Sir Richard WHALLEY of Kirton

Born: 1499, Screveton, Nottinghamshire, England

Died: 23 Nov 1583, Screveton, Nottinghamshire, England

Father: Thomas WHALEY

Mother: Elizabeth STRELLEY

Married 1: Laura BROOKEMAN (dau. of Thomas Brockman and Lora Rochester) 1534


1. Thomas WHALLEY (m. Elizabeth Hatfield)





Married 2: Ursula THWAITES


6. William WHALLEY (m. Barbara Hatfield)

7. Mary WHALLEY (d. 1591) (m.1 Richard Bellingham - m.2 Barnard Whetstone)

8. Gertrude WHALLEY (m. John Neville)

9. Ursula WHALLEY (d. 1573) (m.1 George Foljambe - m.2 Ralph Stansal - m.3 Edmund Slater)

10. Edward WHALLEY

11. Ralph WHALLEY

12. Margaret WHALLEY

13. Nicholas WHALLEY (m. Helen Faireclughe)

14. Eleanor WHALLEY (m. John Zouche)

15. Anne WHALLEY




Married 3: Barbara COPE









The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Born about 1499, was the only son and heir of Thomas Whalley of Kirkton, Nottinghamshire, by his wife Elizabeth (b. 1477 -  d. 1550), daughter of John Strelley of Woodborough and Elizabeth Berroyke. He was no doubt related to the Whalley of Screveton who was physician to Henry VII, and some of whose medical receipts are extant in the Bodleian. He is also said to have been related to Protector Somerset.

J.p. Yorks. (N. Riding) 1538-47, (E. Riding) 1547-50, Notts. 1543, 1554, q. 1558/59; commr. musters, Yorks. (N. Riding) 1539, chantries, Yorks., Hull and York 1546, 1548, relief, Notts., Yorks. (E. Riding) 1550; comptroller, household Thomas Manners. 1st Earl of Rutland Dec. 1540-Nov 1541; receiver, ct. augmentations Yorks. 1545-June 1552; esquire of the body by 1545; jt. keeper, castle and parks at Wressell and bailiwick, E. Riding 1546; chamberlain, household of Duke of Somerset by 1547.

Richard Whalleys great-grandfather held land in Darlaston in Staffordshire but moved to Nottinghamshire after his marriage to the heiress of Thomas Leke of Kirton in that shire, and established his family at Kirton.

He was educated Saint John's College, Cambridge, but does not seem to have taken a degree. After a spell at Cambridge, Whalley entered the household of Sir Thomas Lovell. He was introduced at court, where he ingratiated himself with Henry VIII by his grace and skill in martial exercises. He was one of the young gentlemen mentioned in Lovells will of 10 Dec 1522 and at the funeral in 1524, with Richard Manners and Francis Goodere, and three years later seems to have been employed by Cromwell in business relating to monasteries dissolved by Wolsey. Nothing has been discovered about him from that time until his appearance on the North Riding commission of the peace in 1538: on both this and the commission for the following year his is the last name, so that he was probably a newcomer. It was a namesake, probably of Dalby in the North Riding, who entered Grays Inn in 1529 and died in 1560 after serving for a year as attorney to the council in the north.

Whalley is said to have surveyed religious houses in Leicestershire in 1536 with John Beaumont, but his name does not appear on the relevant commission; he did, however, examine certain lands in that county in which his son Hugh, one of Cromwells servants, was interested and he encouraged him to purchase them. On 9 Jul 1538 he was placed on the commission of the peace for the North Riding of Yorkshire. He also practised law, and was paid twenty shillings for his services as council at the York sessions during the trial of the northern rebels. On 26 Feb 1538/9 he was granted the site of the dissolved Welbeck Abbey and other lands, and on 25 Jul 1546 he obtained the manor of Sibthorp.

In the following year he bought Hardwick Grange and other property in Hardwick, Osberton and Worksop, and acquired the grain rent from the lessee of Gringley rectory. Two years later he wrote to John Gates asking him to further his suit for other properties, to the value of 100 marks a year; although he claimed that these were only mean lands, incapable of improvement, and desirable only because they intermingled with his estates, he considered them valuable enough to send Gates a gold chain and to offer him 100 marks if he could secure the Kings favour. Apparently Whalley was unsuccessful in this case, and it was not until 1545 that he received a further grant, the reversion of the college, wardenry and chantry of St. Mary of Sibthorpe and other property there after the death (which took place in 1550) of Thomas Magnus, archdeacon of the East Riding. In 1546 Whalley bought the rectory and advowson of Car Colston, together with lands in Carlton, Cromwell and Sutton, from John Bellow and Robert Bigod, the large-scale dealers in such properties. The grant of a valuable wardship in Yorkshire in 1548 closes his list of acquisitions until Elizabeths accession.

