HALES, Stephen (d.1574), of Gladbury, Worcs., Tottenham, Mdx., Coventry and Exhall, Warws.
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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
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’.3
Hales continued to associate with Sadler and in 1560, together with John Hales and Sir Richard Lee, was appointed a feoffee in trust of many of Sir Ralph’s manors. His return for Leicester in 1571 can only be explained by Sadler’s influence. His earlier return for Great Bedwyn was presumably due to the Earl of Hertford, whose claim to the succession was upheld by John Hales I. A substantial property owner, Hales acquired in 1551 the advowson of Barford, Warwickshire, from his brother. Three years later he bought the manors of Clowesworth and East Chinnock with extensive lands in Somerset, and in 1559 acquired the manors of Newland and Exhall, Warwickshire, from Michael Cameswell. In the following year he increased his Warwickshire estate by the purchase of lands in Floxhull. He sold his Somerset and Dorset property, but acquired further lands in Warwickshire, including Horeton Wood and fields, from Robert Constable. He also inherited property in Coventry on John’s death in 1572, and at various unspecified dates he obtained grants from the Crown, including a lease of woods and wood sales in Warwickshire.4
Admitted a freeman of the Merchant Taylors by patrimony on 30 May 1552, Hales played a notable part in the foundation of Merchant Taylors’ school. His last attendance at the court of the company was on 15 Dec. 1573.5
He died in 1574: in his will, made 17 Feb. and proved 26 June of that year, he requested a simple burial, accompanied by a sermon from a godly preacher. Of his sons, Timothy and Robert were to receive £100 apiece, while Stephen was left the presentation to a prebend in Bangor cathedral. His dye-house, water mill and other properties in Coventry were to be sold to meet debts. Charles, the heir, and the widow were appointed executors, Oliver Wright of Exhall and John Oxenbridge(s), parson, being named as overseers.