HALES, Stephen (d.1574), of Gladbury, Worcs., Tottenham, Mdx., Coventry and Exhall, Warws.

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

s. and prob. h. of John or Thomas Hales of Canterbury by ?da. of Treffry of Cornw.; bro. of John I. m. (1) Amy (or Anne), da. of Thomas Morison of Cherdwell, Bucks.; (2) bef. 1561., Bridget, da. of Henry Over, wid. of John Nethermill, 4s. 1 or 2da. poss. all by 1st w.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1552, warden 1557, 1564, 1565; assistant to surveyor, south parts, duchy of Lancaster by 1570.2


Hales may have been a Wardrobe official: in 1547 an Exchequer warrant empowered him to pay creditors of the great wardrobe, and in 1553 he sent in an account of holland and other stuff delivered to the great wardrobe by Christopher Bumpstead. For many years he devoted himself to looking after the affairs of his brother John, being one of the central figures in an extended dispute over the clerkship of the hanaper, which involved also Sir Ralph Sadler and Francis Kempe. Sadler and John Hales were joint patentees of the office, but on Mary’s accession, John Hales, who was then abroad, refused to come home and apparently ‘conveyed’ his interest to Sadler. The original patent was cancelled in 1557, and Sadler took out a new patent in association with Kempe, Lord Chancellor Heath’s candidate. When Elizabeth came to the throne, John Hales returned, re-established himself in the hanaper, and throughout the 1560s successfully warded off litigation brought by Kempe. During these years Sadler played an ambiguous role, frequently appearing on both sides. It seems that while genuinely in sympathy with Hales, he wanted to insure himself against Kempe’s winning. However, it was Stephen Hales who was behind the legal chicanery. From 1557 until 1559 he had received all the profits of the office from Thomas Cotton, deputy clerk of the hanaper, who had continued to sign everything in the name of John Hales, even though Sadler and Kempe held the clerkship. Stephen Hales admitted that he had written ‘words of release’ on a blank parchment, signed but not sealed by his brother, but claimed to have delivered this to Sadler solely in order to safeguard the interest of his brother, ‘who was in those days much sought’. He denied having received any specific commission to make such a release and affirmed that he had been given several blank parchments to be used at his discretion. He had never given Sadler the impression that the documents represented a proper release. It had been made, not to ‘exclude the said John Hales from his interest in the said office, but only of policy to serve the time and to avoid further extremities that might have ensued’. Hales was then asked whether he had not been examined by the Privy Council on this matter. His answer was blander than before: ‘He was by letters commanded to appear before certain of the Privy Council ... whereunto he, not being sworn, did make answer as he thought meetest for the time’.