RYLEY, Hugh (c.1540-aft.1603), of Salisbury, Wilts.

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. c.1540; 3rd s. of Thomas Ryley of Le Grene, Lancs. by Joan, da. and coh. of James Whitaker of Henthorne, Lancs. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1552, BA 1555, founder’s fellow 17 Oct. 1556, junior bursar 1558-9. m. Mary, da. of George Ludlow of Hill Deverell, Wilts.1

Offices Held

Steward of John Jewel, bp. of Salisbury 1559-71.2


It was probably while he was at Oxford that Ryley met John Jewel, whose service he was afterwards to enter. Jewel taught at Oxford until early in 1555, when he fled to the Continent, and remained an exile for four years. During this time Ryley took his degree and became fellow and junior bursar of his college. Jewel was named bishop of Salisbury in July 1559 and consecrated in the following January; and it is likely that Ryley rejoined him as his steward at the outset of his episcopate. Ryley continued in Jewel’s service until his death in 1571, and the bishop paid him a notable tribute by making him, and his fellow-servant William Chambers, executors of his will and by bequeathing to them £50 each in money and the residue of his goods after his many other legacies had been discharged.3

Ryley may already have had a connexion with Wiltshire through his mother Joan, with whose family the Whitakers of Westbury (one of whom also sat in Parliament), were perhaps related. It was, however, his marriage to Mary Ludlow, which probably took place while he was serving Jewel, that gave him a footing in Wiltshire society. His father-in-law was sheriff in 1559 and again in 1568, and his brother-in-law Edmund was to begin his long parliamentary career as Member for Old Sarum in 1571, a youthful success to which Ryley’s influence may have contributed. Ryley’s own return for Westbury he probably owed to his Whitaker connexion, doubtless reinforced by the support of the bishop. It would be interesting to know what the servant of so prominent an ecclesiastic made of the religious issues in that Parliament; but Ryley finds no mention in the record of its proceedings.

Little has come to light about Ryley’s later career. He evidently made his home in Salisbury, and it was as a gentleman of the city that at an unknown date he received a grant of arms. In 1581 his wife had a legacy of £20 from her father. Ryley himself was still alive in November 1603, when the inquisition post mortem of John Riley, whose relationship if any to Hugh is not known, recorded an obligation to pay him 20 marks a year for life. Ryley’s will has not been found nor has the date of his death been established.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. T. Bindoff


  • 1. Harl. 1408 f. 157v; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxvi. 173; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 240.
  • 2. Harl. 988 f. 2.
  • 3. PCC 43 Holney.
  • 4. Two Taxation Lists (Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. x); Wilts. Vis. Peds. 240; PCC 4 Darcy; C142/280/85; Wards 38/175.