CAPELL, Henry I (d.1588), of Little Hadham, Herts. and Rayne, Essex.

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. bef. 1537, 1st s. of Sir Edward Capell of Aspenden Hall, Herts. by Anne, da. of Sir William Pelham of Loughton, Essex. gd.-fa. of Henry Capell II. m. (1) Katherine (d.1572), da. of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, 7s. 4da.; (2) Mary, da. of Sir Anthony Browne, wid. of Lord John Grey of Pirgo, Essex, s.p. suc. fa. 19 Mar. 1577.1

Offices Held

?Capt. on Scottish campaign 1560; j.p. Essex from 1575, q. c.1583, j.p.q. Herts. from 1577; sheriff, Essex 1579-80, Herts, 1585-6.2


The Capell or Capel family came originally from Capel in Suffolk, but in Henry VIl’s reign Sir William Capell, lord mayor of London, bought the manor of Hadham, near Bishop’s Stortford, and Hadham Hall became their chief seat. By 1563 Sir Edward Capell, the head of the family, was one of the leading gentry in Hertfordshire, and Henry, as his father’s heir and a son-in-law of the Earl of Rutland, was prominent enough to become junior knight of the shire to Sir Ralph Sadler. In 1561, probably on his first marriage, his father conveyed to him the manor of Rayne in Essex, and he spent much of his time in that county, even after becoming master of Hadham in 1577. From about 1577 he was included in the Hertfordshire commission of the peace, and was presumably resident in Hertfordshire during his year as sheriff there. His will mentions a marriage settlement with Lord Montagu by which Capell’s second wife received Rayne’s Hall in Essex and lands in Bocking, Braintree, Panfield and Felstead. In addition to his Hertfordshire and Essex estates he owned the manors of Icklingham Barners in Suffolk, Great and Little Fransham, Norfolk, and Wrington, Somerset.3

Only scattered references to him survive. In March 1556 he and his wife brought unspecified charges against the wife of a London innkeeper. He was probably the ‘Capel, Lord Grey’s director’, who took part as a captain of 500 footmen in the Scottish campaign of 1560. The Duke of Norfolk was not impressed by him as a commander, telling Cecil that Capell’s company never went into the field 100 strong. The instructions drawn up in May for the attack on Leith include ‘Master Capell’ as one of those to ‘keep the field’, not participating in the first or second assault. He or another of his family was at Berwick in October 1564, but the name does not appear in later Scottish records.4

Towards the end of his life Capell became involved in an expensive lawsuit over the manor of Tannis, in Hertfordshire, which his brother-in-law Edward Halfhide had leased to him. About November 1583 the matter came before the Star Chamber, Capell claiming that he now found that the manor was subject to a mortgage, apparently arranged after the lease to himself. No result of the case survives. One of the latest references found to him is his signature as sheriff, in June 1586, to a letter complaining about abuses of purveyance in Hertfordshire.5

He died 22 June 1588; his will, drawn up less than a week before he died, was proved 13 July following. The preamble expressed his faith that ‘Almighty God through the merits of Christ Jesu my redeemer and saviour hath prepared for my soul a resting place in his kingdom’. He left annuities of £40 and £20 to his younger sons, and asked the eldest, Arthur, the sole executor, to see that they were promptly paid. The ready money in the house at Hadham was to be equally divided between Arthur and his step-mother Lady Mary, who also received valuable bequests of plate and a life interest in the Essex property. £8 was to be distributed to the poor of Much and Little Hadham and two other Hertfordshire parishes. Only an Essex inquisition post mortem survives, taken in November 1588.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Wards 7/18/134, 22/57; PCC 34 Daughtry; Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 113-14; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 171; Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 243.
  • 2. HMC Hatfield, i. 226.
  • 3. Chauncy, Herts. i. 306-8; PCC 48 Rutland; Wards 7/22/57; W. Minet, ‘The CapelIs at Rayne’, Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ix. 248 seq.
  • 4. APC , vi. 62, 76; HMC Hatfield , i. 226; CSP Scot. 1547-63, p. 393; 1563-9, p. 83.
  • 5. St. Ch. 5/W10/27; Lansd. 46, f. 193.
  • 6. PCC 48 Rutland; Wards 7/22/57.