Sir Henry CAPELL, Sheriff of Essex

Born: ABT 1514, Rayne, Essex, England

Died: 22 Jun 1588

Father: Edward CAPELL of Raineshall (Sir)

Mother: Anne PELHAM

Married 1: Catherine MANNERS AFT 16 Aug 1543


1. Arthur CAPELL (Sir Sheriff of Hertfordshire)

2. Frances CAPELL (b. 1548, Hadham, Hertford, England)

3. William CAPELL

4. Edward CAPELL (b. 4 Mar 1558)

5. John CAPELL (b. 2 Jun 1560)

6. Gamaliel CAPELL

7. Agnes CAPELL (b. 1 Jan 1562)

8. Frances CAPELL

9. Anne CAPELL

10. Robert CAPELL (b. 19 Feb 1567)

11. Mary CAPELL

Married 2: Mary BROWNE

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

First son of Sir Edward Capell by Anne, dau. of Sir William Pelham of Loughton, Essex. Married first Catherine, dau. of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland; and secondly Mary, dau. of Sir Anthony Browne, wid. of Lord John Grey of Pirgo, s.p. Suc. family 19 Mar 1577. j.p. Essex from 1575, q. c.1583, j.p.q. Herts. from 1577; sheriff, Essex 1579-80, Herts, 1585-6.

Only scattered references to him survive. In Mar 1556 he and his wife brought unspecified charges against the wife of a London innkeeper. In 1561 his father conveyed to him the manor of Rayne in Essex. In 1588 Henry Capell appointed his wife Anne Manners sole executrix and residuary legatee, he left several leases and all his household stuff at London. He bequeathed to his brother and heir Edward the contents of his houses at Rayne and Stebbing, Essex, and Little Hadham, Hertfordshire, and appointed him, together with the Marquess of Winchester, overseer. By 1563 Sir Edward was one of the leading gentry in Hertfordshire, and Henry, as his heir and a brother-in-law of the Earl of Rutland, was prominent enough to become junior knight of the shire to Sir Ralph Sadler.

Capt. of 500 footmen on Scottish campaign 1560; the Duke of Norfolk was not impressed by him as a commander, telling Cecil that Capell's company never went into the field 100 strong. The instructions drawn up in May for the attack on Leith include ‘Master Capell’ as one of those to ‘keep the field’, not participating in the first or second assault. He or another of his family was at Berwick in October 1564, but the name does not appear in later Scottish records.

Towards the end of his life Capell became involved in an expensive lawsuit over the manor of Tannis, in Hertfordshire, which his brother-in-law Edward Halfhide had leased to him. About Nov 1583 the matter came before the Star Chamber, Capell claiming that he now found that the manor was subject to a mortgage, apparently arranged after the lease to himself. No result of the case survives. One of the latest references found to him is his signature as sheriff, in Jun 1586, to a letter complaining about abuses of purveyance in Hertfordshire.

Died 22 Jun 1588; his will, drawn up less than a week before he died, was proved 13 Jul following. The preamble expressed his faith that ‘Almighty God through the merits of Christ Jesu my redeemer and saviour hath prepared for my soul a resting place in his kingdom’. He left annuities of £40 and £20 to his younger sons, and asked the eldest, Arthur, the sole executor, to see that they were promptly paid. The ready money in the house was to be equally divided between Arthur and his step-mother Mary, who also received valuable bequests of plate and a life interest in the Essex property. Will mentions a marriage settlement with Lord Montague by which Capell's second wife received Rayne and lands in Bocking, Braintree, Panfield and Felstead. In addition to his Hertfordshire and Essex estates he owned the manors of Icklingham Barners in Suffolk, Great and Little Fransham, Norfolk, and Wrington, Somerset. £8 was to be distributed to the poor of Much and Little Hadham and two other Hertfordshire parishes.

Only an Essex inquisition post mortem survives, taken in Nov 1588. Some sources says that his daughters Frances and Anne were twins. The first married John Shurley, MP, and the last to Robert Chester and Thomas Westrow. Mary Capell married Humphrey Mildmay. His eldest son Arthur became Sheriff of Hertfordshire, and the younger, Gamaliel, was a member of Parliament.

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