ROKEBY, Ralph.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

Offices Held


There were two relatives, namesakes and burgesses, either of whom may have been the MP. Their family had provided benchers of Lincoln's Inn almost continuously from the reign of Henry VI, and, as one of them wrote, 'ever, in effect, from the creation of the council in the north parts, there hath been one or more of our name served in the council'.

The author of this statement was in 1571 probably still studying at Lincoln's Inn. He was

2nd s. of Ralph Rokeby, serjeant-at-law (d.c.1556), by Dorothy, da. of Thomas Danby. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1562; L. Inn 1567. m. (1) Douglas (d.1586), da. of William Ferne, s.p.; (2) Joan, da. of John Portington, 2da.

Dep. (to Robert Beale) sec. council in the north and j.p. many northern counties from c.1587; steward, St. Katharine’s hospital by the Tower 1589;jt. (with Beale) sec. council in the north by Oct. 1592.

He died on 12 Mar. 1595, and was buried at York.1 He wrote Œconomia Rokebeiorum, which is the authority for much of the detailed information on his more eminent namesake and relative, who was

b. c.1527, 2nd s. of Thomas Rokeby of Mortham, Yorks. by Jane, da. of Robert Constable of Everingham, Yorks. educ. ?Camb.; L. Inn 1547, called 1558. unm.2

Bencher, L. Inn 1566, treasurer 1571; c.j. Connaught by July 1569-71; member, council in the north and j.p. many northern counties 1572-c.1582; master of St. Katharine’s hospital and j.p. Mdx. 1584; master of requests by 1591.3

This man was chief justice of Connaught until 1571, but whether he was back in England in time to be appointed to the Commons committee on the treasons bill on 11 May that year has not been ascertained. The problem of identification is therefore no nearer solution. Either man could have been the MP, and either would have owed his return to a friend at court. The chief justice went on to become a member of the council in the north, for which he had been recommended by Sir Thomas Gargrave. He was to be in continual attendance, with a salary of £50 and other perquisites. After his appointment as master of St. Katharine’s, he moved to London, where he took part in the trials of Babington (1586), the Earl of Arundel (1589), Sir John Perrot (1592) and others. This job and his subsequent appointment as master of requests made Rokeby a very wealthy man. His will, made on 14 June 1594 and proved on 8 July 1596, contains charitable bequests totalling over £ 1,000. It is an interesting document, bearing out the comment of Rokeby’s namesake in the 1593 additions to his family history: ‘Truly he hath much good in him, God be thanked for him’. Contemporaries thought that (Sir) Thomas Egerton II made £10,000 from his position as executor and residuary legatee. Rokeby died on 14 June 1596, and was buried at St. Andrew’s, Holborn.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Al. Cant. i(3), 481; Genealogist, n.s. xv. 258; DNB; Add. 24470, ff. 307, 313, 323-4.
  • 2. Stow, Survey (1633), 429b; Fam. Min. Gent. (Harl. Soc. xxxviii), 587 seq.; L. Inn Black Bk. i. 323, 350, 360, 380; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 402, 425, 429; Cal. Fiants Ire. 1569-70, p. 212; Add. 24470.
  • 3. CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 427; Lansd. 157, f. 8 seq.; C. Jameson, R. Hosp. St. Katharine, 79-81; HMC Hatfield, vi. 31; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 658.
  • 4. CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 402, 422, 425, 429; HMC Hatfield, vi. 31; CJ, i. 89; D’Ewes, 183; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 77, 268, 625; Add. 1566-79, pp. 424, 427; Add. 1580-1625, p. 81; Egerton 2345, ff. 3-35; Lansd. 155, ff. 254, 267; CSP Scot. 1574-81, p. 437; Howell, State Trials, i. 1127, 1251, 1315; APC, xxii. 551; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 154; Egerton Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xii), 110, 228-9, 308; PCC 53 Drake; DNB.