FORTESCUE, Henry (by 1515-76), of Faulkbourne, Essex.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1515, o.s. of John Fortescue of Ponsbourne, Herts, by Philippa, da. and h. of Humphrey Spice of Black Notley. m. (1) bef. 1546, Elizabeth, da. of William Stafford of Bradfield, Berks., 4s. 5da.; (2) settlement 22 Mar. 1557, Mary, da. of James Daniel of London, wid. of Sir Edward Darrell of Littlecote, Wilts. and of Philip Mansell, 1s. Dudley. suc. fa. 8 Aug. 1517.2

Offices Held

?Gent. usher Apr. 1553; esquire of the body by 1559; j.p. Essex from c.1559; duchy of Lancaster steward in Essex Mar. 1559, receiver in Essex May 1559; sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1563-4.3


Besides his inheritance from his father, Fortescue came into some Essex property as his mother’s heir. Between 1538 and 1559 he sold land on a fairly extensive scale, but his inquisitions post mortem list property in Faulkbourne, Witham, Hatfield Peverel and other Essex parishes, and estates at Eyworth, Bedfordshire and in several parts of Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. When not on duty at court he lived at Faulkbourne Hall, which had come into his possession on the death of his stepfather, Sir Francis Bryan, in 1550. In spite of his landed interests in Essex he may not have become a justice of the peace before the accession of Elizabeth. The beginning of his court career is obscure: it seems likely that he was the ‘Fortescue, gentleman usher’ mentioned in a Privy Council document of April 1553. Through Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, Fortescue was a relative of Elizabeth, and it was probably at her accession that he was made an esquire of the body. The first Household subsidy list of the reign assessed him on £100 in fees. He presumably owed his seat in Elizabeth’s first Parliament to court connexions, probably Sir Ambrose Cave, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, under whom he later served as receiver and steward.4

The few references found to him after 1559 are concerned with county matters—the sending up of a musters certificate, or the presentment of a recusant before the ecclesiastical commissioners. He died in the autumn of 1576, and was buried at Faulkbourne on 6 Oct.: a fine tomb was erected in the church there to him and his second wife. His will, made 30 Sept. and proved 27 Oct., mentions only three of his children—the heir Francis, another son George, who was to have all the goods in the ‘house and manor of Eyworth’, and a daughter Dorothy Nokes. She was given no specific bequest, since as a married woman she could not ‘enjoy quietly’ any legacy ‘but that the same may be taken from her by her husband, of whom’, Fortescue wrote, ‘I have no good opinion’. He therefore asked his wife, the sole executrix, to exercise ‘discretion and benevolence’ on behalf of Dorothy and her children. The will gave detailed bequests to members of Fortescue’s household, including 20s. and a shirt to the cook, and to one of the gentlewomen ‘all my black coney skins to fur her a gown’.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. C142/33/29, 41, 65, 126; 177/55; Add. 5937; T. Fortescue, Lord Clermont, Fortescue Fam. 163 seq.; W. de G. Birch, Cat. Penrice and Margam mss, iv(2), pp. 121-2; Wilts. Arch. Mag. iv. ped. facing p. 226.
  • 3. APC, iv. 253; LC2/4/3, p. 106; Lansd. 3, f. 193; Clermont, 166; Somerville, Duchy, i. 607, 609.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iii(2), p. 915; xiii(2), p. 405; Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. xv. 35 seq.; Essex Feet of Fines, 1423-1547 (ed. Reaney and Fitch), 253; C142/33/29, 41, 65, 126; 177/55; Wards 7/18/146; Clermont, 163 seq.; PCC 28 Carew; CPR, 1553 and App. Edw. VI, 352; 1554-5, p. 107; APC, iv. 253; Lansd. 3, f. 193.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 380; APC, viii. 84; Clermont, 166; Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. i. 240-1; ix. 23-4; PCC 28 Carew.