HUSSEY, Sir John (1463/65-1537), of Sleaford, Lincs.; Dagenham, Essex and 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. 1463/65, 1st s. of Sir William Hussey of Sleaford and Dagenham by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Berkeley of Wymondham, Leics., bro. of William Hussey I. m. (1) by Aug. 1492, Margaret (d. June 1509), da. and h. of Simon Blount of Mangotsfield, Glos., at least 2s. inc. William Hussey II; (2) Anne, da. of George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent, at least 1s. Thomas II 4da., 1 other s. suc. fa. 8 Sept. 1495. Kntd. 17 June 1497, banneret 1513; cr. Lord Hussee or Husey, adm. Lords 1 Dec. 1529.4

Offices Held

Surveyor, possessions late of George, Duke of Clarence, Lincs. 1481; steward, manors of Belvoir, Leics., Bottesford, Friston, Lincs. 1486 (with Sir Reginald Bray) 1496-1503, Grantham and Stamford, Lincs., sole 1503, Folkingham, Ruskington, Lincs., Caythorpe, Leics. 1509, jt. (with s. William) 1510, Boston, Lincs. 1510; sheriff, Lincs. 1493-4; esquire of the body 1494, knight 1503, troner and peiser, Boston 1494; j.p. Lincs. 1495-d., Essex 1506-13, Kent 1506-9, Hunts. 1510-d.; commr. array, Lincs. 1496, inquiry, duchy of Lancaster 1505, musters, Greenwich 1512, mint 1512, subsidy, Lincs. 1623, 1514, 1515, 1523, 1524; master of wards 9 Dec. 1503-13; steward, duchy of Lancaster, Long Barrington and Long Sutton, Lincs. 1504-24; collector petty customs, Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks. 1505, gauger 1506; King’s councillor 1505; comptroller, the Household 1509; custos rot. Lincs. by 1513; chief butler 1 June 1521-d.; chamberlain, household of Princess Mary 1533-d.5


Sir William Hussey, who had been made chief justice of the King’s bench by Edward IV, was confirmed in his appointment by Henry VII (although his brother Gilbert Hussey lost the receivership of Guisnes) and retained it until his death. His son John may have received some legal education at Gray’s Inn but was never to practice as a lawyer. Early in Henry VII’s reign he entered the royal household, probably under the sponsorship of Sir Reginald Bray, a lifelong friend (and perhaps kinsman) of his father with whom he would later hold several stewardships: he was present at the peace negotiations with France in 1492, the meeting with the Archduke Philip and the reception of Catherine of Aragon. From Bray he gained the administrative experience which qualified him to become the first master of the wards, although his mentor had died shortly before: in that capacity he emerged as one of the directors of the household organization and a highly regarded royal adviser, but without incurring the obloquy which attached to some of that group. At the accession of Henry VIII, when he had been comptroller for only a few months, he was confirmed in all his offices: the rumour current in 1510 that he had lost his mastership of the wards proved groundless as he kept it for three more years.6

Hussey had made proof of his allegiance to the house of Tudor as early as 1487 when he fought on the King’s side at Stoke; ten years later he took part at Blackheath where he was knighted on the field; and in 1513 he served with distinction during the Tournai campaign, being then made a banneret. His duties at court did not prevent him from taking an interest in the affairs of his home county, where even before his father’s successful career his family had enjoyed some standing; in 1493 he was pricked sheriff and two years later he succeeded to his father’s place on the local bench. By 1508, when the King visited him (albeit at Dagenham), he was probably the most influential man in the shire and already a parliamentary patron in several of its constituencies.7

In 1514 he accompanied Henry VIII’s sister, Princess Mary, to Paris for her marriage to Louis XII, and thereafter he attended all the important state occasions at home and abroad. Unlike his more elderly colleagues he was not opposed to the Continental involvement of Wolsey’s time, and he was entrusted with the care of many foreign diplomats in England. Although seemingly one of Wolsey’s closest adherents, he did not suffer any setback at the cardinal’s fall. In the summer of 1529 he appeared as a witness against the papal dispensation allowing the King’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and in the following year he signed the petition to the pope for a divorce. It was doubtless as much for his loyalty in the ‘great matter’ as in recognition of his long service that in 1529 he was raised to the peerage. There was as yet, or for some time to come, no hint that he was suspect: he continued to receive New Year’s gifts from the King, became chamberlain to Princess Mary, and was present at both the coronation of Anne Boleyn and the christening of Princess Elizabeth, when he was one of the canopy bearers. He also witnessed the submission of the clergy. The religious changes following the Divorce were eventually to trouble his conscience but seem never to have strained his allegiance, he himself confessing shortly before his death that the limit of his disloyalty was a decision of 1534 never to become a heretic.8

