BROMLEY, Sir Henry (c.1560-1615), of Holt Castle, Worcs., Shrawardine Castle, Salop and St. Lawrence Pountney, London; later of Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1560, 1st s. of (Sir) Thomas Bromley† of Hodnet, Salop, and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Adrian Fortescue of Shirburn Castle, Oxon.1 educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1576, aged 16; I. Temple 1580.2 m. (1) by 1583,3 Elizabeth (bur. 21 Aug. 1589), da. of Sir Thomas Pelham of Eythropp, Bucks., 1s. 4da. (2 d.v.p.);4 (2) 26 Nov. 1591, Elizabeth (d. 19 Mar. 1592), da. of Hugh Verney of Fairfield, Som. and wid. of William Palmer (d.1586), of Parham, Suss. 1s.;5 (3) settlement 28 June 1593, (with £4,200),6 Anne da. of Sir Thomas Scott† of Scot’s Hall, Kent and wid. of Richard Knatchbull (d.1591), of Mersham Hatch, Kent,7 3s. (1 d.v.p.);8 (4) 7 June 1604,9 Anne (d. 1 Jan. 1629),10 da. of William Beswicke of London, alderman,11 and wid. of William Offley (bur. 1601), of St. Lawrence Pountney, Merchant Taylor and Merchant of the Staple, s.p.12 suc. fa. 1587;13 kntd. 1592.14 d. 14 May 1615.15 sig. Henry Bromley.

Offices Held

Verderer, Feckenham Forest, Worcs. c.1588-at least 1593;16 j.p. Worcs. by 1591-1601, by 1604-c.1606, c.1608-d., Salop 1597-1601, by 1604-c.1606, c.1608-d.;17 sheriff, Worcs. 1591-2;18 dep. lt., Worcs. 1595-1601, 1609-at least 1613;19 collector, Privy Seal loan, Worcs. 1597-8,20 aid 1609;21 commr. eccles. causes, Worcs. 1598,22 subsidy, Worcs. 1598, 1599,23 Worcester, 1599, inquiry into spoils of wood, Worcs. bef. 1599,24 purveyance, Worcs. 1599;25 i.p.m., Worcs. 1599, Salop 1600,26 charitable uses, Worcs. 1599, 1600,27 oyer and terminer, Wales and the Marches 1600, 1606-7,28 attach the body of Edward Hall, Worcs. 1601;29 member, Council in the Marches of Wales, 1603-at least 1608,30 chief steward, estates of Worcester Cathedral by 1606;31 commr. inquiry into the estates of Gunpowder plotters, Worcs. 1606.32

Member, embassy to Scot. 1594; 33 gent. of the privy chamber 1603-at least 1609.34


Bromley was the eldest son of an Elizabethan lord chancellor from whom he inherited extensive estates in Worcestershire, Shropshire and Montgomeryshire. Before 1608 his principal residence was Holt Castle, five and-a-half miles north-west of Worcester; thereafter he lived at Shrawardine Castle, six miles north-west of Shrewsbury, in Shropshire.35

Thanks to his father’s friendship with the 2nd earl of Bedford, Bromley was elected for Plymouth in the 1580s. He entered into his inheritance in 1587 and was knighted during his shrievalty in 1592. In the following year he was elected for Worcestershire, but was imprisoned for supporting Peter Wentworth† after the latter tried to raise the question of the succession in the Commons. Released soon after the end of the session, he obtained a place in the embassy sent to Scotland a year later to attend the christening of Prince Henry. He was elected for Shropshire in 1597 and was again imprisoned in 1601-2, this time for his part in Essex’s rising, when he lost all public office.36

