SPELMAN, Henry (c.1564-1641), of Congham and Hunstanton, 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. c.1564, 1st s. of Henry Spelman of Congham by his 2nd w. Frances, da. of William Saunders of Ewell, Surr. educ. Walsingham g.s.; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1580, BA 1583; Furnival’s Inn; L. Inn 1586. m. 18 Apr. 1590, Eleanor, da. and coh. of John Lestrange of Sedgeford, 4s. 4da. suc. fa. 1581. Kntd. 1604.

Offices Held

Member, Antiq. Soc. c.1591; j.p. Norf. from 1598, sheriff Nov. 1604-Feb. 1606.


Henry Spelman, historian and antiquary, obtained the foundations of his education at the local grammar school and at Cambridge where his studies were interrupted by his father’s death. After putting his estates in order, he proceeded to the inns of court where he spent three years before returning to Norfolk to marry an heiress, though he did not obtain most of her estates until the death of her mother, who married Richard Stubbe. He did, however, secure the wardship of Hamon Lestrange on the death of his father, Sir Nicholas, in December 1591, and lived at the Lestrange manor of Hunstanton for the next few years. Spelman was no doubt returned for Castle Rising through his control of the Lestrange influence in this borough, which lay close to the Lestrange estates. As a burgess for Castle Rising he may have been concerned with a committee on kerseys (23 Mar. 1593) and another for draining the fens, 25 Nov. and 3 Dec. 1597.

Until the end of Elizabeth’s reign Spelman’s life was that of a country gentleman; and his antiquarian and historical work was done in the second half of his life. He died in 1641.

DNB; Vis. Norf. (Norf. and Norwich Arch. Soc.), i. 252-3; J. Evans, Hist. Antiq. Soc. 12; E. Gibson, English Works of Sir Henry Spelman, intro.; G. A. Carthew, Hundred of Launditch, i. 145, 216; D’Ewes, 507, 563, 567; Aubrey, Brief Lives, ii. 539-40.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe