Born: ABT 1547

Died: 20 Mar 1608

Father: Michael STANHOPE (Sir)

Mother: Anne RAWSON

Fourth son of Sir Michael Stanhope, and bro. of JohnMichaelThomas and Edward Stanhope. Educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. scholar 1560, BA 1563, minor fellow 1564, MA 1566, major fellow 1569, LlD 1575; incorp. MA Oxon 1566, suppl. DCL 1578. unm. KB 25 Jul 1603.

Prebendary of Botevant, York 1572-91; adv. Doctorsí Commons 1575; master in Chancery 1577; chancellor, diocese of London 1579; eccles. commr. from 1587, commr. fines office 1589; rector of Terrington, Norf. 1589; prebendary of Kentish town in St. Paulís 1591; receiver of petitions, Parliaments from 1593; commr. Ďtouching Jesuits and other disguised personsí Mar. 1595, for Chancery 1593, oyer and terminer, London Feb 1594, to survey eccles. cts., London diocese 1594, piracy 1601, to try Raleigh and others for treason 1603, to examine books printed without authority 1603; jt. vicar-gen. Canterbury 27 Jun 1605.


Sir Michael Stanhope, the brother-in-law and partisan of Edward Seymour, named two of his sons Edward, perhaps as a tribute to his patron. As both were lawyers, and both sat in Parliament, there has been, from the time of Strype onwards, a tendency to confuse them; and the confusion has been made worse by the attribution in a heraldsí visitation of the elder brotherís wife Susan to the younger brother, who did not in fact marry.

Edward Stanhope the younger was born at Hull, probably during the period of Sir Michaelís governorship of that town, 1547-9. Early deprived of his father, who was executed in Feb 1552, the boy went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where, as he was to record gratefully in his will, he studied Ďfrom infancyí and lived for many years at its charge as scholar and fellow. The college, too, was in its infancy, but it already boasted eminent names. During Stanhopeís years there it had Robert Beaumont and John Whitgift as masters, and among its fellows, until his expulsion in 1572, was Thomas Cartwright; while its undergraduates included Edward Coke and Robert, Earl of Essex. What part, if any, Stanhope played in the collegeís struggle with its puritan element is not known; but his later record as a servant of the established church suggests that he was repelled rather than attracted by such radicalism.

The favour of William Cecil, which Stanhope perhaps owed to his parentage, was doubtless strengthened by his membership of the university over which Cecil presided as chancellor; and it was to Cecil that he, and his mother on his behalf, were to look for advancement. It was Cecil who secured his first preferment, to the prebend of Botevant, worth £20 a year, as a means of enabling him to study the civil law. With his appointment in 1577 as a master in Chancery he began a crowded and prosperous career. His steady accumulation of offices was, indeed, remarkable. On Aylmerís appointment as bishop of London, Stanhope became his chancellor, and when in 1579 and 1583 there was a prospect of Aylmerís translation his mother besought Burghley to see to it that her son kept the office; Aylmer was to retain the see until his death in 1594, and Stanhope the chancellorship, under Aylmerís successors, until his own death in 1608. In 1605 he achieved a yet higher office, the vicar generalship of Canterbury, under Archbishop Bancroft. These ecclesiastical appointments Stanhope supplemented in 1589, again through Burghleyís favour, by a commissionership in the fines office.

Stanhopeís place in episcopal jurisdiction, and his membership from 1587 of the ecclesiastical commission, made him an active and prominent defender of the Elizabethan church against its critics. He shared the odium which attached to Aylmerís, and later Bancroftís, harrying of the puritans in the diocese, and became one of the targets of Martin Marprelateís abuse. Among those against whom he proceeded was his old Trinity colleague Cartwright; he was one of the commissioners before whom Cartwright appeared in May 1591, although on that occasion he remained silent, perhaps for old timesí sake. Stanhope also had much to do with recusancy, both as a diocesan official and as royal commissioner, while a variety of other matters fell to his attention at the instance of the Privy Council. In Dec 1599 he was to incur, with Bancroft, the Queenís displeasure at the sympathy shown for the Earl of Essex in the London pulpit and press; he defended himself and his master in a long letter to his brother Sir John, treasurer of the chamber, through whom the admonition had reached them.

