BEVERLEY, Joseph (by 1520-61), of Faversham and Dover, Kent.

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



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1520, s. of John Beverley by his w. Bennett. m. (3) Helen; 1da.3

Offices Held

Member of the Twenty-Four, Faversham 1542-4, 1549, 1551-6, jurat 1557-d., mayor 1559-60; town clerk, Dover by 1548, jurat 1556-8; clerk, Dover castle by 1550.4


Joseph Beverley was a gentleman who lived at Faversham, where he had lands in Courtstrete West, and was auditor of Faversham abbey at an annual fee of £3 6s.8d. He was made a freeman of Faversham on 20 July 1541, and was a member of the Twenty-Four of the town in 1542-4, 1549 and every year from 1551 onwards until he became a jurat: he may have been away from Faversham in the other years.5

From 1549 until his death Beverley was deeply involved in the affairs of the Cinque Ports, both as clerk of Dover castle and as counsel and Member of Parliament for the port. From 1548-9 he received an annual fee of 40s.‘to be counsel with the said town’, and on 21 June 1549 was appointed an arbitrator in a dispute there between Thomas Portway and John Bodending. He was clerk of the castle as early as 12 Sept. 1550 when he and John Monninges, the lieutenant, wrote to the officers of the Cinque Ports conveying the wishes of ‘their master’ the lord warden on the methods of electing head officers in the ports. Thereafter he wrote, signed and passed on to the ports various letters from the warden: when at the Brotherhood of July 1552 Sandwich complained about royal writs sent to the port contrary to the charters, it was agreed to ask Monninges, Beverley and Thomas Portway to consult the warden in the matter. Beverley himself represented Dover at the Brotherhoods on various occasions between 1552 and 1558, acting as solicitor for the ports in a quo warranto inquiry in 1556-7.6

That Beverley and his fellow-officers needed the warden’s protection is shown by an incident of 1556. On 8 May of that year Sir Thomas Cheyne wrote to him and to William Crispe, the lieutenant of the castle, about their arrest at dinner by the lord chancellor’s serjeant after they had taken musters. Having heard of this in a letter which they sent by John Isted, Cheyne told them not to fear because the serjeant’s warrant should have gone first to himself as warden: he would both write to the lord chancellor and speak to ‘his grace’ about it. Later he wrote to them again, shortly before their appearance for the hearing of the dispute, and told them to write to the ports to search for precedents for their liberties: he promised to ‘stand by you and them for the maintenance of their said liberties as far as their charters will bear, to the uttermost of my power’. The support had to be mutual: in March 1558 Beverley wrote to the ports, asking them to be careful to make lawful returns of certain exchequer writs, so that ‘my master your lord warden and his said office be not thereupon amerced as of late time he hath been and much ado to escape the danger thereof’, and adding that they should seek learned advice about their writs, ‘for the officers of the exchequer never looked so near unto the queen’s majesty’s advantage as they do now’.7

Of Beverley’s three elections for Dover the second was almost certainly due to the intervention of the warden. After Thomas Portway and Thomas Colly had been elected on 17 Sept. 1553 this result was set aside and Beverley and John Webbe were returned instead. Although the mayor and jurats, including the two men passed over, indemnified the town against the legal consequences of its action, the affair doubtless caused resentment and perhaps helps to explain why in the next Parliament Beverley sat for Winchelsea, not Dover: it was also probably part of the background to the binding over of Colly in May 1558 to keep the peace against Beverley. Thanks to the fullness of the Dover accounts, Beverley’s record of attendance as a Member can be established with near-completeness. For his first session he and Thomas Warren gave the town an account of their expenses from 2 Nov. to 25 Dec. 1547, a total of 54 days, three more than the session lasted. They claimed wages of 2s. a day each and a further 10s. for ‘penning of a book concerning the passage’; they had also paid 4s. to the clerk of the crown for the return, 4s. to