BROUGHTON, Richard (1542-1604), of Lower Broughton, Bishop's Castle and Owlbury, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1542, s. of Robert Broughton of Broughton by Jane, da. of Reignold ap Griffeth Vycha. educ. I. Temple 1568, called. m. 30 July 1577, Anne, da. of Richard Bagot of Blithfield, Staffs., 1s. 1da.

Offices Held

Steward, Lichfield by 1583; dep. justice, Chester by 1588; recorder, Tamworth by 1584-98; 2nd justice of N. Wales 1594-1602; vice-justice, Chester 1599-1600; j.p. Anglesey, Caern., Mont., Merion. from 1594, Salop from 1596; member, council in the marches of Wales c.1595-1602.1


Broughton was a servant of the 1st Earl of Essex, the ‘collector of the Earl’s causes’, and a trustee of the Devereux estates during the minority of the 2nd Earl, administering the estates and disbursing—somewhat parsimoniously—the costs of the young Earl’s education at Cambridge, and the allowances of dependants, such as Henry Bourchier. He continued in the service of the 2nd Earl; and his correspondence with Richard Bagot during the late 1570s and in the 1580s shows that he was then frequently in London and well acquainted with court gossip. In February 1582 he accompanied Essex’s stepfather, the Earl of Leicester, when escorting the Duke of Anjou from England to Flanders, and was presented by ‘Monsieur’ with a medal struck in honour of his meeting with William of Orange.2

As Essex’s man-of-affairs and as Bagot’s son-in-law, Broughton was for many years closely associated with Staffordshire, and he became increasingly involved in Welsh affairs during the 1590s. In 1592 he was recommended by the Earl of Pembroke—perhaps at the instance of Essex—for a place on the council in the marches; and two years later, Essex himself was pressing Puckering to assist Broughton—probably either to the same position or to a judgeship of the Anglesey circuit. Having secured both prizes, Broughton found it increasingly difficult to discharge his duties as recorder of Tamworth, and in May 1598 he resigned the post. Meanwhile, he was earning a reputation as ‘a man of very great friends, kindred and allies in Wales and the marches’, and as a judge of little integrity. Between the death of Sir Richard Shuttleworth, chief justice of Chester, in November 1599, and the appointment of his successor, Sir Richard Lewkenor in the following March, Broughton, as vice-justice, had a free rein. In May 1600 the Privy Council had to reprimand him for procuring the examination by one of his own kinsmen of an enclosure case, in which he himself was involved; later he was fined £200 and removed from the commission of the peace in Shropshire for taking a neighbour’s tithes.3

In 1602 Broughton was removed from the council in Wales and retired from his post as justice of the Anglesey circuit, ostensibly on the ground that he was ‘impotent and taken with a palsy’, but perhaps because of his association with the Earl of Essex. Shortly after his patron’s rebellion, Broughton was described as ‘a great politician and lawyer’, who was ‘most inward with the Earl’ and could hardly have been ignorant of his intentions. However, the sole facts against him were his attendance at Essex House shortly before Christmas 1600, and his knowledge of the Earl’s land transactions, so that he came to no serious harm. He even thought it worth writing to Cecil in October 1602, craving a ‘princely pension’.4

It was probably through the influence of the 1st Earl that he was returned to the Commons for Stafford in 1572. In 1584, when he was recorder of Tamworth and favoured for election by the bailiffs of the borough, the two seats went to nominees of the Earls of Leicester and Essex, and Broughton was left out in the cold. As steward of Lichfield he probably had no difficulty in obtaining election there in 1586 and 1588, but in December 1592 Essex evidently felt it advisable to inform Bagot and his other agents in Staffordshire that he supported Broughton as parliamentary candidate.

In the House, Broughton took an active part in its proceedings, serving on committees concerning juries (24 Feb. 1576), Lord Stourton’s bill (12 Mar.) and vicars and curates (13 Mar.). On 7 Mar. he was appointed to confer with the Lords on errors made in fines and recoveries in the county palatine of Chester and Wales. He first spoke in the House on the morning of 21 Jan. 1581, when he wanted to know

the mind of the House touching his companion or fellow burgess, who now stood indicted of felony, whether he ought to remain of the House or to forbear coming, or that a new one should be elected in his place.

He spoke again on 25 Jan. against the bill which was to make children aliens who, although born in England, were of foreign parents. He served on two legal bills in the Parliament of 1589, but was active enough in 1593 to write to Bagot describing his own and the Earl’s assiduous attendance and their diligence in dealing with ‘bills of importance’. On 1 Mar. he took the part of Thomas Fitzherbert in the famous privilege case, arguing that an outlaw could not, as such, be excluded from the House; and on 30 Mar. he was instrumental in obtaining a habeas corpus writ, requiring the production of the prisoner at Westminster. He was appointed to consider a preamble to the subsidy bill (13 Mar.) since he had been among the objectors to the subservient tone of the draft preamble laid before the House by the chancellor of the Exchequer. His other activities during this Parliament included committees on a private bill for George Ognell (19 Mar.), a legal bill (28 Mar.), and on Plymouth harbour (29 Mar.).5

Broughton died in 1604, and was succeeded by his only son, Robert.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


  • 1. Cam. Misc. xiii(3), intro.; HMC 4th Rep. 325-44; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), i. 87; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), i. 372; W. R. Williams, Welsh Judges, 32, 71, 90; Add. 28175, ff. 51, 57; C66/1468.
  • 2. W. B. Devereux, Earls of Essex, i. 137, 147, 168; Lansd. 23, ff. 152 seq.; 25, ff. 96 seq.; 43, ff. 4 seq.; 50, ff. 183 seq.; HMC Hatfield, v. 267; Cam. Misc. xiii(3), passim; HMC 4th Rep. loc. cit.
  • 3. P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches Wales, 284 et passim; Add. 28175, f. 57; St. Ch. 5 Eliz. B.62/2; W. R. Williams, loc. cit.
  • 4. EHR, lix. 365; P. H. Williams, 289; HMC Hatfield, xi. 106; xii. 435; Cam. Misc. xiii(3), 33.
  • 5. Add. 28175, f. 51; HMC 4th Rep. 329, 335; CJ, 108, 111, 114, 115, 130; D’Ewes, 253, 261, 262, 283, 285, 432, 436,480, 499, 503, 511, 512.
  • 6. PCC 70 Cope; I.T. Adm. Reg. 63; Vis. Salop, loc. cit.