NOWELL, Laurence (d. by 1583).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

2nd s. of Alexander Nowell of Read Hall, Whalley, Lancs. by Grace, da. of Ralph Catherall of Mitton, Lancs.

Offices Held


Nowell’s cousins, the two Elizabethan churchmen, Alexander Nowell, dean of St. Paul’s, and Laurence Nowell, dean of Lichfield, were both Marian exiles, and the branch of the family to which Nowell belonged may have shared their religious beliefs. A radical alignment is further suggested by the marriage of Thomas, one of Laurence’s younger brothers, to Joan, the daughter of Thomas Bowyer of London. Francis Bowyer, another member of this family, helped Dean Alexander Nowell to escape abroad in 1555. Little is known about Nowell himself during Elizabeth’s reign. It is probable that he owed his seat at Knaresborough to Sir Ambrose Cave, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. His cousin Robert Nowell, an attorney in the court of wards, mentioned him in his will, drawn up in 1563, bequeathing him an annuity of £5, as well as ‘so much satin as will make him a coat and doublet’. However, early in 1568—before the will was proved—Laurence left the country. In a court of requests case of 1572 brought against William Lambarde, the antiquary and executor of Nowell’s will, the beneficiaries under it claimed that, as Laurence had not been heard of for two years and inquiry for him had proved fruitless, the will should be proved. Lambarde’s answer provides the history of Laurence’s travels. Nowell had left the country early in 1568, ‘endeavouring to make himself through knowledge of language and good learning abroad the more serviceable subject’ to the Queen. After spending some time at the University of Paris he went to Venice and Padua, Vienna, Basle and finally Leipzig, where he arrived about August 1570, sending a letter to Lambarde that month from the house of a Leipzig burgess. Lambarde thought Nowell had not been missed for so long ‘but that there remaineth hope that in time he may be revealed’, but when Nowell’s brother, Thomas, made his will in 1583 he did not mention him, so presumably he had died abroad.

Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 70; DNB (Nowell, Alexander; Nowell, Laurence); A. B. Grosart, The Spending of the Money of Robert Nowell, p. xxxi; Guildford Mus., Loseley mss 1331/2; PCC 13 Sheffelde, 44 Rowe; Req. 2/45/13.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière