Sir Maurice BERKELEY of Bruton, Knight

Born: ABT 1505 / 1514, Bruton, Somerset, England

Died: 11 Aug 1581

Father: Richard BERKELEY of Stoke Gifford

Mother: Elizabeth CONINGSBY

Married 1: Catherine BLOUNT AFT 1541 / BEF 1547

Children:

1. Henry BERKELEY

2. Edward BERKELEY

3. Francis BERKELEY

4. Gertrude BERKELEY

5. Elizabeth BERKELEY

6. Margaret BERKELEY

7. Frances BERKELEY

8. Anne BERKELEY

Married 2: Elizabeth SANDS (dau. of Anthony Sands) 1562

Children:

9. Robert BERKELEY

10. John BERKELEY

11. Frances BERKELEY


Sir Maurice Berkeley of Bruton, Somerset, son of Richard Berkeley of Stoke by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Humphrey Coningsby, Lc.j. married 1st by 1547 Catherine (d. Mar. 1560), daughter of William Blount, 4th Lord Mountjoy, widow of John Champernowne of Modbury (d. 1541/2), and had 3 sons and 5 daughters; married 2nd 1562, Elizabeth, daughter of Anthony Sands of Throwley, Kent and had 2 sons and 1 daughter. Maurice was knighted on 30 Sep 1544.

Maurice Berkeley was a servant in the household of Cromwell by 1538, of Queen Catherine Parr 1543; Gentleman Usher of the Chamber 1539; Gentleman by 1550; keeper Northwood Park, Somerset 1541 until his death; constable, Berkeley Castle, Gloucester 1544; chief steward of lands of Bath abbey 1544; chief banner-bearer of England 27 Sep 1545; commissioner of musters in Somerset 1546; chanteries, Berks., Bucks., New Windsor 1553; j.p.q. Somerset 1558/59- until his death; sheriff, Somerset and Dorset 1567/8.

The Berkeleys of Stoke formed a junior branch of the noble family and Maurice, a younger son, had no certain or easy way to the success at court that he achieved. The marriage of his mother to Sir John Fitzjames, chief justice of the King's bench, gave him prospects for a career in the legal profession, and although there is no evidence of him being at an inn of court, he was trained in the office of the prothonotary of the common pleas. By 1535 his stepfather thought fit for the post of clerk of the assize on his circuit, but Cromwell wrote to Fitzjames asking this his own nominee should be given this post. Fitzjames probably concurred and, in return, Cromwell took Maurice Berkeley into his own household. Berkeley clearly became one of Cromwell's favorites and at his instance was given a number of leases and offices in the lands of Glastonbury abbey.

During 1539 Berkeley entered the royal household and soon received marks of royal favor. In Nov 1544, on his return from France, where he had commanded a troop of light horse and been knighted by the King, he received the constableship of Berkeley Castle, and in the following year he succeeded his elder brother as chief banner-bearer of England.

Although in Jun 1553 he signed the device settling the crown on Lady Jane Grey, Berkeley seems to have played no further part in the succession crisis.

After the collapse of Wyatt's rebellion early in 1554 he took Wyatt prisoner, but as a convinced Protestant he had no part in politics or administration under Mary.

The accession of Elizabeth, and his marriage in 1562 to one of her gentlewomen, Elizabeth Sands, were to bring Berkeley fresh influence both at court and in Somerset, and a notable extension of his parliamentary career stretching over nearly 20 years. He died on 11 Aug 1581.
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