CHOLMLEY, Henry (1556-1616), of Whitby, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1556, o.s. of Sir Richard Cholmley of Whitby by his 2nd w. Catherine, da. of Henry, 1st Earl of Cumberland, wid. of John, 8th Lord Scrope of Bolton. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. by 1568; Jesus, Camb. 1573; Caius, Camb., fellow commoner 18 Aug. 1573, aged 17; L. Inn 1577. m. Margaret, da. of Sir William Babthorpe of Babthorpe, Yorks., 3s. 9da. suc. half-bro. 1586. Kntd. Apr. 1603.1

Offices Held

Subsidy collector, Yorks. 27 and 31 Eliz.; forester in fee, Pickering forest, duchy of Lancaster by 1586; j.p. Yorks. (N. Riding) by 1599.2


Through his mother, Cholmley was connected with two of the most influential north country families, the Cliffords and the Scropes. In all probability he owed his election as knight of the shire for Westmorland to the hereditary sheriff of that county, his cousin the 3rd Earl of Cumberland, who ‘loved him dearly’, ‘frequented much his company’ and helped to ruin him. Cholmley is not mentioned by name in the extant parliamentary journals. However, as knight of the shire, he may have served on committees concerned with enclosures (5 Nov.), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.) and the subsidy (15 Nov.).3

During his early years Cholmley lived with his mother at Roxby, moving to Whitby, the main family seat, on the death without issue of his half-brother Francis in 1586. His succession to the considerable Cholmley estate was challenged by Marmaduke Cholmley of Bransby, son and heir of Roger, the second son of Sir Richard by his first marriage. When the ‘long and chargeable’ suit was finally decided in Henry Cholmley’s favour he made a generous settlement on Marmaduke and Marmaduke’s heirs. This may have contributed to his subsequent financial difficulties, as much as his friendship with his cousin Cumberland and his own extravagance. At any rate by 1600 he had begun to dispose of his personal estates, and was trying to discover ‘by the lawyers’ invention’ a way to break the entail on the remainder. Finally, with much land sold, and debts increasing, he turned over what was left to his eldest son Richard, and retired to York with his wife and family.4

Though Cholmley himself conformed to the established church, many of his family did not. His mother was a Catholic and his wife was a recusant, imprisoned for over a year. Cholmley himself, though a j.p., was widely accused of sheltering other Catholics, priests as well as tenants; on the other hand he was thought responsible for naming over 20 recusants in the Whitby area in 1604. A tall, corpulent man in his later years, Cholmley died intestate at York following a hunting accident and was buried at St. John’s, York, 13 Jan. 1616.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: B.D.


This biography is largely based upon Sir Hugh Cholmley, Mems. (1787).

  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. York. ii. 249; Vis. York. ed. Foster, 220.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 5; 1598-1601, p. 363; N. Riding Rec. Soc. n.s. i. 222.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561.
  • 4. Wards 9/85/465-6; VCH Yorks. N. Riding, ii. 20, 470, 496, 519.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 188; York. Arch. Jnl. xxxvii. 25; APC, xxiv. 313-14; York Wills (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xxxii), 154.