CHOLMLEY, Ralph (by 1517-63), of London.

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



Mar. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1517, yr. s. of Richard Cholmley of Cholmondeley, Cheshire, and bro. of Sir Hugh. educ. L. Inn, adm. 10 Nov. 1535, called 1543. m. Elizabeth Pickering (d.1562), wid. of Robert Redman (d.1540) of London, s.p.3

Offices Held

Bencher, L. Inn 1549, Lent reader 1553, 1558, 1559, treasurer 1557-8.

King’s attorney in N. Wales 1543-d.; escheator, Kent and Mdx. 1546-7; j.p. Mdx. 1547-d., Surr. 1554-d., Essex, Herts., Kent, Suss. 1558/59-d.; under sheriff, London Mar. 1553-4, recorder Oct. 1554-d.; serjeant-at-law 1559; justice of assize, southern circuit 1559; commr. eccles. causes 1559.4


Ralph Cholmley made the law his profession and received his first appointment, as the King’s attorney in North Wales, in 1543, immediately after being called to the bar. He had entered Lincoln’s Inn in 1535, the year his (illegitimate) kinsman, Sir Roger Cholmley, also of Lincoln’s Inn, became recorder of London; in 1550, at the request of Sir Roger, then chief baron of the Exchequer, Ralph Cholmley was granted a reversion to the office of under sheriff of London, to which he succeeded on 2 Mar. 1553.5

Cholmley was returned to the Parliaments of 1547 and March 1553 by two Cornish boroughs, possibly as the nominee of Sir John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, who was the lord lieutenant in the west and an honorary member of his inn; he was probably also recommended to Bodmin by Henry Chiverton, a colleague at Lincoln’s Inn who regularly sat for the borough when he was not (as in March 1553) a knight of the shire for Cornwall. Cholmley did not have a seat in the first Parliament of Mary’s reign, but for the second he was elected by Boroughbridge, perhaps through the influence of Christopher Wray, who was returned there at each election in this period. Cholmley’s reputation with the Queen was high enough for her to request his election as recorder of London ‘in case Mr. Robert Broke now recorder, shall fortune shortly to be removed’. The Queen’s letter was received in the City on 4 Oct. 1554; four days later Cholmley was elected recorder by vote of the court of aldermen and on 9 Oct. he was sworn in, Broke having been appointed chief justice of the common pleas.6

Cholmley retained the recordership until his death, notwithstanding his appointment as serjeant-at-law in 1559, and represented the City in every Parliament from November 1554 to 1563. Few traces of his activity in parliamentary affairs remain. He had a bill for Calais shoemakers committed to him on 19 Apr. 1554 and one to avoid leases made by married priests on 5 Dec. On 12 Jan. 1555 he was assigned by the court of aldermen to go with a deputation to the lord chancellor and the lord treasurer to report the continued misbehaviour of Thomas Curteys and ‘to move them for their lawful favour in the other weighty matters of the City which are to be holpen by the Parliament’. In the last Parliament of Mary’s reign he and (Sir) Clement Heigham were sent by the House of Commons to ask the lord chancellor to revoke an order for the appearance in Chancery of Thomas Eynns.7

Cholmley was appointed a commissioner to inquire into heresy and sedition in 1557, but his own religious views were evidently not rigid for in 1559 he was named on the commission to put in execution throughout the realm the new Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy. Probably he would have received high legal office under the crown if he had lived longer, but he died comparatively young, on 25 or 27 Apr. 1563, a few days after making his will, and was buried beside his wife in the church of St. Dunstan in the West.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from education and fa.’s death. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 64; E. G. Duff, Westminster and London Printers, 176.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xviii; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 13(1), ff. 27, 212; CPR, 1558-60, p. 65.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xviii; City of London RO, rep. 12(1), f. 212; 13(1), f. 27.
  • 6. City of London RO, rep. 13(1), ff. 208, 210-10v, 212.
  • 7. CJ, i. 34, 39, 48; City of London RO, rep. 13(1), f. 247.
  • 8. CPR, 1555-7, p. 282; 1558-60, p. 118; PCC 23 Chayre; C142/135/41; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 306-7, 392.