BLIKE, Gabriel (c.1520-c.92), of Massington, nr. Ledbury, Herefs. and of Glos.
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Family and Education
b. c.1520, yr. s. of Peter Blike (d.1524) of Astley, Salop and Warws. by his w. Mary. m. by 1558, Margaret, da. of Sir Roland Morton of Twyning, Glos., 1da.1
J.p. Glos. from 1573; under-steward of Tewkesbury by 1580.2
Blike was connected with the Earl of Leicester, who mentioned him in his will, but it is not known when the relationship began. The two may have met during Edward VI’s reign, when Leicester’s father was at the head of the government. Blike, who was then serving in Ireland, was evidently in favour with the lord deputy. In 1551 he was sent to England with letters to the Privy Council, and soon after his return to Ireland the marshal, Sir Nicholas Bagnall, gave him command of a company sent to Uriell. His Marian career is obscure, but early in Elizabeth’s reign he was living at Massington, where his wife’s family held land. He must presumably have owned property in Gloucestershire, perhaps at Twyning, since by the early 1570s he was on the county commission of the peace, but he died intestate, and no inquisition post mortem has been found.3
His immediate patron at Cirencester in 1571 may have been one of the Danvers family, lords of the borough, but he almost certainly owed his return to his connexion with the Earl of Leicester. In 1571 the Privy Council instructed the Earl to supervise elections in Berkshire and Worcestershire, and since Gloucestershire was not mentioned in any of the Council letters on the subject, it is likely that that county also was considered to be within his sphere of influence. It may indeed have been owing to the Earl that Cirencester, which had returned no Member since 1547, did so in 1571: two years later, Tewkesbury, where Leicester was high steward and Blike became his under-steward, tried unsuccessfully to obtain a charter.4
The strongest evidence of Blike’s local influence, through his relationship with Leicester, is found in a Star Chamber case brought in 1597, some five years after his death. John Bullingham, bishop of Gloucester since 1581, was involved in legal difficulties over the lease of a parsonage granted by him some years previously to a certain Thomas Combes: it was alleged that the bishop had been ‘constrained’ to grant it by Blike, whom he could not refuse ‘for fear of the Lord of Leicester’s heavy displeasure’. A further charge was that Bullingham had obtained his bishopric through Blike, his ‘instrument and means to the Lord of Leicester’, and had been obliged to reward him ‘during his natural life’ with an annuity of £40. The bishop’s wife was said to have told her friends that the parsonage in question was not the only grant Bullingham had made at the insistence of Blike, who had wanted nothing less than ‘the whole dealing of the said bishopric’, while the bishop could ‘go to his book’. In his reply Bullingham acknowledged that he had paid the annuity, but only to recompense Blike, his ‘approved good friend’, for ‘his faith, love and charges many ways [incurred in the bishop’s] causes and affairs’.5
Little is known of Blike's private life, though there are scattered references to him in official sources. In February 1561 he was granted the wardship of William, son and heir of Thomas Capell, and it was possibly about the same time that he sued in Chancery for the repayment of £10 lent to a certain John Somerfyld: he could not proceed at common law since his debtor had now married the only witness to the transaction. In addition to his regular duties as a justice of the peace, Blike appears on various ad hoc commissions, for instance, to survey the walls and banks of the river Leddon, and to provide corn for Carmarthenshire.6
Letters of administration granted on 3 Mar. 1592 to Blike’s widow described him merely as ‘of county Gloucester’. His daughter Sybil, wife of Francis Clare, was buried with her baby daughter in Twyning church; her monumental inscription, which styles her Blike’s heir apparent, says that she was married in her 18th year, and died in February 1576, a fortnight after the birth of her child.7
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. C142/41/29; Vis. Herefs. 15691, ed. Weaver, 51; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxix. 257-8.
- 2. APC, xi. 415.
- 3. PCC 1 Leicester; A. Collins, Mems. Sidneys, 72; APC, iii. 267, 270; CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 117; C3/23/100.
- 4. Add. 48018, f. 294d; W. Dyde, Hist. Tewkesbury, 82.
- 5. St. Ch. 5/W48/24.
- 6. CPR, 1560-3, p. 179; C3/23/100; W. H. Stevenson, Gloucester Recs. 66; APC, viii. 116.
- 7. PCC admon. act bk. 1592, f. 8; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxix. 257-8. The grant of administration, according to a marginal note in the act book, was later revoked, but no further grant is known.