ZOUCHE, Richard.

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

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The 'Richard Sowche gent.' who was returned for Hindon in 1584 was, in all probability, one of two cousins and namesakes.


yr. s. of Richard, 9th Lord Zouche of Harringworth, prob. by and w. Margaret, da. of John Cheney of West Woodhay, Berks.

Gent. pens. 1564-73/7

Having inherited some of his father’s property at Wincanton, Somerset, Zouche ran through it within the next 12 years, and thenceforth depended upon the Crown. In November 1567, described as a gentleman pensioner, he received, ostensibly for services rendered, a licence to export 1,000 tons of double beer from London for three years. It was probably he who, three years later, acted as a bearer at the funeral of the 1st Earl of Pembroke, whose client he may thus have been. He is next heard of, in July 1578, being sent to Ireland, where he had evidently seen service already and where on this occasion he may have met Colonel John Zouche, of the Derbyshire house, and also perhaps, as we shall see, his namesake from Wiltshire. His spell of soldiering in Ireland lends colour to his identification with the man whose treacherous career was to sully the name of Zouche during the closing years of the reign. A kinsman of Edward, 11th Lord Zouche, who in 1603 denounced him to Robert Cecil, this Richard Zouche went to serve in the Netherlands with Leicester, only to join in Roland Yorke’s defection at Zutphen in 1586. After several years’ campaigning with the Spaniards, he returned to England in 1598, was imprisoned and then banished to the Netherlands, whence, after killing a man, he came back a year or two later to undergo further spells of imprisonment. His end has not been traced.1


b. c.1555, s. of Edward Zouche of Piston, Wilts. by Christiana, da. of William Chudley of Ashton, Devon. m. aft. 1580, Bridget, da. of Robert Drury of Hawstead, Suff., 4s. 1da. suc. fa. 1 Dec. 1580.2

By contrast, the life of this man was brief, respectable and dull. Inheriting a patrimony, the manor of Pitton, near Salisbury, which had been conveyed to his father and mother by Edward’s brother Sir John Zouche of Ansty, and which was hardly greater than that spendthrift had started with (it rated Edward Zouche at only £10 in the subsidy book of 1576), Richard Zouche was to leave it intact to his own heir. He did nothing, however, to augment it and he was to make no mark in local or national affairs; that was left to the Zouches of Ansty. His inconspicuousness makes it the more surprising that Richard Zouche should have allied himself in marriage, not with a minor local family, but with the house of Drury in Suffolk. This was not, to be sure, a lucrative match, for Bridget, one of the eight children of the Robert Drury who died prematurely in 1558, must have brought a slender dowry; but an alliance at once politically advantageous and geographically remote calls for explanation. With no evidence of a previous connexion between the families, a possible point of contact presents itself in Ireland. In the late 1570s the Drury family was active there: Sir William Drury, Bridget’s great-uncle, was president of Munster and afterwards chief justice at Dublin, and more than one of his relatives served there with him. If Richard Zouche of Pitton, then in his early twenties, had gone over at this time, as both his cousin and his kinsman John Zouche of Codnor did, it might well have been the prelude to his marriage, which took place soon after 1580 and was doubtless helped forward by his father’s death at the close of that year. From his marriage until his death, Richard and Bridget Zouche seem to have lived quietly at Pitton. Three sons and a daughter were born to them there, the eldest son on 7 Aug. 1583, but none of the boys can be traced at a university or an inn of court. All the children were under age when their father died on 22 Jan. 1600, ten days after making his will. He commended his soul to God and asked to be buried near his parents’ grave in the parish church, to which he bequeathed 5s. for repairs. His sons Walter, John and Robert were to receive £20 each on reaching the age of 24 and his daughter Frances £40 at the ‘full age’ of 20; the residue was to pass to his widow and his heir William, whom he appointed executors. His trusted friend Robert Bower, the Salisbury lawyer whose daughter Hester was contracted to William, was to oversee the performance of the will and to have the testator’s white nag. From the inquest, taken at Hindon on 29 Mar. 1600, we learn that William and Hester Zouche had already been enfeoffed with Pitton.3

The matter of who was returned for Hindon in 1584 is complicated by uncertainty as to the patronage involved. Hindon belonged to the bishop of Winchester, who in 1584 was Thomas Cooper, his episcopate having begun that March. The man returned for the senior seat in 1584, Dr. Valentine Dale, was probably of his choosing, and if Cooper also nominated to the second seat, Richard Zouche of Pitton is much the more likely to have filled it; the protestantism of his uncle Sir John, still a power in the shire, would have commended itself to Cooper, while Sir William Drury, who was himself to sit for Suffolk, may have lent his brother-in-law support. But if, as is possible, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke was trying to get a foot in the door at Hindon, the choice is at least as likely to have fallen on Richard Zouche, courtier, pensioner, and perhaps ex-servant of Wilton, as on his younger and obscurer cousin. It is to be observed, however, that when Dale, having got in at Chichester, vacated the Hindon seat, he was replaced in it by young John Marvyn, who clearly owed that privilege to his uncle Sir James Marvyn; and it is this circumstance which, by seeming to imply that the bishop, with Zouche as his own nominee, was prepared to accept Marvyn for the contingent vacancy, perhaps tips the scale in favour of Richard Zouche of Pitton.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. T. Bindoff


  • 1. CPR, 1558-60, p. 11; 1560-3, pp. 133, 413; 1563-6, p. 370; 1566-9, p. 40; Lansd. 83, f. 215; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xviii. 128-30; APC, x. 290, 292; xxi. 108; xxix. 224, 234, 506; HMC Hatfield, ii. 416, 432; x. 5; xv. 185-6; HMC Laing, i. 104; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iii. 35.
  • 2. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 225; PCC 17 Wallop.
  • 3. Wilts. N. and Q. v. 175; Two Taxation Lists (Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. x), 128; A. Campling, Hist. Drury Fam. 50; C142/260/155; PCC 17 Wallop.