COUNSELL, Hugh (by 1519-72 or later), of Calais.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1519.1

Offices Held

Receiver and bailiff of the scunage, Calais 1 Oct. 1545-52; clerk comptroller, Ambleteuse and Cap-Gris-Nez by 1547; v.-treasurer (under Sir Maurice Denys) ?Calais 1549-52, for wars in Normandy by 1562.2


Hugh Counsell, probably a distant kinsman of the Kentish family of that name, began his career in the service of Thomas Broke, an officer of the treasury of Calais, and then became an archer in the treasurer’s retinue. Although Counsell did not accompany his master to London when Broke attended the Parliament of 1539, he was summoned before the commission sent to Calais in the following year and was examined for 14 days before being discharged. Broke’s subsequent imprisonment suggests that Counsell’s replies were incriminating, but John Foxe in his account of the affair was careful to exonerate Counsell, whom he described as an honest man.3

Broke’s disgrace did not harm Counsell, who entered the service of the newly appointed treasurer Sir Edward Wotton. Charged with keeping the King informed of affairs in Calais and with conveying money to Calais and Boulogne, he earned the commendation of the deputy of Calais and the regard of several Privy Councillors, among them notably Sir William Paget. By 1547 he had been appointed to the council of Ambleteuse. The surrender of the Boulonnais did not put an end to his activity, for its financial aftermath was to keep him busy until several years after the accession of Elizabeth. In the process he continued to trave frequently to London, and his familiarity with men and affairs there must have told in his favour with the mayor of Calais and his council when on 8 Oct.1554 they elected Counsell to the third Marian Parliament. Of Counsell’s role in the proceedings of the Commons it is known only that he was not among the Members who withdrew early from the Parliament and were prosecuted for doing so.4

Counsell’s remaining years have left little trace. In 1565 it was recorded that he owed the Queen £180, but this he soon repaid. In August 1568 and February 1570 his services to Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth were recognized by his sharing with Robert Pistor in two extensive grants of former chantry lands; these he appears to have set about selling, for one such item formerly in his possession was included in a grant of 26 July 1572. This mention of him, as Hugh Counsell, late of Calais, is the last which has been found.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xx; APC, ii. 440; Lansd. 6(46), f. 109; Stowe 571, f. 41; Rep. R. Comm. of 1552 (Archs. of Brit. Hist. and Culture iii), 165.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xv; Foxe, Acts and Mons. v. 498, 515.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xx, xxi; CSP Dom. 1547-53, pp. 311, 338; E405/115, m. 11; APC, ii. 66, 113; vii. 160, 234; HMC Hatfield, i. 276, 280-1; CPR, 1550-3, p. 40.
  • 5. Lansd. 4(16), f. 62; CPR, 1566-9, pp. 225-7; 1569-72, pp. 38-42, 449-50.