The accession of James enabled Bromley to capitalize on the contacts he had established in Edinburgh in 1594 and, on 30 Mar. 1603, Chamberlain reported that he was one of those hastening towards Scotland to meet the new king.37 In April ‘a foolish rhyme’ which Manningham claimed was circulating in Court suggested that Bromley would use his influence with James on behalf of the puritans.38 The following month he was sworn a gentleman of the privy chamber. It has been suggested that Bromley was responsible for a paper proposing a programme of religious and secular reforms,39 but the only evidence for this assertion seems to be the doggerel recounted by Manningham. Bromley would probably have approved of the paper’s criticism of Sir Fulke Greville* who had sued him in Star Chamber in 1593, but certain of its proposals would have been less congenial to him, in particular the attack on the sale of Crown lands. Moreover, it is uncertain whether Bromley can really be considered a puritan, as his religious contacts ranged across a spectrum of Protestant opinion. His second wife certainly came from puritan circles, but in the summer of 1593 he entertained the anti-puritan bishop of Worcester, Richard Fletcher, at Holt.40 He was also chief steward of the dean and chapter of Worcester.

Bromley certainly had good connections with Scottish courtiers, but he may have had influential enemies as well. Shortly after James’s accession the duke of Lennox obtained the king’s promise of the receiver-generalship of London, Middlesex, Herefordshire and Essex for Bromley, but in the event the post went to Michael Hicks* instead.41 In February 1604 Bromley obtained a warrant for a grant of Crown lands, but it was revoked in April and he did not finally obtain the property until another Scottish peer, Lord Erskine, intervened the following October.42

Bromley was re-elected for Worcestershire in 1604 after a bitter contest. According to John Talbot of Grafton, a prominent opponent of Bromley’s, the latter did not enter the lists until a month before the vote when he persuaded Sir William Walsh†, Bromley’s colleague in the 1593 Parliament, to stand aside, believing that his own standing at Court would enable him to defeat Talbot’s favoured candidates, Sir Edmund Harewell and Sir John Pakington.43 However, it seems more likely that Bromley owed his election to his supporters in Worcestershire, who included the sheriff, Sir Thomas Russell†, the local ecclesiastical hierarchy, and Bromley’s sister Meriel Littleton, the widow of John Littleton†, who mobilized the powerful Littleton interest on his behalf.44

In the 1604 session Bromley was named to two conferences and 12 committees. His first appointment (23 Mar.) was to the committee concerning Sir Robert Wroth I’s motion to tackle a wide range of grievances including wardship and purveyance. On 27 Apr. he was among those nominated to present a petition to the king about purveyance, and he was named to the conference with the Lords concerning wardship on 22 May.45 Bromley’s legacy as a former supporter of the 2nd earl of Essex may explain his nomination to the committee appointed, on the motion of another former Essex supporter Sir Henry Neville I, to consider the treason laws on 26 March. The Essex connection almost certainly accounts for his appointment to the committee for the restitution bills for Essex, Southampton and Arundel on 2 April. On 11 June he was appointed to the bill committee for the restitution of the children of his brother-in-law John Lyttleton†, who had been attainted for his part in the Essex rising.46 Bromley was nominated to three committees concerning religion. One was to prepare for the conference with the Lords (19 Apr.), another was to consider two bills against pluralism (4 June), and the third was for the church attendance bill (27 June).47 Bromley’s London connections, cemented by his recent fourth marriage, may explain his appointment to the committee for the London docks bill on 16 June.48 In addition he was named to the conference on the Union on 14 Apr., and to committees for bills on assarts (3 May), vagrancy (5 May) and the continuance of expiring statutes (5 June).49

In the immediate aftermath of the Gunpowder plot, James I sent Bromley down to Worcestershire, where he was responsible for conducting the plotters captured at Holbeach House to London and the arrest of Henry Garnet. However, he was subsequently accused of embezzling the property of the plotters and suffered the indignity, albeit only briefly, of removal from the bench in Worcestershire and Shropshire.50

Bromley was still in Worcestershire when the second session resumed in early 1606. He is first mentioned in the records on 6 Mar., when he was appointed to the committee for the Corpus Christi College bill.51 He was subsequently named to a further five legislative committees and one conference with the Lords. Two nominations concerned religion: the non-communicants bill (7 Apr.) and the ecclesiastical grievances conference (10 April).52 On 22 May he was added to the committee for the bill to explain that part of the 1604 Act for continuing expiring statutes which concerned sanctuary and the sale of wine.53 Bromley was also appointed to committees for bills concerning elections (3 Apr.), the naturalization of Sir David Foulis (18 Apr.), and the attainder of the Gunpowder plotters (30 April).54

