PERCY, Henry (c.1532-85), of Alnwick, Northumb.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. c.1532, 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Percy of Prudhoe by Eleanor, da. of Sir Guischard Harbottle of Horton; bro. of Thomas. m. by 25 Jan. 1562, Catherine, da. and coh. of John Neville, 4th Lord Latimer, 8s. 3da. Kntd. 30 Apr. 1557; suc. bro. as 2nd Earl of Northumberland 22 Aug. 1572.2

Offices Held

Capt. Norham castle, Northumb. by Jan. 1558; constable, Tynemouth castle, Northumb. 1559, gov. 1560-83; member, council in the north Dec. 1558-Apr. 1571; j.p. co. Dur. 1558/59, Northumb. 1558/59, q. 1561-4, Cumb., Yorks. (E. and N. Ridings) 1569; sheriff, Northumb. 1562-3; commr. piracy 1565, to enforce Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy, province of York 1568; steward, former lands of Tynemouth priory, Northumb. 1570-?83.3


Henry Percy was about five years of age when his father, brother to the 5th Earl of Northumberland, was executed for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. With the bestowal of the Percy estates upon the crown and the death of the earl shortly afterwards, the family lost much of its importance, but the custody of its remaining representatives was a matter of concern; among their guardians was Sir Thomas Tempest. Henry Percy received gifts in his grandmother the countess’s will of 1542 and his stepfather Sir Richard Holland’s of 1548. In the following year his brother was restored in blood.4

Percy had only recently come of age when he was returned for Morpeth to the third Marian Parliament. He had no known connexion with the borough and was probably the nominee of the 3rd Lord Dacre, the most influential figure there. His brother’s election to the same Parliament as senior knight of the shire for Westmorland suggests that there was some agreement to give the two a start in the Commons together, although in the upshot neither was to have much future there, Thomas Percy being soon elevated to the Lords and Henry Percy reappearing only in 1571. As might be expected neither is to be found on the list of Members who quitted this Parliament without leave before its dissolution. On 30 Apr. 1557 Henry Percy was knighted and when on the following day his brother was created Earl of Northumberland it was with remainder to Percy in default of heirs. Both were soon engaged in border warfare, the new peer being made joint warden of the east march and his brother probably becoming his deputy. Percy bought the captaincy of Norham from Richard Norton, who was reprimanded by the crown for the transaction, and also appears to have obtained the custody of Tynemouth castle, though not made its governor until 1560.5

At first trusted by the Elizabethan government, Percy remained loyal in 1569 and was a Member of the Parliament of 1571 which attainted his brother and other leaders of the rebellion. He succeeded to the earldom on his brother’s execution but was himself committed to the Tower on suspicion and did not take his seat in the Lords until 1576. Sent to the Tower again in 1584 in connexion with the Throckmorton plot, he died there of a shot from his own pistol on 20 June 1585.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. J. Taylor


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs. The original return (C219/23/96) is damaged so that only the Member’s surname and style survive.
  • 2. CP, giving date of birth. DNB; E. B. de Fonblanque, Annals of the House of Percy, ii. 126; Arch. Ael. (ser. 3), i. 82-83; Northumb. Co. Hist. ix. 266; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 138; Percy Bailiff’s Rolls (Surtees Soc. cxxxiv), p. xiv; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 193.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, pp. 468-9; Northumb. Co. Hist. viii. 160, 165; W. S. Gibson, Tynemouth Monastery, i. 239-41; ii. 115-16; R. R. Reid, King’s Council in the North, 186, 210, 493; CPR, 1566-9, pp. 172-3; 1569-72, pp. 223-4.
  • 4. M. H. and R. Dodds, Pilgrimage of Grace, ii. 273-4; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiii; Merriman, Letters, Thomas Cromwell, ii. 200; Test. Ebor. vi (Surtees Soc. cvi), 168, 193.
  • 5. CPR, 1555-7, p. 495; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, pp. 463-4, 468-9, 474, 477, 480; APC, vi. 123, 143, 151, 209, 221, 345, 360, 366, 370, 374, 396, 399; Gibson, i. 239-40; E. Lodge, Illustrations, i. 310-13; Northumb. Co. Hist. viii. 160-1.
  • 6. Northumb. Co. Hist. v. 64; viii. 163-5.