ISHAM, Giles (by 1517-59), of the Middle Temple, London and Pytchley, Northants.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1517, 1st s. of Euseby Isham of Ringstead and Pytchley, Northants. by Anne, da. of Giles Pulton of Desborough, Northants. educ. M. Temple. m. by 1552, Mary Watts of Knotting, Beds., 3da. suc. fa. 1546.1

Offices Held

Commr. relief, Northants. 1550, gaol delivery 1554; escheator, Northants. and Rutland 1552-3; surveyor or steward to Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford by 1556.2


Giles Isham’s father did not succeed to his modest patrimony until just before his death and was hard put to it to bring up those of his 20 children who survived. Giles, the eldest, was trained for the law. He was to keep chambers in the Middle Temple until his death but little is heard of him there beyond his standing surety for his neighbours’ sons on their entry: he did not read or make any other professional mark. In 1546, the year in which he came into his inheritance, Isham and his brother Gregory, who was rising to affluence as a mercer, bought for £256 numerous small parcels of monastic land in counties as far apart as Devon and Lincolnshire; of these Isham appears to have retained only the moiety of a croft in the village of his name in Northamptonshire, and he was perhaps mainly acting for his brother. He was again the junior partner in a speculative purchase made in July 1554 with Thomas Reave for £1,529.3

The dean and chapter of Peterborough, lords of the city since the erection of the see, sometimes granted the nomination of one or both Members to the high steward, who in Mary’s reign was successively the 1st and Earl of Bedford. In October 1555 Isham and Thomas Denton were the 2nd Earl’s attorneys in an obligation to Gregory Isham for £400, and his service with the Russells may have predated his first return for Peterborough. He could also have looked for support to his younger brother Robert, a prebendary of Peterborough and then or later a favoured chaplain to Queen Mary, and perhaps to his influential kinsmen the Mordaunts: Ringstead, where his father had lived before succeeding to Pytchley, was a leasehold of the Mordaunts. Nothing is known of Isham’s role in the House and he was not to sit again until Francis Russell had both succeeded his father in the high stewardship and made his peace with the Marian government. During the earl’s absence abroad Isham’s service brought him into frequent contact with Sir William Cecil to whom his master had granted a power of attorney.4

In December 1558 Isham shared with his three surviving brothers in a grant of the wardship of Gregory Isham’s son. He himself died on the following 31 Aug. and was buried at Pytchley. His wife survived him by less than a year and in 1570 the wardship of his three daughters was granted to his brothers John and Henry and his cousin Ferdinando Pulton, the legal author.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from younger brother Gregory’s, 1517, VCH Northants. gen. vol. 141-6; The Gen. iii. 274-5; Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 281; M. E. Finch, Five Northants. Fams. (Northants. Rec. Soc. xix), 4-6; CPR, 1558-60, p. 207.
  • 2. CPR, 1553, p. 356; 1554-5, p. 106; Exeter act bk. 2, f. 147. According to one of his kinsmen he was also a j.p., The Gen. iii. 275.
  • 3. M.T. Recs. i. 83, 89, 92, 107, 117; LP Hen. VIII, xxi; Bridges, Northants. ii. 110, 131, 218; CPR, 1553-4, p. 469.
  • 4. Northants. Rec. Soc. xxi, pp. xii, xv; CPR, 1557-8, p. 430; HMC Hatfield, i. 137, 144, 145; CSP For. 1553-8, p. 219.
  • 5. CPR, 1558-60, p. 35; 1569-72, p. 209; C142/119/115.