SKIPWITH, Henry (d.1588), of Cotes and Keythorpe, Leics.

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

5th s. of Sir William Skipwith of South Ormsby, Lincs. by his 2nd w. Alice, da. and coh. of Sir Lionel Dymoke of Mareham-on-the-Hill, Lincs.; half-bro. of Sir William Skipwith. m. Jane (d.1598), da. of Francis Hall of Grantham, Lincs., wid. of Francis Nele (d.1559), of Prestwold and Cotes, 4s. inc. William Skipwith II 9da.1

Offices Held

Keeper of Ampthill great park 1565; equerry of royal stables by 1569; j.p. Leics. from c.1569; steward of crown lands 1570, commr. to enforce Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy, dioceses of Lincoln and Peterborough 1570; commr. musters, Leics. 1583.2


Skipwith was already described as the Oueen’s servant in April 1559, when he was granted the reversion to the keepership of Ampthill great park; On 15 Sept. 1569 Elizabeth employed him to carry to the Earls of Huntingdon and Shrewsbury and Viscount Hereford a confidential message about Mary Stuart. Two years later Skipwith was again employed on delicate business: on 30 July he sent to Burghley, at his request, a list of the members of the Duke of Norfolk’s household who were in London; four days later he assisted Sir Ralph Sadler in guarding Norfolk, who was confined to his room; and on 7 Sept. conducted him to the Tower. There Skipwith remained, under the Queen’s orders, to act as custodian. He discovered the cipher and channels whereby Norfolk was communicating with the world outside, and secured his admission to receiving £2,000 of Mary’s money from the bishop of Ross.3

In 1584 Sadler, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, asked for the nomination to both Leicester borough seats, suggesting Skipwith, his former associate, as one candidate. After some delay the townsmen elected Skipwith and Thomas Johnson, the Hastings candidate, both Members agreeing to pay their own expenses. In 1586 the Privy Council wrote to the sheriff recommending the return of the same Members for the next Parliament, and Skipwith and Johnson were re-elected. There is no record of any activity by Skipwith in this Parliament.

He died intestate 14 Aug. 1588. He had received many rewards from the Queen, including the office of steward of crown lands in Leicestershire, granted just after the troubles of 1569, a lease of the woods of Groby manor, and a twice renewed lease of the rectory of Prestwold, which made a useful addition to the lands there that his wife held in dower from her first husband. Around these he built up a freehold estate, purchasing various manors, granges and small-holdings in the parish and nearby. In 1580 he was obliged to sue his brothers-in-law, Edmund and Henry Hall, for the completion of his title to Keythorpe, but by 1586 he was able to settle the estate on feoffees who included his brothers-in-law, his stepdaughter’s husband Everard Digby, his daughter-in-law’s brothers Thomas and William Cave, and Thomas Skeffington. His widow’s administration of the goods and chattels was disputed, and she had considerable difficulty in obtaining an account of her husband’s lands; the matter was eventually settled in her favour.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Nichols, Leics. iii. 368; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 889; C142/126/124.
  • 2. HMC Hatfield, i. 419; CPR, 1558-60, p. 108; 1566-9, p. 161; 1569-72, p. 277; cal. and index patent rolls 1-16 Eliz. p. 259; Leicester Recs. iii. 196.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, i. 419, 522, 526, 532; HMC Hastings, ii. 8; iii. 3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 15, 551; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 417, 426, 434; N. Williams, Duke of Norfolk, passim; SP12/88/2.
  • 4. Leicester Recs. iii. 209-11, 227; C142/126/124; 223/66; CPR, 1560-3, p. 409; cal. and index patent rolls 1-16 Eliz. 14(6), p. 294; 17-30 Eliz. 20(6), p. 15; 24(12), p. 18; 28(11), p. 21; PCC 45 Nevell; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xvii. 54-9.