PARKER, Henry (by 1509-51), of Berden, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. by 1509. m. by Mar. 1537, Mary., s.p.1
There were at least four men of this name in Henry VIII’s household, but the identity of the Member for Bedford seems clear. Henry Parker ‘of the Household’ and his wife Mary received a lease of Berden priory in March 1537 and two years later a crown grant of the property in tail male with appurtenances elsewhere, including some in Clavering near Saffron Walden. In October 1550 William Smith of Woburn, Bedfordshire alienated his interest in Clavering rectory to Parker. The will of Henry Parker of Berden, made on 7 Aug. 1551, identifies Smith as his uncle and the Woburn connexion further points to Parker as the servant of Sir Francis Bryan. When Bryan was ambassador in France (1530-1) his servant carried letters between the English and French courts. An augmentations grant of 1544-5 to Parker, as groom of the chamber, of the keepership of the ‘little park of Ampthill’ in reversion after Bryan confirms the identification, for Parker of Berden’s will was to mention ‘stuff’ at Ampthill.3
The will also deals with property at Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, part of a grant for which Parker and one Peter Grey of London had paid almost £400 in 1549 and which comprised land in 12 or more Bedfordshire parishes, including Milton Bryant, in Essex and elsewhere in Hertfordshire. Another grant to Grey and Parker, dated 1548, included the chantry house of Chalgrave, Bedfordshire: Grey and Smith had earlier acquired one of the manors in Chalgrave. These transactions suggest that Parker need not have been altogether an ‘outsider’ at the time of his election although he would still have needed a patron in a town where, so far as is known, he owned no property. The most likely patron was Bryan, but Henry Parker, 10th Lord Morley, who had married into the Bedfordshire family of St. John, could also have wielded influence. Parker called Morley’s son, Sir Henry Parker, his ‘most loving and assured friend’ in his will, left his children £50 and named him co-executor with the widow. The widow was to have the Bishop’s Stortford property, everything at Berden, and the ‘stuff’ at London and Ampthill. Clavering parsonage was to be sold to pay debts and legacies but Parker’s legal heir, his brother John, who was over 60 when he succeeded, contested the sale and was granted livery of one third of the parsonage. The will was proved on 7 Sept. 1551, the date given in Parker’s inquisition post mortem as that of his death.4