Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Family and Education

Offices Held


This Member has not been identified, and all that can be offered is a choice of families and backgrounds from which he may have sprung.

First for consideration is the family of Turges Melcombe (afterwards Melcombe Horsey) in Dorset which combined gentility with a court connexion. It produced, in successive generations, a Member of Parliament in Richard Turges, who died in 1504, and a justice of the peace and gentleman usher to Henry VII in his son Robert, who died in 1518. Although Robert Turges left no issue, his heir being his 40 year-old sister Elizabeth, married to John Horsey (who thus came to give his name to the family manor), the mention of a William Turges of Dorset as a gentleman usher in the Eltham ordinances of 1526 and as under almoner suggests that the family continued to be represented in the royal service. If the Member for Calne in 1529 also belonged to it, his election might thus be attributed to court influence, although the fact that John Horsey, Elizabeth Turges’s son, was knight of the shire for Dorset in the same Parliament might have had some bearing on the matter. It was perhaps a branch of the Turges family of Dorset which later in the century lived at Semley, and the Donheads, across the Wiltshire border from Shaftesbury, but neither seems to have been connected with their namesakes of Petworth in Sussex. The John Horsey who was sheriff of Wiltshire at the time of the election, although he shared arms and thus doubtless ancestry with his Dorset namesake, is not known to have stood in any other relationship with him: a minor gentleman, who lived at Marden south-east of Devizes, he may be thought unlikely to have intervened.1

With nothing to connect any of these people with Calne, the Member is to be sought closer to that town, either as a resident or in association with a local patron. His fellow, William Crowche, probably owed his election to Sir Henry Long of Draycot Cerne, and the possibility that Long nominated both Members raises the question whether the surname ‘Turgeys’ may not be mythical. Although the name is unmistakably so written on the Crown Office list for this Parliament, that list survives only in a copy made in 1532; thus ‘Turgeys’ could have resulted from a misreading of ‘Curteys’, a name of much wider currency in Wiltshire and one which is found in connexion with the Long dynasty. Although none of the several men of the time named John Curteys can be so connected, one Henry Curteys was a collector, under Sir Henry Long and Sir Edward Darrell, of the benevolence of 1523, and Griffin Curteys, who was to sit for Calne in 1547, was in Long’s service by 1542.2

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 845; Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 367; Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, iv. 108; VCH Hants, iv. 63; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 58-59; LP Hen. VIII, i, iv, xix; C142/33/74; PCC 16 Thower; Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. x 41, 137, 153; Wilts. RO, archdeaconry of Salisbury wills 1584-90, f. 93; Suss. Rec. Soc. xliii. 311; lvi. 36; Al. Cant. i(4), 273; Hoare, Wilts. S. Damerham, 67.
  • 2. VCH Wilts. vii. 58; viii. 173; Hoare, 60-61; LP Hen. VIII, i, iii, iv, vi, xv, xix; Foxe, Acts and Mons. v. 446; Al. Ox. i. 363; G.I. Adm. 7; List of mercers (T/S Mercers’ Hall), 330.