HENDLEY, Walter (by 1499-1550), of Cranbrook, Kent and Gray's Inn, London.

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 1499, 1st s. of Gervase Hendley of Cranbrook by Elizabeth, da. of Walter Roberts of Cranbrook. educ. G. Inn. m. (1) by 1520, Ellen (d. by 1523), da. of Thomas Ashburnham of Guestling and Winchelsea, Suss. and London, 3da.; (2) lic. 1 July 1527, Margery, da. of Thomas Pigott of Whaddon, Bucks., wid. of Thomas Cotton of Landwade, Cambs. suc. fa. Nov. 1533/May 1534. Kntd. by 18 June 1547.2

Offices Held

Lent reader, G. Inn 1530, 1535.3

J.p. Kent 1531-d., Suss. 1532-45; solicitor, ct. augmentations 1537-40, attorney 18 Mar. 1540-2 Jan. 1547; commr. for suppression of monasteries 1539, benevolence, Kent 1544/45, chantries, Berks., Hants, I.o.W., New Windsor, Southampton and Winchester 1546, Kent, Canterbury and Rochester 1548; other commissions, Essex, Kent and Suss. 1537-47.4


Walter Hendley began his career as counsel to the Cinque Ports, an opening he may have owed either to the influence of his neighbours Christopher Hales and John Hales I, who had preceded him both at Gray’s Inn and in the service of the ports, or to the lord warden, Sir Edward Guildford, a neighbour with whom he was further connected through the Roberts and Ashburnham families. In July 1526 the Brotherhood of the Cinque Ports granted Hendley an annual fee of 13s.4d., which was increased in the following year to 40s. and which was still being paid at Hendley’s death, and at about the same time he acted for Sandwich in its suit against Sir Edward Ryngeley; in 1535-6 he became counsel to Rye at an annual fee of 13s.4d.5

Hendley was to make his career and his fortune as an augmentations official. A similar local connexion may explain his appointment in 1537 as solicitor of the court: his precursor in office Robert Southwell, whose wife may have been distantly connected with Hendley, had been an associate in the city of London of another Cranbrook lawyer, John Baker I. Hendley was active in the dissolution of the monasteries, touring the north of England between November 1539 and January 1540 and visiting Kent in the following April to take the surrender of Christchurch, Canterbury, and Rochester cathedral priory. He took full advantage of the opportunity afforded him to build up his own estate: he acquired 11 manors in Kent, most of them ex-monastic but including Matham which he obtained from Sir Thomas Wyatt I and Cockride and Crowthorne purchased from John Cheyne II. In 1540 he had a lease of the bishop of Bangor’s Holborn manor for 89 years at the yearly rent of a red rose and in 1545 he joined with Sir John Williams to buy property in Lincolnshire, Kent, Middlesex, Oxfordshire and Radnorshire.6

Hendley was the first Member for Canterbury in this period who was neither a resident nor a freeman at the time of his election. The city was accustomed to choose a lawyer for one at least of its Members and Hendley’s predecessors, Thomas Atwode, Christopher Hales and John Hales I, had all been of Gray’s Inn, but perhaps his chief qualification was that shown in his admission to the freedom on 1 Feb. 1542 without payment ‘because he was one of the burgesses for the said city and of his benevolence and gentle favour toward the city would take no fee or parliament wages’: his fellow-Member Robert Darknall remitted half his wages. During this Parliament Hendley was doubtless instrumental in securing the passage of an Act which re-affirmed Canterbury’s privileges (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.18) and he was one of the five Members, all royal officials, who signed the Act for an exchange of lands between the Duke of Norfolk and the King passed in the third session. The name of only one Canterbury Member, Robert Lewis, is known for the following Parliament but his fellow is perhaps more likely to have been Darknall, who had sat for the city in two earlier Parliaments (although not that of 1539) and was to do so in three more.7

In the autumn of 1546 Hendley was considered for the chancellorship of Ireland but being ill and almost blind he did not wish for the promotion; his poor health also led to Richard Goodrich’s taking over the duties of the attorneyship of augmentations before being appointed his successor in the following January. Hendley was knighted early in Edward VI’s reign and remained at least nominally active in shire administration until his death at Cranbrook on 1 Mar. 1550. He left three married daughters as his coheirs and had made his will ‘long before’ his death but after the birth in 1544 of his grandson Walter Waller. He asked to be buried before his pew in Cranbrook church and to have erected over his body a tomb of marble already prepared and lying in his cellar in Clerkenwell. He left £40 to each of his sons-in-law, Thomas Culpeper, Richard Covert and George Fane or Vane. Covert was the son of John Covert and this connexion probably explains the return for Steyning, during the elder Covert’s shrievalty, of Hendley’s kinsman John Roberts and servant Robert Byng: Hendley’s widow was to marry Roberts’s brother Thomas as her fourth husband. The daughters shared the greater part of the inheritance but the widow was to hold the Cranbrook property for life and it was then to pass to Hendley’s younger brother Thomas, whose son Walter was to have the lease of Bangor place, Holborn. Hendley named as executors his wife, his brother and, as overseer, his kinsman Thomas Roberts. The will was proved in April 1550 but doubts as to its authenticity were not resolved until the following March.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Canterbury chamberlains’ accts. 1541-2.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Kent. (Harl. Soc. xlii), 94; (lxxv), 104; Vis. Bucks. (ibid. lviii), 100-1; PCC 10 Bodfelde, 14 Hogen, 30 Coode; LP Hen. VIII, iv; CPR, 1547-8, p. 157. According to the Roberts pedigree in Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vi. 172 Hendley’s mother was born on 13 Mar. 1492 but it has not been possible to determine whether this is a mistake or a pointer to some confusion in the Hendley pedigree.
  • 3. Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales, 292, 293.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, v, viii, x, xii-xviii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 76, 79, 85; 1548-9, p. 135; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 43 n. 32, 140 n. 93, 492.
  • 5. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent. Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 199-242 passim; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 4, f. 291v; Kent RO, Sa/2B2, no. 17.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xiii-xxi.
  • 7. Freemen of Canterbury, ed. Cowper, col. 318; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 35 Hen. VIII, no. 22.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1548-9, p. 159; C142/93/110; PCC 10, 30 Coode.