CARNE, Sir Edward (1495/96-1561), of Ewenny, Glam.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1495/96, 2nd s. of Hywell Carne of Nash, nr. Cowbridge by Sibyl, da. of William Kemys of Newport, Mon. educ. Oxf. BCL 7 July 1519, DCL 1 Aug. 1524; adv. Doctors’ Commons 13 Nov. 1525. m. by 1538, Anne, da. of Sir William Denys of Dyrham, Glos., wid. of Sir John Raglan of Carnllwyd, Glam., 1s. Thomas 4da.; 1s illegit. Kntd. by 1540.1

Offices Held

Principal, Greek Hall, Oxf. 1521; royal proctor and excusator at Rome 1530-4; chancellor, diocese of Salisbury 1531-7; ambassador to the Netherlands 1538-9, 1541, 1544-50, to the Holy See 1555-9; commr. for suppression of monasteries 1538, oyer and terminer, Calais 1541, subsidy, Glam. 1543, relief, Carm., Glam., Glos., Mon., Salop 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Glam. 1553; master of requests 1540-54; sheriff, Glam. 1542-3, 1554-5; j.p. Cheshire 1547, Glos., Herefs., Salop, Worcs. 1547-54; member, council in the marches of Wales in 1551; master, St. Thomas’s hospital, Rome Apr. 1559-Apr. 1560.2


Edward Carne belonged to a family which claimed descent from the princes of Gwent. It was as a rising civil lawyer at Oxford that he was brought, through whose agency is not known, to the attention of Henry VIII, and by 1529 he was one of those engaged in the advocacy of the divorce. When in the following year the King was cited to Rome, Carne was sent there as royal proctor and excusator with William Bennet and Thomas Cranmer, with instructions to hold up proceedings and to demand the return of the case to England. In this task Carne showed such skill that four years were to elapse before sentence was pronounced in the Queen’s favour. Within two months of it he was back in England, where he was made a member of the King’s ‘learned council’ and named to the committee to revise the canon law. He was on good terms with Cromwell, who from 1538 used him both as a diplomatic envoy and as a monastic commissioner. In 1539-40 he was again caught up in the King’s matrimonial progression when having first helped to prepare the way for the Cleves marriage he was sent secretly to France to negotiate an alliance based on that marriage, only to kind himself having to announce its nullification. As a monastic commissioner he was not slow to take advantage of his opportunities. In face of the opposition of the corporation of Bristol he obtained the lease of Gaunts hospital there in 1539 for his wife’s use while he was away on business. Monastic properties acquired by him included Wenlock priory in Shropshire (May 1541), the Augustinian friary at Newport (1543 but later sold to Giles Morgan) and Ewenny priory (1545), the last being adapted as a residence for himself.3

Carne, who had been knighted by 1540 and made a master of requests in that year, passed the closing years of Henry VIII’s reign and the first two of Edward VI’s as ambassador in the Netherlands. After his recall in February 1550 he appears to have returned to Wales, where in 1551 he was a member of the council in the marches under the presidency of the 1st Earl of Pembroke. In the same year Carne was a deponent during the trial of Bishop Gardiner, but his avowal that to his knowledge Gardiner had always done his duty, especially over the abolition of papal power in England, and that he had heard of the bishop’s ‘seditious preachings’ only from the lords of the Council, can have been of little help to the prosecution. Carne was clearly finding the government’s religious policy increasingly repugnant and he both welcomed its overthrow with the accession of Mary and was immediately taken into favour by the new regime. In August 1553 he was appointed to the two commissions set up to examine the appeals of Bishop Bonner of London and Bishop Tunstall of Durham against their deprivation under Edward VI.4

Carne is known to have sat in only one Parliament, that of November 1554; two days after the session started he was pricked sheriff of Glamorgan, the shire which he represented. The bill for the true making of Welsh friezes was committed to him on 28 Nov. (the only occasion during the mid 16th century when a Welsh bill is known to have been committed to a Welsh Member), and that for the repeal of all legislation against the papacy since 1529 a month later. Six months after the dissolution he was sent on the mission to present the formal obedience of England to Pope Julius III, and he remained in Rome as resident ambassador to the Holy See. Not long before Mary died he asked for and was granted his recall, but his successor had not set out when the Queen’s death cancelled the appointment.5

When he was recalled by Elizabeth in February 1559, Carne was faced with the choice of obeying, and so forfeiting his communion with Rome, or refusing, and thus sacrificing his family and his property. He chose to do the second, although under the guise of having been forbidden by the pope to leave Rome on pain of excommunication because the Queen had lapsed from her obedience. In April Carne informed Elizabeth that he had been put in charge of the English hospital of St. Thomas in the city. His will of 23 Nov. 1560 made provision for his wife and children and instructed his executors, John Carne and Sir Maurice Denys, to erect a tomb or sepulchre near the grave of his father in the church at Cowbridge. He died at Rome on 18 Jan. 1561, a tablet was put up in his memory in the cloisters of San Gregorio in Monte Celi, and the will was proved in England on the following 11 June.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Aged 55 or 56 in 1551, Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 185. G. T. Clark, Limbus Patrum Morganiae, 376; LP Hen. VIII, xiii; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, pp. 103-4; G. D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 142; DNB; DWB.
  • 2. Emden, 103; LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi, vii, xiii-xvi, xix-xxi; Sel. Cases Ct. of Requests (Selden Soc. xii), Sel. Cases Ct. of Requests (Selden Soc. xii), pp. cvii, cix, 98, 205; CSP For. 1547-53, pp. 1-8, 9-14, 25; 1558-9, pp. 219, 584; APC, vii. 50; E179/221/236; CPR, 1553, pp. 354, 358, 360, 364, 419; 1553-4, pp. 19, 20, 23, 25, 75-76, 121, 263; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, ii(2), 162.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi, vii, ix, xiii-xvi, xviii, xx; J. J. Scarisbrick, Hen. VIII, 260-369 passim; Elton, Reform and Renewal, 26n, 61.
  • 4. APC, vii. 50; Foxe, vi. 185-6; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 75-76, 121, 263.
  • 5. CJ, i. 38, 40; CSP For. 1553-8, pp. 171, 311, 399; CSP Span. 1554-5, pp. 140 and n, 144, 444; T. F. Shirley, Thomas Thirlby, 142-51.
  • 6. CSP For. 1558-9,pp. 193-4, 199, 219, 584; PCC 21 Loftes; C142/130/102.