STONELEY, Richard (c.1520-1600), of Itchington, Warws., Doddinghurst, Essex and London.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1520. m. Anne, 2da.
Teller of the Exchequer to Feb. 1554-c.1597, receiver of first fruits and tenths 31 Mar. 1560-27 Feb. 1578.1
Nothing has been ascertained about Stoneley’s early life. His family may have come from Stoneley (now Stoneleigh), Warwickshire, near to which he had an estate at Over Itchington. During his period at the Exchequer he speculated heavily in land, buying the manor of Doddinghurst, Essex, from the 17th Earl of Oxford in 1579 and acquiring a considerable amount of other property in London, Berkshire, Kent and Essex. He also held the manor of Wendlebury, Oxfordshire, the farm of Newark Wood in Sussex and a lease from the Queen, granted in 1570, of the manor of Moulsoe, Buckinghamshire. His town house was at St. Botolph’s without Aldersgate, but his inquisition post mortem describes his widow Anne as living at Kensington’s, where he may have retired towards the end of his life.2
So far as is known, Stoneley had no connexion with Lancashire, and like his fellow-Member for Newton in 1571 he may have owed his seat to Sir Ralph Sadler, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, to whom he must have been known through the Exchequer post he held for over 40 years, and which gave him the usual opportunities for financial adventure. By 1580 he was already seriously embarrassed in consequence of his extensive land speculation. Thomas Lichfield, who was investigating abuses in the Exchequer, declared in August 1584 that Stoneley had defrauded the Crown by concealing fines and by other means, that his denial of the charges, and demands to be allowed to answer them in a court of law, were subterfuges, and that Lord Burghley should call Stoneley before him to answer the accusations. An account survives, dated 4 Aug. 1585 and endorsed by Burghley ‘Stoneley’s estate’, showing the amount of money in his hands as teller, and giving Stoneley’s own reasons for his losses. He described himself as ‘being now in case to beg in his old days, being 65 years of age’. In the following summer the crash came. Robert Petre reported to Burghley (4 Aug. 1586) that ‘Mr. Stoneley being unable to make up his accounts by £16,000, he has been forced to lay the burthen on the other three tellers’. In February 1588 Stoneley again gave a long explanation of his failure, claiming that over £2,000 had been stolen while he was unable to go to his house for fear of plague; he had lost over £1,000, being ‘overwhelmed with the receipt of such great sums of money’, sometimes £300,000 a year; £500 had gone ‘in double toll of the Treasury in all this time’, and another £200 by ‘sundry falls of the coin’; he had ‘double charged’ himself ‘of sundry sums of money’, and ‘to avoid concealing of anything, I have charged myself with above £40,000 more than any auditor can charge me withal’. He asked to be allowed to remain in office until Michaelmas, by which time he hoped to have put everything in order by selling his lands and recovering debts. ‘Howsoever others deal with me’, he insisted, ‘I will be found a true man in my dealing to her Majesty with all that I have, and my body to prison if need should so require.’ The account to which this petition is attached is complicated, but it appears that Stoneley hoped to raise nearly £14,000. The lands mentioned were in East and West Ham, Barking, Dagenham, and other parts of Essex, and in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Leases of lands and houses in London and of the Saracen’s Head, Westminster, should raise £900, and ‘annuities’ nearly another £400.3
Some sort of respite was apparently granted, for on 20 Dec. the same year Stoneley wrote once more to Burghley that a number of people had come to Westminster to pay money to him, ‘but Mr. Peter [? Petre] saith I may do nothing there before he hear from your honour’. He was anxious to be allowed to ride into the country to sell land at East and West Ham. It is difficult to follow his movements during the next 10 years, but the government seems to have given him repeated opportunities to retrieve his position. Another letter about his finances survives, dated October 1593, and about December 1596 he paid in £3,000. By May 1597, however, most of his property (which included over 400 books) had been sequestered by the Crown. He died, probably in prison, on 19 Feb. 1600. His inquisition post mortem, drawn up in January 1601 at the London Guildhall, gives details of the dates when he had to surrender houses and lands. His debts, presumably only those to the Crown, are estimated at nearly £13,000. A house and 25 acres at Doddinghurst, which he had conveyed in trust to John Braunche of London and others, remained in his hands. The coheirs were his daughters, Dorothy, aged 40, the widow of William Dawtrey, and Anne, wife of William Heigham. Administration of his estate was granted to a creditor in 1605.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 59; 1581-90, p. 257; 1595-7, p. 413; C142/266/81; CPR, 1553-4, p. 84; Essex RO, D/DFa 03; E 36/266/90.
- 2. Morant, Essex, i. 191-2; SP12/139/28; G. Lipscomb, Bucks, iv. 252-3; CPR, 1563-6, p. 85; 1569-72, p. 152.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 661, 701; 1581-90, pp. 257, 343; APC, xii. 278; Lansd. 40, ff. 86, 130 seq.; HMC Hatfield, iii. 310-12.
- 4. HMC Hatfield, iii. 377; iv. 401; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 314, 413; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 32; EHR, lxxviii. 240; Studies in Bibliography (Univ. of Virginia), ii. 49-51; C142/266/81; PCC admon. act bk. 1605, f. 22.