WARNECOMBE, James (c.1522-81), of Ivington, Herefs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. c.1522, 2nd s. of Richard Warnecombe of Ivington, Lugwardine and Hereford by his 2nd w. Anne, da. of Richard Bromwich of Hereford; bro. of John Warnecombe. educ. I. Temple 1537, called. m. (1), by 1548, Eleanor Hyett, s.p.; (2) 24 July 1567, Mary, da. of John Cornwall of Burford, Salop, s.p.2 1s. illegit.

Offices Held

Vice-justice of Chester 1545; escheator, Herefs. and marches of Wales 1548-9; recorder, Ludlow 1551-63; standing counsel to Leominster by 1552; j.p. Herefs. from 1554, q. by 1569; mayor, Hereford 1571-2, 1578-9; commr. musters, Herefs. by 1573; dep. justice, Brec. circuit 1575; sheriff, Herefs. 1576-7.3


Warnecombe, a lawyer, served as knight of the shire for Herefordshire with his brother-in-law Sir James Croft. His religious attitude was accommodating. He held office throughout Mary’s reign, but in 1564 the bishop of Hereford’s list of justices described him as favourable to the protestant religion. In November 1576 he sent a report to the Council on Herefordshire recusants. He served on commissions connected with Herefordshire and the neighbouring shires, surveying the lands taken by the Crown from the bishopric of Hereford in 1559; sending in a report on tanning houses in Hereford and Leominster in 1574; and two years later being appointed to investigate Sir James Croft’s complaint that a faction in Hereford intended to elect a mayor unsound in religion. As standing counsel Warnecombe received the same fee (26s.8d.) as was paid to the recorder in the seventeenth century, and presumably carried out equivalent duties. In 1572 ‘Mr. Warnecombe’s minstrel’ was paid 1s.4d. after the dinner at which the borough welcomed him when he ‘came home from the Parliament’.4

About 1574 John Garnons brought a Star Chamber case against Warnecombe for assault in Hereford cathedral precincts. The bill of complaint listed a number of charges, including assault, inciting his servants to trample growing crops, abusing his position as a justice by releasing felons at the request of John Scudamore and others, and insulting the plaintiff at the sessions. Whatever the outcome, this sort of thing cannot have helped him when he came up for promotion to full justice in 1576. Beside his name on the list of nominations is the comment:

James Warnecombe of Lempster, an ancient gentleman, well learned, honest and of fair living and great wealth, and hath served heretofore as deputy to Sir Robert Townshend with great commendation. He is now grown corpulent and heavy and somewhat given to surfeit with drink in the afternoon.

In fact he was epitomized as ‘Warnecombe the weary’ by the anonymous writer who lampooned a number of the 1566 MPs, but at this distance of time the description proves nothing beyond the fact that he had made his mark in the House. On 19 Apr. he opposed the repeal of the law making residence in a borough obligatory for election as its representative. If the new bill were passed, he argued, it might ‘touch and over-reach’ the ‘whole liberties’ of genuine burgesses. ‘Lords’ letters shall from henceforth bear all the sway’. Warnecombe spoke again, 21 Apr. in the debate on receiving communion, urging that a certificate from the bishop should be insufficient to obtain a conviction. He served on committees in the House concerning the succession, 31 Oct. 1566; the subsidy, 7 Apr. 1571; four minor committees, 14 May, and the committee of a bill regulating weights and measures, 23 May. By August 1578 he was described as infirm, and only partially recovered from a serious illness, and Whitgift and Fabian Phillips asked Hereford, apparently unsuccessfully, to choose another man as mayor. Warnecombe lived until 21 Feb. 1581. Letters of administration were granted the next day to his sister, Joan Scudamore, and Edward Croft. This grant was revoked and a new one made 16 Mar. the same year. There is no evidence of a by-election to replace him as MP.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. C142/86/94, 95/93; Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 70-1; I. T. Recs. i. 116; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), xi. 313-14.
  • 3. G. Ormerod, Cheshire, i. 65; CPR, 1553-4, p. 20; G. F. Townsend, Leominster, 77-8; J. Duncumb, Herefs. i. 367; Cal. Hereford Docs. ed. Macray, 31; Lansd. 56, f. 168 seq.; W. R. Williams, Welsh Judges, 70.
  • 4. CPR, 1558-60, pp. 31, 422; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 125; APC, ix. 197, 225; Cath. Rec. Soc. xiii. 134; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 14; Townsend, 77-8.
  • 5. St. Ch. 5/G9/25, M7/19; SP12/110/13; Bull. Bd. of Celtic Studies, vi. 71; Morgan transcripts at Hereford, i. 194; C142/199/90; D’Ewes, 127, 159, 168, 171, 183; CJ, i. 97; Trinity, Dublin, anon. jnl. ff. 25, 36; Neale, Commons, 158-9; PCC admon. act bk. 1581, ff. 4v, 6.