Bromley is mentioned only three times in the records of the 1606-7 session. On 24 Nov. he was nominated to attend a meeting with the Lords concerning the Union.55 He was also named to two legislative committees, concerning London estates (4 May) and ecclesiastical courts (16 May).56 In the fourth session Bromley was appointed to seven legislative committees and the conference with the Lords at which the lord treasurer, the 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) laid out the Crown’s financial needs (15 February).57 In addition to three private bills his committee appointments were for the bills concerning legal copies (13 Mar.), highways (30 Mar.), retailing brokers (27 June), and the Oath of Allegiance (23 July).58 Bromley is not mentioned in the surviving records of the fifth session.

Bromley’s final years were marked by the recurrence of financial problems that had first been precipitated by his involvement in Essex’s rising, although the underlying cause was probably excessive extravagance.59 Certainly he was a generous patron of learning and was open-handed in his hospitality and charity.60 However, he had also had to pay an unspecified sum to Cecil to secure his release.61 Bromley was given permission to sell his lands to satisfy his creditors, and consequently mortgaged his Montgomeryshire property to Francis Newport II† for £2,800.62 In June 1604 he married a wealthy widow and made over £5,000 from the sale of the lands granted to him that October.63 Nevertheless, his financial position remained precarious, for he was unable to redeem the Montgomeryshire property and from 1610 had to sell part of his Worcestershire estate.64 Towards the end of his life there were at least two extents for debts on his lands.65

In the last days of his life Bromley sought to ensure that his remaining estate would be preserved after his death, as his long-standing financial difficulties had been exacerbated by the extravagance of his heir, Sir Thomas Bromley*. According to (Sir) Edward Bromley*, their combined debts amounted to £5,000. On 30 Apr. 1615 Bromley leased a significant part of his Worcestershire estate to trustees for 99 years, and on 1 May he gave Sir Thomas only a life interesting his lands.66 Bromley made his will on 11 May 1615 and died at Shrawardine Castle three days later. In accordance with his wishes he was buried in Holt parish church on 15 May, where his widow erected a monument.67 Sir Thomas Bromley sat for Worcestershire in 1614 and 1628.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Ben Coates


