CHEKE, Henry (c.1548-86), of Elstow, Beds.; later of the Manor, York.

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. c.1548, s. of Sir John Cheke, tutor to Edw. VI and sec. of state, by Mary, da. of Richard Hill or Hilles of London.1 educ. either Trinity2 or King’s, Camb. 1565, MA 1568. m. (1) 1569, Frances, da. of Sir Humphrey Radcliffe, of Elstow, sis. of Edward Radcliffe, 3s. 2da.; (2) Jan. 1585, Frances, da. of Marmaduke Constable of York, step.-da. of William More, lawyer, of York, s.p.3 suc. fa. 1557.4

Offices Held

Clerk of PC 1576-81; sec. to council in the north from Aug. 1581; j.p.q. Cumb., co. Dur., Westmld., Northumb., Yorks. from 1583.5


Cheke was educated by his father’s choice as tutor, William Ireland, and possibly also by Peter Osborne, his father’s friend, from whom he later received financial help. His chief benefactor was his uncle Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who may even have undertaken his guardianship. Cheke wrote many letters to Cecil from 1566-9, asking for help and thanking him for favours, and it was doubtless through Cecil’s influence that he was returned to Parliament for Peterborough in 1571. However, he chose to sit for Bedford, a borough near his first wife’s estate. His candidature there would no doubt have been welcome to the 2nd Earl of Bedford, a friend of Cecil and of Cheke’s father. By 1574 Cheke was soliciting employment from Burghley, and he received a clerkship of the Privy Council in July 1576, shortly afterwards setting out on a tour of France and Italy, in the course of which he translated (and dedicated to Lady Cheney of Toddington, Bedfordshire) a play describing ‘the devilish devices of the popish religion’. He returned home shortly before 3 Jan. 1578, when he was placed on that year’s duty roster of Privy Council clerks for January, February, July, August, September and October. In August 1581 he went to York to take up his duties as secretary to the council in the north, living at the council’s headquarters. His official position obtained him his return to Parliament for Boroughbridge in 1584, when he served on his only recorded committee, to discuss with the Lords the progress of the fraudulent conveyances bill on 15 Feb. 1585. Shortly before his death he was involved in a dispute with the archbishop of York, who had arrested two of the council’s servants. The archbishop complained that Cheke attempted to ‘cross and hinder’ his proceedings maliciously, but Cheke said that he and the other commissioners had merely refused to comply with the archbishop’s demand to see depositions or examine people not named in their commissions.6

Cheke died intestate 23 June 1586, and was buried in York minster. He was succeeded by his son Thomas, then 15. According to one source Cheke had broken his neck by falling downstairs a few hours after he had ‘openly derided and scoffed at’ the Catholic martyr Francis Ingleby.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.H.


  • 1. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 177.
  • 2. Strype, Cheke , 140.
  • 3. DNB ; his fa. had been provost of King’s.
  • 4. DNB ; C142/213/120.
  • 5. APC, ix. 166; Lansd. 33, f. 16.
  • 6. PCC 2 Noodes; Lansd. 10, f. 170; 12, f. 32; 19, f. 79; 25, f. 117; 46, ff. 134, 136; APC, xi. 4; D’Ewes, 349; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 101; Add. 1566-79, p. 545; Add. 1580-1625, p. 71.
  • 7. C141/213/120; Bede Camm, Forgotten Shrines, 144.