Stanhopeís involvement in secular politics was, however, chiefly due to his family connexion with the Seymours. He certainly owed his two appearances in Parliament to his first cousin Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. Hertford may have had a particular reason for choosing Stanhope, among his various clients, to sit in 1584 and 1586. In those Parliaments two of the Earlís lawyer-servants, Roger Puleston and Richard Wheeler, sat for Great Bedwyn, another Seymour borough; and this concentration of the familyís legal resources in the Commons suggests that the Earl had some private business to promote there. Although there is no evidence that he did so, and thus no clue to what the business might have been, the two most likely preoccupations were the vexed question of his sonsí legitimacy and the complications of his landed estate; on the first of these, in particular, the support of a prominent civilian would have been valuable. That Stanhope carried some weight in the House, at least on his re-election in 1586, appears from his inclusion in two important committees, that of 4 Nov 1586 on the fate of Mary Queen of Scots, and that of 8 Mar 1587 on ecclesiastical discipline and education. In the last four Parliaments of the reign Stanhope was active in carrying bills between the two Houses.

It was the legitimacy question which was to bring Stanhope a few years later into discomfiture and even danger. In 1592 he and his brother Edward had borne witness to the legitimacy of Hertfordís second son Thomas Seymour, who had been born in the Tower after his father and mother, Catherine Grey, had been sent there and their marriage declared invalid. When, late in 1595, this tendentious transaction came to the Queenís notice, it revived memories of that 30 year-old scandal and led to the committal, although for a few days only, of the Earl himself and of his two cousins in the same prison. It is to be presumed that Whitgift, to whom the business was referred, protected his chancellor from more serious consequences. The matter was to crop up once again in Stanhopeís lifetime, when in 1604 the descent of the Seymour lands came into question and a bill about them was brought into the Commons. It was then urged that Stanhope should be allowed no part in the affair in view of his past record in it.

The occasional hazards of Stanhopeís career did not extend to its material side. To the combined remuneration of his various offices he was able to add the income from two prebends and a parsonage as well as from some landed investment; and since his outgoings were modest he became a wealthy man. There is some trace of moneylendingóas early as 1585 the Earl of Arundel owed him £380, and later Sir William Sandys was bound to him for £800óbut whether he made a practice of it is not known. His refusal, in Aug 1596, to contribute towards the setting out of ships for the Queenís service on the ground that he had paid subsidy elsewhere was perhaps no more than legitimate carefulness, and his New Yearís gift at Christmas 1602 to Sir Robert Cecil was doubtless a prudent outlay. By contrast, the gift during his lifetime of £100 for a library at Trinity bespeaks an affection for the college and a love of learning which, brightly as they were to glow again in his will and in his authorship of a college history, redeem his reputation from the charge of unrelieved material and intellectual self-centredness.

Stanhopeís personality and interests reveal themselves most clearly in his will, a document (originally written in his own hand on 23 pages) which combines a profession of the worthlessness of good works with the meticulous exposition of his own testamentary ones. The will was made in 1602, when Stanhope was approaching 55. It directed that, if he died in London, he was to be buried in the north aisle of St. Paulís and that his epitaph should be placed on the same wall as that which bore Linacreís. (This was duly carried out, the inscription being composed by William Camden). He desired the attendance at the funeral of his particular friends and colleagues Drs. Daniel Dunn, Gibson and Farrand; gave mourning garments to his relatives and, among others, the archbishop, the bishop, George Paule, 40 poor men, and all his own servants; and made provision for a godly preacher. He left £20 for the relief of the poor, but not of vagrants; £40 each to the prisons of Ludgate, Newgate, and the two Counters, for distribution to their prisoners according to elaborate directions; £200 for the employment of the poor in his native town of Hull, and the same amount towards Whitgiftís college at Croydon; and bequests to Terrington, Norfolk, and Kentish Town, Middlesex, where he held a parsonage and a prebend respectively. His largest benefaction was reserved for his old college, to which, after his parents, he owed Ďall which I have since been enabled untoí. Of his three bequests to Trinity, one was of £40 for 20 poor sub-sizers having their names in the buttery book; a second of £700 for a librarian and assistant, this being accompanied by detailed instructions on the management of the library; and the third of 15 manuscripts and more than 300 books, including a polyglot bible. The residue of the estate he divided among his numerous kin.

Stanhope died 20 Mar 1608.


Bindoff, S. T.: Edward Stanhope II

to Bios Page to Family Page
to Peerage Page to Home Page