CATLYN, Richard (by 1520-56), of Norwich and Honingham, Norf. and Serjeants' Inn, London.

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



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1520, 5th s. of Richard Catlyn of Norwich by Elizabeth. educ. L. Inn, adm. 2 Aug. 1534, called 1539. m. Barbara, da. of John Spencer of Rendlesham, Suff., 3s. 3da.3

Offices Held

Pens. L. Inn 1548, marshal 1549, Autumn reader 1551, 1552.

Counsel to Norwich 1544, steward, sheriff’s ct. 1547-d.; counsel to Yarmouth 1546-53 or later, Lynn 1548-55; j.p. Norf. 1547-d.; commr. chantries, Norf., Suff. and Norwich 1548, relief, Norf. and Norwich 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Norwich 1553; other commissions 1551-d., bailiff for Thomas, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, unknown property by 1548; serjeant-at-law 1552, King’s and Queen’s serjeant Apr. 1556.4


Richard Catlyn was the son of a citizen of Norwich, perhaps an attorney by profession, and a member of a branch of the Catlyns of Northamptonshire from whom came Sir Robert Catlyn, chief justice of the King’s bench. Catlyn, too, was a lawyer who but for an early death would probably have reached the bench. It was probably Robert Catlyn who was Cromwell’s servant and counsel in 1539, and Richard Catlyn’s first known post was his appointment with Thomas Gawdy I as counsel for the city of Norwich in September 1544. In December of the same year he was admitted a freeman of Norwich, being excused all civic offices, a privilege repeated in September of the next year.5

Catlyn’s Membership of the Parliament of 1542 is known only from an entry in the records of the city of London. On 31 Jan. 1542, five days after the Parliament opened, the common council resolved to approach four Members, one of them Catlyn, to solicit their support for a bill to cleanse the Fleet ditch. His constituency can only be guessed at. It cannot have been Norwich, and of the remaining Norfolk boroughs the only one for which the names are unknown is Thetford, where the nominations were probably made through the duchy of Lancaster, with which Catlyn is not known to have been associated. Outside Norfolk a number of boroughs lack either one name or two, and as a London-based lawyer Catlyn would have made a convenient representative of one of them. Thereafter he was to sit in three Parliaments for Norwich, but the only reference in the Journal indicative of his part in their proceedings is the appearance on 17 Mar. 1552 of ‘Mr. Catlyn’ as counsel against a bill to limit the development of the iron industry in Horsham.6

In the summer of 1549 Catlyn’s shire and city were rocked by the earthquake of Ket’s rebellion. According to the local historian Blomefield, Catlyn was one of those imprisoned by the rebels, and although in calling him a serjeant Blomefield anticipated his call by three years Catlyn could well have been an object of popular hatred: as a lawyer, justice of the peace and chantry commissioner he personified some of the chief targets of the rebellion. He survived it to resume his upward progress, serving on a number of local commissions and being called in May 1552 to the order of the coif. He neither sat in the Parliament of March 1553 nor, so far as is known, took any part in the succession crisis which followed, and under Mary his prospects must have appeared bright. As a Member of her first Parliament he did not join those who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism, but there is no reason to think that in superseding him thereafter the city was doing more than securing a rotation in its Membership. That he continued to stand well with the government is shown by his reappointment to the Norfolk commission of the peace, his employment on judicial commissions and his promotion, four months before his death, to King’s and Queen’s serjeant.7

Catlyn was evidently much in demand as a feoffee in landed settlements: at different times he acted in this capacity for (Sir) Giles Alington, Sir John Shelton and (Sir) Richard Southwell. He is also found in 1548 as bailiff for unspecified property belonging to Admiral Seymour. His own property increased steadily with the years. In 1548 he joined Sir Edward Warner in buying the chantry in Norwich founded by Robert Thorpe: some of its lands they later sold. He bought Honingham Hall, or ‘Curzons’, Norfolk, in 1549 and the rectory and advowson of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, in March 1553. His inquisition post mortem shows him possessed at his death of the manors of Branstone, Harford Hall and Honingham Hall, and miscellaneous smaller properties in Norfolk.8

Catlyn made his will on 31 May 1556. He left £100 to each of his daughters and to the younger sons. Until one of his children came of age the profits of all his lands and tenements, except his wife’s jointure and those claimed in wardship by the King, were to be employed by his executors on bringing up his children in virtue and learning. As executors he appointed his wife and Bishop Thirlby. He also left 40s. ‘to remain in stock with my lords and masters the judges and serjeants in the home whereof I am in desiring them to remember and pray for me’; which of the two Serjeants’ Inns he meant, that in Fleet Street or that in Chancery Lane, does not appear, but one of the supervisors was his ‘cousin Serjeant [Robert] Catlyn’. Catlyn died on 13 Aug. 1556, leaving a son and heir Richard of eight years, and his will was proved on 24 Oct. by his wife, who was also executrix of the will which his father made in the month of his death; she later married Francis Southwell. Edmund Plowden preserves in his Commentaries an obituary in Latin hexameters for Catlyn and his fellow serjeant Thomas Gawdy who died in the same month.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 10, f. 242v.
  • 2. Hatfield 207.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from education. Blomefield, Norf. viii. 31-32.
  • 4. Norwich ass. procs. 2, ff. 187v, 201v; 3, f. 26v; Gt. Yarmouth chamberlains’ accts. 1546-7, 1547-8, 1553-4; Lynn congregation bk. 4, ff. 91v, 228; CPR, 1547-8, p. 87; 1548-9, p. 136; 1550-3, pp. 144, 355; 1553, pp. 186, 357, 361, 416; 1553-4, pp. 22, 27; 1555-7, p. 244; E163/12/17, nos. 37, 50, 54.
  • 5. St.Ch.2/20/225-7; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 161; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiv; Norwich ass. procs. 2, ff. 187v, 188v, 192.
  • 6. CJ, i. 20.
  • 7. Blomefield, iii. 225.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 167, 272; 1549-51, p. 236; 1555-7, p. 85; Blomefield, iv. 187; C142/110/122.
  • 9. PCC 18 Ketchyn; Norwich consist. ct. 96 Jagges; E. Plowden, Commentaries (1779), 180.