HOUGHTON, Sir Richard (1496 or 98-1559), of Lea and Hoghton, Lancs.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. 28 Apr. 1496 or 98, 1st s. of William Houghton of Lea and Hoghton by Margaret, da. of Sir John Southworth of Samlesbury. m. (1) c.1514, Alice, da. of Sir Thomas Ashton of Ashton-under-Lyme, 2s. 2da.; (2) Alice, da. of one Morley, 2s. 3da.; (3) Elizabeth, da. of John Grigson, (4) Anne, da. of Roger Browne of Whitney; 5s. 3da. illegit. suc. fa. 18 Aug. 1501. Kntd. 1523.1

Offices Held

Dep. steward, duchy of Lancaster, hundred of Amounderness 1523-6, jt. (with s. Thomas) steward 1526-d.; member, council of 3rd Earl of Derby by 1533, commr. for tenths of spiritualities, Lancs. 1535, contribution 1546, goods of churches and fraternities 1552; dep. keeper, Leagram park, Lancs. by 1537; j.p. Lancs. c.1537; sheriff 1540-1.2


Richard Houghton’s family had owned property in the locality of Preston since the 12th century and although neither wealthy nor especially well connected it had influenced the development of the town. On the premature death in 1498 of his uncle Sir Alexander Houghton without male issue, the family property had descended to his father who himself died within the next three years leaving the young Richard as his heir. The boy’s wardship was acquired in 1509 by his maternal grandfather who married him to Alice Ashton. The pedigrees record that Houghton married four times, his three later wives all being yeomen’s daughters, although Alice Ashton survived him and was described as his widow early in Elizabeth’s reign.3

Houghton’s knighthood in 1523 may have resulted from military service in the Scottish campaign of that year led by the Earl of Surrey, afterwards 3rd Duke of Norfolk, whose deputy he was, or was to become, as a duchy of Lancaster steward in the hundred of Amounderness before securing the post for himself in 1526. It was an office which brought him into conflict with the inhabitants of Preston, who twice laid charges against him in the duchy courts. His admission to the council of the Earl of Derby perhaps followed the marriage in 1530 of the Duke of Norfolk’s sister Dorothy to the earl. In August 1533 he helped other members of the earl’s council in examining a priest accused of slandering Queen Anne. During the Pilgrimage of Grace he kept the earl informed about the incursion of the rebels into Lancashire and his reply to the earl’s command to keep order there was to muster 500 men in Ribblesdale. In 1537 his knowledge of local affairs earned him a commendation to Cromwell. After helping to suppress Furness abbey at the Dissolution, he bought the manor of Wheelton and some property in Preston. In 1544 he mustered with other gentlemen in Lancashire and Cheshire but he is not known to have served with the army in either Scotland or France in that year. In 1557 he declined to join the Earl of Derby on the borders on account of his health but offered to send a substitute in command of 100 men. He died on 5 Aug. 1559 and was buried at Preston. If he made a will it has not been found.4

As a duchy of official with experience of local administration and one close to the Earl of Derby, Houghton was well qualified for election as a knight for Lancashire, but there can be little doubt that when he was returned to Parliament early in 1533 he was not the man originally chosen as the senior knight, his name appearing over an erasure on the election indenture and being written in a different hand from the rest of the document. The tale does not end there. Over another, previous, erasure, where one would expect to find Houghton’s name, is to be read the name of his eventual replacement, Sir Robert Worsley, written in a third hand almost certainly over traces of Houghton’s name. The reason for Houghton’s withdrawal is not clear. At the by-election it was said that he was ‘not thought able to take the travell to execute’ his Membership, a phrase which may mean either that he was too ill to go to London or that illness struck him on his arrival there and prevented him from taking his seat in the House.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth given at proof of age (DL7/5/19) where it is said to have been sabbati in festo Sancti Vitalis 11 Hen. VII (1495-6): in 1496 the saint’s feast day fell on a Thursday, in 1498 on a Saturday. G. C. Miller, Hoghton Tower, passim; Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. xcviii). 48-50; Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 25; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. gentry 1529-58’ (London MA thesis 1959), p. 362; Add. 32106, ff; 154v-5.
  • 2. J. B. Watson, 538; LP Hen. VIII, viii, xii, xxi; VCH Lancs. ii. 97; Somerville, Duchy, i. 500; R. Cuncliffe Shaw, R. Forest of Lancaster, 83; HMC 6th Rep. app. 444.
  • 3. DKR, xxxix. 554-5; Chetham Soc. xcviii, 48; Child Marriages (EETS cviii), p. lxxiv.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, vi, xi, xii, xiv, xv, xviii, xix; Cal. Houghton Pprs. (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lxxxviii), 263; J. B. Watson, 106-7, 363; VCH Lancs. ii. 570; Ducatus Lanc. ii. 140; Last Days of Lancs. Monasteries (Chetham Soc. ser. 3), xvii. 108; APC, vi. 339; Chetham Soc. li. 237.
  • 5. C219/20/66, 67.