Sir James BASKERVILLE of Eardisley

Born: ABT 1516

Died: 28 Sep 1572

Father: James BASKERVILLE of Eardisley (Sir)

Mother: Elizabeth BREYNTON

Associated with: Elizabeth HARRIS



Married: Catherine DEVEREUX



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

Family and Education

First son of Sir James Baskerville of Eardisley by Elizabeth, da. of John Breynton of Sugwas and of London, bro. of John and Sir ThomasMarried by Nov 1537, Catherine, dau. of Walter Devereux, 3rd Ld. Ferrers of Chartley (later 1st Visct. Hereford), s.p.; at least 1s. illegit. by Elizabeth Harrissuc. fa. 13 Nov. 1546, uncle 21 Jul 1551. Kntd. 24 Nov 1547.

Commr. tenths of spiritualities, bpric. of St. Davidís 1535, sewers, Card., Carm. 1540, oyer and terminer, midland circuit 1547, relief, Herefs. 1550, gaol delivery, Hereford castle 1553, musters, Herefs. 1559; steward or dep. steward, Pemb. by Mar. 1536; steward, Hereford temp. Hen. VIII-1548; sheriff, Herefs. 1550-1, 1564-5; oyer and midland 1547, j.p. Herefs. 1554, q. 1558/59-d.

Following the death of John Rudhall in 1530 Cromwell suggested that his place in the Commons as one of the knights for Herefordshire should be taken by either John Scudamore or James Baskerville. Cromwell seems to have preferred Scudamore and it was he who replaced Rudhall, but when in 1533 the other knight of the shire, Sir Richard Cornwall, also died it may well have been Baskerville who was by-elected. If so, he probably also sat in the Parliament of 1536 in accordance with the Kingís request for the re-election of the previous Members.

Of the two James Baskervilles, father and son, who could have been nominated, and perhaps elected, it is the older man on whom the choice is likely to have fallen. He was by then an established figure in his county and a not unknown one at court, where in 1516 he had been made an esquire of the body extraordinary. Seated at Eardisley, he had over a period of 20 years become a prominent local administrator: a justice of the peace since 1511, he had served on several subsidy commissions and one of gaol delivery, and in 1523 had been pricked sheriff. Eight years later his standing was such that he was included in a list of Ďlords marchersí which began with the Duke of Richmond, and in 1532 he would have been a natural alternative to Scudamore, a man of comparable rank and experience, as a nominee for the vacant knighthood of the shire. That the preference for Scudamore was no reflection on Baskervilleís standing is shown by the knighthood conferred on Baskerville at Anne Boleynís coronation a few months later and by the increasing use made of him in many capacities, including a second term as sheriff, until his death in 1546.

If by 1532 the elder Baskerville was in the midstream of his career, the younger one was only on the brink of his. Although his fatherís knighthood serves in general to distinguish the two in the years after 1533 there remains some risk of confusion between them as there was at the time. What chiefly differentiates them is their separate areas of activity, for whereas the older man continued to operate chiefly in Herefordshire the younger became identified with Pembrokeshire: thus it is at St. Davidís that he is first met with in an official capacity, as a commissioner for tenths of spiritualities, and at Pembroke that he became steward or deputy steward. There can be little doubt that he owed his position in Pembrokeshire to his marriage with his kinswoman Catherine Devereux, for a house and lands in that shire formed one of the bases on which her father, Lord Ferrers, rested his power in South Wales. It was to his father-in-law, Ďnow in these partsí, that Baskerville wrote from Pembroke on 1 Nov 1537 to report the seditious words attributed to a Portuguese shipmaster there. His connexion with Ferrers was also emphasized three months later in a letter of complaint from one Roger Barlow to officials of the augmentations about interference by the authorities of Pembroke in a fair which the writer claimed the right to hold as lessee of a suppressed chapelry: the burgesses of Pembroke, wrote Barlow, had now chosen Baskerville (whom he mistakenly calls Sir James) as mayor so that he might hold the fair, and as Baskerville was Ferrersís son-in-law Ďhe may do what he list, more by force than by justiceí. In 1541 the Council ordered Baskerville and John Ap Philip to store some bells seized at Milford Haven in Pembroke castle.

Baskervilleís career entered a new phase with his fatherís death in 1546. The two had recently worked together in the military sphere, the son leading a contingent of 50 footmen to France in 1544 after his father had been excused service, and both of them being concerned with the musters of the next two years. It was as the new head of the family that Baskerville was returned for Herefordshire to the Parliament of 1547, and in the course of its first session he was knighted. Nothing is known of his part in the proceedings of the Commons or in politics outside the House, but he may be presumed to have welcomed the downfall of the Protector Somerset, as did his father-in-law. Concurrently with his attendance in Parliament went his advancement in local government: he followed his father on the midland commission of oyer and terminer and in the shrievalty, which he obtained in 1550 after being passed over in the previous year, but appears not to have joined the commission of the peace until the following reign. The support which his father-in-law, made Viscount Hereford, gave to Somersetís victorious rival Northumberland lends colour to the statement (made by Browne Willis) that Baskerville sat again for Herefordshire in the Parliament which met in Mar 1553 under Northumberlandís aegis, but this is unconfirmed by evidence.

The remainder of Baskervilleís life was to be devoted to his own and his countyís affairs. In 1564 the Bishop of Hereford rated him a Ďneuter in religioní and he was one of the witnesses to this tepid description of himself to the Council: five years later he signed the submission to the Act of Uniformity. He made his will on 18 Aug 1572. After asking to be buried in the church at Eardisley, he provided for his younger brothers Humphrey and Walter, a ward Anne Riddall (?Rudhale), an illegitimate son Charles, and servants. He left to his brother John his armoury and signet ring and to his Ďvery dear friendí Charles Foxe a gelding, with six mourning rings for distribution among his relatives. As residuary legatee and executor he appointed his cousin Walter Baskerville, and as supervisor Charles Foxe. He died on 28 Sep 1572 and the will was proved early in the following year. He was succeeded in the family property by his brother John.


Edwards, A. J. : BASKERVILLE, James (by 1506-72), of Eardisley, Herefs.

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