GRAFTON, Richard I (c.1507-75), of London.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. c.1507, 1st s. of Nicholas Grafton of Shrewsbury, Salop. m. (1) Anne Crome (d.1560) of Salisbury, Wilts., 4s. inc. Richard Grafton II 1da.; (2) 1562, Alice, da. of Sir John Ayliffe, grocer, at least 2s. suc. fa. c.1525.

Offices Held

Freeman, Grocers’ Co. 1534, warden 1555-6, 1563-4. master 1564; printer to Prince Edward, later King Edward VI by 1545, royal printer 1547-53; master, Bridewell hospital 1559-61.


By the beginning of this period Grafton’s fortunes were declining. He did not again represent London, and his name does not appear in the only known list of the 1559 Parliament. Some of the proceedings of that Parliament he summarized in the second (1572) but not in the first (1563) edition of his Abridgement, and only in the 1572 edition does he print what purports to be a first-hand account of the audience given by the Queen in Whitehall palace on 6 Feb. 1559 to the Speaker, Privy Councillors and 30 Members of the Commons, reporting ‘as near as I could bear the same away’ the Speaker’s ‘request to her Highness for marriage’ and the Queen’s reply. That he was indeed present, although not as a Member, cannot be ruled out. More probably, he relied with journalistic licence on an informant or on a report (possibly already printed) by someone else. In 1563 he was returned for Coventry. He had a connexion through his grandfather with a Coventry family, and probably also had the support of Sir Robert Dudley who had unsuccessfully promoted his candidature to be chamberlain of London in 1563. Grafton’s committees dealt with paving Kentish Street, Southwark (9 Mar.) and with the assize and weight of barrels (27 Mar.). On 14 Oct. 1566 he made a complaint against a pursuivant of the court of wards. Grafton’s biographer mentions his part in drafting a poor relief bill in 1563, and certainly Coventry and London were the only two places to receive separate treatment, and the provisions of the Act followed the existing London practice, of which Grafton had first-hand knowledge. Grafton accepted £6 13s.4d. expenses from Coventry, unusual as it was for an outsider to claim them. But by this time he was in trouble. When he lost his hospital appointment—probably his main city interest—two aldermen were sent to secure his papers, and an inquiry was set up into the finances. He was still given small tasks for the city: he was one of six appointed to oversee the repair of St. Paul’s cathedral in 1561, after it had been damaged by lightning, and in the following year he assisted the wardens of his company to examine the claims made by the master of St. Bartholomew’s hospital to manage the Queen’s weigh-house, of which subject his writings show him to have had knowledge. Whether his retirement from printing at about this time was cause or effect of his financial troubles, or unconnected with them, he now turned author and his Chronicles at Large appeared in 1568, dedicated to Sir William Cecil, who was hard put to it to save him from a charge of fraud over a shady deal with Sir John Perrot. In the end Grafton was unable to pay his dues to the Grocers, and he had to ask his ‘old and faithful friend’, Thomas Wilson, for help. Finally he obtained two small doles, £5 and 5s. a week from the city aldermen, and 40s. and 1s.8d. a week from the Grocers. He died intestate on 16 May 1573.1

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


Except where otherwise noted this biography is based upon the following: J. A. Kingdon, Incidents in the Lives of Thomas Poyntz and Richard Grafton (1895) and Richard Grafton, Citizen and Grocer of London (1901); Machyn Diary, ed. Nichols, (Cam. Soc. xlii), 90, 108, 205, 236, 262, 406; Stow’s Surv. London, ed. Kingsford, i.; Wardens of Grocers’ Co. ed. Grantham, 19; DNB.

  • 1. Grafton, Abridgement of the Chronicles (1572), 195-7; Neale, Parlts. i. 47, 50; CJ, i. 68, 71, 74; Coventry bk. of payments, f. 12; Lansd. 72, f. 59; 107, f. 158; PCC admon. act bk. 1573, f. 29.