GOODERE, Henry (1534-95), of Polesworth, Warws.

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. 1534, 1st s. of Francis Goodere of Polesworth by Ursula, da. of Ralph Rowlett of London and St. Alban’s, Herts. educ. G. Inn 1555. m. Frances, da. of Hugh Lowther of Lowther, Westmld., 2da. suc. fa. 1546. Kntd. 1586.1

Offices Held

J.p.q. Warws. from c.1564.

Capt. of guard to Earl of Leicester; capt. yeomen of the guard 1587-92.2


Goodere’s aunt was a Cooke of Gidea Hall, Essex, and through her he was connected with Sir William Cecil and Sir Nicholas Bacon. He was a cousin and friend of Sir Philip Sidney, and on his father’s death his wardship was granted to Sir Ralph Rowlett. Goodere himself built a house at Polesworth on the site of the dissolved nunnery. He apparently went into the royal service, being described as the ‘Queen’s servant’ in a land grant of 1564. This makes it likely that he was the Henry Goodere, a minor Household official who was assessed at £20 for a subsidy in the first year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. He was described by the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield in 1564 as sound in religion and ‘meet to continue in office’ as a Warwickshire j.p.3

It is likely that he owed his return to Parliament at Stafford in 1563 to his wife’s second cousin Sir Robert Dudley. A pamphleteer of the time, characterizing some Members of this Parliament, described him for no known reason, save euphony, as ‘Goodere the glorious’. By 1571 he was living temporarily at Coventry, having let Polesworth some three years earlier to his wife’s grandmother, Lady Clifford. Presumably it was his presence there that secured him a seat in the 1571 Parliament. On 6 Apr. he was appointed to a committee to consider William Strickland’s proposals for the reform of the book of common prayer. On 7 Apr. he made a speech ‘wherein he showed a great desire he had to win favour’, urging the Commons to proceed with the grant of the subsidy then in question, ‘without the hearing of any more complaints’, which might be infinite in number and more than one Parliament could remedy. Five days later he ‘entered into the utterance of a long speech’ against the treasons bill on the ground that it created retrospective offences and was

clouded and involved with secret understandings, not to be understood but by such as more curiously could, and more cunningly would, look thereinto than he.

Interestingly enough, though his ‘vehemency’ and ‘wrested eloquence’ were unpopular he was appointed to the committee for the bill, along with the Privy Councillors and others of the establishment (12 Apr.).4

In fact Goodere had a vested interest in opposing the treasons bill, the effect of which was to exclude Mary Queen of Scots from the succession. He had long been her admirer. In May 1568, when she first escaped to England, he and his brother-in-law Richard Lowther, had met her in Westmorland, and Goodere then invented a cipher for her use. Later, when she was at Coventry from November 1569 to January 1570, he assisted her in corresponding with the Duke of Norfolk in the Tower. In September 1571 he was arrested, sent to the Tower himself, and was still there, in ‘the house of sorrow’, in July 1572 when he complained to Burghley that he had borne the Queen’s displeasure for nearly nine years and ‘not always for the greatest causes’. He admitted he deserved his present punishment, asked that his wife might join him, was released, and served as a captain of horse in the Netherlands expedition under Leicester, who knighted him after Zutphen. His nephew and son-in-law Henry Goodere, who tried early in James’s reign to build on his uncle’s devotion to Mary, told Cecil that his uncle had suffered greatly in her cause and impoverished himself by some £20,000, though he would have suffered more but for the ‘great favour’ of Burghley and Sir Nicholas Bacon. Clearly much remains unexplained about his rehabilitation. By July 1588 he was one of a select band appointed to command a special force to defend the Queen’s person. In March 1589 he was one of those responsible for raising a special loan in Warwickshire and Coventry; in 1591 he and Sir Thomas Lucy were in charge of the disbandment of troops returning to the county; and in 1592 he was a commissioner for recusancy there.5

His later years were spent at Polesworth, where Michael Drayton, the poet, was nurtured. He described Goodere as ‘that learned and accomplished gentleman’ to whose ‘happy and generous family’ he owed ‘the most part’ of his education. Goodere made his will, witnessed by Drayton, on 26 Jan. 1595, asking to be buried at Polesworth where he wanted a memorial to himself, his late wife and his parents. He set aside all his moveables and some lands in Warwickshire for the discharge of debts. The revenue from his lands in Polesworth and Baginton in Warwickshire, after the payment of his debts, was to go to his elder daughter Frances, married to her first cousin Henry Goodere, son and heir of William Goodere of Monk’s Kirby, Warwickshire. His ward, William Becke, was left in the custody of his executors, who were his brother William; his unmarried daughter Anne; his friend Richard Lee; and his friend and kinsman Thomas Goodere of Hertfordshire. As overseers he appointed Sir John Harington, Sir Henry Cocke, Sir Thomas Lucy, son and heir of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlcote, Warwickshire, and Robert Burgonie of Wroxall in the same county, asking them to meet at least annually to review the activities of the executors. He died 4 Mar. 1595, and the inquisition post mortem was taken on 17 Sept. 1595. The estate became the subject of a protracted lawsuit.6.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


Acknowledgment is made to B. H. Newdigate’s Michael Drayton and his Circle, used extensively in this biography.

  • 1. Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 66; C142/85/73; PCC 45 Alen.
  • 2. CPR, 1563-6, p. 28; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), i. 359-60.
  • 3. C142/85/73; CPR, 1550-3, p. 9; 1563-6, p. 94; Collins, Sidney State Pprs. i. 112-13; Lansd. 3, f. 193; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 46.
  • 4. Neale, Parlts. i. passim; D’Ewes, 157, 158, 162, 165.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, i. 458, 534-6, 578; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 425-6; 1581-90, pp. 124, 519, 585; 1591-4, p. 291; Add. 1566-79, p. 379; Lansd. 14, f. 42; 15, f. 165; 79, f. 37; 94, f. 94; E. M. Tenison, Eliz. England, vi. 45-7, 174; APC, x. 108; xxi. 353.
  • 6. PCC 30 Scott; C142/247/88.