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Family and Education
educ. ?Trinity Coll. Camb. 1548.
Though possibly he belonged to the Essex family of this name, it is unlikely that Christmas was of sufficient standing to be returned for either Wycombe or Colchester without the aid of a patron. In about 1568 he obtained—perhaps through the intervention of some influential person—a lease of the manor of Bassetsbury and the fee-farm of the borough of Chipping Wycombe from the dean and chapter of Windsor, which doubtless explains how he came to be returned for the borough. His subsequent return for Colchester may have resulted from his position as estate agent to the 17th Earl of Oxford. He also acted as financial agent for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, but his main income came from his activities as a merchant. He may have been the Robert Christmas who in 1568 was one of the ‘assistants’ at the incorporation of the mineral and battery works. In 1571 he received compensation for his ‘great losses’ caused by the King of Portugal’s seizure of his merchandise. Five years later he was granted a letter of protection to go abroad, with stay of lawsuits at home, while there are other references to his trading activities at Bristol, and to a licence of 1575 allowing him to export butter and cheese from Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk; this last document mentions land in his possession at Lavenham Park, Suffolk and Kingswood Heath, Essex.
He is mentioned only once in the parliamentary journals, as serving on a committee concerning copyholders in Worcestershire, 6 Feb. 1571. His date of death has not been ascertained. The only Robert Christmas of this period whose will has been found was a Guildford clothier who died in 1584, possessed apparently of no property outside Surrey.
CPR, 1560-3, p. 423; 1566-9, p. 274; E134/33/4, Eliz. M.32; 39 Eliz. E.7; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 393; Add. 1566-79, p. 1; APC, viii. passim; M. B. Donald, Elizabethan Monopolies, 36, 60; C. Monro, Acta Cane. 435-7; Lansd. 21, f. 22; 33, ff. 12 seq.; PCC 22 Chayre; B. M. Ward, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, 223 n; Black Bk. of Warwick, 36; HMC Hatfield, i. 350, 35e; D’Ewes, 292; PCC 28 Watson.