CATESBY, Richard (?1505-53), of Ashby St. Ledgers, Northants. and Lapworth, Warws.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. ?1505, 2nd s. of George Catesby (d. 27 Nov. 1505) of Ashby St. Ledgers by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Richard Empson of Easton Neston, Northants. m. (1) Dorothy, da. of Sir John Spencer of Hodnell, Warws., 4s. 2da.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of William Astell of Nuneaton, Warws., wid. of Sir Ralph Verney (d.1525) of Pendley in Tring, Herts., 4s. suc. bro. 1517. Kntd. 1542.3

Offices Held

J.p. Warws. 1537-d., Northants. 1539-d., sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 1540-1, 1545-6, Northants. 1542-3, 1549-50; commr. musters, Northants. 1546, chantries, Leics., Warws., Coventry and Leicester 1546, relief, Northants. and Warws. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Northants. 1553; other commissions 1539-d. 4


Richard Catesby’s grandfathers were both executed for treason and his great-grandson was to be killed in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, but he himself came to a peaceful if premature end, having devoted himself to the consolidation of the patrimony recovered by his father. A boy of 11 when his brother’s death made him the heir, he became the ward of Sir Thomas Lucy, his stepfather, and Sir John Spencer, whose daughter he married. His belated livery of his inheritance in March 1537 coincided with his appointment to the Warwickshire bench and for the remainder of his life he was an active administrator in that county and its neighbours and an occasional figure at court. In 1536 he was already taking steps to provide his eldest son with a suitable wife by selling his wardship to William Willington, whose eight daughters were heirs to a considerable estate. The marriage contract, concluded while both principals were still under 14, was twice voided by his son who in 1541 refused his consent to the match before witnesses, but the wedding finally took place in the following year after a new agreement had been reached.5

First returned for Warwickshire to the Parliament of 1539, Catesby could have been re-elected to its successor, for which the names of the Warwickshire knights are lost, after serving his first shrievalty; in that case he would have attended the session of 1543 while sheriff of Northamptonshire. Passed over for the next two Parliaments, during each of which he was again pricked sheriff, he was re-elected to that of March 1553. The sheriff on that occasion was Sir Thomas Neville of Holt, Leicestershire, who in his previous term of office had returned Catesby in 1539, and the first elector named on the indenture was Catesby’s stepbrother, and Neville’s cousin, Thomas Lucy. Such a family affair appears to have left as little room for intervention from elsewhere as does Robert Throckmorton’s for the second seat, and if Catesby’s choice as sheriff of Northamptonshire in November 1549 implies that he was acceptable to the Duke of Northumberland his earlier suing out of a pardon for a string of offences including heresy and lollardy is no guide to his religious views, especially as his family was to be noted for its recusancy.6

Catesby’s allegiances were not to be put to the test for he died on 8 Mar. 1553, two weeks after his election and one week after the opening of Parliament. He had certified his will on 3 Mar. before his wife and other witnesses whose presence does not indicate where he then was: among them was Thomas Denton, who presumably attended as Catesby’s lawyer, and Thomas Payne gentleman, perhaps the Gloucester Member of that name, since Catesby had an interest in the manor of ‘Willicot’ in that county and had been a feoffee for his kinsman Richard Tracy. His direction that he should be buried wherever his executors chose, and his gift to the poor of that place as well as of Ashby St. Ledgers, suggest that he was away from home, possibly on the way to or from Parliament. To his ‘dear and loving wife’ Elizabeth he gave household goods, to his daughter Elizabeth a coffer and to his wife and sons equal shares in his jewels and plate; his youngest son John was also to have the goods in the house in Warwick called the Dean’s house; and his servants were to receive a year’s wages, with Anthony Foxton also having the lease of Ashby St. Ledgers parsonage and Thomas Fitzgeoffrey £6 13s.4d. His two unmarried daughters Elizabeth and Jane were each to have 500 marks towards marriage. The surviving sons shared the issues of Lapworth, valued at £60 a year, for life and the youngest was given the house in Warwick lately bought from the King. The eldest son being dead, it was a grandson William who inherited all the remaining property: he became the ward of Robert Throckmorton and married his guardian’s daughter Anne. Catesby named as executor his nephew John Spencer, who proved the will on 26 Oct. 1553.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2]; Dugdale, Warws. ii. 789-90.
  • 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from age at brother’s i.p.m. and from father’s death, VCH Warws. vi. 144. Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 126; Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 173; Dugdale, 788; C142/100/47, 101/85.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii-xvii, xx, xxi, add.; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 87, 90; 1549-51, p. 175; 1550-3, pp. 141-2, 395; 1553, pp. 356, 360, 387.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, ii, iv, vi-viii, x-xiv, xix, xxi; Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, Chastleton mss 3; VCH Warws. iii. 261; v. 111, 116, 169, 194; vi. 116, 144, 199-200; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, pp. 403, 409, 425, 439; St.Ch.2/19/220, 225; 3/1/104; C1/1140/1.
  • 6. C219/20/137; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 324.
  • 7. PCC 19 Tashe; CPR, 1547-8, p. 48; 1553-4, p. 84; C1/1368/90; C142/100/47, 101/85.