DANBY, Sir Christopher (1503-71), of Farnley, Masham and Thorpe Perrow, Yorks.; St. Paul's Cray, Kent; Kettleby, Lincs. and Neyland, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. Jan./Oct. 1503, 1st s. of Sir Christopher Danby of Thorpe Perrow by Margaret, da. and event. coh. of Thomas, 5th Lord Scrope of Masham. m. by 1531, Elizabeth, da. of Richard Neville, 2nd Lord Latimer 6s. 8da. suc. fa. 17 May 1518. Kntd. 25 May 1533.1
J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1538-45, (N. Riding) 1538-45, 1558/59-d.; commr. musters (N. Riding) 1539, benevolence (N. Riding) 1544/45, relief (N. Riding) 1550; sheriff, Yorks. 1545-6.2
For one so well endowed and connected Christopher Danby was to live a relatively obscure life. Among the earlier references to him are those of his securing exemption from serving on juries or as sheriff in November 1532, and of his being released from the shrievalty when he was pricked in 1543 after nominations in 1538 and 1539; he did, however, serve as a juror in 1537, join the bench in 1538 and other commissions thereafter, and become sheriff in 1545. His knighthood presents a not dissimilar pattern, for it was only after being fined for not having been knighted that he was dubbed at the coronation of Anne Boleyn.3
Danby was momentarily involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace. On 15 Oct. 1536 the lords at Pontefract castle reported that he and his brother-in-law Sir John Neville I, 3rd Lord Latimer, had been taken by the rebels; both men managed to extricate themselves and Danby, in the 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s phrase, showed himself a true subject by acting as a grand juror in the trials of his less fortunate colleagues, including his cousin Lord Darcy. His own survival of the crisis was marked by his entry upon local administration and by his association with the defence of Berwick. Some years later he was listed among the few Yorkshire knights fit to serve against the Scots, and in 1544 he was charged with raising 50 or 100 men for the Scottish campaign.4
In 1538 Danby engaged in a scheme to exchange his lands in Kent and Suffolk, part of the Scrope inheritance, with the King and Cromwell for Yorkshire lands. In May of that year Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland, asked Cromwell to ensure that, in view of the intended marriage between his daughter and Danby’s son Thomas, the new lands should descend to Thomas Danby as the old were to have done. In the event nothing seems to have come of the proposed exchange. It seems that Danby himself might have been ennobled, for Sir William Paget named him as one of the men whom Henry VIII chose on his deathbed to be ‘advanced’: if so, it would probably have been because of his connexion with Queen Catherine Parr, who had been the wife of the 3rd Lord Latimer. Nothing has been discovered about Danby’s attitude towards the religious changes of these years but in view of his Catholicism in later life he is likely to have been more at ease under Mary than under Edward VI. It was then that he had his only spell in Parliament as junior knight for Yorkshire with Sir William Babthorpe, although his part in the proceedings has left no trace.5
After 1558 Danby was again a dissentient. Listed among the justices who were accounted ‘no favourers of religion’ in 1564, in November of the following year he was in some trouble with both the council in the north and the Privy Council. His younger son Christopher was, in the words of (Sir) Thomas Gargrave, ‘one of the chief rebels for religion’ in 1569, as was a son-in-law, Sir John Neville of Liversedge, Yorkshire. Danby made his will on 27 Mar. 1568 and died on 14 June 1571. His son and heir Sir Thomas Danby was then over 40 years old.