CHOLMLEY, Sir Roger (c.1495-1565), of Ludgate, London, Highgate and Hampstead, Mdx.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. c.1495, illegit. s. of Sir Richard Cholmley. educ. L. Inn, adm. bef. 1509, called by Nov. 1518. m. by 1522, Christine or Christiana (d.1558), 2da. Kntd. by 1535.2

Offices Held

Bencher, L. Inn 1520, Lent reader 1528, Autumn reader 1531, treasurer Nov. 1529, gov. 1530.

Common pleader, London 1518-35; j.p. Mdx. from 1522, Essex 1528-54, Herts., Kent, Suss. 1547-54, Surr. 1547-54, from 1562; serjeant-at-law 1531; recorder, London 1535-45; King’s serjeant 1545; chief baron of the Exchequer Nov. 1545-52; c.j. King’s bench 1552-3; dep. lt. Mdx. 1552.3


Cholmley’s father left him lands in Middlesex and Essex, and he later acquired estates in Surrey, Kent, Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire. His valuable property in London and Middlesex included former monastic lands and houses in Woolwich and East Ham, as well as a number of shops in the parish of St. Martin, Ludgate. In later life he spent much of his time at Highgate, where he founded the public school, incorporated by letters patent in 1565, originally called the free grammar school of Sir Roger Cholmley. The earliest references to him in the Lincoln’s Inn records show him frequently fined as an unruly member of the society, but his ability led to rapid preferment, and after his elevation to the bench he is said to have remembered his own wild youth when dealing with young men brought before him.4

There are few references to Cholmley after Elizabeth’s accession. In December 1558 a secret commission was set up to inquire into judgments he had given in the previous reign, but no action is known to have been taken against him. He remained on the commission of the peace for Middlesex and Surrey, the bishops’ letters to the Council in 1564 describing him as ‘indifferent’ in religion. He died 21 June 1565. His will, dated the previous April, was proved two days after his burial in St. Martin’s, Ludgate, on 2 July the same year. His widowed daughter Elizabeth Beckwith and his grandson John Russell II were co-heirs. Cholmley may have disapproved of Elizabeth’s projected second marriage to Christopher Kerne; at any rate the will arranged that if the marriage took place Sir William Cordell and others should be trustees to administer Elizabeth’s share of the estate. There is no mention of the Highgate school, but the will included charitable bequests to poor prisoners and for poor maidens’ marriages. The executors were Cordell and Cholmley’s son-in-law Sir Thomas Russell, with the Earls of Leicester and Bedford as supervisors.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. PCC 22 Maynwaryng; DNB; Foster, Yorks. Peds. N. and E. Riding; CPR, 1553 and App. Edw. VI, pp. 38-9; Machyn Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 181, 368-9; LP Hen. VIII, viii. 40.
  • 3. London Rep. 3, f. 207; Rep. 9, if. 112-13; Rep. II, f. 244; LP Hen. VIII, iii(2), p. 1263; iv(a), p. 2217; xx(2), p. 448; CPR , 1550-3, p. 296; 1553-4, p. 21; 1560-3, pp. 440-1; APC, iv. 50, 277.
  • 4. PCC 22 Maynwaryng; LP Hen. VIII, iv(2), p. 1183; ix. 247; xiii(l), p. 395; xv. 475; xviii(l), pp. 259, 550; xix(2), p. 81; xx(2), p. 208; xxi(l), p. 687; xxi(2), p. 372; C142/144/85; E150/530/2; CPR, 1548-9, p. 61; 1563-6, pp. 207-8, 280; DNB; Highgate Sch. Reg. (5th ed.), ed. Tucker, pp. x-xv; L. Inn Black Bks. i. 180-1, 188, 210, 220; R. Ascham, Works, 229-30.
  • 5. APC, vii. 22; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 60; PCC 24 Morrison; C142/144/85; E150/530/2.