NEWDIGATE, Robert I (1528-84), of Hawnes, Beds.

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. 14. Sept. 1528, 7th s. of John Newdigate of Moor Hall, Harefield, Mdx. and Arbury, Warws. by Anne, da. and h. of Nicholas Hilton of Cambridge; bro. of Francis, John and Nicholas. educ. L. Inn 1550. m. Anne, da. of Edmund Conquest of Houghton Conquest, at least 1s. Robert II.1

Offices Held

Escheator, Beds. and Bucks. 1560-1; j.p. Beds. from c.1561; feodary, Bucks. by Apr. 1562.2


Newdigate owned a considerable amount of property in Bedfordshire. The first mention of him there is in June 1554, when he was leasing land in Wilhamstead. In April 1563 he sold this manor, with other property formerly belonging to Elstow priory, and soon afterwards bought the larger part of the manor of Hawnes (now Haynes) from Sir Edward Bray. The bishop of Lincoln described Newdigate as ‘esquire’, ‘earnest’ in religion in Bedfordshire and as ‘gent.’, ‘indifferent’ in Buckinghamshire. He was an active official in both counties and so may have been in a position to have himself returned for Buckingham even without the influence of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, who was, however, in the position of parliamentary patron both there and at Berwick. Hunsdon took his side in an incident in September 1570, when he wrote to Cecil, saying that he thought the Queen’s anger with Newdigate, apparently after complaints from the Duchess of Suffolk, unjustified. The question at issue seems to have been the stewardship of Ampthill, Bedfordshire, which Lady Suffolk had wanted her son to buy from Hunsdon. She was ‘greatly offended’ with Newdigate, whom she blamed (according to Hunsdon, unjustly) for the failure of the scheme.3

Newdigate was an active committeeman in all his Parliaments—he was named to 15 or 16 in the three sessions of that of 1572. Several of his speeches were thought worth reporting by the diarists. There is no record of his speaking in 1563 or 1566, but he probably did so: ‘Newdigate the crier’ appears in the lampoon on the Members of the 1566-7 session. He was named to the succession committee on 31 Oct. 1566. On 7 Apr. 1571 he caused a storm by proposing a subsidy before any of the Privy Councillors had raised the matter. The motion was not liked by the House but he was appointed to the committee the same day. In the 1572 Parliament he became really prominent. On 17 May, evidently fearing that the question of Mary Stuart and the Duke of Norfolk might be sidetracked by Members’ reactions to an ill-timed speech of Arthur Hall, he asked that the House should give ‘a full resolution’ of its opinion on the execution of Norfolk. The Speaker put the question, and it was ‘passed without any negative voice’. The following week on 23 May Newdigate spoke on Elizabeth’s rejection of the proposed bill of attainder against Mary.

He sorroweth to see so small care in the Queen’s Majesty of herself. He feareth she depend too much upon God’s providence, ... though she [Mary] pretend a title for the present, if she may prevail she will claim by conquest and then all our lands be lost, all our goods forfeit. This most gainful to her and fittest for her honour. Therefore now not only to be deposed, but her head cut off whilst she is in our hands, that we may seem to embrace so great a benefit offered us. Since the Queen in respect of her own safety is not to be induced hereunto, let us make petition she will do it in respect of our safety. I have heard she delighteth to be called our mother. Let us desire her to be pitiful over us her children who have not deserved death.

However, he does not appear to have favoured forcing the Queen’s hand. On 31 May he supported Sir Francis Knollys and Sir James Croft in an appeal to the House not to send an urgent petition asking her to execute Norfolk at once. He was appointed to two committees concerning the jurors of Middlesex on 19 May and 22 May, and spoke against a bill concerning the freeholders in Middlesex. Newdigate spoke on 5 June 1572 on the third reading of the bill concerning Worcester’s water supply from the River Severn. He did not think that

any men’s inheritance should be taken from them against the wills of the owners, especially for so small a commodity as increase of water ... and although some means be appointed for recompense, he liketh not that commissioners should set price of other men’s lands.

During the 1576 session Newdigate spoke several times in support of Arthur Hall, whose servant was involved in a privilege case. He was also named to committees concerning the avoidance of idleness (11 Feb.), legal matters (13, 18 Feb., 7 Mar.) and the treatment of aliens (24 Feb.). During the last session of 1581 he does not appear to have spoken, but to have concentrated on his committee activity, which included the punishment of bigamy (31 Jan.), slanderous libelling (3 Feb.), private bills (6 Feb.), the unlawful hunting of coneys (9 Feb.), pheasants and partridges (18 Feb.), attorneys (20 Feb.), hats and caps (22 Feb.), the sowing of hemp in the county of Hertford (23 Feb.), the city of Carlisle (27 Feb.) and mariners (15 Mar.).4

The few references to Newdigate’s private character show him as a quarrelsome member of that faction in Bedfordshire opposed to the 6th Earl of Kent. No will has been found; his inquisition post mortem, taken in January 1586, gives the date of his death, 4 May 1584, and describes his Bedfordshire lands as in the custody of the widow on behalf of her son Robert.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Kimber and Johnson, Baronetage, ii. 416; C142/209/16; Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 20, 185.
  • 2. CPR, 1560-3, p. 448.
  • 3. CPR, 1553-4, p. 344; 1560-3, p. 602; Cam. Misc. ix(3), pp. 28, 32; C142/209/16; VCH Beds. ii. 340-1; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 320.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 127, 158, 159, 212, 213, 247, 290, 292, 294, 299; CJ, i. 83, 96, 97, 105, 106, 108, 111, 121, 122, 124, 128, 129, 130, 134; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. ff. 13, 22, 36, 39, 51; Neale, Parlts. i. 92, 218, 280, 336-9.
  • 5. Beds. RO, L24/647, 654 ex inf. Miss J. Godber; C142/209/16.