HEYWOOD, Richard (by 1520-70), of London.

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 1520, 2nd or 3rd s. of William Heywood of Stock, Essex; bro. of John. educ. L. Inn, adm. 25 July 1534. m. c.1539, Catherine, 4s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Keeper of the King’s seal, KB by 1549; commr. sewers, Mdx. 1554, Kent 1568.2


Richard Heywood’s early advancement owed much to his brother John’s favour with More. Richard Heywood entered Lincoln’s Inn where More’s son-in-law William Roper was a rising figure, and More’s nephew John Rastell (whose sister John Heywood married) was two years his senior. His admission may have been sponsored by Roper who was established as his master in 1535 when he was entrusted with reporting More’s trial. Roper took Heywood into his chamber at the inn and made him one of the clerks in his office of prothonotary in the King’s bench. Heywood was employed in this office by Trinity 1549 and remained there until 1568; the appearance of his name with Roper’s at the foot of plea roll membranes suggests that they may have shared the office or at least that Heywood was Roper’s secondary. From Michaelmas 1549 he was also keeper of the King’s seal in the same court and this office he was still occupying in the first term of Elizabeth’s reign. Neither office was salaried by the crown but they were highly remunerative in fees at a time when the King’s bench was regaining business. In 1556 Heywood stood surety for one of Roper’s kinsmen, Thomas More II, when he was prosecuted for leaving Parliament without a licence.3

It is just possible that Heywood sat in the Parliament of 1542. The indenture for Bramber is so mutilated that only ‘Ric’m Wa. ... ’ of the second Member’s name is legible; he is thought to have been the Admiralty official Richard Watkins, but if the initial letter of the surname should be read as ‘H’ then Heywood’s springs to mind; Roper had sat for this Sussex borough, through the patronage of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, in the Parliament of 1529 and perhaps in the two succeeding ones for which its returns are lost. The circumstances of Heywood’s election for Helston to the next Parliament, the last of Henry VIII’s reign, are clear enough: it must have been under the sponsorship of Sir Thomas Arundell, receiver-general of the duchy of Cornwall and a colleague of Roper, that he and John Arundell were chosen for the borough some four months after the majority of elections had been held. The delay in the opening of this Parliament was used by Sir Thomas Arundell to secure the adoption of several such aspirants. Heywood may have wanted a seat because of his family’s recent danger through his dramatist brother’s plotting against Cranmer. Of his contribution to Parliament nothing is known.4

Heywood prospered sufficiently to acquire considerable landed wealth. In 1547 he and John Webbe, another of Roper’s clients, were granted Crosby Place, London, by the Luccese merchant Antonio Bonvixi. Later he accumulated properties in Kent, Lincolnshire, Middlesex and Sussex. The three manors which he bought shortly before his death cost £1,200.5

The circle in which Heywood moved was predominantly Catholic and the inference that his own religious views were conservative is probably correct. He was appointed one of the original governors of Highgate school founded by Sir Roger Cholmley in 1564, and his belief in education is reflected in the provision in his undated will for legal training for his second son, to whom he also left his library, and for the entry to a university of his third. He made provision for his wife and other children, and left small mementoes to Roper, his dramatist brother, various Essex and Suffolk relatives, and (Sir) William Cordell. Heywood died on 2 May 1570; his widow married the notorious William Parry who wasted Heywood’s fortune and seduced his daughter.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. R. de la Bere, John Heywood, 271; PCC 18 Lyon.
  • 2. CPR, 1553-4, p. 37; 1569-72, p. 220.
  • 3. De la Bere, 271; Eliz. Govt. and Soc. ed. Bindoff, Hurstfield and Williams, 206; M. Blatcher, Ct. KB 1450-1550, p. 42; Roper, Life of More (EETS cxcvii), 96; A. W. Reed, Early Tudor Drama, 29-30, 32-33, 82; KB27/1177.
  • 4. Reed, 31; T. A. Lavelle, ‘Thomas Heywood, friar of St. Osyth’s’, Essex Recusant, ii. 46-48.
  • 5. Reed, 32; CPR, 1547-8, p. 203.
  • 6. CPR, 1563-6, p. 207; PCC 18 Lyon; C142/191/95; Strype, Annals, 365-7.