HARWARD, Robert (by 1482-1533/34), of Leicester.

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 1482, prob. s. of Robert Harward of Leicester by Elizabeth. m. by 1510, Margaret, da. of John Wigston of Leicester, 2s. 1da.2

Offices Held

Auditor, north quarter, Leicester 1512-13, steward of the fair 1512-13, 1523-4, 1526-7, coroner 1513-14, mayor 1521-2; master, guild of Corpus Christi in 1526; commr. subsidy 1523, gaol delivery 1525; dep. receiver, duchy of Lancaster, Tutbury honor by d.3


Robert Harward, one of at least five sons, was apprenticed to William Wigston, a wool merchant, and admitted a freeman of Leicester in 1502-3. By 1505 he was in the wool trade himself as a merchant of the staple of Calais. By 1510 he had married his master’s sister and so entered the Wigston family circle. He came to play a large part in the foundation of Wyggeston hospital and was frequently employed as a feoffee, intermediary and trustee in the various transactions by which it was endowed. By 1519 he was of sufficient substance to stand bound with William Wigston in 500 marks for the purchase from Humphrey Banaster of the manor of Swannington, the largest single property acquired: the whole series of transactions was spread over the years 1510-30.4

Harward probably owed his election as junior Member in 1529 to his position as a member of the Wigston group, another of whom had filled a seat on the previous occasion. He was paid for his attendance in 1531, although in a way which implies either a reduced rate or an instalment plan. Harward made his will on 10 May 1532; this was four days before the close of the fourth session of the Parliament and if the will was made in London it may well have been prompted by the epidemic which was to carry off a number of Harward’s fellow-Members. Although he himself survived that visitation, to take part in 1533-4 in a survey of duchy of Lancaster property in Derbyshire on behalf of his brother-in-law Roger Wigston, he died before another of his brothers-in-law, William Wigston, who had intended, in a draft of his own will, to remit Harward’s debts to him. Harward owned property both in Leicester and at Nantwich, Cheshire, which he left to his eldest son John. His younger son William was to become a cleric and his daughter Elizabeth was already married. He made several bequests to members of the Wigston family and one to a servant who bore his own names. He appointed his wife sole executrix and his brother-in-law one of the three overseers. He was buried, as he had asked to be, in St. Martin’s church, Leicester, and the will was proved on 13 Nov. 1534. It is not known whether, or by whom, the vacancy which his death created in the Commons was filled.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Leicester Mayors, ed. Hartopp, 55; A. H. Thompson, Wyggeston Hospital Recs; p. xiii; PCC 19 Hogen.
  • 3. Leicester Recs. ed. Bateson, iii. 458, 465-6; LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv; DL3/27/1.
  • 4. Leicester Freemen, ed. Hartopp, 60; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 448; Thompson, passim.
  • 5. Leicester Recs. iii. 17.