LAYER, Christopher (1531-1600), of Norwich, Norf.

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. 1531, 4th s. of William Layer, mayor of Norwich, by Elizabeth, da. of John Marsham of Norwich; bro. of Thomas. m. Barbara, da. of Augustine Steward, 4s. 5da.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Norwich 1559, common councilman by 1564, sheriff 1569-70, alderman 1570, mayor 1581-2, 1589-90.2


Layer was a grocer, one of the leading Norwich citizens who, in April 1585, wrote to Burghley asking for a lease of the alnage and subsidy of new stuffs made at Norwich. His election to Parliament was a natural incident of his career, and he was named to the subsidy committee on 24 Feb. 1585. During his second Parliament the burgesses for Norwich were appointed to committees concerning navigation (12 Nov.), the bishop of Norwich (30 Nov.), land reclamation (3 Dec.), cloth (8 Dec.), and malt (12 Jan. 1598). During his Membership Norwich paid him wages of 5s. a day.3

Layer imported goods from the Netherlands, investing his gains in land and houses in Norwich, at Theberton and elsewhere in Suffolk and at Booton, Cawston, Cringleford and other places in Norfolk. His attempts to enclose the common at Great Wichingham in Norfolk led him into a long series of lawsuits. He was described by his opponent as ‘a very politique and worldly minded man most regarding his own private commodity’, and ‘a man of great riches’. His will disposed of his lands among his grandchildren and surviving children, provided for a substantial income for his widow, the sole executrix, and contained bequests to numerous relatives and friends and to the poor in Norwich and elsewhere. Layer died 19 June 1600 and was buried at St. John’s, Maddermarket, Norwich.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Vis. Norf. (Norf. and Norwich Arch. Soc.), i. 25-6.
  • 2. H. Le Strange, Norf. Official Lists, 108-9; Norwich ass. min. bk. 1551-68, ff. 83, 109; claviour’s bk. passim.
  • 3. Reg. Norwich Freemen, ed. Millican, 71, 231; Norwich Recs. ii. 193; Lansd. 44, f. 70; D’Ewes, 356, 556, 567, 569, 578; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 110; claviour’s bk.; Norwich corporation ct. bk., 1582-7, p. 424.
  • 4. Bronnen tot de Geshiedenis van den Handel met Engeland, Schotland en Ireland, ed. Smit ii. 808-10, 950, 958 seq.; Req. 2/139/34; Vis. Norf. i. 25; PCC 53 Wallop; Blomefield, Norf. iv. 293.