GATES, Henry (by 1523-89), of London, Havering-atte-Bower, Essex and Kew, Surr.

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 1523, yr. s. of Sir Geoffrey Gates of Great Garnetts, High Easter, Essex by Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Clopton of Kentwell, Suff.; bro. of John. m. (1) by 1544, Lucy (d.1577), da. of Charles Knyvet, 4s. inc. Edward 4da.; (2) by Dec. 1584, Catherine, da. of Watkin Vaughan of Bredwardine, Herefs., wid. of James Boyle of Hereford, Herefs. Kntd. 28 Sept. 1547.3

Offices Held

Gent. pens. by 1546; j.p. Suff. 1547, Yorks. (E. and N. Ridings) and bpric. of Durham 1562-d., Cumb., Northumb., Westmld. and Yorks. (W. Riding) 1573/74-d.; commr. relief, Essex, Suff. 1550; gent. privy chamber by June 1551-3; comptroller of petty customs, London 1551-3; receiver-gen. duchy of Cornw. 1552-3; member, council in the north 1558-d.; custos rot. Yorks. (N. Riding) c.1562; v.-adm. Yorks. by 1565-74.4


Henry Gates entered Parliament in 1545 as his brother John’s partner for New Shoreham, and his early career was closely linked with this brother’s; but he was to show himself the more calculating of the two and thus to avoid his brother’s fate. An example of this may be seen in the godparents chosen by Henry Gates for his children. His own religious views were apparently Protestant, and he recorded his children’s birthdays on the flyleaf of Wycliffe’s translation of the New Testament. In 1544 Cranmer became godfather to his first child, a daughter; in April 1547 the Duke of Somerset and Sir John Gates were godfathers to his eldest son and in December 1548 the Earl of Warwick and Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, to his second; the Marquess of Northampton, the Earl of Warwick again, and Sir John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford sponsored two more children born during Edward VI’s reign, and the Queen, William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and Sir Robert Rochester those born after the accession of Mary.5

Through his first wife Gates was distantly allied to the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, but it is unlikely that he and his brother were Norfolk’s choice to sit for the ducal borough of New Shoreham, their names appearing on the indenture in a different hand over an erasure. More probably they both owed their nomination to the elder brother’s employment in the household of Queen Catherine Parr. Two years later Henry Gates accompanied the Protector on his Scottish expedition and was knighted by him near Roxburgh on 28 Sept. 1547, by which time the writs for the election of Edward VI’s first Parliament had already been sent out. Gates was almost certainly one of the many men serving in the campaign who were elected to this Parliament at the Protector’s behest. The backing which procured his return for Bridport is likely to have been powerful enough. The town was subject to the patronage of the lord admiral, at that time the Protector’s brother, Baron Seymour; another friend and previous admiral, Baron Russell, had influence there; and as butler of the neighbouring port of Poole Sir John Gates was well placed to promote his brother’s nomination. Gates himself was later to be linked by marriage with Richard Watkins, one of the town’s Members in the previous Parliament, and an Exchequer official influential in the borough, Christopher Smith, was doubtless known to the brothers through their tenancy of a house ‘under the Exchequer’.6

Gates detached himself from Somerset soon enough to run no danger from the Protector’s fall; on the contrary, he benefited by the attainder of one of Somerset’s adherents, Sir Miles Partridge, whose house at Kew he was granted in April 1552. His brother soon developed into one of the Duke of Northumberland’s closest confidants, and it would have been surprising if Gates had not found a seat in the Parliament of March 1553; although the loss of so many returns robs this of proof, his receivership in the duchy of Cornwall would have given him an obvious opening. In the late spring he was licensed to retain 25 men, a sign that he could be counted on to support the change in the accession on the King’s death, and when this took place he proclaimed Jane Grey Queen at Ware in Hertfordshire, where he had a house. He was sent to the Tower but was probably never in much danger, since it was reported a few days later that he had been unable to get his pardon ‘as yet’. On 19 Aug. he stood trial at Westminster with his brother and two others; all four pleaded guilty, threw themselves on the Queen’s mercy and were condemned to death. Two months later Gates received a pardon and was released.7

Gates recovered all his goods but not all his lands, and he was not restored to any of his offices. In May 1554 he and his wife were granted an annuity of £100 which a year later they exchanged for a manor in Devon and the reversion of the manor of Seamer, Yorkshire. The exchange was to have important consequences for Gates: it gave him for the first time a standing in the north, where a long and varied career awaited him in the next reign. He died at Kilburn, Middlesex, on 7 Apr. 1589.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, iii. 310-11; Coll. Top. et Gen. i. 396-7; CSP Dom. 1581-91, p. 215; N. Country Wills, ii (Surtees Soc. cxxi), 140-2; Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 83.
  • 4. CPR, 1550-3, pp. 237, 386; 1553-4, pp. 1, 206; CSP For. 1558-9, p. 55; information from J. C. Sainty and W. J. Tighe.
  • 5. Coll. Top. et Gen. i. 396-7.
  • 6. C219/18C/121; An Eng. Garner, ed. Arber, iii. 147; CPR, 1557-8, p. 167.
  • 7. CPR, 1550-3, pp. 323-4; 1553, pp. 99, 101; 1553-4, p. 55; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 13, 33; DKR, iv. 235-6.
  • 8. CPR, 1553-4, p. 309; 1554-5, p. 124; 1557-8, p. 443; 1558-60, p. 60; C142/220/82.