RADCLIFFE, Edward (d.1643), of Elstow, 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

2nd s. of Sir Humphrey Radcliffe of Elstow by Isabel or Elizabeth, da. and h. of Edmund Harvey of Elstow; bro. of Thomas. m. (1) 1582 or 1583, Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Petre of Ingatestone, Essex, wid. of John Gostwick of Willington, s.p.; (2) 30 May 1594, Jane, da. of Francis Hynde of Madingley, Cambs., wid. of John Catesby of Newnham in Goldington, s.p.; (3) 22 May 1634, Eleanor, da. of Sir Richard Wortley of Wortley, Yorks., wid. of Sir Henry Lee, Bt., of Quarrendon, Bucks., s.p. suc. bro. 1586. Kntd. bef. 30 May 1594; suc. cos. as 6th Earl of Sussex 1629.

Offices Held

J.p. Beds. from 1584, sheriff 1598-9; freeman, Portsmouth 8 Aug. 1593.


Radcliffe’s father was a younger son of the 1st Earl of Sussex, and it was this connexion which accounts for his returns at Petersfield and Portsmouth, as Sir Henry Radcliffe, the 4th Earl, was lord lieutenant of Hampshire and so could bring pressure to bear on the Weston family who were the patrons at Petersfield, and at Portsmouth he was warden, captain and high steward. Edward Radcliffe was obviously of county status in Bedfordshire, where his so frequent elections are nevertheless a little surprising.2

His name has not been found in the journals of the Commons. As knight of the shire in 1597 and 1601 he could have attended committees dealing with enclosures (5 Nov. 1597), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), penals laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), the subsidy (15 Nov.), draining the fens (3 Dec.) and maltsters (12 Jan. 1598); as well as the main business committee (3 Nov. 1601) and other committees on monopolies (10 Nov. 1597 and 23 Nov. 1601).3

Radcliffe was at the Tilbury camp during the Armada crisis, writing to the Earl of Sussex that during the Queen’s visit she had given

me many thanks for my forwardness in this service, telling me I showed from what house I descended, with many gracious words ... Assuring me that before it were long, she would make me better able to serve her, which words being spoken before many did well please me, however the performance follow.

This may have been a reference to the Earl’s request that Radcliffe should succeed him as captain of Portsmouth castle, about which he wrote to the Earl of Leicester on 24 Aug. 1588. Radcliffe’s later life was passed on the edge of bankruptcy. The Bedfordshire estates were disposed of piecemeal, Elstow itself being sold in 1616. He died intestate in 1643.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. Folger V. b. 298.
  • 2. CP; Beds. N. and Q. i. 126 seq.; E163/14/8; PCC admon. act. bk. 1586, f. 193; VCH Beds. iii. 281, 304, 328; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 346, 420, 637.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561, 567, 578, 624, 649.
  • 4. APC, xxii. 238; H. Ellis, Orig. Letters (ser. 2), iii. 142; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 478; 1611-18, p. 110; HMC Bath, v. 215; Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 207; Verney Pprs. (Cam. Soc. liii), 159-60; HMC 7th Rep. 439, 644.