stable by the Greyfriars, and 12 months later the canons residentiary told Cromwell that they could not prefer his nominee to the parsonage of St. Martin’s, since the lease had already been granted to Bulkeley and his kinsman John Abarough. In December 1537 Bulkeley wrote from Salisbury informing Cromwell of the grave illness of one of the canons and offering to assist any of the minister’s friends to the preferments involved. Two years later he offered the minister £100 for the conventual buildings of the Grey Friars at Salisbury, where he had lodged for 20 years, but it was not until after Cromwell’s fall that he obtained a 21-year lease of the property. In July 1541 he conducted an examination of two Spaniards at Salisbury, and joined Bishop Capon in reporting the results to the Privy Council. He was among 15 citizens who lent money to the King in 1542 and five years later he was assessed for subsidy on lands in the Meadow ward worth £60.6

Bulkeley was returned for Salisbury in 1542 but it is likely that he had sat in Parliament earlier. A ‘Bowkleye’ appears as an insertion on the list thought to be of Members opposed on religious or economic grounds to the bill in restraint of appeals enacted during the fifth session (1533) of the Parliament of 1529. It is possible that this was John Bickley, one of the Members for Stafford, but the form of the name is common for Bulkeley. Moreover, not only does the name not appear at the point in the list where Bickley’s name should have come, but the fact that it was inserted implies that it was not on the Crown Office list used by the compiler; whereas Bickley’s name was on that list, Bulkeley’s would not have been if he was by-elected after it had been brought up to date in 1532. Despite his earlier connexion with Queen Catherine (which in itself might explain his disquiet at the consequences of the bill), Bulkeley’s more recent ones with Anne Boleyn and Cromwell would have favoured him at a by-election, although for what borough cannot be known; his own city had no vacancy. If Bulkeley was by-elected to this Parliament he was presumably re-elected in 1536 in compliance with the King’s general directive for the return of the previous Members, and may also have been in 1539 when the names of so many Members are lost. His election at Salisbury on 30 Dec. 1541 appears to have owed something to William Webbe II: at least it was Webbe who announced after the election, that ‘Mr. Charles Bulkeley did promise him that in case this Parliament were not prorogued that he would take nothing of the city for his fee, and if it be prorogued that then the said Mr. Bulkeley would stand at the gentle reward of the said city’. The Parliament of 1542 lasted for three sessions but whether Bulkeley received any payment is not recorded. Nothing is known about his part in Parliament on this occasion, but after its dissolution in 1544 he helped to purvey victuals for the French campaign.7

Bulkeley, describing himself as of Burgate, made his will on 7 Aug. 1549, commending his soul to the Trinity and asking for burial beside his father at Fordingbridge. After providing for his wife and other kin, he remembered Alice Monday ‘who hath truly served me and my mother many years’, and named his wife, his stepson William Dale and his servant Thomas Girdler executors and William Bulkeley of Burgate and Walter Skilling overseers. The will was proved in 1550, the inclusion of his name on the commission to collect the third part of the relief issued in December being an administrative mistake.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; LP Hen. VIII, ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234.
  • 2. Salisbury corp. ledger B, f. 294v.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 4; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 129, 133; PCC 29 Coode; LP Hen. VIII, i, xiii.
  • 4. VCH Wilts. v. 36; E179/197/189, 240, 259/19; 371/300/50; LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi-viii, xii-xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 91; 1548-9. p. 135; Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 812.
  • 5. Hoare, Wilts. Frustfield, 27-28; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 54-56; Vis. Hants, 4; VCH Hants, iv. 561-2, 570; LP Hen. VIII, i, iv, vi; HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509 (Biogs.), 295; M.T. Recs. i. 56-59, 62-63, 70, 74, 77; Cal. I. T. Recs. i. 458.
  • 6. Churchwardens’ Accts. of St. Edmund and St. Thomas, Sarum (Wilts. Rec. Soc. 1896), 76, 381; ledger B. ff. 167, 281; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiii, xvi, xviii; Salisbury Dioc. RO, bishop’s deposition bk. 1, f. 22; VCH Wilts. iii. 330; E179/197/240, 259/19.
  • 7. SP1/99, p. 234; ledger B, f. 294v; LP Hen. VIII, xix,.
  • 8. PCC 29 Coode; CPR, 1553, p. 364.