BARLEY, Henry (1487-1529), of Albury, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1487, 1st s. of William Barley of Albury by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Robert Darcy of Danbury, Essex. educ.?M. Temple, adm. 3 Feb. 1511. m. (1) Elizabeth (d. bef. 1517), da. and coh. of John Northwood of Northwood in Milton, Kent, at least 1s.; (2) Anne; (3) Anne, da. of Edward Jerningham of Somerleyton, Suff., wid. of Lord Edward Grey (d. by 1517) and ?of one Berkeley; 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 17 Mar. 1522.2

Offices Held

Commr. gaol delivery, Herts. 1516, subsidy 1523, 1524; j.p. 1521-d., Essex 1528-d.; sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1523-4.3


The Barley family was an old-established one in Hertfordshire which probably took its name from the village on the border of that county and Cambridgeshire; it also owned considerable land in Essex. Henry Barley’s father, attainted of treason in 1495 for his support of Perkin Warbeck, had been pardoned three years later and in 1501 had recovered the family lands; chief among these were the manors of Albury, Hertfordshire and Layer Breton, Essex.4

The Barley who, when admitted to the Middle Temple in February 1511, gave a hogshead of wine and was excused the performance of most of the inn’s minor offices, was probably a gentleman rather than a budding lawyer: he is mentioned only twice more in the inn’s records. The earliest certain references to Henry Barley record his appointments to county offices and his pardon in 1517 for the earlier unlicensed acquisition of a Wiltshire manor jointly with his first wife. His father died in March 1522, and the lands to which Barley then succeeded were valued eight years later at over £90 a year; in addition he had a life interest in his first wife’s lands in Hampshire, Kent and Wiltshire. He was rated one of Hertfordshire’s wealthiest men, for his payment of £5 in anticipation of the subsidy of 1524 was equalled by few and exceeded by only one, Sir Philip Butler, of his fellow-gentlemen in the shire.5

Apart from the record of his lands and offices, and his will, the only information about Barley comes from a Star Chamber case; of unknown date, it was certainly begun before 1522, for Barley and his father were joint defendants. The plaintiff, the rector of Albury, Henry Davy, charged the Barleys inter alia with assault, malicious prosecution, theft of a missal and a church bell, obstruction of a public footpath and appropriation of glebe land. The case seems to have been the culmination of a series of disputes conducted in different courts. The rector had already had the Barleys bound over in the King’s bench to keep the peace towards him; they, in turn, had sued him for slander in the spiritual court, but Davy had challenged the verdict with an appeal to Rome. In the surviving pleadings Barley and his father denied some of the charges but justified a number of the actions complained of. They alleged that Davy had used the right of way claimed by him through Albury park for the purpose of illicit resort to the wife of a parishioner and added, among other legally irrelevant but interesting facts, that the husband had once surprised the rector in flagrante delicto and had compelled him to hush up the affair by a payment of 40s. ‘for saving of his honesty’. Perhaps it was William Barley’s repetition of such stories that provoked the rector to tell him ‘that though his body was on earth and in life his soul was with the devil and his body should go after’. Whose version the court accepted is not known.6

If the Barleys’ part in this litigation reflected their general anti-clericalism, Henry Barley’s return to the Parliament of 1529 is likely to have pleased the King and may even have owed something to him, as other elections in