MOSLEY, Edward (1569-1638), of Rolleston, Staffs. and Gray's Inn Lane, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 17 Oct. 1569,1 6th but 3rd surv. s. of Sir Nicholas Mosley (d. 12 Dec. 1612),2 ld. mayor of London 1599-1600, and Hough End, Lancs. and Margaret, da. of Hugh Whitbrooke of Bridgnorth, Salop.3 educ. Christ’s, Camb. 1586, G. Inn 1590, called 1598.4 unm. kntd. 31 Dec. 1614.5 d. 1 July 1638.6 sig. Edw[ard] Mosley.

Offices Held

Fee’d counsel, corporation of London 1604-c.1629;7 judge of sheriffs’ ct. 1610-17;8 commr. gaol delivery, Newgate 1610-28, 1635-6, London 1610-28,9 oyer and terminer, London 1610-37, Mdx. 1610-32,10 assurance, London 1613,11 piracy 1614-15,12 Admlty. causes, London, Mdx., Essex, Kent and Surr. 1614;13 j.p. Mdx. 1614-33,14 Westminster 1618-36,15 Lancs. by 1620-at least 1633;16 commr. survey, L. Inn fields, Mdx. 1618;17 freeman, Preston, Lancs. by 1622;18 commr. Forced Loan, Lancs. 1627.19

Att. gen. duchy of Lancaster, 1613-d.;20 reader, G. Inn 1613, bencher 1614-d., treas. 1617-22.21

Commr. parks and warrens 1615,22 earl of Somerset inquiry, 1616, fairs and markets 1620, defective titles 1622, 1635, composition for defective titles 1625.23


Mosley’s father was born in Lancashire but made his fortune as a cloth merchant, alderman and lord mayor of London before retiring to Hough End Hall, which he built in around 1596.24 His marble and alabaster funeral monument in Didsbury chapel has been described as ‘the most elaborate tomb of its kind in Lancashire’.25 Mosley himself was luckier than many younger sons, inheriting parcels of his father’s property and £1,450 in cash.26 Furthermore, by the time his father died in 1612 he had begun to build up a considerable estate of his own from the proceeds of a successful legal practice. From about 1603 onwards he invested an average of £360 a year in lands, acquiring estates in Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and Lancashire; during his whole lifetime he laid out a total of £12,600 in such purchases.27 His main residence after 1617 was at Rolleston, Staffordshire, which he bought along with a surrounding estate of over 600 acres.28

Mosley spent most of his time in London, where his father helped him obtain reversions to the offices of town clerk, common serjeant, and secondary of both compters. He served as London’s standing counsel from 1604, and became a judge in the sheriff’s court in 1610; however, his reversions to the town clerkship and other offices never fell in, and had been transferred by 1605 to (Sir) Thomas Coventry*, who later worked alongside him both as legal counsellor and judge. Mosley resided at Gray’s Inn, and was admitted to the readers’ table in January 1611 ‘in respect of his judicial place in the city of London provided that he shall not thereby gain any antiquity or other privilege in the house of any others being his ancients’. Upon becoming a bencher a few years later, he received special permission to build a door opening into the inn from his house in Gray’s Inn Lane.29 In October 1613 he was appointed attorney-general of the duchy of Lancaster.30 It was as a Duchy officer, rather than through any local connections, that Mosley was elected for Preston three times in succession between 1614 and 1624.

Upon entering the Commons in 1614, Mosley’s main activity was to defend the chancellor of the Duchy, Sir Thomas Parry*, from accusations of electoral abuses at Stockbridge, where there had been a contested election. Parry’s nominees were initially defeated by two local candidates, but duchy pursuivants then allegedly assaulted and arrested several voters prior to a second poll at which the duchy candidates were returned. Mosley argued on 10 May that the arrests were unrelated to the election, but were for the abuse of a duchy commission. He therefore demanded a full inquiry to exonerate Parry, who was threatened with expulsion, as well as a new writ. However, Mosley was unable to save the chancellor from disgrace as he was ‘thought to speak partially’; Sir Roger Owen declared that his eyes were ‘sealed up by his place’.31 Mosley’s only appointments of the session were to the privileges committee (9 Apr.), and to the delegation of 80 Members sent up to the Lords for the Palatine marriage conference (14 April).32

