NEWDIGATE, Nicholas (1520-64 or later), of Westminster, Mdx. and Oxhey Hall, Watford, Herts.

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. 6 Dec. 1520, 6th but 4th surv. s. of John Newdigate of Harefield, Mdx. by Anne, da. and h. of Nicholas Hilton of Cambridge; bro. of John, Francis and Robert. educ. Eton; King’s, Camb. adm. 19 Feb. 1541.1

Offices Held

Surveyor, lands of Westminster abbey 2 Jan. 1557-8 or later; bailiff, Westminster Nov. 1558/Jan. 1559-60.2


Nicholas Newdigate received at his father’s death in 1545 an annuity of £4 (to be increased to £5 when his mother died) ‘until he be preferred by my son John to some living of better value’; the elder John Newdigate also exhorted his wife and eldest son to ‘set forth my son Nicholas to some good service as shortly as they can’. The first office Nicholas Newdigate is known to have obtained was that of surveyor of the lands of Westminster abbey, at a fee of 40s. which he received in January 1557: 11 months later he was given a 21-year lease of some of the abbey’s property in Tothill Street. His surveyorship is perhaps sufficient to account for his Membership of Mary’s last Parliament but he could have received support from the same quarter as enabled his brother John to become one of the knights for Middlesex. As an officer of the abbey he presumably resisted the measures introduced during the first session abolishing sanctuary at Westminster, and it was perhaps he who moved the Speaker to summon Abbot Feckenham before the House to defend the right. Both Newdigate’s name and his brother’s are among those marked with a circle on the list of Members as revised for the second session, the significance of which has not been explained.3

If Newdigate’s appointment as bailiff of Westminster at the accession of Elizabeth was meant as a reward for recent service in the House, it was also to augment his modest fee from the abbey as surveyor and ‘upon colour to avoid Sir Edward North from the same’. The circumstances of the grant are obscure, being known only from allegations made several years later by his successor as bailiff William Bowyer, but Abbot Feckenham seems to have curried North’s favour by offering him the bailiwick while allowing Newdigate to discharge it ‘upon such conditions as he should challenge nothing thereby’. One of the duties performed by the bailiff was as returning officer at elections and this presumably barred his re-election in 1559 when Westminster abbey was dissolved. The Act for the dissolution (1 Eliz., c.24) safeguarded all grants of office and he continued to exercise his for another year, although Bowyer claimed the grant ‘thereby void in law’. During 1560 Newdigate asked (Sir) Thomas Parry as steward of the abbey’s lands for preferment to the service of Sir Robert Dudley and let Parry have his patent. Shortly before his death Parry sent the patent to the dean and chapter of Westminster with a new one with ‘more granted’ in Bowyer’s name. Newdigate had understood his appointment to be for life, but despite his petition for redress Bowyer kept it. The loss of Newdigate’s position at Westminster seems to have been followed, not by advancement with Dudley, but by a futher decline in fortune, if the only later reference to him found is any indication. On 28 May 1564 the Privy Council ordered the bishop of Chichester to send some of his men to accompany two of the Queen’s servants ‘sent down with Nicholas Newdigate to recover a bag of money of the said Newdigate’s, which he hath left in a place between Chichester and Sidlesham ... that done, Newdigate to return hither in keeping of the Queen’s men again’.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Date of birth given in F. A. Crisp, Vis. Eng. and Wales, notes, vii. 34-36.
  • 2. Westminster Abbey 37730; C219/26/58; SP12/31/44.
  • 3. London consist. ct. 77 Thirlby; Westminster Abbey 37730; reg. 4, f. 50; CJ, i. 49; DNB (Feckenham, John); Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264.
  • 4. SP12/31/44; Westminster Abbey 33198 DE; 37730; CPR, 1558-60, p. 209; APC, vii. 146.