GARGRAVE, Cotton (c.1540-88), of Nostell Priory and Kinsley, Yorks.

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

b. c.1540, o.s. of Sir Thomas Gargrave by his 1st w. Anne, da. of William Cotton of Oxonhoath, Kent. educ. G. Inn 1563. m. (1) Bridget, da. of Sir William Fairfax of Steeton, 3s.; (2) Anne or Agnes (d.1637), da. of Thomas Waterton of Walton, 4s. inc. Richard 5da. suc. fa. 1579. Kntd. 1585.1

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) from c.1569, custos rot. c.1584, sheriff 1583-4; duchy of Lancaster receiver of Tickhill 1580, of Pontefract, Knaresborough and Wakefield 1582.2


Gargrave must have been returned for Boroughbridge through the influence of his father, the vice-president of the council in the north. He is not known to have been active in the 1571 Parliament; nor is there any reference to him in the records of the first and last sessions of the 1572 Parliament. In 1576 it was probably he rather than his who was appointed to committees concerned with bastardy (15 Feb.), wool (16 Feb.), fraudulent conveyances made by northern rebels (25 Feb.), braggers and drovers (28 Feb.), clothiers (1 Mar.) and cloth (9 Mar.). During the northern rebellion of 1569 Gargrave commanded 200 men from the West Riding and was one of the commissioners to reward soldiers who had served well. On his father’s death, he inherited ten manors and other property in the West Riding. His attempts to extend these estates by purchase were hampered by financial difficulties, and on at least one occasion he was forced to sell property in order to meet immediate debts. In 1580 he mortgaged much of his Yorkshire property. In when named as sheriff, he gained a year’s remission because of his father’s debts.3

Gargrave’s personal connexions included his ‘good cousin’ and particular friend Thomas Randolph, George Carleton, Thomas Cotton and the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, with all of whom he was associated in 1581 as feoffees for the assignment of the alum works at Canford, Dorset. Five years earlier, he had arranged a marriage (which, in the event, never took place) between the daughter of Bishop Pilkington, god-daughter of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, and his son Thomas. During the last years of his life Gargrave believed that his son was trying to poison him.4

He died on 16 June 1588, leaving two wills. In the first, made 11 Dec. 1587 and proved 20 June 1588, he made provision for his daughters. In the second, made 31 Jan. 1585 and proved 27 May 1589, he affirmed his belief that when God pleased ‘to depart this wicked body from this mortal life, I shall then have the fruition and company of his blessed spirits in heaven, there to remain with him eternally’. Shortly after his death, Martin Birkhead, Henry Slingsby and two others were appointed to distrain on his goods in order to recover £2,000 owed by him to the Crown from money he had collected as a duchy official. An inventory revealed household goods of at least this value. His widow was further involved in various suits in the duchy court over Gargrave’s offices.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 69; Yorks. Deeds (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. l), ii. 127.
  • 2. E163/14/8; Somerville, Duchy, i. 518, 526, 530; Ducatus Lanc. 103/14W, 108/2W.
  • 3. York Civic Recs. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser.), vi. 173; Lansd. 13, no. 44; CJ, i. 106, 108, 109, 113; J. J. Cartwright, Chapters in Yorks. Hist. 83-4; C142/223/80; Yorks. Fines (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. ii), 284, 353, 359; (v), 32, 81, 152, 154, 156; (vii), 5, 21, 23, 24, 69, 83; Ducatus Lanc. 69/6A, 88/3C, 98/22, 102/6P; HMC Hatfield, ii. 530.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 32; Durham Wills (Surtees Soc. xxxviii), 9; York wills 23/781, 24/183.
  • 5. C142/223/80; York wills 23/781, 24/183; York Wills (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xxii), 48; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xi. 279, 280-6; Ducatus Lanc. 111/3W, 116/10W.