SPURLING, John (d.1603), of Serjeants' Inn, London and Edworth, Beds.

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

educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1560; G. Inn 1563, called 1565. m. Anne, 2s. 5da.

Offices Held

Double reader, G. Inn 1585, treasurer 1588, double reader and serjeant 1594; j.p. Isle of Ely from c.1591, Herts. from 1596, Beds. 1598; duchy of Lancaster c.j. for Isle of Ely 1603-4.1


There is some doubt as to when Spurling became a serjeant-at-law. According to the records of Gray’s Inn, this occurred in 1594, but there are references to him as a serjeant as early as 1588, and he appears on a list of serjeants retained by the duchy of Lancaster from 1586. In any event, by 1588 he was sufficiently eminent to be investigating Sir Edward Stanley’s claim to some estates of the late Earl of Leicester, and to be one of the lawyers asked to consider unnecessary or defective statutes which might be dealt with in the next Parliament.2

It is not clear how Spurling came to be returned for Dunheved. Possibly it was through Burghley by whom he was employed later (by 1596), and/or through some connexion with the Killigrew family. After Burghley’s death, Spurling wrote to Cecil offering ‘the like services he did his father’ and reminding Cecil that he had been his patron when he ‘went first serjeant’. Three months later he wrote again, promising to serve Cecil as he had his father, and hoping that he would be allowed to answer some objections that had been made against him.3

The proceeds of a prosperous legal career were invested in land. His principal estate was at Edworth in Bedfordshire, which he bought at some time between 1586 and 1588. He bought also the nearby manor of Eyworth, but in 1595 this was sold to his friend Sir Edmund Anderson. In Hertfordshire he held the manor of Weston Argentine from 1591 until 1594, when he sold it to Lord Keeper John Puckering. In 1597, however, he made a more permanent addition to his estates in the county, when he bought the manor of Caldecote, lying some three miles to the south of Edworth, for £1,200. Edworth was sold by Spurling’s widow in 1614 for £3,000. If these sums were at the conventional figure of ten years’ purchase, Spurling’s income from these two manors alone was not inconsiderable.4

He died in September 1603. In his will he directed that lands at Caldecote, Newnham, Radwell and Hinxworth should be sold by his wife and elder son, in accordance with the advice of his ‘especial, honourable and worshipful good friends’ Sir Edmund Anderson, chief justice of the common pleas, and (Sir) Peter Warburton. The fund so created was to be used to pay his debts and the residue divided among his five daughters. His elder son Philip was to receive an annuity of £50 out of the manor of Edworth, which was left to Spurling’s wife. To the younger son was bequeathed the next vacancy of the parsonage of Edworth. In accordance with his wishes Spurling was buried in the church of Baldock, near which his lands lay.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. G. Inn. Pens. Bk. i. 64, 81, 101; PCC 20 Harte; Somerville, Duchy, i. 452; Hatfield mss 278; SP13/Case F/11, f. 16v; patent rolls 36, 38, 40 Eliz.; W. R. Williams, Lancaster Official Lists, 81.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 549; APC, xvi. 417.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, viii. 312, 451; xiv. 47; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 315.
  • 4. VCH Beds. ii. 224, 232; VCH Herts. iii. 218-19; Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 521.
  • 5. PCC 20 Harte.