MOSELEY, Humphrey (by 1526-92), of London.
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Family and Education
Under treasurer, M. Temple 1551-6.
Humphrey Moseley was probably related to the ancient family of Moseley of Moseley, Staffordshire, for he was entitled to bear similar arms. A younger son he made the law his profession, and his career provides some insight into how a resourceful lawyer sought and gained election to the House of Commons. By 1547 he was solicitor to Sir John Thynne, and in 1551 he was appointed, at the instance of John Mawdley II, to one of the senior offices of his inn, that of under treasurer. His service to Thynne brought him the patronage of the Duke of Somerset. In April 1550 two letters from the duke to the city of London, recommending him as town clerk, were considered by the court of common council, but the request was evidently refused. It was through Somerset, however, that five months later he was granted the reversion of the secondaryship of one of the compters, to which he succeeded in 1557.4
It was Thynne who had nominated Moseley for Marlborough in 1547, and on 10 Jan. 1553, when elections were pending for the next Parliament, Moseley wrote to his patron asking him to secure his re-election for the borough. Moseley had sued Marlborough for wages of nearly £40, but he offered to serve without payment and to compound for the earlier debt if he should be returned again. He trusted that the borough would accept Thynne’s nomination but, if not, he asked his master to advise the sheriff, (Sir) William Sharington, to secure his return elsewhere in Wiltshire. Moseley insisted that ‘there must be speedy diligence used for there is great expedition to elect knights and burgesses’. Perhaps Moseley was held in some odium by the Wiltshire boroughs on account of his suit against Marlborough; he was passed over when the return was made there on 6 Feb. and was unable to find a seat elsewhere in the county. On 15 Feb. he was returned for the Cornish borough of Mitchell owned by the Arundells of Lanherne. It was not, however, to Sir John Arundell who was under surveillance by the Council that he owed his return with an official of the royal household, Robert Beverley, but probably to Sir John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, as high steward of the duchy of Cornwall, on the recommendation of Humphrey Cavell. A contemporary of Moseley at the Middle Temple, Cavell stood close to Bedford and his own return on this occasion for Bossiney and Ludgershall was almost certainly the earl’s work.5
Moseley’s career is illuminated by the series of letters which he wrote to Thynne and which are preserved at Longleat: these deal both with Thynne’s private affairs and with a range of public events in which he was interested. A letter from Moseley to Thynne of 13 Nov. 1553 describes his handling of Thynne’s lawsuit against Charles, 8th Baron Stourton, then lord lieutenant of Wiltshire. In September 1553 Stourton had directed the sheriff of Wiltshire not to return such traitors as Thynne and (Sir) John Bonham to Parliament, whereupon Thynne and Bonham brought an action for slander against Stourton; Moseley rallied opinion to Thynne among his fellow-lawyers by showing them Stourton’s rashly worded directive to the sheriff. The outcome is not known, but in January 1554 Moseley was able to report of Stourton, ‘I hear none of the accustomed brags’.6
Stourton’s influence may none the less have kept Moseley himself out of the Parliament of October 1553. Unlike Thynne, however, Moseley was to sit in three of Mary’s remaining Parliaments. In April 1554 he found a place at Aylesbury, a borough which had been incorporated three months before in reward for its fidelity during the succession crisis. Some mystery surrounds this first election at Aylesbury: the names on the return, made on 31 Mar., are those of Thomas Smith II and ‘Peckham esquire’, the christian name having been torn off, but on the Crown Office list the name of Henry Peckham has been crossed out and that of Humphrey Moseley superscribed. Henry Peckham was certainly returned for Chipping Wycombe, which he had represented in the two preceding Parliaments. The returns for Chipping Wycombe and Aylesbury bear the same date, and it seems, therefore, that Peckham, finding himself returned by both boroughs, chose to sit again for Chipping Wycombe, Moseley filling the vacancy thus created at Aylesbury. Moseley’s connexion with Sir Thomas Pakington, patron of the borough, may have been through the London merchant community: he was to be admitted a freeman of the Mercers’ Company in 1557.7
Preoccupation with his professional career may explain Moseley’s absence from the Parliament of November 1554. Earlier in that year he informed Thynne that he proposed to pursue the law diligently with the aim of becoming a serjeant, and he asked to be spared Thynne’s business until he could serve him ‘as the best learned in the law is now able’. In 1555 Moseley turned to Gatton where the sole elector was Dame Elizabeth Copley. Her son Thomas was an Inner Templar and had first sat for the family borough in the spring of 1554 with Thomas Gatacre, a young Middle Templar whose brother-in-law, (Sir) Robert Broke, was a close friend of Moseley. Ten days before the Parliament of 1555 met, Gatacre and Moseley stood pledges for a student admitted to the Middle Temple ‘at the special instance of Sir Robert Broke’. Moseley’s return for Wootton Bassett in Mary’s last Parliament and Elizabeth’s first suggests that on both occasions he fell back on Thynne’s influence, which was to predominate in the borough in the early part of Elizabeth’s reign. His name is one of those marked with a circle on the list of Members of the Parliament of 1558 in use for the second session, but the significance of the annotation has yet to be explained.8
Moseley died on 4 July 1592.9