Robert FERRERS (MP)

Born: BEF 1528

Died: BET 1572/76

Married: Mary WANTON (dau. of Thomas Wanton of London) BEF 1568


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

Robert Ferrers or Farrar claimed gentle birth, but his parentage and upbringing have not been traced. As he became a freeman of Lincoln on 3 Nov 1552, he may have lived at nearby Skellingthorpe where a family named Farrar, with London connexions, was settled at the beginning of the following century, but his admission was doubtless the work of Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, whose secretary Ferrers had then been for three years, and was meant to qualify Ferrers for election to Parliament.

Early in 1553 Rutland asked Lincoln for the nomination of one of its Members. The common council agreed and gave the Earl a barrel of claret, but went on to decide that no one except the recorder should thereafter be elected unless he was an alderman. If Rutland knew of this rider he chose to disregard it and the city proved unable to enforce it. The names of the Lincoln Members in the Parliament of Mar 1553 are lost, but Ferrers was almost certainly one of them as he was to be in all but one of the Parliaments called before the Earlís death.

In Dec 1557 there was a hitch. The common council had already acted on Rutlandís nomination and chosen Ferrers to sit with the recorder, George St. Poll, when the Earl produced a fresh nominee in Francis Kempe, a servant of Chancellor Heath. Although there is nothing to suggest that Rutland was displeased with his secretary, he may have deferred to official prompting, for Ferrers had twice shown himself a dissentient in the House: he had Ďstood for the true religioní in Maryís first Parliament and had voted against one of the governmentís bills in her fourth. A more prosaic explanation would be that Rutland, who was heavily involved in the war, could not dispense with Ferrers: when after the fall of Calais the Earl was sent to Dover to prepare for the expected invasion Ferrers went with him.

With the support of Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, Anthony Thorold became the Member of the Parliament of England for Grantham in 1558. When the writ for the 1559 parliamentary election reached Lincoln, its recorder and former Member, George St. Poll, was dying, and the city decided first to return the Earl of Rutlandís nominee, Robert Ferrers, then Robert Monson whom they probably had in mind as their new recorder. In the event, by 16 Jan St. Poll had died, and Rutland had intervened to impose on them Thorold both as recorder and MP, in this way securing both seats for his nominees. In reply the Lincoln corporation snubbed Rutland by appointing Monson and Christopher Wray as their legal advisers.

Under Elizabeth he was to sit twice more for Lincoln, and after Rutlandís widow, Bridget Hussey, married Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, he was found a seat at Tavistock.

Ferrers died before the second session of the 1572 Parliament: a by-election return replacing him for Tavistock is dated 30 Jan 1576.

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