Mosley was rumoured to be a contender for the chancellorship of the Duchy when it fell vacant in 1618, but the post ultimately went to (Sir) Humphrey May*.33 In the 1621 Parliament he was named to consider the monopolies bill (26 Feb.), and his other committee appointments related mainly to legal matters, such as limitation of actions (6 Feb.), concealed lands (2 Mar.), informers (19 Apr.), and bribery in courts (27 April).34 On the latter occasion he spoke out against ‘judges suffering their sons, or favourites, to practice’, claiming that ‘affection to such advocates oftentimes swayeth more with the judges, than the solidest reason of the lawyers of the adverse party’.35 After the summer recess Mosley was appointed to the committee for a bill to confirm decrees relating to the Duchy’s estates (1 Dec.) and entrusted with its safe keeping; but it progressed no further than the committee stage.36 Similar issues occupied him in 1624, when he was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords on monopolies (7 Apr.), and to a handful of committees, including one for a bill ‘for avoiding vexatious delays caused by removing suits out of inferior courts’ (9 March).37

Aspersions were more than once cast upon Mosley’s integrity as attorney of the Duchy. Allegations were first made in 1620 by John Bridgeman, bishop of Chester, who had a case against the mayor and corporation of Wigan pending in the Duchy court. According to Bridgeman, Mosley unfairly favoured the mayor, and decisions were made ‘privately in the upper chamber ... Sir Edward Mosley the attorney having been wrought (God knows how sincerely or corruptly) by the Wiganers’.38 In 1628 Mosley was publicly accused of corruption by William Nowell*, another suitor in the Duchy court, who had himself unsuccessfully attempted to bribe Mosley’s deputy Thomas Brograve with £80 to obtain a decree confirming his title to certain lands.39 Mosley in return accused Nowell of perjury, but later allegedly accepted the gift of a horse in order to bury the perjury case and permit Brograve to draw up the decree. When Nowell ultimately lost his case, he petitioned the Commons that the actions of Mosley and his servants should be investigated, claiming that Mosley had ‘used passionate words and threats against him’ and ‘used to correct or alter orders in his chamber’. The matter was referred to a committee on 19 June 1628, but remained unresolved when the session ended a week later. It was taken up again by the grand committee for the courts of justice in February 1629, but no action was taken against Mosley, who seems to have cleared his name.40 Mosley was embroiled in further controversy in June 1629, when he sued the mayor and aldermen of London for failing to pay fees due to him as their counsel during the negotiation of the Ditchfield grant the previous year. Following the intervention of the Privy Council a compromise was reached, and he received £300.41

Mosley died on 1 July 1638 and was buried at Rolleston church, having already erected a monument containing a large marble effigy of himself recumbent in lawyer’s robes upon an altar under a canopy supported by Corinthian pillars.42 In his will, dated 16 Dec. 1637, he made generous charitable bequests in both Rolleston and London.43 He also donated to the library of Gray’s Inn a copy of Speed’s Theatre of Great Britain.44 Mosley was the dedicatee of several books, including the Parable of Poison (1618) by William Crashaw, and The Soules Conflict (1635) by Richard Sibbes, preacher at Gray’s Inn. Both authors were evangelical puritans, and it can perhaps be assumed that Mosley shared their religious views. In December 1617 it had been falsely rumoured that Mosley intended to marry a widow, Mary Bowyer, but in fact he never wed.45 His entire estate, worth over £3,000 a year, was inherited by his nephew, Sir Edward, who became a baronet in 1649 and supported the king in the Civil War. Sir Edward Mosley, 2nd bt., sat for Mitchell in 1661-5.46

