DENYS, Richard (1525-93/94), of Cold Ashton, Glos.

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. c.1525, 1st s. of Sir Walter Denys by 1st w. m. by 1557, Anne, da. of Sir John St. John of Bletsoe, Beds., 4s. 6da. suc. fa. Feb./May 1571.2

Offices Held

Steward in guerris of dean and chapter of Wells Dec. 1558; j.p. Glos. 1558/59, 1564-9 or later.3


Richard Denys’s election for Bath was his only known incursion into public affairs before the accession of Elizabeth. The eldest son of a leading local figure he might have been expected to play a more prominent part in Gloucestershire after his father’s death, but a depleted inheritance encumbered with debt and subject to litigation left him without the means to support his family’s position in the county, and he was to die a poor man during the winter of 1593-4.4

Denys’s parentage may be enough to account for his return in 1547, when his uncle Sir Maurice Denys also found a seat. No connexion between Richard Denys and the Seymours has been found to explain why so young a man was elected, but he may have come to their attention if he had served at Boulogne under his maternal kinsman (Sir) Nicholas Arnold or later during the Scottish campaign with his home county’s contingent. Relatives more influential than his father may have favoured Denys; an uncle, Sir John Rogers, joined Denys in the House as one of the knights for Dorset, and through him Denys was kin to the Somerset magnate, Sir Edward Rogers, while his own marriage into the St. John family, if it had either been arranged or had already taken place, might have helped him to emulate two of his equally youthful brothers-in-law, Oliver St. John and (Sir) Francis Russell, who both sat in this Parliament. Finally, his election could have had the support of the dean and chapter of Wells, who were later to make him steward of their lands.

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from parents’ marriage in 1522; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 51-52; Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 53; C142/141/38; PCC 45 Welles, 26 Holney.
  • 3. HMC Wells, ii. 281; CPR, 1563-6, p. 22; 1569-72, p. 224.
  • 4. PCC 20 Windebanck.