HARRIS, Robert I (d.1588), of St. John Street, Clerkenwell, Mdx.

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

educ. ?L. Inn 1564, called 1571. m. Anne, da. of Richard Allen of London, at least 3da.

Offices Held

?J.p. Mdx. from c.1561, Surr. from c.1564; servant of the Duke of Norfolk by Mar. 1562; master in Chancery 1583.


There were a number of contemporaries named Robert Harris. The Lincoln’s Inn man is described in the register as of Lincoln, but as the origins of the Chancery master are unknown, and he must have had a legal education, details of which have otherwise eluded discovery, it is quite possible that this is the same man. The Robert Harris who was servant of the Duke of Norfolk had received a grant of lands including ‘the borough of Steyning’ (no doubt on Norfolk’s behalf in March 1562. Perhaps he started as Norfolk’s servant and went to an inn of court comparatively late. What is reasonably certain is that the MP for Steyning was the Duke’s servant and that it was this man who became a master in Chancery after Norfolk’s fall. No doubt Harris shared his master’s religious views he was described as ‘indifferent’ in religion in the 1564 reports. In October 1571 he was examined by the Privy Council about the Norfolk conspiracy, of which he denied all knowledge, especially that he had been ordered by the Duke to keep clothing in his house ready for Mary Queen of Scots.

In his will, dated 1 Aug. 1587 and proved 30 Oct. 1588, Harris described himself as ‘one of the masters of the court of Chancery’, and appointed his wife Anne sole executrix, leaving her his house in St. John Street, Clerkenwell, and a life interest in the manor of Woodmansterne, Surrey. He made provision for his two married daughters, Mary and Martha and their husbands, William Bowes and Marlyon Rithe, and for his unmarried daughter, Katherine. His two sons-in-law were to share his armour and most of his books.

Vis. London (Harl. Soc. i), 53; Foss, Judges, v. 401; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 60; HMC Hatfield, i. 527, 549; CPR, 1558-60, p. 242; 1560-3, pp. 282-3, 440; PCC 3 Leicester.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.