SCORY, Sylvanus (d.1617), of Cordwainer Street, London.

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

s. of John Scory, bp. of Hereford, by his w. Elizabeth. m. Alice, da. of Francis Walshe of Shelsley, Worcs., 2da. suc. fa. 1585.

Offices Held

Servant of the Earl of Leicester by 1584.

Prebendary of Hinton 1565-9; esquire of the body at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral; gent. of privy chamber to James I.


Scory’s father, one of the less heroic figures of the Reformation, submitted to Bishop Bonner and renounced his wife at the outset of Mary’s reign, then fled abroad. On Elizabeth’s accession he returned to England and was given the see of Hereford. Scory himself held the prebend of Hinton for four years during his father’s tenure of the bishopric, and leased several ecclesiastical properties, including the manor of Whitbourne and Colwall Park, Herefordshire. How Scory came to be a servant of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, has not been ascertained, but he was sufficiently close to Leicester to be suspected by the Privy Council of being behind the libellous Leycester’s Commonwealth, published in 1584, and he admitted introducing Leicester to the Spanish ambassador during a dinner held at the house of Thomas Smythe I, customer of London. Suspected of treason and in disgrace with his father, he persuaded the French ambassador, Mauvissi‘re, to write to Walsingham on 21 June 1585 asking him and Leicester to intervene with the Queen on his behalf, as he wished ‘to justify himself and be a faithful subject to her Majesty and a good servant to the Earl’ and so prevent his father from disinheriting him. Mauvissi‘re’s story was that Scory spoke only of ‘matters of state’ and had visited him to thank him for hospitality received.1

When his father died a short time later, Scory’s brother-in-law Giles Allen complained of his ‘ungodly, unnatural, blasphemous and unlawful conduct’ to the dying bishop, in that he prevented anyone from ‘performing the necessary offices to the dead corpse’, though he had time enough to write to Leicester asking for a suit to be tried in which he alleged that corrupt practices, presumably connected with the distribution of his father’s estate, had deprived him of several thousand pounds. While the case was still pending, he followed Leicester to the Netherlands and through an ill-advised duel aroused Burghley’s displeasure, in the meantime being accused by the new bishop of Hereford of wrongfully retaining the manor of Whitbourne. Scory’s tenant and kinsman, Mr. Walshe, was ordered by the Privy Council to vacate Whitbourne, ‘as there was no other convenient place of residence within his diocese belonging to the bishop’, but was allowed to remove Scory’s property. At the same time the Council wrote to the Earl of Leicester requesting that Scory might be sent back to England. On 15 July 1587 the case was referred to three arbitrators who awarded the bishop Whitbourne, and Scory Colwall Park, adding that Scory should pay the bishop £275 dilapidations. After further delay the Privy Council confirmed the arbitrators’ award but Scory refused to agree and was put in the Marshalsea.2

The next few years of his career are once more obscure, but he went abroad again and for an unknown reason his lands were forfeited. He had returned by 1596, when he owned a house in Cordwainer Street, London, valued at £15 p.a. On the 1598 subsidy roll for London he was assessed on £100 in goods. He retained friends at court, being a creditor of several minor officials there, and by the death of Elizabeth had become an esquire of the body. He was probably returned to Parliament, through his court connexions, at the instance of Sir George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, the lord chamberlain and captain of the Isle of Wight, who nominated at Newtown.3

Under James I, Scory became a gentleman of the privy chamber, and is said to have suggested to the King several money-raising ideas. Chamberlain, who disliked him, reported that ‘the wags say he shall be chief churchwarden over all England and have the placing of women’. A Star Chamber case in February 1617 alleged that Scory had tried to remove by force from a private house the corpse of his son. Scory died on 14 Oct. that year of ‘apoplexy’, and was buried in St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 125; Cooper, Ath. Cant. i. 511-13; LC2/4/4; St. Ch. 8/22/11; DNB (Scory, John); Le Neve, Fasti (1854), i. 508; APC, xiv. 101, 136, 138; R. C. Strong and J. A. Van Dorsten, Leicester’s Triumph, 129; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 156, 227, 427; CSP For. 1584-5, pp. 547-8, 584, 587.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 249, 254, 355, 408; SP84/6/9; APC, xiv. 101, 136, 138; xv. 65, 161, 163; xvi. 225-6; xvii. 435; xviii. 413; xix. 138; Strype, Annals iii(2), p. 453; HMC Hatfield, iii. 355, 406; G. Croke, Law Reports, Eliz. 874.
  • 3. Lansd. 69, f. 175; 81, f. 81; E179/146/369; HMC Hatfield, ix. 138; LC2/4/4.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 208; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 601, 604; ii. 105; St. Ch. 8/22/11; PCC 124 Weldon; C142/367/95.