LIVELEY, Edward (1586-1650), of Durham, co. Dur.; later of Croxton, Cambs.

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

bap. 10 July 1586, 3rd s. of Edward Liveley (d.1605), Camb. Univ. Regius professor of Hebrew and Catherine, da. of Thomas Lorkin, Camb. Univ. Regius professor of physic. educ. Trin., Camb. c.1601. ?unm. bur. 7 Sept. 1650.1

Offices Held

Sec. to Richard Neile, bp. of Durham (1617-28) and Winchester (1628-32), and abp. of York (1632-40) by 1622-?1640;2 collector, Palatinate Benevolence, Durham 1622;3 constable, Durham Castle ?by 1622-8;4 freeman, Berwick-upon-Tweed 1624-d.5


Liveley was born into a markedly academic environment. His father was a distinguished biblical scholar, serving as Regius professor of Hebrew at Cambridge for 30 years, while his maternal grandfather held a chair in medicine at the same university. Educated at his father’s old college, Trinity, Liveley subsequently entered the service of Richard Neile, one of the most prominent and controversial anti-Calvinists in the early Stuart Church. Employed as Neile’s secretary at Durham, he was also placed in charge of the castle there, the bishop’s official residence. From 1620 Neile’s duties included supervision of the rebuilding of Berwick-upon-Tweed’s bridge, and within two years Liveley was acting as the bishop’s agent on this government-funded project. On at least four occasions between 1622 and 1625, he and Sir Robert Jackson*, a Berwick alderman, were entrusted with collecting substantial sums of money procured by Neile from the Exchequer.6

In January 1624 Liveley was returned to the Commons as Berwick’s junior Member, again in partnership with Jackson. It is unclear whether he was nominated by Neile, or simply approached by the borough. He received no wages for this service, and apparently took his oath as a freeman in London. Liveley was not recorded as speaking, but was named to five legislative committees, whose subjects included the office of clerk of the market, and the nuisance caused by brewhouses in London and Westminster (14 Apr. and 19 May). He predictably took a particular interest in the bill to enfranchise county Durham (25 Mar.), attending both meetings of its committee. On 12 Apr. he was appointed to help present to the Commons the names of recusants in the same county.7

Berwick’s corporation apparently offered Liveley a seat in 1626, but it was not until 1628 that he again agreed to represent the borough. On this occasion he was also deputed to swear in his fellow Member, Sir Edmund Sawyer, as a Berwick freeman.8 Liveley failed to attract any committee nominations during the 1628 Parliament, but his identity as secretary to the now notorious Bishop Neile made his second experience in the House an uncomfortable one. On 14 June he attempted to defend his employer’s religious orthodoxy, but his claim that Neile had sworn ‘in verbo sacerdotis et fide Christiani that never line of Arminianism ever came within his study’ was greeted with disbelief. During the recess Neile arranged a pardon for several anti-Calvinists, among them Richard Montagu, who had recently been denounced by the Commons. When news of this development broke during the 1629 session, Liveley was left completely exposed. On 7 Feb. he was invited to comment on one of the draft pardons, which had allegedly been altered by Neile, whereupon he had to admit that the annotations were ‘part his lord’s hand and part his own hand by his lord’s command’. His honesty earned him a commendation from Sir Nathaniel Rich, but understandably he kept a low profile for the remainder of the session.9

Although Liveley remained in Neile’s service after the bishop’s translation to Winchester diocese in 1628, and then to the archdiocese of York four years later, he retained some contact with the Durham area through his elder brother John, who held the benefice of Kelloe. Indeed, he acted on John’s behalf in 1634 during a tithe dispute with Sir Henry Vane*.10 Liveley acted as godparent to two of Neile’s grandchildren in 1639 and 1640, while in the latter year the archbishop bequeathed him 80oz. of gilt plate in his will. Neile also requested him to continue to work for his family, but it is not known whether Lively complied.11 By 1650 he had settled at Croxton, Cambridgeshire, where he owned some property. Liveley drew up his will on 22 June that year, appointing his brother John as his executor, and making bequests amounting to £767, of which £90 was donated to the poor of Croxton and another Cambridgeshire village. He left his lands to a nephew, and some Lincolnshire tithes to an old friend. Liveley died three months later, and was buried at Croxton. His will was disputed, but upheld by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 22 Nov. 1651.12

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Ath. Cant. ii. 409; Oxford DNB, xxxiv. 47, 457; Al. Cant.
  • 2. Berwick RO, B1/8, p. 133; A.W. Foster, ‘A Biography of Abp. Richard Neile’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1978), p. 242.
  • 3. SP14/156/15.
  • 4. Durham Cathedral Regs. 1609-1896 ed. G.J. Armytage (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxiii), 2, n. 9.
  • 5. Berwick RO, B1/8, p. 163; B1/10, f. 205.
  • 6. Al. Cant.; APC, 1619-21, p. 254; Berwick RO, B1/8, pp. 133, 146, 166-7, 185.
  • 7. Berwick RO, B1/8, pp. 162-3; CJ, i. 705b, 749b, 763a, 766a; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 210.
  • 8. Berwick RO, B1/8, p. 198; B1/9, ff. 24v-5.
  • 9. CD 1628, iv. 321; CD 1629, pp. 50, 179.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1634-5, pp. 247-8.
  • 11. Foster, 242.
  • 12. PROB 11/213, ff. 294-5v; Al. Cant.