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. J. Booker, Hist. of Didsbury and Chorlton Chapels in Manchester (Chetham Soc. xlii), 69; E. Axon, Mosley Fam. Memoranda (Chetham Soc. n.s. xlvii), 9.
  • 2. Lancs. IPMs ed. J.P. Rylands (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xvi), 4-5.
  • 3. J. Foster, Lancs. Peds.; E. Baines, Hist. of Palatinate and Duchy of Lancaster ed. J. Croston, ii. 234.
  • 4. Al. Cant.; J. Peile, Biog. Reg. of Christ’s Coll. Camb. i. 187; GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 137.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 155.
  • 6. C142/585/91.
  • 7. CLRO, Reps. 26/2, f. 292v; Reps. 33, f. 83; DL1/319.
  • 8. CLRO, Rem. iv. no. 7, 42, Reps. 30, ff. 17-18; Reps. 33, f. 83; City Cash 1/1 f. 44v.
  • 9. C181/2, ff. 131v, 345v, 351v; 181/3, ff. 23, 243; 181/5, ff. 2, 59.
  • 10. C181/2, ff. 132v, 133v, 351v, 352v; 181/3, ff. 21, 22, 243, 244; 181/4, ff. 16, 25, 105v, 188; 181/5, ff. 2, 90v.
  • 11. C181/2, f. 194.
  • 12. Ibid. ff. 214, 220v.
  • 13. HCA1/32/1, f. 38.
  • 14. C231/5, f. 116; T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 2, p. 11; C193/13/2; SP16/14/45.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 331v; C181/3, f. 15v; C193/13/2, f. 83.
  • 16. Lancs. RO, QSC 4-20.
  • 17. Rymer, vii. pt. 3, pp. 82-3.
  • 18. Preston Guild Rolls ed. W.A. Abram (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 76.
  • 19. C193/12/2, f. 29.
  • 20. Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders ed. R. Somerville, 21.
  • 21. PBG Inn, i. 208, 215, 225, 250.
  • 22. HLRO, large parchments, box 178/11.
  • 23. Rymer, vii. pt. 2, p. 209; pt. 3, pp. 124-5, 247-8; pt. 4, p. 157; viii. pt. 1, p. 33; ix. pt. 1, p. 7.
  • 24. Booker, 167; J. Croston, County Fams. of Lancs. and Cheshire, 347-8; E.F. Letts, ‘Fam. of Mosley and their Brasses in Manchester Cathedral’, Trans. Lancs. and Cheshire Antiq. Soc. xi. 82-102.
  • 25. P. Fleetwood-Hesketh, Murray’s Lancs. Architectural Guide, 38; Booker, 22.
  • 26. Lancs. RO, WCW, Sir Nicholas Mosley, 1612; Booker, 131-40.
  • 27. P.R. Long, ‘Wealth of the Magisterial Class in Lancs. 1590-1640’ (Manchester Univ. MA 1968), p. 149; W.R. Prest, Rise of the Barristers, 381.
  • 28. S. Shaw, Hist. and Antiqs. of Staffs. i. 30-2.
  • 29. PBG Inn, i. 192-3, 215.
  • 30. HMC Kenyon, 24; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 202, 298, 502, 557; APC, 1615-16, pp. 533-4; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 327; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 417; B.W. Quintrell, Procs. of the Lancs. JPs at the Sheriff’s Table (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. cxxi), 180; CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 94; CSP Dom. 1635, p. 107; CSP Dom. 1637, p. 66; HEHL, HA5476, HA9454, HA9455, HA5521.
  • 31. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 191, 197.
  • 32. Ibid. 41, 82.
  • 33. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 148-9.
  • 34. CJ, i. 511a, 521a, 534a, 582b, 584b, 597a, 652a, 674b.
  • 35. Ibid. 595a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 336.
  • 36. CJ, i. 653b, 654a.
  • 37. Ibid. 680b, 757b, 769a, 705a, 774a.
  • 38. Wigan AS, D/DZ A13/1, pp. 111-12.
  • 39. DL1/278.
  • 40. CJ, i. 915a, 916a, 927a; Warws. RO, CR136/B385; CD 1629, pp. 177-8.
  • 41. APC, 1629-30, pp. 48, 53-4; DL1/319.
  • 42. Shaw, Hist. and Antiqs. of Staffs. i. 30-2.
  • 43. PROB 11/178, ff. 353v-4v.
  • 44. PBG Inn, i. xlix.
  • 45. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 122, 136.
  • 46. Long, 172-5.