YOULE, Robert (c.1497-1561), of Worcester.

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. c.1497. m. (1) Eleanor; (2) Margaret, wid.; 3da. prob. by 1st w.1

Offices Held

Auditor, Worcester 1544, 1550-1, 1555-6, chamberlain 1545-6, alderman 1547-8, 1553-4, 1559-60, bailiff 1546-7, 1548-9, 1552-3, 1558-9, bridgemaster 1553-4, member of the Twenty-Four 1555; gov. Worcester free sch. and almshouses Feb. 1561.2


Robert Youle came to Worcester at about the age of 12 and prospered there as a clothier. One of several of his trade who in May 1551 purchased the Trinity Hall in the parish of St. Nicholas, Youle gave his share to the company of weavers, walkers and clothiers of the city which had been meeting in the hall for some years; his grandson Robert Rowland alias Steyner was later to make a final transference of the property to the company.3

Youle sat for Worcester in four Parliaments and payments to him are recorded in respect of each of them. He was paid at the customary rate of 2s. a day for the whole of the fourth session of the Parliament of 1547, for the entire Parliaments of November 1554 (when his fellow-Member Edward Brogden, although prosecuted as a ‘seceder’, received the same amount) and 1555, and for the first session of that of 1558: on the last occasion the payment was ‘over and above other charges allowed by this council’. Youle also received £4 4s. in 1546-7 for negotiations ‘in the lord chancellor’s court’, £5 in 1555-6 ‘which he paid to Mr. Lord to enrol the charter in the Exchequer’ and an unspecified amount in 1558 for his expenses ‘in his suit for the redress of the weight of cloths’. Worcester made repeated efforts to secure the amendment of a recent statute (6 Edw. VI, c.6) regulating the cloth trade before succeeding in the Parliament of 1558 (4 and 5 Phil. and Mary, c.5): a bill touching the making of Worcester cloths was introduced in 1555 but proceeded no further than its first reading. Youle was not among those who opposed a government bill in the Parliament of 1555: on the contrary, Catholic zeal may account for the harsh treatment which, according to Foxe, he had meted out during his first term as bailiff to John Davis, a boy not 12 years of age, whom he imprisoned as a heretic and shackled with ‘a pair of bolts, so that he could not lift up his small legs’.4

Against such alleged inhumanity must be set Youle’s beneficence, especially in education. He and his fellow-Member for the last session of the Parliament of 1547 and again in 1558, Thomas Wild, shared an interest in the Worcester free school and while attending one or other of these Parliaments they obtained a crown grant of £6 a year for the master. Youle had already helped to procure him an increase of salary and on another occasion he lent the city the money to pay it. Later he made the school a gift of lands worth £13 6s.8d. a year and when it was refounded in 1561 he was one of the first governors. He left the school a further £100 in his will of 5 Nov. 1560. Although the preamble to the will does not contain the traditional Catholic formula, the master and boys were required to come yearly to Youle’s grave in Worcester cathedral to pray for his soul and those of his family and all Christians. Youle bequeathed 500 marks and property in Worcester to his wife. His three daughters were all married, Anne to John Rowland alias Steyner, Alice to Brian Chamberlain and Eleanor to John Walsgrove alias Fleet, and each had at least one child: these shared some £800 and various properties in Worcester and elsewhere in the county. There were smaller bequests to other relations and, in addition to the school’s £100, a gift of certain tenements to the use of the poor and provision for them of £30 at his burial, £20 at his month’s mind and £20 at his year’s mind. The Worcestershire historian Habington was to call Youle ‘as worthy and charitable a citizen as his time produced’. His son-in-law John Rowland was executor and the overseers were Thomas Walsgrove (probably Youle’s grandson, who was to sit for Worcester in the Parliament of 1571), Alice Fleet and Brian Chamberlain. It is not known when Youle died but he was appointed a governor of the free school in February 1561 and his will was proved on the following 17 Sept.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Aged ‘62 or thereabouts’ in October 1559, A. F. Leach, Early Educ. in Worcester (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1913), 197. PCC 29 Loftes.
  • 2. Worcester Guildhall, audit of accts. 1540-1600, unpaginated; Leach, 186; CPR, 1554-5, p. 81; 1558-60, p. 271; 1560-3, p. 215. Nash, Worcs. ii. app. cxii gives Richard Gowle as low bailiff in 1546 but the indenture for 1547 (C219/19/133) identifies him as Robert Youle.
  • 3. Leach, 197; VCH Worcs. ii. 287, 293.
  • 4. Worcester Guildhall, chamber order bk. 1540-1601, ff. 43v, 54, 62, 72v; audit of accts. 1540-1600; CJ, i. 43; Foxe, Acts and Mons. viii. 554-5.
  • 5. Leach, pp. xxxi-xxxii, xxxiv, 181, 197, 199, 205, 218, 220; VCH Worcs. iv. 478-80, 491-2; PCC 29 Loftes; Habington’s Worcs. (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1899), ii. 425.