DELVES, Sir Henry (by 1498-1560), of Doddington, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. by 1498, 1st s. of Henry Delves of Doddington by Margaret, da. of Sir William Brereton of Brereton. m. by 1519, Cecily, da. of (Sir) Richard Broke of London, at least 4s. inc. George† 2da. suc. fa. by 1533. Kntd. 30 May 1533.1
Sheriff, Cheshire 1537-8, 1545-6; j.p. 1539-d.; commr. musters 1544, 1545, contribution 1546, relief 1550.2
The Delves family, originally of Delves Hall in Staffordshire, had been established at Doddington since the time of Edward III. Although there is some confusion about Henry Delves’s parentage, the Cheshire historian Ormerod’s statement that he was the man of that name found heir apparent to Richard Delves, canon of Lichfield, appears to be untrue. The same authority adds, but without giving a source, that Delves was steward to the 5th Lord Fitzwarin in 1518 and to the 1st Earl of Rutland in 1526. The first clear trace of Delves appears to be his knighting at the coronation of Anne Boleyn in 1533, when he was one of four Cheshire gentlemen so honoured. In the following year Delves was among those who entertained Gregory Cromwell and his tutor Henry Dowes on their visit to the county and he was commended by Dowes to Gregory’s father for his hospitality. Later in the year he was nominated for the shrievalty but passed over. When he was pricked in 1537 he refused to have as under sheriff one Thomas Hurleston, whom Cromwell wanted appointed, on the score of unfitness for the office, although Sir William Brereton told Cromwell in January 1538 that it was because Delves favoured Sir Piers Dutton: how the matter was resolved does not appear, but it did not check Delves’s progress, which continued with his appointment to the Cheshire bench in 1539 and a second shrievalty in 1545. In common with many Cheshire gentlemen he served as a captain in the Earl of Hertford’s expedition to Scotland in 1544 but he does not seem to have attached himself politically to the future Protector. As one who was sued in the course of Henry VIII’s reign for enclosing common land he may not have favoured the Protector’s agrarian programme, although it was not the tenants but a neighbouring landowner, Sir Lawrence Smith, who took him to the Star Chamber after an expedition to level the offending hedges had led to a fight.3
Delves’s election as senior knight for Cheshire to the second Marian Parliament neither calls for nor elicits any particular explanation: in a shire dominated by a group of powerful families which supplied its representatives in fairly regular rotation, a landowner who had twice been sheriff and who was great-uncle to the head of the leading house of Brereton could be expected to take his turn among them. The Journal does not mention him. Although he was not re-elected to Parliament he remained active in the administration of the shire until his death at Wybunbury on 6 Aug. 1560. No will has been found.4