MUSGRAVE, William (d.1597), of Hayton, Cumb.

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

1st s. of Thomas Musgrave of Hayton, marshal of Berwick, by Elizabeth, da. of William Lord Dacre of Gilsland. m. bef. 1546, Isabel, da. and coh. of James Martindale of Newton, wid. of Humphrey Dacre, at least 2s. 1da. suc. Fa. 1542.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cumb. 1559, 1571-87, sheriff 1562-3 1573-4,1592-3; commr. to survey forts and castles on borders 1580-1.2


Musgrave was granted livery of his father’s lands in February 1542 and took advantage of the general pardon at the beginning of Mary’s reign, but he is not known to have played any part in the affairs of his county before 1559 when he became a justice of the peace and one of its representatives in Parliament. The explanation of this sudden emergence into public life can be found in his connexion with the Dacre family. William Lord Dacre, the warden of the west march and head of one of the oldest and most powerful families in the north-west, was his maternal grandfather; his wife was a Dacre by her previous marriage, and his fellow-Member for the county was Leonard Dacre, the lord warden’s second son. In 1562 Musgrave became sheriff and for some years thereafter served infrequently on commissions of lunacy and of inquiry post mortem, but it is noticeable that he was dropped from the commission of the peace soon after 1559, not to reappear as a justice until 1571. Possibly his connexion with the Dacres, once an asset, became a liability. Because of his part, with two other Musgraves, in a riot led by Francis Dacre in Carlisle in 1568, he was arrested and ordered by Lord Scrope, Lord Dacre’s successor as warden, to appear before the Council in London. John Aglionby of Carlisle, one of the two friends who stood surety for his appearance in the sum of £200 each, had earlier been described as ‘not staid’ in religion and several of the Dacre family were known to be similarly unreliable. Possibly Musgrave shared their conservative religious views. He did, however, keep clear of the northern rebellion and the treasonable activities of Leonard Dacre, though in 1571 Cuthbert Musgrave alleged that he had had ‘much and often conference’ with the traitor and been a ‘daily practiser’ with him.3

In a border county the gentry, whatever their views, were required to take part in its defence. Musgrave participated in a reprisal raid into Scotland in 1570, and ten years later was a commissioner to survey the border forts and castles. However, in a report on the musters of light horsemen made on Walsingham’s orders in 1583, Musgrave and a neighbour were said to have defaulted in the number of horsemen they should have produced, pleading a recent raid against them as their excuse. A note in the margin — in Burghley’s hand — urged that they should be ‘treated withal’.4

The Star Chamber suits brought by Musgrave and Cuthbert Musgrave in 1571 seem to have been the culmination of a long-standing quarrel that had been given new life by the indictment of Cuthbert Musgrave’s son for a minor offence at quarter sessions when William Musgrave was on the bench. To the charges and counter-charges the parties laid against one another, Cuthbert Musgrave added the complaint that, as part of the quarrel, he and his tenants had been subjected to raids by unknown Scots. This had an echo in 1588 when a widow, Jane Briscoe, alleged that her house had been attacked and plundered by a band of Scots procured and guided by certain of Musgrave’s tenants. A further petition from her in 1591 claimed that nothing had been done to restore her possessions and that she was still pursued by threats and open violence.5

Musgrave died 18 Aug. 1597, his heir being his second son, Edward. Some of his property was to go to Isabella, daughter and heiress of his deceased first son Thomas.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. Hutchinson, Hist. Cumb. ii. 289; LP Hen. VIII , xvi. 267; Req. 2/265/69.
  • 2. St. Ch. 5/M18/29; Border Pprs. i. 35.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII , xvii. 57; CPR , 1553-4, p. 411; 1563-6, pp. 35, 489; 1566-9, p. 133, 155; CSP Dom. Add. 1568-79, pp. 55, 57; SP 15/14/22(1); Cam. Misc. ix(3), 50; C. Sharp, Memorials of the Rebellion , 231; St. Ch. 5/M18/29 and M30/34.
  • 4. CSP Scot. iii. 130; Border Pprs. i. 99.
  • 5. APC , xvi. 360; xx. 347.
  • 6. C142/253/75.