HOUGH, Richard (1505-73/74), of Leighton and Thornton Hough, Cheshire.

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. 5 Nov. 1505, 1st s. of Thomas Hough of Leighton by Catherine, da. of Thomas Grosvenor of Eaton. m. (1) Christian, da. of Sir George Calverley of Lea, 5s., (2) Margaret, da. of James Hurleston of Chester. suc. fa. June 1513.1

Offices Held

Servant, household of Cromwell by 1534-40; j.p. Cheshire 1558/59-d.2


The family of Hough had been established at Thornton Hough, in the Wirral, for at least four generations before it produced Richard Hough, who was born at Leighton and christened at Neston. Of Hough’s upbringing, including his wardship, nothing has been discovered. He is first mentioned as acting for Cromwell in December 1534 and in 1536 he appears more specifically as one of the lord privy seal’s men, being then described as a ‘sage and sober person’: he was not in regular service but was one of those to be allowed in the household only ‘when they have commandment or cause necessary to repair thither’. He did business for Cromwell in Chester, whence in January 1538 he reminded the minister of a promise to make him rider of Delamere forest in Cheshire, and in 1540 he carried messages and letters to the council in Ireland. A less conventional outcome of the relationship was the marriage of Hough’s son William to Cromwell’s illegitimate daughter Jane.3

It was probably after his service with Cromwell that Hough was accused of murder: the affair took place when Edward Fitton was sheriff of Cheshire, that is, either in 1531-2 or 1543-4. The plaintiff in the Star Chamber, John Massey, described how he and his servants had been leaving Chester one afternoon when they were attacked by Hough and others: one of Massey’s servants, Randolph Davenport, was killed and Massey and other servants left for dead. At the inquest on Davenport the coroner had laboured ‘to obtain lightly the pardon of the said Hough and to save his lands, which be yearly 20 marks in lands and above’, and in this he had succeeded with the connivance of the sheriff and ‘by the maintenance of divers gentlemen, being near kinsmen to the said Hough, who caused their own tenants and servants to be put upon the said [in]quest.’ The affray could well have taken place in the spring of 1544, when both Hough and Massey were petty captains of companies raised for the Scottish war, and in such circumstances it is likely to have blown over.4

By contrast with his earlier years the next phase of Hough’s career remains obscure, but his reemergence in 1558 as senior knight of the shire for Cheshire suggests that in the course of it he had lived down the scandal of Davenport’s death and confirmed his place in local society. His marriage into the prominent Calverley family had doubtless helped him: it was with his brother-in-law Sir Hugh Calverley that he had served in 1544. Hough was also connected by marriage with Richard Wilbraham, knight of the shire in the three previous Parliaments, who may have supported both him and his fellow Sir John Done. Nothing is known of Hough’s part in the proceedings of this Parliament, but between its two sessions he was granted an annuity of £4 to be assigned by the court of wards from the property in Wallasey and elsewhere of the late Robert Litherland and with it the wardship and marriage of John Litherland.5

Not until after Elizabeth’s accession was Hough appointed to the Cheshire bench, the reason being doubtless the support for the new religious settlement with which the bishop of Chester credited him in 1564. In this he differed from his son William, who was to suffer imprisonment and sequestration as a recusant. The condition which Hough laid down in a document preceding his will, that if William did not ‘perform the consideration’ of the legacy given to him the will should be void, may bear some relation to this rift between them, as may the subsequent exhortation that the son should ‘establish his inheritance’. The will itself does not seem to have survived but Hough is known to have died in the 16th year of Elizabeth, 1573-4. A valuation of his lands given in 1577, £50 a year at the ‘old ancient rent’, shows a marked increase on John Massey’s earlier estimate, presumably as a result of Hough’s acquisition of monastic properties.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Date of birth from declaration of age, Cheshire 3/64/16. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 128-9; Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 552.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xii, xv; CPR, 1560-3, p. 444; 1563-6, p. 28. Cheshire Q. Sess. Recs. (Chetham Soc. xciv), 37-38.
  • 3. Ormerod, ii. 304, 552; Cheshire 3/64/16; LP Hen. VIII, vii, xi-xvi, xix; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 503; Elton, Policy and Police, 281, 349-50; Add. 20706.
  • 4. St.Ch. (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lxxi), 113, 122-3; HMC Bath, iv. 66.
  • 5. CPR, 1557-8, pp. 358-9.
  • 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 76; Ormerod, ii. 552-3; K. R. Wark, Eliz. Recusancy in Cheshire (Chetham Soc. ser. 3, xix), 14; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 68-69.