MARBURY, William (1524-81), of the Middle Temple, London and ?of Girsby, Lincs.

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

b. 1524, 1st s. of Robert Marbury of Burgh on Bain, Girsby, Lincs. by his w. Katherine. educ. ?Pembroke, Camb. 1544, M. Temple 1551, called by 1571. m. Agnes or Anne, da. of John Lenton of Old Wynkill, ?Staffs., 4s. 3da. suc. fa. 1545.

Offices Held


The Members of Parliament for the south-west of England in Elizabeth’s reign included a large number of Middle Templars, probably because of the system of ‘binding’ new entrants at the Temple with existing lawyers there. This custom led to the formation of local or family groups at the inns of court, and when combined with local patronage, provided suitable MPs who presumably asked no fees, for small boroughs. It seems likely then, that the Newport Member was the William Marbury of the Middle Temple, who had possibly been admitted to Pembroke College in 1544. The identity of this man has not been definitely established, but he was probably the William Marbury of Lincolnshire who in his will bequeathed law books to his relatives. He had a long career at the Middle Temple, where he was admitted ‘specially ... at the instance of Mr. Francis Barnades’ in May 1551, and was still active in 1573. At that time the governing body decided that Mr. Marbury, one of the masters of the utter bar, should ‘be admitted into any vacant chamber if no master of the bench or person called to the bench desire it’. His name appears from time to time in the records of his inn, for example as steward for Christmas 1570. In the following November he was fined ten marks for not giving the autumn reading.1

Apart from his legal career, little has been discovered about Marbury. He is mentioned only once in the known surviving records of the Commons, when he was appointed to the committee of the bill against excess of apparel, 10 Mar. 1576. It was possibly his son and namesake who entered Cecil’s service and who went with the 2nd Earl of Essex on his 1597 voyage, being forced to return, ‘much against his will’, because there was ‘such an antipathy between him and the sea, that it [was] vain for him to strive’.2

Marbury died in 1581, his will, drawn up in January of that year, being proved in the following November. He asked to be buried in the church or churchyard of the parish where he died, and left charitable bequests to various servants, with 20 marks to ‘poor scholars of Oxford and Cambridge’. His youngest son Francis, who was to have all the books except the ‘English and law’ ones, was also bequeathed 20 nobles and a gold ring—a usual form of bequest in the will: Marbury noted that he had ‘labelled’ all the rings he meant to be given away. Two daughters, Mary and Katherine, received £200 each, and the widow was to have lands and houses at Burgh and Biscathorpe, Lincolnshire. The will also bequeathed to her a number of horses, sheep, pigs and a large amount of farm produce, with ‘six loads of wood and two chalder of coals’ annually. The household furnishings and plate listed include much silver, pewter and brass. There was an eldest son William, but he was probably dead by 1581. The manor of Girsby was to go to the second son, Edward, who was appointed sole executor.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 638; M.T. Adm. 19; M.T. Recs. i. 172, 182, 191.
  • 2. CJ, i. 113; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 464, 467, 468.
  • 3. PCC 39 Darcy.