SEE, Henry (by 1496-1537), of Herne, Kent and Lincoln's Inn, London.

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. by 1496, 1st s. of Robert See of Herne. educ. L. Inn, adm. 16 Feb. 1520, called 1525. m. settlement 8 May 1531, Elizabeth, wid. of Richard Crompton (d.1528/30) of London, 1s. 3da.1

Offices Held

Reader, Thavies’s Inn 1529; bencher, L. Inn 1534, Autumn reader 1535.

J.p. Kent 1531; commr. sewers 1531; solicitor to the city of York by 1535.2


Henry See was one of the more distinguished members of an ancient yeoman family living at Herne in Kent, and his comparatively early death cut short a most promising career in the law. See was among a group of young men fined at Lincoln’s Inn in August 1520 for seizing a doe, but the colleagues with whom he was later to work inspired a zeal for the law which brought rewards. Before November 1522 he had lived in chambers over the old gate with the father of Henry Heydon, but for some years thereafter he occupied chambers with George Barratt and William Roper, who became his closest friend. See and Roper were called to the bar at the same time and in 1527 he was offered a chamber ‘in the new building next the kitchen’ where Roper also lived and practised.3

See perhaps owed his seat in the Parliament of 1529 for the 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s borough of Bramber to his friendship with Roper, his fellow-Member, whose father-in-law More then stood close to the duke. It was, however, not Roper but See who took precedence; the reason for this may lie either in some earlier parliamentary experience of which we have no other trace or a personal link with the duke through Alfred Berwick and Henry Hussey, with whom 12 years before he had been associated as an attorney in a fine and settlement of the manor of Denne in the ducal borough of Horsham, Sussex. During the first session a bill against the recognition of protections was committed to See, Cromwell and three others, but perhaps because they thought it ill advised it did not pass. Cromwell classed See with Roper, William Dauntesey and John Latton as ‘of Chelsea’, that is, of the circle of Sir Thomas More, on a list thought to be of Members opposed on religious or economic grounds to the bill in restraint of appeals to Rome which was passed during the fifth session. More’s execution in 1535 may have briefly threatened See’s prospects, but if so, rather than efface himself, he seems to have sought by his diligence both in and out of Parliament to commend himself to the regime. In the final session (Feb.-Apr. 1536) he was instrumental in procuring an Act (27 Hen. VIII, c.32) to reduce the fee-farm paid by the city of York to the 1st Earl of Rutland, and he and three other lawyers signed the Act for the heirs of Sir Hugh Dutton (27 Hen. VIII, c.43). Presumably he sat for Bramber again in the following Parliament, in June 1536, after the King had asked for the re-election of the previous Members.4

See’s marriage to the widow of a young London mercer trading with the Netherlands was an advantageous one: it brought him substantial property in Somerset belonging to his wife and ready money amongst her first husband’s effects in London and Antwerp. (It may also have given him an insight into the cloth trade which could have helped to turn him against the appeals bill, with its threat of economic reprisals abroad.) The Somerset lands were claimed by Sir William Fitzwilliam, a leading mercer, but after See had brought a box of deeds to the Chancery in 1534 Fitzwilliam admitted his full right to the property. It was known in 1535 that See was in the market for land, probably using his wife’s resources: in November Sir Reynold Carnaby, a servant of the 5th Earl of Northumberland, wrote to the earl’s attorney in London that he was selling some lands in Kent and that See should have preference if he wanted them.5

See was a sick man when he made his will, which is undated. His wife, whom he appointed sole executrix, was charged with the distribution of his estate under the guidance of William Roper, Nicholas Rookwood, See’s brother William and his clerk William Pattyn. On 7 July 1537 he settled the manor of Buckland in Kent upon his father and other feoffees to the use of himself and his heirs, and died three days later, perhaps a victim of the epidemic abroad in London. At the inquisitions following his death he was found to have been possessed of land in Devon, Kent and Somerset and to have left as his heir a son Anthony then aged five or six. Anthony See evidently died without leaving issue as later heraldic visitations call Henry See’s daughters Millicent, Mary and Elizabeth his coheirs.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from appearance as an attorney 1517. LP Hen. VIII, ii; E150/492/2; PCC 24 Jankyn, 12 Dyngeley.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, v, ix.
  • 3. Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 194-216 passim.
  • 4. Suss. Rec. Soc. xix(1), 125; LP Hen. VIII, ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 27 Hen. VIII, no. 53; York Civic Recs. iii (Yorks Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cvi), 138-74 passim; iv (ibid. cvii), 4, 13.
  • 5. E150/492/2, 926/15; C1/891/20; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 8, f. 165; LP Hen. VIII, ix.
  • 6. E150/178/2, 492/2, 926/15; PCC 12 Dyngeley; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 93; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 163; Hasted, Kent, vi. 398; x. 240.