CURZON, Robert (by 1491-1550), of Bermondsey, Surr. and London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1491, 2nd s. of Sir Robert Curzon of Beckhall, Billingford, Norf. by 2nd w. educ. L. Inn, adm. 1512, called 1518. m. (2) lic. 17 July 1537, Joan Noote of dioc. of Winchester, s.p. Kntd. 1547.1
Butler, L. Inn 1522, pens. 1523-4, bencher 1525, auditor 1526-7, 1532, marshal 1527, keeper of Black Bk. 1528, Autumn reader 1529, treasurer 1534-5, Lent reader 1537, gov. 1537-48, dean of the chapel 1544-8; Autumn reader, Furnival’s Inn 1522.
One of the common pleaders of London, 21 Nov. 1532-47; second baron of the Exchequer 15 Feb. 1547-d.; j.p. Norf. 1531-43, Surr. 1538-d., Mdx. 1537-44; commr. of Admiralty in Nov. 1547; other commissions 1538-47.2
Robert Curzon came of the junior branch of a family of Norfolk gentry. Sir Robert Curzon’s third marriage to Elizabeth, widow of Sir James Blount, gave his sons a connexion with the 4th Lord Mountjoy, an important figure at court. Although Robert Curzon was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn only in 1512 he appears to have begun his legal education in London, probably at an inn of chancery, several years earlier. During the next 20 years he held nearly every office of the inn until his appointment as a baron of the Exchequer.3
As barrister and judge, Curzon spent most of his time in London but he appears to have taken some part in his family’s affairs in Norfolk and Suffolk; in 1522, with his father and other kinsmen, he was sued in the Star Chamber for seizing a disputed Suffolk manor. He doubtless acted as agent in London for his family and perhaps for some of his influential neighbours. Sir Thomas Lestrange dined with him in London in November 1522, probably at Lincoln’s Inn, and as Curzon’s name appears again in the Lestrange accounts in 1525-26 it is likely that Sir Thomas had entrusted some business to him.4
By 1529 Curzon had begun to advance rapidly in his profession, and his return to Parliament in the autumn of that year both reflected and enhanced his standing. The influence of Lord Mountjoy may have helped him to obtain the seat for Cricklade, as Mountjoy was related to the Hungerford and Berkeley families, whose influence in the borough was strong. The support of important legal friends in London may also have assisted his return: his fellow-Member William Rede I, who owed his return to similar family connexions, may also have been a lawyer, while a distinguished member of the profession, John Hynde, who sat for the Wiltshire borough of Hindon in this Parliament, married Curzon’s niece at about this time. As Curzon was fined for not attending a meeting of the Lincoln’s Inn council in late October 1529, it is possible that he went to Cricklade for the election. Nothing is known of his part in the proceedings of this Parliament but he seems to have prospered during the six years of its existence. In January 1530 he was one of three men granted the right of presentation to the canonry and prebend of St. Mary Magdalen in Bridgnorth, Shropshire; in August 1533, with three others, he received the same privilege in the collegiate church of Warwick. He was probably returned again to the Parliament of 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the reelection of the previous Members, and he may have continued to sit in the later Henrician Parliaments, for which the names of the Cricklade Members are unknown.5
As one of the common pleaders of the City in July 1533 he was granted a ‘gown of the livery’, and in March 1537, when he was described as the ‘ancient pleader’, he was voted a fee of 20s. for his services to the City; one of these had been a survey of rentals which he was commissioned to make in November 1534. In 1538 he was a member of the Middlesex jury which found an indictment for treason against (Sir) Geoffrey Pole and others; in February 1539 he was called to serve on the jury at the trial of Sir Nicholas Carew, but was not sworn; and in November 1541 he was on the special commission of oyer and terminer for the trial of Culpeper and Dereham in the affair of Catherine Howard. On 13 Feb. 1547 the Council agreed to appoint Curzon second baron of the Exchequer in accordance with a decision made before the death of Henry VIII, with whom he was said to have stood ‘greatly in favour’; he received his patents of office two days later. He was knighted at some time after Edward VI’s coronations.6
In June 1548 Curzon was granted manors in Cornwall, Shropshire and Sussex for a payment of £302 10s., a grant said to have been made in accordance with the late King’s will. He had already made extensive purchases from the crown, amounting in 1544 alone to £2,462, and including much exmonastic property in London. In 1544 he joined with John Pope in such a deal and in 1545 with (Sir) Thomas Pope, John’s brother, in the acquisition of Yorkshire lands from Robert Roos. In the latter part of Henry VIII’s reign Curzon lived at Bermondsey in Surrey, from which county he sent two foot soldiers to the Netherlands in 1543, later himself going overseas to fight. At his death in 1550 he owned well over 1,000 sheep. This flock, which appears to have been kept in private rather than on common pasture, was of the type which was condemned by the enclosure commission and by the peasantry in 1549: as Curzon was a lawyer and city dweller he may have amassed it with the help of his kinsman Walter Curzon, a grazier whose enclosures appear to have depopulated an entire Oxfordshire village.7
Curzon’s will was made on 1 Feb. and proved on 4 July 1550. He survived his second wife and left no children, the bulk of his goods and lands being divided among his nephews. He left rings to his kinsman by marriage (Sir) Richard Southwell, to Bishop Warton of St. Asaph, and to Sir Thomas and Lady Pope, all of whom held or had held property in Bermondsey; Warton, who had been abbot of Bermondsey, was living in Curzon’s house when the will was made, and Southwell had once owned the buildings of the dissolved priory which Pope and his wife had bought. Curzon left his law books to his nephew William Curzon, who was to be admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in October 1552. He asked to be buried ‘without pomp or pride’ in the parish church at Bermondsey or wherever he might chance to die.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Elizabeth McIntyre
- 1. Aged ‘58 or more’ in Feb. 1549, St.Ch.3/1/99. PCC 18 Coode; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 91; G. A. Carthew, Launditch, ii. 746-7; Fac. Off. Reg. 1534-49, ed. Chambers, 104.
- 2. City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 8, f. 259; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 65, 76, 90; E371/300/46; LP Hen. VIII, v, xii-xviii, xx; HCA 14/2.
- 3. Stow, Survey London, i. 321; LP Hen. VIII, ii, iv; St.Ch.3/1/99.
- 4. St.Ch.1/9/241; 2/26/83; Archaeologia, xxv. 459; LP Hen. VIII, iv.
- 5. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 92; LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi; Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 224, 258.
- 6. City of London RO, rep. 2, ff. 27, 83, 350; 9, ff. 15, 245; CPR, 1547-8, p. 65; LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xiv, xvi; APC, i. 33; Req.2/9/109; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, p. cccvi.
- 7. London IPMs (Brit. Rec. Soc.), i. 125; ii. 54; CPR, 1547-8, p. 383; Rymer, Foedera, xv. 110; DKR, ix. App. ii. 197; M. C. Rosenfield. ‘The disposal of the property of London monastic houses (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1961), 288; LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xix; Req.2/9/109; PCC 18 Coode; L. W. Abbott. Law Reporting in Eng. 339-40; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 346; VCH Oxon. v. 303.
- 8. CPR, 1547-8, p. 368; PCC 18 Coode.