MORLEY, John (by 1530-64/65), of Lewes, Suss.

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 1530, 1st s. of Robert Morley of Lewes. m. Dionisia, da. of William Threele of Bucksholt in Bexhill, 2s. 1da. suc. fa. Dec. 1557/Jan. 1558.1

Offices Held

Constable, Lewes 1554-5, 1562-3.2


The John Morley returned, as ‘of the same town’, for Lewes to the Parliament of November 1554 is more likely to have been the elder son of Robert Morley, whose house stood ‘in the midst of the borough’, than the third son of Thomas Morley of the neighbouring village of Glynde, who was almost certainly then in exile. The townsman’s election would have satisfied the royal criterion as to residence.3

The first reference found to Morley shows him shipping iron in 1551 and 1552 from Hastings, Newhaven and Shoreham to Southampton; he may also have carried some to London. When returned to Parliament he was serving his first term as constable of Lewes, and he and his fellow-Member John Stempe are almost the only Members for the borough during this period who are known to have been paid; their combined wage of £6 10s., if shared equally, was at the rate of 1s. a day for the 66 days of the Parliament. That neither sat again was due to the borough’s reversion to non-residents, although in 1558 one of these was William Peterson, a London merchant whom Morley called his ‘brother’.4

Morley was to die young but well-to-do. By his will of 18 Oct. 1563 his wife was to receive £400 and the household stuff and plate and his daughter Elizabeth 500 marks on her marriage or at the age of 18, although by a codicil added in June 1564 after the birth of his second son Morley increased his wife’s legacy to £500 and reduced his daughter’s to £200. The share of any child who died was to go in part to various relatives, including William Peterson, with reversion to the chamber of London to give apprentices a start in life, and in part towards such good causes as raising the incomes of the master and usher of the free school at Southover. Morley first named his son John sole executor but in the codicil added the infant brother, and the overseers included George Goring, Peterson and ‘my brother’ Robert Bowyer (presumably not Robert Bowyer II). Morley asked to be buried in St. Michael’s, Lewes, beside his parents and prefaced the will with an affirmation, written in his own hand, of his trust to be forgiven his sins by the merits of Christ’s passion ‘without any other act or acts of man’. The will was proved on 18 May 1565.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: R. J.W. Swales / Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Comber, Suss. Genealogies (Lewes), 195; PCC 3 Noodes, 15 Morrison.
  • 2. Suss. Rec. Soc. xlviii. 8, 13.
  • 3. C219/23/129; PCC 3 Noodes; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 48; Comber, 189-92; Suss. Rec. Soc. iii. 5; R. B. Manning, Rel. and Soc. in Eliz. Suss. 242, 264 and n; C. H. Garrett, Marian Exiles, 231.
  • 4. E122/37/6, ff. 2-2v; Suss. Rec. Soc. xlviii. 8.
  • 5. PCC 15 Morrison.