CLERKE, Richard (by 1476-1530), of Lincoln's Inn, London; Lincoln and Washingborough, Lincs.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1476, ?s. of Richard Clerke of Wollaton, Notts. educ. L. Inn, adm. 1490, 1496. m. by 1507, Abray, 1da.4

Offices Held

Pensioner, L. Inn 1510-11, Autumn reader 1514, treasurer 1514-15, gov. 1515-16, 1519-20, 1521-2, 1523-4, 1525-6, 1527-8, dean of the chapel 1518-19.

J.p. Lincs. (Kesteven) 1507, 1510 (Lindsey) 1510-d., Lincoln 1511-15; recorder, Lincoln by 1511-d.; commr. subsidy, Lincs. (Kesteven, Lindsey), Lincoln 1512, 1514, for searches, Chancery Lane 1525, piracy 1527; steward, Thomas Lord Darcy of Templehurst’s manor of ‘Stretton’, ?Lincs. c.1524.5


Richard Clerke’s parentage has not been established. The numeral ‘tertius’ appended to his name on his admission to Lincoln’s Inn in 1490 (which is repeated as ‘le tierce’ in another admission six years later) need not be taken to mean that he was related to his namesakes at the inn, nor does his description in a pardon of 12 May 1510 as ‘Richard Clerke of Lincoln, London, and Kingston-on-Thames, executor of Richard Clerke, late of Wollaton, Notts., gentleman’ furnish much of a clue to his identity. Richard Clerkes abounded in the reign of Henry VII, among them a clerk of the peace for Hampshire, a mayor of the staple at Exeter, commissioners in London and Surrey, and a Newark draper.6

Clerke’s own career had two settings, Lincoln’s Inn and Lincoln. At the inn he served in various minor offices until 1514, when he became Autumn reader, treasurer and marshal; thereafter he was either treasurer or governor almost every year until his death. In 1517 he was given leave of absence ‘at the end of the second week of Lent because he was retained in divers assizes in Lincoln’, and later in the same year he accepted election as treasurer for the following one ‘on condition that the society will be favourable to him in all his necessities and especially in his absences’. He had then been recorder of Lincoln for upwards of six years. On 15 Nov. 1511 he had tried to resign the office (although professing himself ‘glad to help the city in anything that they have to do in the law’) but was persuaded to continue in it for a yearly fee of 5 marks. He tried to resign again in 1518, and in 1521 he objected to ‘certain misdemeanours and misordering of the best of the city’, but agreed to stay when the common council promised to take his advice. In 1513 he appeared for Lincoln before the Council and the duchy chamber in a dispute concerning the election of one of the city’s sheriffs, in 1518 he procured the commission for improving the Foss Dyke, and in 1525 he negotiated with Thomas Manners, Lord Ros (soon to be the 1st Earl of Rutland) about the fee-farm of Lincoln; his routine duties included the assessment of local taxes and the auditing of accounts, and he frequently attended meetings of the common council.7

Lincoln regularly returned its recorder to Parliament. If Clerke was already recorder in 1510 he probably sat in that Parliament, for which the Members’ names are unknown. In 1512 he was elected with the mayor, Robert Alanson. The first session ended on 30 Mar., and on 4 Apr. Clerke and Alanson were back in Lincoln to tell the common council ‘what that they have done at the Parliament’ and to communicate the orders for the provision of troops from the city for the French war. When he and Alanson were re-elected in 1515 the minutes of the common council recorded that this was done in conformity with the King’s request for the re-election of the previous Members; they also made a detailed assessment for the payment of wages. In 1523 Clerke was returned with the serving mayor, John Halton, who returned to Lincoln on 26 Aug. to tell the common council ‘how that he and Mr. Recorder hath done at the said Parliament and ... that they be now owing for burgess-spens £12’. The fact that Clerke was not re-elected in 1529 probably reflects the onset of his last illness.8

Clerke’s death on 28 Mar. 1530 was reported to the common council at Lincoln five days later by the Earl of Rutland, who asked for the nomination of the next recorder. By his will, made two years before, he asked to be buried without pomp or bells in the choir of the church at Washingborough, ‘where the sepulchre used to stand’, or if he should die in London, at the Savoy, and if at Lincoln, in St. Benedict’s where his mother was buried. After remembering several churches and religious orders he provided for his wife and daughter and in default of issue to his daughter he left the reversion of his property to Sempringham priory.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, f. 3v.
  • 2. Ibid. f. 38v.
  • 3. Ibid. f. 161.
  • 4. Date of birth estimated from education. E150/564/21.
  • 5. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 648; LP Hen. VIII, i, iii, iv, add.; Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, ff. 1, 1v, 10, 21v, 32v, 46v, 216v; LJ, i. 50, 51, 66, 72, 73.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, i; CPR, 1485-94, pp. 249, 258, 341; 1494-1509, pp. 297, 592.
  • 7. Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, ff. 1v, 3, 4v-5, 17v, 87v, 92; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 28, 31.
  • 8. Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, ff. 3v, 4v, 38v-39, 52-52v, 160, 161; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 31.
  • 9. J. W. F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 28; Lincoln Wills, ii (Lincoln Rec. Soc. x), 89-90; E150/564/21.