CAREY, Henry (1526-96), of Buckingham, Bucks. and Hunsdon, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 4 Mar. 2526, o.s. of William Carey of Aldenham, Herts. by Mary, da. of Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond. m. lic. 21 May 1545, Anne, da. of Sir Thomas Morgan ?of Arkstone, Herefs., 9s. inc. Edmund, Sir George, Henry, John, Robert and William 3da. suc. fa. 22 June 1528. Kntd. Nov. 1558; cr. Baron Hunsdon of Hunsdon 13 Jan. 1559; KG nom. 22 Apr. inst. 18 May 1561.2

Offices Held

In the King’s household by May 1545; carver, the privy chamber by 1553-8 or later; master of the hawks 31 Oct. 1560; gov. Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. 25 Aug. 1568-87; warden, east marches 23 Oct. 1571; keeper, Somerset House 31 July 1574-d.; PC 1577-d.; capt. gent. pens. 1583; ld. chamberlain, the Household July 1585-d.; c.j. in eyre south of Trent 1589-d., itinerant of royal forests 20 Dec. 1591-d.; recorder, Cambridge 1590; high steward, Doncaster and Ipswich 1590, Oxf. 2 Mar. 1592-d.3


A cadet branch of the Devonshire family of Carey of Cockington was founded by Henry Carey’s grandfather Thomas, of Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire, whose marriage to a cousin of Margaret Beaufort brought his sons John and William into court circles. Both made favourable marriages in their turn, John to a sister of (Sir) Anthony Denny, the royal favourite, and William to the sister of Anne Boleyn. Mary Boleyn had also attracted the attention of Henry VIII and he is said to have been the father of her son, Henry Carey.4

Within two years of the death of William Carey from ‘the sweating sickness’ the wardship of Henry Carey, ‘for which the King might have had £133 6s.8d.’, was granted to Anne Boleyn, from whom it may have come back to the King after her execution in 1536; the boy’s mother was out of favour after her marriage to Sir William Stafford. Carey was ‘of the King’s Household’ at his marriage in 1545 and a few months later he served in the army under John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, who wrote from Portsmouth that he knew of none to replace captains who were sick except young Mr. Carey and Mr. Constable. In the following year Carey received £40 for his expenses as a member of Lisle’s embassy to France.5

On coming of age in 1547 Carey entered into lands in Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The Buckinghamshire property included the borough of Buckingham, granted to William Carey in tail male by Henry VIII in 1526, and Henry Carey accordingly secured his election there to the first Parliament of Edward VI’s reign. During the prorogation in 1551 he went to France in the embassy of the Marquess of Northampton. Although Carey was strongly entrenched at court as a carver in the privy chamber under Sir Robert Dudley, no place seems to have been found for him in the Parliament of March 1553. Edward VI had confirmed his ownership of Buckingham in November 1552, but this grant appears to have had the sole purpose of establishing Carey’s title, since two months later he conveyed all his rights to Robert Brocas of Horton in the same county.6

Carey’s absence from Mary’s first Parliament may have had some connexion with his allegiance to Elizabeth, who sent him abroad late in 1553 to visit the Duke of Savoy and report on his suitability to marry her. Nevertheless Carey’s Household office continued under Mary and he was returned to three consecutive Parliaments in her reign, presumably by agreement with Robert Brocas. He was one of those who quitted the Parliament of November 1554 prematurely without leave, and during Easter term 1555 an information was laid against him in the King’s bench for the offence: a writ of venire facias was sent to the sheriff but no further process was taken against him. In the following Parliament he joined Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing a government bill. Two years later, described as ‘late of the town of Buckingham’, Carey was sent to the Fleet prison under three obligations of 1551 for a debt of £507, but on 19 May he was ordered to be released under new recognizances for payment.7

Carey’s status was greatly enhanced at the accession of Elizabeth, who was his cousin if not his half-sister. After receiving a knighthood in November 1558, early in the following year he was created Baron Hunsdon of Hunsdon, a title probably deriving from his childhood connexion with the royal residence there. He was also given a large grant of land, including the manor of Hunsdon, with £4,000 to maintain his rank. Thereafter his career was one of service to the Queen, chiefly in military or judicial posts. More soldier than courtier, he is said to have been rough in speech, hasty in temper but free from malice. He died on 23 July 1596 at Somerset House, two days after making a nuncupative will, and was buried in Westminster abbey.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Date of birth given in CP. Her. and Gen. iv. 34-35, 40, 129-31.
  • 3. Fac. Off. Reg. 1534-49, ed. Chambers, 257; Stowe 571, f. 30v; LC2/4/1-3; VCH Cambs. iii. 59; information from W. J. Tighe.
  • 4. Lipscomb, Bucks. i. 152; Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 129; Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 150, 154; LP Hen. VIII, viii, xv; Egerton 2604, f. 4v; Rutland Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xxi), 101; Somerville, Duchy, i. 606, 612.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, iv. xx; Index 10217(1), f. 8v.
  • 6. Her. and Gen. iv. 129-30; LP Hen. VIII , iv; CPR , 1548-9, p. 93; 1550-3, p. 250; CSP For. 1547-53, p. 123.
  • 7. KB27/1176 rex. roll 16; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; CSP Span. 1553, p. 426; 1554, p. 290; E111/1/56, mm. 11-12.
  • 8. Her. and Gen. iv. 34-35; Fuller, Worthies , ii. 47-48; PCC 54 Drake; C142/246/11.