During the protectorate of Somerset, Whalley appears to have shared with Sir John Thynne the office of steward to the Duke, a position which, coupled with his intriguing disposition, brought him into prominence. On 17 Oct 1547 he was returned to parliament as a member for Scarborough, and he was appointed a commissioner of chantries under the act passed that year; he was also crown receiver for Yorkshire. In Apr 1549 Cecil requested his aid in obtaining the grant of Wimbledon manor, which Queen Catherine Parr had held for her lifetime, but Whalley secured it for himself.

It appears from a letter of Cecils to Sir John Thynne that Cecil expected Whalley to succeed to one or other of Sir Anthony Dennys offices on Dennys death in Sep 1549; if there were any such expectation it was doubtless prevented by Somersets fall a month later.

He was one of the Protector's adherents whom Sir Anthony Wingfield was directed to arrest at Windsor on 10 Oct 1549 but he had on the previous day been sent by Somerset to the Duchess at Beddington, and he used the respite to convey a goodly portion of the Duke and Duchess's goods to his own house at Wimbledon. Somerset instructed Whalley to comfort his wife during the crisis which was to follow.

But Whalley was imprisoned after the coup of Oct 1549. Released on a bond of 1,000 marks in Jan 1550, a few days before the Duke, Whalley was instructed to pay his colleagues in the household: the clerk comptroller, John Raves, later complained that Whalley had embezzled 60 owing to him. With Somersets restoration to his estates in Jun 1550 the Earl of Warwick set out to win over some of his rivals adherents, and with Whalley he seems to have been momentarily successful. In a letter to Cecil of this time Whalley echoed Warwicks charge that Somerset had acted arrogantly and said that the majority of the Council agreed. After exhorting Cecil not to leave Somerset until you so thoroughly persuade him to some better consideration of his proceedings, he went on: and for what his lordship [Warwick] is my very good lord, and hath friendly promised his help in the furtherance of my suit, I heartily pray you fail not to remember the same. A few days later the Council gave Whalley leave to purchase lands of the King valued at 50 a year.

Whalleys defection did not last and within a few months he was intriguing for Somersets restoration to power; in the event of success Somerset is improbably said to have intended creating Whalley earl of Nottingham; a patent is even stated to have been made out. In Feb 1551 the King noted in his journal that Whalley had been arrested and examined for persuading divers nobles of the realm to make the Duke of Somerset protector at the next Parliament: this, the King wrote, was affirmed by Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, who had exposed Whalleys intentions in a debate with him before the Council. Sir Francis Leke was also called as a witness. Whalley was committed to the Fleet but was released in Apr. Six months later Somersets arrest was followed by Whalleys, and Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, was asked for a detailed account of a conversation with him the previous summer. It was probably under the threat of a treason charge that Whalley, a busy headed man anxious to be set on work, became a principal witness against Somerset at the trial on 1 Dec, but after the execution he was kept in the Tower for several months, with occasional visits from his wife and his brother Walter, who was deputizing for him in the receivership of Yorkshire. In Jun 1552 the King wrote that he had confessed how he lent my money upon gain and lucre ... how he bought mine own land with my money, how in his account he had made many false suggestions, how at the time of fall of money he borrowed divers sums of money and had allowance for it after ... the whole sum 2,000. Like Sir John Thynne and Sir Thomas Holcroft, Whalley was deprived of his public office, and all three were released in Jun 1552.

Perhaps as a reward Whalley himself was not brought to trial, but he was forced to surrender his receivership and fined to such an extent that he had to part with Welbeck, Wimbledon, and other manors. On 19 Sep following he was once more sent to the Tower on a charge of peculation.

While in prison Whalley encouraged Richard Eden in his experiments in transmutation. He himself could certainly have done with a new source of wealth for his affairs were in confusion. He had mortgaged three Nottinghamshire manors to his fellow-Member Sir Maurice Denys, but his imprisonment prevented him from redeeming them at the agreed time while Denys protested that the lands were worth 40 a year less than Whalley had claimed: early in Marys reign Denys was still seeking the 3,000 he claimed by default. Whalleys neighbours also seized one of his wards, whose return was ordered by the Council in Jun 1552. The position was made worse by his fourth and longest imprisonment which began in Aug 1552. Ostensibly for peculation, according to Edward VI. Whalley confessed to these misdemeanours, but that his offences were chiefly political seems probable from the fact that he was released immediately upon Queen Mary's accession, by the order which also freed the bishops Cuthbert Tunstall of Durham and Edmund Bonner of London.

