DUDLEY, John I (d.1580), of Stoke Newington, Mdx.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

2nd s. of Thomas Dudley of Yanwath, Cumb. by Grace, da. and coh. of Sir Lancelot Threlkeld of Threlkeld, Cumb. and Yanwath; bro. of Thomas. m. aft. 1558, Elizabeth, da. of William Gardiner of Grove Place, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks., 1da.1

Offices Held

Servant of John, Duke of Northumberland and Robert, Earl of Leicester; jt. (with Charles Foxe) clerk of the signet to council in the marches of Wales 1565; one of original governing body of the mines royal 1568; gov. Highgate sch. at d.2


Dudley, if the above identification is correct (the existence of namesakes introduces some uncertainty) owed his Helston seat to a connexion between the Killigrews, the local patrons, and his relative and master Sir Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester, in whose service he remained until his death. His office as clerk of the signet in the marches was no doubt obtained through another relation, Sir Henry Sidney, president of the council in the marches.3

Dudley’s special admission to the Inner Temple in November 1561 when he was in his thirties, was a reward for helping the inn in its suit to Sir Robert Dudley, and does not indicate any legal education. He was also promised a chamber at the inn, which he obtained only in 1565 when he and William Glasier, Member for St. Ives in 1563, were admitted to ‘the corner chamber of Mr. Fuller’s buildings, notwithstanding it is a bencher’s chamber’. He was still the tenant in November 1576. He is last mentioned in the records of the Inner Temple in November 1577, when he requested ‘on my Lord of Leicester’s behalf’ that a passage should be left open through one of the alleys there.

Early in 1566 he was negotiating on his master’s behalf, through Sir William Cecil and Sir Walter Mildmay, for a large grant of crown lands. He wrote several letters to Leicester, who was away from court at the time, explaining that the Queen thought his demands excessive; he himself was not competent to draw up alternative suggestions, while Sir Walter Mildmay, whom he had approached for help, was loath to offend the Queen by reopening the matter. In the end Mildmay and Dudley drew up a ‘new book’ for presentation to the Queen, but to improve their chances of success, Dudley sent his master an urgent appeal:

I say if you come not hastily, no good will grow, as I find her Majesty so mislikes your absence that she is not disposed to hear of anything that may do you good.

There is no evidence that Dudley ever exercised his joint clerkship of the signet to the council in the marches of Wales; the duties of the post were performed by Charles Foxe, with whom he soon quarrelled about the division of the profits. By May 1577 the two were jointly petitioning against new regulations in the marches which reduced their emoluments. The matter had not been settled at Dudley’s death.4

Towards the end of his life Dudley incurred Leicester’s displeasure. In March 1581 his widow, in a letter to the Earl, declared that she had been ‘previously touched’ by the loss of her husband and Leicester’s recent anger against him, and that her only comfort now was his lordship’s protection, which she begged for herself and her 6 year-old daughter. Dudley’s will, made in March 1578, was proved 27 Apr. 1581. He asked that his burial should be ‘without any glorious vain pomp or show to the world, or any great charges’. He left a 40s. annuity to Highgate school and to ‘the right honourable and my singular good lord and master’ the Earl of Leicester £100 ‘to be changed into plate and engraved with my arms’ to make up for any negligence in accounts. Leicester’s sister-in-law, the Countess of Warwick, was asked to accept ‘the whole suit of hangings in my little gallery near the great chamber door’, and to ‘stand good lady’ to Dudley’s poor wife and child’. Other bequests, mostly in plate, went to Sir William Cordell and Thomas Bromley; 500 marks in money to Dudley’s brother Thomas; and to Thomas Smythe, customer of London, ‘in remembrance of the great love and long friendship that hath been between us’, some plate and ‘my best garment’. Edmund Downing, who wrote the will and was the only witness to sign it, received £20. The widow (who afterwards married Thomas Sutton, founder of the Charterhouse) and her daughter were appointed executrices and residuary legatees, with Leicester and Sir William Cordell as supervisors, Dudley asking the Earl to act ‘in consideration of the long, true and faithful service which I have done to him and his father’. Dudley died 29 Dec. 1580, and was buried with great pomp and expense at Stoke Newington 12 Jan. 1581. His funeral was attended, inter alia, by Sir William Cordell, Philip Sidney and Lord Dudley’s two sons.5

Nothing has been discovered about Dudley’s religion, though his service to Northumberland and Leicester and his daughter’s marriage to Sir Francis Popham suggest that he was a protestant. His elder brother Richard was one of the ‘grave, witty men, good in religion as favourers of the policy of the realm now established’ who were consulted by the bishop of Carlisle in 1564. But his great-nephew, another Richard Dudley, was a seminary priest and his nephew, John Gardiner the younger, was a Buckinghamshire Catholic.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Mdx. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxv), 147; PCC 15 Darcy; Wards 7/20/165.
  • 2. CPR, 1563-6, p. 319; 1566-9, p. 211; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 210-11; Sidney State Pprs. i. 293; PCC 15 Darcy.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 209; Add. 1547-65, p. 546; 1591-4, p. 561; APC, xi. 238.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 345; Add. 1566-79, pp. 2-15; P. H. Williams, Council in Marches of Wales, 159, 163-4, 176, 333; Sidney State Pprs. i. 293; Flenley, 210-11.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 11; Mdx. Peds. loc. cit.; PCC 15 Darcy; W. Robinson, Stoke Newington (1820), pp. 157-9, 189, 221.
  • 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), pp. 49, 51; G. Anstruther, Seminary Priests, i. 106-7; for Gardiner see Lansd. 53, art. 69; SP12/195/115, 199/4, 200/61.