MONSON, Robert (d.1583), of Lincoln and South Carlton, 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

3rd s. of William Monson of South Carlton by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettleby. educ. Camb.; L. Inn 1546, called 1552. m. 12 Sept. 1559, Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Dyon of Tathwell, s.p.

Offices Held

J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) from c.1561, (Kesteven) from c.1564, (Holland) from c.1573; reader, Thavies Inn 1557; bencher, L. Inn 1562, Autumn reader 1565, keeper of black bk. 1565-6, treasurer 1567-8, governor 1569-72, Lent reader 1570; legal counsel to Lincoln by 1559, recorder 1570-2; eccles commr., dioceses of Lincoln and Peterborough 1571; serjeant-at-law 1572; j.c.p. (and j.p. many S.E. counties) 1572-80; c.j. Lancaster (and j.p. many northern counties) 1577-9.


In 1559 the mayor and aldermen of Lincoln intended to choose Monson both as recorder and MP for the city, until the 2nd Earl of Rutland forced them to give both positions to Anthony Thorold. Monson was, however, retained as legal counsel, at 26s.8d., later 40s. p.a., and in 1564—the year in which he was classified as a justice of the peace ‘earnest in religion’—a bye-law permitted the mayor to invite him to any council meeting, or informal sitting of members of the corporation, thus making him a sort of de facto recorder. At first Thorold resented Monson, but by 1570 the two were reconciled, and Thorold, apparently on his own initiative, gave up the recordership to his former rival. After twice representing Lincoln in Parliament, Monson, for some unascertained reason, came in for Totnes, where his relative the 2nd Earl of Bedford had influence. There was no quarrel with the Lincoln authorities who expressed their gratitude for Monson’s arbitrating between them and the Earl of Rutland over a fee-farm, by granting him a renewal, on more favourable terms, of his existing lease of Hanslope parsonage and other town property. As late as 1580 he was still a musters commissioner for Lincoln and he was a generous benefactor to the city in his will.

No activity has been found for Monson during the first session of the 1563 Parliament, but on 19 Oct. 1566 he spoke ‘very boldly and judiciously’ in favour of renewing the succession question, and on 23 Oct. he, Robert Bell and Richard Kingsmill spoke before the Lords on behalf of the Commons. Monson was appointed to the succession committee on 31 Oct., and was one of the leaders of the agitation to mention the succession question in the preamble to the subsidy bill. On 29 Nov. Sir William Cordell, master of the rolls, wrote to Cecil to report that Monson’s objections to the subsidy bill had been overcome.

On 6 Apr. 1571 Monson was appointed to a committee on returns and spoke the next day to arrange the time and the place for the committee to meet. He was named to a committee concerning the reform of canon law (6 Apr.), and reported from the bishops (10 Apr.) about a proposed conference with the Lords on the subject. He spoke on the treasons bill on 12 Apr. and was appointed to two committees on the bill (12 Apr., 11 May). Other committee work included topics such as griefs and petitions (7 Apr.), fraudulent conveyances (11 Apr.), church attendance (21 Apr., 19 May), order of business (21, 28 Apr.), vagabonds (23 Apr.), tellers and receivers (23 Apr.), fugitives (24 Apr., 25 May), priests disguised as servants (1, 2 May), respite of homage (2, 17 May), sheriffs (11 May), and counsellors’ fees (28 May). He was also appointed to a committee to investigate allegations of corruption in the House (28 May).

In the first session of the spoke in the debates on Mary Queen of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk (19 May, 9 June) and was appointed to the committees (12, 28 May, 6 June). On 11 June he spoke against the tale-tellers—he was ‘fully resolved they be papists’—who misrepresented outside the Commons some of the speeches made there. He spoke on the fraudulent conveyances bill (16 May) and was appointed to two committees on the bill (16 May, 3 June); and he was named to a committee on recoveries (31 May). Appointed to the committee on the vagabonds bill on 29 May, he spoke the next day in favour of including minstrels within the provisions of the bill. Monson was made a judge soon after the end of the session and in the next session served in the House of Lords. However, by 1576 he had ‘suffered discomfort and discredit by her Majesty’s displeasure’, and his standing up to the Queen over the sentence on John Stubbe in October 1579 ruined him. He resigned his Lancaster office and from November 1579 to the following February was in the Fleet. After retiring formally from the common pleas in the middle of the Easter term 1580 he retreated to his Lincolnshire property. He died 23 Sept. 1583, and was buried in Lincoln cathedral.

DNB; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 527-8, 681; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 56, 62, 64, 66; J. W. F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, passim; Foss, Judges, v. 524-9; Somerville, Duchy, i. 474; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 27; Lansd. 20, f. 53; 23, f. 85; 27, f. 29; St. Ch. 5/M26/20; HMC Rutland, i. 110; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 530; Rymer, Foedera, xv. 470; Lodge, Illus. ii. 224; CPR, 1558-60, pp. 151, 265; M.T. Bench Bk. 80; D’Ewes, 124, 125, 127, 156, 157, 159, 160, 164, 165, 176, 178, 179, 180, 181, 183, 184, 186, 188, 189, 190, 206, 207, 220, 221, 222, 228, 229, 262; CJ, i. 75, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 95, 99, 100, 101, 115; Trinity, Dublin, anon. jnl. f. 18; Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. ff. 20, 27, 58, 63; HMC Lords, n.s. xi. 8; Neale, Parlts. i. 162; HMC Hatfield, i. 341.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.