DOYLEY, Robert (c.1542-77), of Greenlands, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1542, 1st s. of John Doyley of Greenlands, Bucks. and Chislehampton, Oxon., and bro. of Henry. m. Elizabeth (d. 1621), da. of Sir Nicholas Bacon† by his 1st w. Jane, da. of William Ferneley of West Creting, Suff., 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1569. Kntd. 1576.2
J.p. Bucks. from c.1569, Oxon. from c.1573.
Doyley’s father was a friend of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, a supporter of the reforming movement in its early years and a speculator in monastic lands. His mother had been a maid of honour to the young Elizabeth. He himself made an advantageous marriage with Lord Keeper Bacon’s third daughter, Elizabeth. Perhaps Bedford brought about the match: he was helping the Doyleys at this time, and was certainly well acquainted with Sir Nicholas Bacon. At any rate, many Doyley-Bacon connexions developed. Robert’s circle of radical friends also included the Earl of Leicester, Sir William Peryam, who was to become the third husband of his widow, and Sir Anthony Cope of Hanwell, Oxfordshire, whose puritan views were powerfully expressed in the House of Commons. Thus Doyley had every opportunity to embark upon a career at court or in government. He is known to have spent some of his time as a courtier, and he enjoyed a taste of parliamentary life when he was returned as Member for Bossiney in 1572, presumably with Bedford’s blessing, but he apparently held no government office. The few surviving references to him are as a country gentleman, active in local affairs. In 1569 he inherited several manors in Hambledon, Fawley and Turville, Buckinghamshire—‘a clear third part’ of his father’s property, including the family seat of Greenlands on the bank of the Thames near Henley—but the main estates in Oxfordshire were retained by his mother, who outlived her eldest son by many years. According to a later estimate, the Doyley lands in 1570 were worth £1,200 a year.3
Robert was head of the family for a few years only, dividing his time between Buckinghamshire and London. From 4-6 July 1577 he attended the assizes at Oxford, where ‘there arose such a stench from the prisoners’ bodies and clothes that it immediately infected the judge, jurors and almost everyone present’. About 300 are said to have died, including Doyley and his uncle, another Robert Doyley, who was sheriff of Oxfordshire at the time. Doyley made his short will 21 July, ‘sick of body’, and died a week later. After minor bequests to his sisters, he left the rest of his property to his wife, the executrix, who lived until 1621, and then to his brothers in turn. They included John, the heir male Henry, and Thomas, a doctor who was friendly with Francis and Anthony Bacon.4