Whalley had missed two sessions of Parliament through imprisonment and he may even have been deprived of his seat. On the list of Members revised in preparation for the final session, which opened in Jan 1552, the name of the first Member for Scarborough is given as Edward Whalley. This must be a copyists error, for not only has no one of that name been found who could conceivably have been by-elected to the seat but Richard Whalley, if deprived, would hardly have been replaced by a namesake. Yet the error itself is an ambiguous one. If it lies in the christian name, Richard Whalley is shown to have kept his seat, his enforced absence from it notwithstanding, whereas if the surname is wrong, he must have lost it. Of the two possibilities the first may be judged the more likely, for Whalleys continued, if nominal, Membership would have been consistent with the experience of Somersets other followers in the House.

Whalley was never again of political account, but he was to resume his interrupted career in Parliament. Unable to regain his receivership in Yorkshire, he was no longer a justice of the peace there and had to look for a seat elsewhere. His election to the Parliament of 2 Apr 1554 for East Grinstead, a duchy of Lancaster borough, he probably owed to his association with Sir Thomas Holcroft who was acting with the Earl of Arundel early in 1554 and himself sat on this occasion for the earls borough of Arundel. As steward of the duchy lands in Sussex, the Earl could have procured Whalley his seat, with the chancellor of the duchy, Sir Robert Rochester, perhaps agreeable because Whalleys first wife had probably been a kinswoman of his. Whalleys final achievement was his knighthood of the shire for Nottinghamshire in the next two Parliaments. To his own standing in the county, where he concentrated his energies after withdrawing from Yorkshire, he was probably able to add the support of Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, whose father he had served and who was again on friendly terms with Whalley after having testified against him in 1551. Whalley can scarcely have sought election out of enthusiasm for the Marian Restoration, for Strype records that during Queen Marys dismal days he entertained the scholar William Ford, a great enemy of papism in Oxford, at his home at Welbeck. He is not likely to have overlooked the degree of financial protection which Membership conferred by way of freedom from arrest for debt, for his financial embarrassment, which his plethora of children did nothing to relieve, outlasted his political misadventures.

It was probably to relieve his position that in 1559 Whalley seems to have contemplated the sale of Welbeck abbey: a licence to alienate the property to a London clothworker was apparently not used, perhaps because about the same time he negotiated the provision of 1,000 tons of wood for Berwick from his forest there. He continued to supply large quantities of timber to the crown; in 1565 the Queen had 3,000 tons of it in Whalleys charge, much of it waiting at the coast for shipment to Berwick. On 3 Jul 1561, however, Elizabeth granted him the manors of Whatton, Hawksworth, and Towton.

By the time he made his will in Oct 1583 he had evidently made plans for the settlement of his property. The lease of the manor of Welbeck devolved upon his son-in-law Sir John Zouche according to indentures which Whalley and his son Thomas made with Zouche, who entered into bonds to perform Whalleys will. Whalley specified the manner in which his daughter Anne was to receive the 300 he had previously assigned to her and referred to a further indenture by which he had granted to James Couper and William Poule his movable goods, chattels, leases and jewels for a purpose specified in the indenture, saving the third part reserved to the use of his wife and executrix, which she was to use to pay the wages of household servants, to fulfil bequests and if possible to augment the portions he had assigned to three of his daughters. Whalley died on 23 Nov 1583 and was buried in Screveton church. Thomas Whalley had died shortly before his father who was therefore succeeded by his grandson Richard, a knight of the shire in the Parliament of 1597, married as his second wife, Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell, and was father of Colonel Edward Whalley. Robert Recorde dedicated to Whalley his "Grounde of Artes".

He is said to have been very rich when he died at the age of eighty-four on 23 Nov 1583. He was buried in Screveton Church, where his widow, Barbara Cope, raised a fine alabaster monument to his memory. His effigy shows him recumbent in his armor, with long beard, hands raised with palms together, his head resting upon his crest, and his feet upon a whale. Around the verge of the altar stone, is written: "Here lieth Richard Whaley, Esq., who lived all the age of 84 years, and ended his life November 23, 1583". At the west end of the altar on which his sculptured likeness rests are the letters T. W., with the shield of arms and crest, and the effigy of his eldest son kneeling. Under the above, and directly over his effigy are the following lines in gold letters embossed: Behold his wives were number three, Two of them died in right good fame, The third this tomb erected she, To him that well deserved the same, Both for his life and Godly end, Which all that knew must needs commend, Since time brings all things to an end, And they that know not yet may see, A worthy Whaley too was he. Since time brings all to an end, Let us ourselves apply, And learn by this one faithful friend, That here in tomb doth lie, To fear the Lord and eke behold, The fairest is but dust and mould, For as we are, so once was he, And as he is, so we must be.


Black, C. J. / Swales, R. J.W.: WHALLEY, Richard (1498/99-1583), of Kirton, Welbeck and Sibthorpe, Notts. and Wimbledon, Surr.

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