WRAY, Edward (1589-1658), of Rycote, Oxon.; formerly of Whitehall

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. 9 Nov. 1589, 3rd s. of Sir William Wray, 1st bt.*, of Glentworth, Lincs. and his 1st w. Lucy, da. of Sir Edward Montagu† of Boughton, Northants.; bro. of Sir John*; half-bro. of Sir Christopher*.1 educ. Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1602; L. Inn 1605.2 m. 27 Mar. 1622,3 Elizabeth (bur. 28 Nov. 1645),4 suo jure Baroness Norreys, da. and h. of Francis, 1st earl of Berkshire, 1da.5 d. 20 Mar. 1658.6

Offices Held

Esq. of the body by 1616;7 groom of the bedchamber 1618-22.8

Commr. subsidy, Oxon. 1641-2,9 militia 1651;10 j.p. 1650-d, Berks. 1650-d.11


A younger son in a large family of puritan outlook, Wray was described as ‘the pattern of virtue’ by Orlando Gibbons, who dedicated to him his Fantasies in 1620.12 He was also, as the letter-writer John Chamberlain noted, the ‘innermost friend’ of George Villiers, later duke of Buckingham, who secured for him a footing at Court and planned to provide him with a rich wife.13 Early in 1621, presumably as a result of Buckingham’s intervention, a match was arranged between Wray and Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Lord Norreys, who was created earl of Berkshire. It was agreed that Wray would acquire most of Norreys’ land and be made a baron.14 However, the match ‘found some rub’, and after Berkshire killed himself in January 1622 Buckingham’s brother Christopher Villiers declared an interest in wooing the heiress for himself.15 Two months later, however, with the connivance of her uncle, the earl of Oxford, Elizabeth Norreys eloped with Wray, ‘not so much (as is thought) for the love of the one as to be rid of the other’.16 Reminding Buckingham of his original recommendation of Wray, Elizabeth begged the favourite to ‘commiserate his estate, as you do the fall of all mankind, for I was the Eve, and he was the Adam’,17 but Wray was put out of the bedchamber, imprisoned for nearly a year and deprived of a grant of Irish fines.18 On his release he settled on his wife’s property at Rycote.19

Wray was returned returned for Oxfordshire in 1625 with his wife’s cousin, Sir Richard Wenman*. He took little part in the Commons’ proceedings, being appointed only to the committee to manage a conference on 23 June about a joint address for a general fast.20 At the end of July, after the session was adjourned to avoid the plague in London, the king and Court visited Rycote.21 There is no mention of Wray in the records of the Oxford sitting.

In 1630 Wray compounded for knighthood at £50.22 He was described as ‘truly generous’ in the dedication to a sermon published in 1635 by his godson and protégé Edward Rainbow;23 but two years later George Garrard* reported his appearance before the Privy Council to answer complaints by his wife ‘of his wasting his woods, letting of leases, letting her want means, living from her, and running ill courses’. He was ‘well chidden’ and ordered to make her an allowance of £1,000 a year.24 Although he took shelter in the royalist garrison at Oxford during the Civil War he insisted under threat of sequestration in 1651 that he had done so unwillingly. This may have been believed, for he held local office under the Commonwealth.25 He died intestate on 20 Mar. 1658, and was buried at Wytham on the Berkshire border, just over two miles from Oxford.26 The Norreys title and estates passed to his grandson James Bertie, later 1st earl of Abingdon, who later wielded considerable interest in Oxfordshire’s elections.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C. Dalton, Wrays of Glentworth, 177-99.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
  • 3. CP, ix. 648.
  • 4. Coll. Top. et. Gen. vii. 366.
  • 5. Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 295;
  • 6. Gent. Mag. lxvii. 654.
  • 7. LC5/50/171; Lansd. 273, f. 28v.
  • 8. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 161, 429; AO15/3, p. 7.
  • 9. SR, v. 87, 154.
  • 10. Oxf. Council Acts (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xcv), 402.
  • 11. C213/6, p. 19; C193/13/5.
  • 12. STC 11825; Music and Letters, xxxvii. 349.
  • 13. R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 117; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 161.
  • 14. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 334.
  • 15. Ibid. ii. 395, 423; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, ii. 301, 304.
  • 16. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 429.
  • 17. Cabala Sive Scrinia Sacra, 305-6.
  • 18. CPR Ire. Jas. I, p. 443; APC, 1623-5, p. 456; CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 366, 492.
  • 19. VCH Oxon. v. 62, vi. 95, 315, 341, 348; vii. 4, 42-3, 167, 172, 190.
  • 20. Procs. 1625, p. 228.
  • 21. APC, 1625-6, p. 124.
  • 22. E407/55, f. 145.
  • 23. Labour Forbidden, and Commanded, STC 20603.
  • 24. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, ii. 142.
  • 25. HMC Ancaster, 426; CCAM, 237, 613, 1221-2.
  • 26. Gent. Mag. lxvii. 654; Wood’s Life and Times ed. A. Clark (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xix), 240.