CAVE, Sir Ambrose (by 1503-68), of Duddeston, Warws.

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. by 1503, 4th or 5th s. of Richard Cave of Stanford, Northants. by 2nd w. Margaret, da. of John or Thomas Saxby of Northampton; bro. of Francis. m. Margaret, da. and coh. of William Willington of Barcheston, Warws., wid. of Thomas Holte (d. 23 Mar. 1546) of Duddeston, 1da. Kntd. by 1525.1

Offices Held

Member, order of St. John of Jerusalem by 1524, preceptor of Yeaveley and Barrow, Derbys. by 1534, j.p. Leics. 1547, Lancs. 1561, q. Warws. 1554-d. Leics. 1558/59-d.; sheriff, Warws. and Leics. ?1548-9; commr. relief, Leics., Warws. 1550, to enforce Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity 1559; other commissions 1551-d.; PC Nov. 1558-d.; chancellor, duchy of Lancaster Dec. 1558-d.; custos rot. Warws. 1558/59-d.; jt. (with Sir Robert Dudley) ld. lt. 1559.2


A Northamptonshire family, the Caves rose to a position of wealth and influence by royal service. Ambrose Cave is said to have been educated at St. John’s, Cambridge, and Magdalen, Oxford, but the only evidence lies in his testamentary foundation of divinity exhibitions at both universities which were then established in these colleges. By 1524 he had entered the order of St. John of Jerusalem, in which he could expect a career of some importance and considerable profit. He rose to the command of a preceptory and in 1534 he was a procurator general of the common treasure. In 1535 he left for Rhodes but by 1537 he had returned and was involved in a bitter dispute with Thomas Dingley, another member of the order, over the valuable preceptory of Shingay, Cambridgeshire. Cave had the support of the order for his claim, but the King, who had already interfered considerably in its affairs, installed Dingley.3

Although Cave behaved with admirable discretion during the trying months preceding the dissolution of the order in 1540, he received only the lesser pension of 100 marks. He does not appear to have suffered unduly by this change of fortune; he engaged in the family wool business, an informal but efficient concern in which the landowning and merchant brothers combined with the brothers in royal service to cover the whole process of wool production. He also set about building up a landed estate. In 1542 he took a lease of land from the crown in Hungerton, Leicestershire, and by 1543 he could afford to buy from it the manor of Rothley which had earlier belonged to his old order. To this property he added various small purchases so that he ultimately held almost the entire parish.4

In 1544 Cave went with the army to France in association with the 13th Lord Grey of Wilton, with whom he jointly received coat and conduct money. Grey had married into the locally dominant Hastings family, and he may ha