NOWELL, Andrew (by 1512-63), of Whitwell, Rutland and Old Dalby, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1512, 3rd s. of James Nowell of Hilcote, Derbys. by da. of one Poole of Langley, Derbys. m. (1) Dorothy, da. of Reynold or Richard Conyers, wid. of Richard or Roger Flower of Whitwell, 1s.; (2) settlement Apr. 1551, Elizabeth, da. of John Hopton of Glos., wid. of Sir John Peryent (d.1551), 4s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Feodary, Northants. and Rutland May 1533-d., Leics. June 1534-d., Lincs. Nov. 1535-d.; sheriff, Rutland 1536-7, 1550-1, 1556-7, Lincs. 1546-7; subsidy collector, Rutland 1543; commr. musters, Rutland 1546, contribution 1546, relief, Leics.Rutland 1550; j.p. Leics. 1558/59, Rutland 1561-d.2


A younger son of an unimportant gentleman, Andrew Nowell probably received some training in law, for the feodaryships which laid the foundation of his fortune called for legal knowledge. Under whose patronage he was appointed to them has not been discovered: since they were in the gift of the master of the wards it must have been either Sir William Paulet or Thomas Englefield, joint masters at the time, who were responsible or instrumental, but nothing has been found to link Nowell with them. Nowell was to derive from the offices more than their considerable financial rewards: he secured for his heir a wardship which led to an excellent match and to much of the family’s future prosperity, and his own second wife was the widow of a former auditor of the wards.3

Nowell’s acquisition of a landed estate began in 1544 with his purchase of Old Dalby manor from the crown; in 1546 he bought another ex-monastic manor, Stonesby, Leicestershire, from John Bellow and Edward Bales, and in 1548 he completed the purchase of Brooke priory, Rutland, from Sir Anthony Cope. Within a few years he also acquired most of the non-monastic lands in Brooke, Dalby and Stonesby. These transactions gave him a stake in Leicestershire and may have enhanced his position in neighbouring Rutland, where he had also bought land. His return for that county to Mary’s first Parliament cannot be explained, however, in terms of his landholding there, for despite its small size Rutland had men of far greater substance and much longer residence. In particular, Nowell’s displacement of Anthony Colly, who with Kenelm Digby had represented the county in the three previous Parliaments and was to sit for it again in the next two, suggests that there were particular reasons for the change, although what these were can only be guessed at. Nowell’s ward John Flower married a daughter of Colly’s: if this marriage had taken place or been arranged by 1553 Colly could well have stepped down then in Nowell’s favour. With his exceptional knowledge of land-ownership in the county Nowell may have appeared well qualified for a Parliament in which the future of church property might be raised, especially as his own estate was largely ex-monastic. In the event, Parliament was not yet called upon to face this issue, and in its restoration of Catholic doctrine Nowell was evidently ready to concur, his name being unmarked on the list which recorded those of his fellows who ‘stood for the true religion’.4

Nowell died on 31 Jan. 1563, having made his will on 6 Dec. 1559. One of its executors was his brother-in-law Maurice Tyrrell. He did not leave the customary third of his estates to John Nowell, his heir by his first marriage, and he instructed his cousin Robert Nowell to explain the reasons for this to the Queen; the bulk of his property passed to his eldest son by his second wife, but although Robert Nowell, when he granted John Nowell a lease in 1563, exhorted him to come to an agreement with his stepmother, the will does not appear to have been formally disputed and it was proved on 4 Feb. 1563. John Nowell’s share was the manor of Quadring, Lincolnshire, to which he was to add lands brought by his wife: their son was wealthy enough to purchase a viscountcy from James I.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 3, 28, 114; Vis. Rutland (Harl. Soc. iii), 29; CPR, 1550-3, p. 85; PCC 6 Chayre.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, vi, vii, ix, xxi; E179/281; CPR, 1553, pp. 356-7.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xviii, xix; H. E. Bell, Ct. Wards and Liveries, 10, 24, 38 seq.; CPR, 1547-8, p. 75; 1550-3, p. 101; 1555-7, pp. 288, 483; 1560-3, p. 84.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xix, xxi; SC6/Edw. VI, 225; CPR, 1547-8, p. 338; CP40/33 Hen. VIII, m. 18v; C142/137/29.
  • 5. C142/137/33; PCC 6 Chayre; Pevsner, Leics. and Rutland, 204.