FLOWER, Francis (d.1596), of Ely Place, Holborn and Eltham, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

1st s. of George Flower of Whitwell, Rutland by Margaret, da. of John Salisbury. m. (1) Constance, da. of John Colne; (2) Catherine, da. of Sir Rafe Butler of Hatfield Woodhall, Herts., ?s.p.

Offices Held

Servant of (Sir) Christopher Hatton I by 1573; gent. pens. by 1596; employed in ct. of first fruits c.1587; j.p.q. Mdx. from c.1591, commr. musters 1596; j.p.q. Kent 1596.1


Flower was a dependent of (Sir) Christopher Hatton, who obtained for him a monopoly in the printing of Latin, Greek and Hebrew books though, as the Stationers put it, he was ‘not one of our company’. It was Hatton who was responsible for Flower’s successive returns to Parliament for Huntingdon. His other seat, Corfe Castle, belonged to Hatton until his death in 1591, and subsequently to his nephew, Sir William Hatton, to whom Flower bequeathed a diamond worth £50. Flower is recorded as sitting on the committee concerning appeals out of ecclesiastical courts (18 Dec. 1584), and in 1593, the subsidy committee (1 Mar.), and committees concerning procedure (30 Mar.) and the navy (6 Apr.).2

Flower’s job in the first fruits court, ‘the keeping of the books of entries, and caveats for benefices’, gave him useful patronage in the administration of crown livings in the gift of Hatton as lord chancellor. He was active against recusants and can be identified as the ‘Mr. Flower’, uncle of Robert Browne, with whom the reformed separatist corresponded on matters of church government. A letter from Browne to Flower in 1588 was used by Richard Bancroft in his attack on presbyterianism at Paul’s Cross in February 1589, and the publisher of A Brief Resolution of a Right Religion in 1590 paid tribute to Flower’s ‘devotion and delight in such matter of divinity’, his ‘daily furtherance to such as spend their time in matters of consequence’, and his ‘bounty to some and good will to all’.3

Left vulnerable by his master’s death, Flower composed the long epitaph that stood near Hatton’s tomb in old St. Paul’s, and appealed to Burghley to be allowed to keep his first fruits office to avoid being ‘drowned in some remote place from the societies that I have been bred with’. Three years later he applied for the receivership of the customs, explaining that he desired ‘not to finger her Majesty’s monies an hour longer than I may turn them into her coffers’. His position as a gentleman pensioner brought him £80 a year at this period.4

Flower died in 1596. In his will, dated nine years before its proof on 16 Feb. 1597, he asked to be buried without pomp at Eltham, where Sir Christopher Hatton was keeper of the palace. Flower made charitable bequests to the poor of Eltham, of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, where he had a room in Hatton’s house in Ely Place, and of the parish of Passenham in Northamptonshire.5

Flower was the man to whom the printer Thomas Newman dedicated in 1591 the first edition of Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: H.G.O.


  • 1. Vis. Rutland (Harl. Soc. iii), 30; PCC 8 Cobham; Lansd. 69, f. 195; dedication in S.C.’s A Brief Resolution of a Right Religion; APC, xxv. 156; pat. rolls 38, 39 Eliz.
  • 2. E. Arber, Stationers’ Reg. i. 40, 42; ii. 15; Lansd. 48, ff. 180 seq.; E. St. John Brooks, Hatton, 111, 131; St. Ch. 5/F2/17, F7/7; R. Carruthers, Hist. Huntingdon, 164; PCC 8 Cobham; D’Ewes, 341, 481, 512, 519.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 23, 151; Lansd. 69, f. 195; Writings of Harrison and Browne, ed. Peel and Carlson, 516; DNB .
  • 4. Brooks, 69-70; Lansd. 68, ff. 205, 234; 69, f. 195; 77, f. 184; PRO Index 6800.
  • 5. PCC 8 Cobham; Bridges, Northants. i. 505.
  • 6. N. and Q. ccii. 464-6, ex inf. Dr. Germaine Warkentin.