  • 1. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 78; VCH Oxon. viii. 179.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; CITR, i. 303.
  • 3. H. Hall, Soc. in Elizabethan Age, 278
  • 4. Suss. Genealogies: Lewes Cent. comp. J. Comber, 206; Soc. Gen. microfiche WO/REG/95100/1-4; Nash, Worcs. i. 595; Condover Par. Reg. (Salop Par. Reg. Soc. vi), 54; PROB 11/127, f. 65v.
  • 5. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 78; Parham par. reg. (Soc. Gen. Transcript); Soc. Gen. microfiche WO/REG/95100/1-4; C142/237/129; PROB 11/127, f. 65.
  • 6. WARD 7/55/245.
  • 7. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 63-4, 128-9; J.R. Scott, Scott, of Scot’s Hall, 227.
  • 8. Soc. Gen. microfiche WO/REG/95100/1-4; Nash, ii. 446-7; PROB 11/127, f. 65.
  • 9. W.B. Wilson, St. Laurence Pountney, 133.
  • 10. Nash, i. 598.
  • 11. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 152.
  • 12. ‘Mss Relating to the Fam. of Offley’ ed. G.C. Bower, The Gen. n.s. xx. 51.
  • 13. C142/213/114.
  • 14. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 89.
  • 15. WARD 7/55/245.
  • 16. STAC 5/G2/6.
  • 17. Hatfield House, ms 278; C231/1, ff. 28v, 105; C66/1620; 66/1698; 66/1748; 66/2047.
  • 18. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 158.
  • 19. G. Owen, Taylor’s Cussion, pt. 1, f. 37v; E178/4779; C66/1746, m. 2d; Worcs. RO, BA81/705:24/647(4).
  • 20. APC, 1597-8, p. 559.
  • 21. SP14/43/107.
  • 22. C66/1478, mm. 8-11.
  • 23. E179/201/241; E112/116/167B.
  • 24. E133/9/1406.
  • 25. C231/1, f. 70.
  • 26. C66/1503, m. 16d; C142/261/25.
  • 27. C93/1/35; 93/1/8.
  • 28. C66/1523, m. 7d; C181/2, ff. 17v, 51.
  • 29. C66/1555, m. 29d.
  • 30. HMC Hatfield, xv. 392; Docs. Connected with Hist. Ludlow ed. R.H. Clive, 259.
  • 31. Cal. Q.S. Pprs. ed. J.W. Willis Bund (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1900), i. xcviii.
  • 32. C181/1 f. 130.
  • 33. N. Tyacke, ‘Puritan Politicians and King James VI and I’, Pols. Religion and Popularity in Early Stuart Britain ed. T. Cogswell, R. Cust and P. Lake, 23-5.
  • 34. Harl. 6166, f. 68v; C54/1998.
  • 35. C142/213/114.
  • 36. CSP Dom. 1601-3, p. 89; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 145.
  • 37. Ibid. i. 145.
  • 38. Manningham Diary ed. R.P. Sorlien, 235.
  • 39. Tyacke, 38-42; SP14/1/68.
  • 40. Tyacke, 24; STAC 5/G2/6, 5/G29/25. For Fletcher’s anti-puritanism, see P. Collinson, Eliz. Puritan Movement, 140, 380, 440.
  • 41. Egerton Pprs. ed. J.P. Collier (Cam. Soc. xii), 372-3.
  • 42. SP38/7, ff. 70, 105v-6, 109, 240; C66/1651.
  • 43. Nash, i. xxviii.
  • 44. STAC 8/201/17, ff. 18, 19.
  • 45. CJ, i. 151a, 187b, 222b.
  • 46. Ibid. 154a, 162a, 236a.
  • 47. Ibid. 178a, 231b, 247b.
  • 48. Ibid. 243b.
  • 49. Ibid. 172a, 197b, 199b, 232b.
  • 50. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 255, 283, 284; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 527; SP14/216/89; E112/132/133. Bromley is omitted from the comm. of the peace for both counties in the 1607-8 patent roll, and in a Liber Pacis dated early 1608. C66/1748; SP14/33.
  • 51. CJ, i. 278b.
  • 52. Ibid. 294b, 296b.
  • 53. Ibid. 311b.
  • 54. Ibid. 293a, 300a, 303a.
  • 55. Ibid. 324b.
  • 56. Ibid, 368b, 374b.
  • 57. Ibid. 393b.
  • 58. Ibid. 410a, 415b, 416b, 444a, 447b, 453b.
  • 59. HMC Hatfield, xi. 307.
  • 60. S. I. Bromelion (1595), sigs.*2-*3; R. Perciuale, Dictionarie in Spanish and English (1599), sig. A2; Survey of Worcs. by Thomas Habington ed. J. Amphlett (Worcs. Hist Soc. 1896-9), ii. 122-3.
  • 61. Lansd. 88, f. 101.
  • 62. APC, 1601-4, pp. 158-9; C54/1721; SP14/19/50.
  • 63. Letters of Philip Gawdy ed. I.H. Jeayes (Roxburghe Club cxlviii), 146; C54/1767; 54/1801; 54/1792; 54/1803; 54/1821; 54/1840; 54/1810; 54/1824; 54/1839; 54/1845; 54/1840; 54/1942/26; 54/1947/14; 54/1998.
  • 64. SP14/19/50; C54/2033; Nash, ii. 32.
  • 65. E112/257/68; C2/Jas.I/S35/13.
  • 66. C2/Jas.I/B5/36; C2/Jas.I/S35/13.
  • 67. PROB 11/127, f.65; Soc. Gen. microfiche WO/REG/95100/1-4; Survey of Worcs. ii. 122-3.