POWTRELL, Nicholas (by 1517-79), of Egmanton, Notts.

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. by 1517, 2nd s. of John Powtrell of West Hallam, Derbys. by Margaret, da. and coh. of John Strelley of Strelley, Notts.; bro. of Thomas. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1531. m. (1) or (2) Anne, da. of Walter Rodney of Stoke Rodney, Som.1

Offices Held

Commr. chantries Derbys., Notts. 1546, array, Derbys. 1546, relief, Notts. 1550; recorder, Nottingham 1546-55; j.p.q. Notts. 1554-d., Yorks. and border counties 1562-4; serjeant-at-law 1558; justice itinerant and of assize, Durham and Sedbergh 1559; 2nd justice at Lancaster, duchy of Lancaster 1559-62, chief justice 1562-d.2


An ancient Nottinghamshire family settled at Thrumpton, the Powtrells established themselves in Derbyshire after the acquisition in 1467 of the manor and advowson of West Hallam by Nicholas Powtrell’s grandfather. In Powtrell’s generation each shire was to provide the setting for one of the brothers, Nicholas basing himself on Nottinghamshire and his elder brother Thomas on Derbyshire. Nicholas Powtrell was to strengthen his connexion with Nottinghamshire by his purchase before 1554 from Sir Edward Stanhope of part of the manor of Egmanton, where he built a large hall which he emparked.3

Nothing has been discovered about Powtrell’s career in the 15 years after his entry to Gray’s Inn, but his appointment in 1546 to the recordership of Nottingham must reflect a successful pursuit of the law. The office in turn accounts for his parliamentary career, which began shortly before he obtained it and came to an end after he quitted it. Of his part in the first two Parliaments in which he sat there is no trace, but in the Parliament of November 1554 he was one of the large number of Members prosecuted in the King’s bench for absenting themselves without licence. Informed against in Easter term 1555, he failed to appear and was distrained in each of the following terms until Hilary 1557 when he was fined 53s.4d.; Anthony Forster was one of his sureties. The record of the prosecution implies that Powtrell’s absence was held to be deliberate and inexcusable, and there are other grounds for thinking that it was: not only did his public career show no advancement during the remainder of Mary’s reign, but the laying of the information against him coincided with his vacating of the recordership.4

The reign of Elizabeth opened well for Powtrell: he was made a serjeant-at-law and a judge at Lancaster, and for several years he was kept busy on commissions both in his home county and further north. This spate of activity seems to have ended abruptly about 1565 and thereafter he disappeared almost completely from public life. He was not yet an old man, but he could have been an ailing one, although he had a dozen more years to live. Whether he again paid the penalty of dissent, this time not on his own account but on his family’s, it is impossible to say—in 1564 the archbishop of York omitted to categorize him—but his life cannot have been made easier when his nephew’s house at West Hallam became a refuge for Catholic priests: Edmund Campion was to stay there not long after Powtrell’s death.5

During his earlier career Powtrell had been closely associated with leading local families, notably the Willoughbys of Wollaton, from whom he was receiving an annuity of 20s. in 1547 and again in 1572, and the Manners, earls of Rutland. Although not one of the 2nd Earl’s household servants, Powtrell performed services for him, as when in 1557 the earl’s servants and tenants in Yorkshire had to be made ready as light horsemen for the wars. In March 1554 Powtrell had sent to the earl in London a horse which apparently did not meet with his approval: Powtrell’s letter on the subject includes a claim for £20 for his services in Nottinghamshire.6

In his will, made on 1 Sept. 1579, Powtrell recited an indenture, drawn up in the previous year, by which he had leased the manor of Egmanton and lands in Laxton, Tuxford and Weston to his niece Julian and her husband William Mason, two of his executors; he had afterwards granted these properties to a group of feoffees, including his cousin Thomas Markham, to his own use and on his death to that of Markham and his heirs. He had made a similar arrangement for the disposal of other lands in north Nottinghamshire, intending at that time to disinherit his nephew Walter Powtrell, because of ‘the untrue and slanderous reports and of the unnatural dealing that he and his wife have and do daily use towards me’. In his will, however, Powtrell declared his ‘readiness ... to die in charity towards them and all the world’, and in the hope that his nephew’s son would prove ‘more wise, honest ... and of better judgment’ he granted these lands to Thomas Markham to the use of Walter and his heirs. His household goods, articles of silver and other valuables Powtrell left to relatives, including his nephews the Masons and the Stringers, and he made several monetary bequests to his servants. William Dabridgecourt and Thomas Markham were appointed supervisors.7

Powtrell died on 29 Oct. 1579. His attempt to disinherit his nephew in favour of Thomas Markham provoked a dispute between Walter Powtrell and the executors; on 20 June 1584 the administration of the will was granted to Walter Powtrell, as next of kin, but on 27 Mar. 1587 the decision was revoked and probate was granted to the executors. He was buried in the chancel of Egmanton church.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. The Gen. n.s. viii. 68; Trans. Thoroton Soc. vi. 80; Thoroton, Notts. ed. Throsby i. 30.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 416; 1553, p. 357; 1553-4, p. 22; 1558-60, p. 65; 1560-3, pp. 31, 57, 187-8, 435-7, 440-1, 443, 445-7; 1563-6, pp. 20-22, 25, 27, 29, 37, 42, 105, 124; Trans. Thoroton Soc. xvi. 123; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 122; Somerville, Duchy, i. 471, 473; Nottingham Bor. Recs. iv. 15, 416-17.
  • 3. Thoroton, i. 30; Notts RO, Torre ms, Egmanton 2.
  • 4. KB27/1176-81.
  • 5. J.C. Cox, Derbys. Churches, iv. 220; APC, ix. 216; xiii. 197; Cath. Rec. Soc. lx. 5-9; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 73.
  • 6. HMC Middleton, 317, 433; HMC Rutland, i. 61, 68; iv. 205.
  • 7. PCC 21 Spencer.
  • 8. E150/772/6; Trans. Thoroton Soc. vi. 80; PCC admons. act bk. 1581-6, f. 110.