GILBERD, Ambrose (by 1524-58), of Nether Hall, Clare, Suff.

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



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1524, 1st s. of William Gilberd of Nether Hall by Margery. educ. L. Inn, adm. 9 Aug. 1538, called 1544. m. by 1554, Grace, da. of Sir Robert Townshend of Ludlow, Salop, 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 1549.3

Offices Held

Pensioner, L. Inn 1554-5, bencher 1555, Lent reader 1556.

Bailiff for Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, unknown property by 1548; bailiff, Ashen, Essex, and Erbury and Hundon, Suff. 1550-d., Chilton and Stoke by Clare, Suff. in 1558; commr. chantries, Norf., Suff. and Norwich 1553; recorder, Lynn 5 Nov. 1557-d., Norwich 12 Nov. 1557-d.4


Ambrose Gilberd’s father was a prosperous clothier who owned property throughout East Anglia. He claimed gentle birth and arms identical with those of the Devon family of Gilbert, but this need not suggest kinship but merely an attempt to assure the Gilberds of a respectability which their real origins did not merit. Ambrose Gilberd was not brought up in trade, but after a legal education became a lawyer whose burgeoning career was cut short by his early death, probably as a victim of the epidemic that swept the country in the last year of Mary’s reign.5

Gilberd’s Membership of all but two of the seven Parliaments summoned in the reigns of Edward VI and Mary almost certainly reflects his early promise as a lawyer. His return for the duchy of Cornwall boroughs of Camelford, Liskeard and West Looe was presumably the work of Sir John Russell, Baron Russell and later 1st Earl of Bedford, as steward of the duchy and patron of Lincoln’s Inn, but in 1547 Gilberd may also have enjoyed the support of Admiral Seymour, whom he is known to have served as bailiff and from whom in 1548 he received the gift of a buck. Evidence of his official sponsorship is forthcoming at Camelford where his name was inserted on the indenture over an erasure. If affianced or already married by early 1553, he was presumably beholden for his place at Bridgnorth to his father-in-law Sir Robert Townshend, then vice-president of the council in the marches, to whose influence the town was amenable. His election at Lynn followed his appointment as its recorder. The Journal mentions Gilberd once when on 8 Feb. 1558 the second of three unsuccessful bills regulating the felling of timber was committed to him after its second reading. Of his part in the previous Parliaments all that is known is that he did not oppose the initial measures to restore Catholicism nor was he absent without leave when the House was called early in January 1555, perhaps because his fellow-Member at Looe was Speaker Heigham and because earlier in that Parliament he had secured a lease in recognition of continuing works begun by Queen Mary’s mother.6

Gilberd is not known to have been ill when he made his will on 14 July 1558, making provision for his mother, wife, children and kinsmen, but he died on the last day of the month. His death was noted on both the lists of Members for the Parliament of 1558, and he was replaced for its second session by William Yelverton. His widow married one Richard Smith.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from education. Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ix. 198; PCC 2 Coode, 40 Noodes; C142/118/5.
  • 4. E163/12/17, nos. 37, 50, 54; 315/221, f. 28; Strype, Parker, i. 44; CPR, 1548-9, p. 136; Somerville, Duchy, i. 602; Norwich ass. procs. 3, f. 37; Lynn congregation bk. 5, f. 301.
  • 5. Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ix. 198; PCC 2 Coode.
  • 6. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 4), v. 44-45; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, xiv; C219/21/23; CPR, 1554-5, p. 145; CJ, i. 48.
  • 7. PCC 40 Noodes; C142/118/5; 193/32/2; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264.