So prominent a man doubtless sat in Parliament regularly, but the loss of so many early 16th century names means that Hussey is known to have been elected only three times. In 1515 he and Sir Nicholas Vaux took a ‘memorandum ... concerning certain Acts of Parliament’ from the Commons to the Upper House: presumably he was sitting for Lincolnshire, where he was afterwards appointed a commissioner for the tax which he had helped to grant and where he was to be returned twice more. In 1523 he caused ‘sore discontent’ when during the long drawn-out debate on the subsidy bill he moved to please the cardinal somewhat, ‘Let us gentlemen of fifty pound lands and upwards, give to the King of our lands 12d. of the pound, to be paid in three years’.He remarked to his associate Lord Darcy on 6 July that they were so occupied with ‘common causes in the Parliament’ that Hussey had had no time to press his and Darcy’s own matters. Six years later he attended the House for four weeks before taking his place in the Lords on 1 Dec. 1529. Beyond his presences and absences little is known about his part in the Upper House: he absented himself from the sixth session early in 1534, and on 30 Jan. 1536 he wrote to Cromwell, ‘as one who is not able to ride or go’, to be excused from the forthcoming eighth session because he feared he would not reach London alive. He did, however, manage the journey from Lincolnshire for the short Parliament of June-July 1536. It is not known who took Hussey’s place in the Commons: a list of suggested replacements, probably compiled late in 1532, mentions three names, those of Robert Hussey, the new peer’s brother, William Skipwith and Sir Robert Tyrwhitt. As Skipwith was to be knighted in 1533 or 1534, and was to be returned for the shire in 1539, he was probably the one chosen.9

It was as a sick man that Hussey had made his will on 22 Oct. and three months later had excused himself to Cromwell: whether he was still suffering from the effects of this illness in the following summer is not clear. Shortly after his return to Sleaford from the Parliament of 1536, rebellion broke out in Lincolnshire. He tried to raise the county for the King, but his efforts evoked little support and the Council had to call upon the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury to restore order. Hussey joined Shrewsbury with 200 men well horsed and harnessed, but on the Council’s orders he was not allowed to lead them any further, being conveyed instead to London to defend his own ill success. His answers satisfied the King and he was allowed to go free, informing Darcy of his good fortune early in November. It was this continuing association with a man who so conspicuously failed to resist the concurrent rising in Yorkshire that was to prove fatal to Hussey: arrested in the following spring, he was imprisoned in the Tower, condemned for treason at Westminster, and executed at Lincoln on or shortly before 8 July, the day on which Cromwell mentioned his death in a letter. In 1539 an Act of attainder (31 Hen. VIII, c.15) was passed retrospectively against him, Darcy and the Marquess of Exeter; his forfeited lands were said to be worth about £5,000 a year. His children were restored in blood under Edward VI and Elizabeth, but the attainder was never reversed.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. House of Lords RO, LJ ms i. 103; LJ , i. 46 gives ‘Thomas’ in error for John.
  • 2. Hall, Chron. 657.
  • 3. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 4. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 1166 and depositions concerning his age in 1529(3) and in 1533(69), LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi. DNB; CP; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 279; PCC 32 Vox. 4 Alen, 22 Holgrave.
  • 5. CPR , 1476-85, p. 281; 1485-94, pp. 85, 455; 1494-1509, pp. 39, 67, 334, 428, 489, 639-50; CFR , 1485-1509, nos. 838-9, 497, 861; Statutes, iii. 87, 117, 168; LP Hen. VIII, i-xii; Somerville, Duchy, i. 574.
  • 6. CPR, 1485-94, p. 455; 1494-1509, pp. 39, 404, 407, 420; PCC 32 Vox; LP Rich. III and Hen. VII (Rolls Ser. xxiv), i. 88; ii. 291, 410; Memorials Hen. VII (Rolls Ser. x), 106, 121; LP Hen. VIII, i; W. C. Richardson, Tudor Chamber Admin. 8, 191n, 170.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, i-xii; Memorials Hen. VII, 128.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, i-xii; Rutland Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xxi), 51; Chron. Calais (Cam. Soc. xxxv), 11, 21, 89; S. E. Lehmberg, Ref. Parlt. 46, 152; EHR, lxiv. 533; R. B. Smith, Land and Politics, 170; A. F. Pollard, Wolsey, 357.
  • 9. House of Lords RO, LJ ms i. 103; LP Hen. VIII, v; vii. 56 citing SP1/82, ff. 59-62; x, xi; Hall, 657; SP1/28, p. 106; Lehmberg, 56, 58, 60.
  • 10. SP1/122, ff. 155-74; M. H. and R. Dodds, Pilgrimage of Grace, i. 96-119, 130-2, 246, 289-92, 331; LP Hen. VIII, xi, xii; Chron. Grey Friars, London (Cam. Soc. liii), 41; Wriothesley’s Chron. i (Cam. Soc. n.s. xi), 62; Richardson, 172; H. Miller, ‘The Early Tudor peerage’ (Univ. London M.A. thesis, 1950), 78-81.