LASCELLES, Christopher (by 1511-by 1572), of Sowerby and Breckenbrough, Yorks.

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. by 1511, 1st s. of Sir Roger Lascelles of Sowerby and Breckenbrough by Margaret, da. of Sir John Norton of Norton Conyers. educ. L. Inn, adm. 1 Nov. 1524. m. Anne, da. and h. of Richard Sigiswick of Walburn, 4s. 4da. suc. fa. 30 June 1551.

Offices Held

Escheator, Yorks. 1533-4.


Lascelles’s name appears on the pardon roll for January 1559. He remained a Catholic, and was a sympathizer with the cause of Mary Queen of Scots. His return to Parliament for Thirsk was due to local family influence, his home at Sowerby being on the south-east outskirts of the town. In June 1566 Christopher Rokeby informed Cecil that he had stayed with Lascelles, his brother-in-law, on his way into Scotland in May. Lascelles had dwelt upon Mary’s title to the throne of England, stating that he and James Melvyn ‘had travailed in that matter a year before’. He then wrote a letter to the Queen of Scots in Rokeby’s favour. Lascelles was evidently arrested in June or July that year, as a note in Cecil’s writing asked ‘the cause why he was in the place where taken’, what letters he had written or received from Scotland, from whom, their contents, and how often he had spoken with the Queen of Scots’ servants or messengers. One Thomas Bishop—later described by the Earl of Shrewsbury as ‘a lewd practising Scot, and a naughty person’—was examined at this time. He said that he had known Lascelles for 18 years and had made especial use of him during the past year because he—Lascelles—was known to be a Catholic, and he thought he might thereby discover ‘something to the service of the Queen which cannot be done by a protestant’. Lascelles, he went on to say, had often talked of the title of the Queen of Scots, and had used ‘objectionable words against religion’. But he did not ‘meddle’, and Bishop evidently thought him harmless.

In June 1568, when Queen Mary was at Carlisle in the custody of Sir Francis Knollys, Lascelles attempted to visit her. Knollys, knowing Lascelles to be ‘a lewd and arrogant papist and once before in displeasure for practising with her’, told him that no subject should honour another prince without commission, and had him escorted ‘out of the town gates, homewards’.

Lascelles’s part in the northern rising is obscure. Northumberland, in his confession, said that Lascelles went to his house at Leconfield when Queen Mary lay at Bolton castle, to try to persuade him ‘how necessary and commodious a thing it might be to this realm if the Queen of Scots should marry the Duke’. He then proceeded to ‘a great discourse’, saying that ‘such great and like matter hath been first set abroach by as mean men as he, and the bringing it to effect must be by noblemen and others of great estate’. Lascelles wanted Northumberland to write to Mary, but the Earl ‘desired first to understand her affections therein’. Lascelles subsequently brought him a letter purporting to be from Mary, but, finding the wording obscure and suspecting forgery, he despatched Lascelles with ‘fair words, without writing, which contented him not’. Perhaps Lascelles died soon after, too soon for his name to appear on the lists of those indicted for their part in the conspiracy. He was certainly dead by 30 Sept. 1572. Sowerby was confiscated but the Lascelles family continued in possession.

Lascelles Peds. 6; CPR, 1558-60, p. 158; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, pp. 11, 363; HMC Hatfield, i. 338; CSP Scot. 1563-9, pp. 294, 457, 629; Sharpe, Memorials of the Rebellion, 193-4; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. ii. 94; H. Aveling, Northern Catholics, 86.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.