KEMPE, Francis (by 1534-97 or later), of London and Yedding, Mdx.

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 1534, s. of Sir William Kempe of Wye, Kent, and bro. of Anthony and Sir Thomas. m. Eleanor, da. and coh. of Henry Carew, at least 1da.1

Offices Held

Servant, household of Stephen Gardiner by 1555; mace-bearer to Chancellor Heath by 1557; jt. (with (Sir) Ralph Sadler ) clerk of the hanaper 19 Aug. 1557-?64; jt. (with Sadler) prothonotary, Chancery 7 Nov. 1573.2


Francis Kempe presumably received some grounding to qualify him for his two posts in the Chancery, although he seems to have been ill prepared for the work which required a knowledge of classical and modern languages as well as Chancery hand. His career began in the service of Gardiner, from whom he leased some property in Southampton. He was one of the witnesses to Gardiner’s will, under which he received £4, and attended Gardiner’s funeral.3

It is possible that Kempe had served the chancellor as mace-bearer as he was to hold this position under Gardiner’s successor, Nicholas Heath. It was Heath who in February 1557 urged Sir Ralph Sadler to take Kempe on as his fellow-clerk of the hanaper in place of the exile, John Hales II, the new patent in the names of Sadler and Kempe being issued in the following August. Kempe’s mother was a confidante of Queen Mary and it was perhaps through her that he owed his introduction to the 2nd Earl of Rutland and his place in the last Parliament of the reign, but Kempe’s sponsor is more likely to have been Heath who was to nominate him at Ripon a year later. The common council at Lincoln had already chosen Rutland’s secretary Robert Farrar as one of the city’s Members when the earl wrote on Kempe’s behalf, and on 18 Dec. 1557 the council ‘upon divers good considerations’ replaced Farrar by Kempe whom they also made a freeman of Lincoln. Kempe was joined in the House by his brother Anthony, who had been elected as a knight for Westmorland. Nothing is known about the part played there by either brother.4

The accession of Elizabeth presaged a downward turn in Kempe’s fortunes. His patron Heath was deprived of both chancellorship and archbishopric, and John Hales pressed for restoration as joint clerk of the hanaper. Judgment was eventually given in Hales’s favour, but Kempe retained an interest in the office until 1571, when he sold it to his partner Sadler, with whom he was to share the prothonotaryship two years later. Kempe was also involved in other litigation. The last trace found of him is in 1597 when his brother John bequeathed him £100.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. F. Hitchin-Kemp, Kemp and Kempe Fams. sec. i. 17, 25-28; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 62-63; Arch. Cant. ii. 108; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 344.
  • 2. PCC 3 Noodes; Lincoln min. bk. 1541-61, f. 135; CPR, 1557-8, pp. 191-2; 1560-3, p. 62; 1572-5, p. 56.
  • 3. W. J. Jones, Eliz. Ct. Chancery, 114-15; Letters of Stephen Gardiner, ed. Muller, 507; PCC 3 Noodes.
  • 4. Sadler Pprs. i. 370-1; A. J. Slavin, ‘Sir Ralph Sadler and Master John Hales at the Hanaper’, Bull. IHR. xxxviii. 31-47; Lincoln min. bk. 1541-61, f. 135; J. W. F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 54; G. A. J. Hodgett, Tudor Lincs. 103.
  • 5. Slavin, 31-47; CPR, 1572-5, pp. 56, 126; Cal. Procs. Chancery, Eliz. i. 276; ii. 109, 111, 112, 121, 186; Hitchin-Kemp. sec. i. 26.