BRADBOURNE, Sir Humphrey (by 1513-81), of Bradbourne and Lea, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1513, 1st s. of John Bradbourne of Bradbourne and Lea by Isabella, da. and coh. of Richard Cotton of Ridware, Staffs. m. Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Turville of Newhall, Leics., 6s. 4da. suc. fa. 12 Apr. 1523. Kntd. 18 May 1544.1

Offices Held

J.p. Derbys. 1538, 1541-d., q. 1558/9, 1579; commr. musters, Derbys. 1546, in 1573, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; other commissions 1540-?d.; sheriff, Notts. and Derbys. 1563-4, Derbys. 1573-4.2


The Bradbourne family derived its name from the manor of Bradbourne, near Ashbourne, which it had acquired in the early 13th century and was to hold for nearly 400 years. Despite its antiquity the family appears to have made little impact on Derbyshire affairs before Humphrey Bradbourne’s time. A minor on the death of his father, Bradbourne succeeded to an inheritance consisting of the manor of Bradbourne and other property in the west of Derbyshire, as well as the manor of Hough and a small amount of other land in Staffordshire, the whole being valued at £99 a year. It is not known who purchased his wardship or when he had livery of these lands. His appointment in 1538 to the Derbyshire commission of the peace marks the beginning of his career in shire administration, and six years later he was called upon to supply 20 men for the Earl of Hertford’s expedition against Scotland. He himself served as a captain and was knighted by Hertford, being the only member of his family so honoured. In 1557 he was one of the Derbyshire gentlemen who certified to the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury the number of men each could supply for service on the borders, his own quota being 12 billmen and three bowmen.3

Although he remained a justice of the peace for over 40 years, for most of this time Bradbourne was not of the quorum, probably because of his religion. In the report to the Privy Council on the justices of Derbyshire compiled in 1564, he was named as one of the two ‘adversaries to religion’ in the shire. His disaffection is more likely to have been of a Catholic than of a Puritan kind, since Henry Vernon, the other justice so described, was a Catholic whereas Richard Blackwell, whom the signatories recommended for dismissal, was seemingly a Puritan and was defended by the bishop. Bradbourne was an executor of Vernon’s will of 1568. Although his religion had not prevented him from serving two terms as sheriff, it was only in his later years that he was entrusted with such special commissions as the investigation of 1578 into local animosity towards (Sir) John Zouche II.4

It was with Sir Thomas Cokayne that Bradbourne had sat in his first Parliament, that of March 1553 called under the aegis of the Duke of Northumberland: a man of his conservative views can hardly have felt at home in such an assembly. He would have found more congenial his next and last Parliament, the fourth of Mary’s reign, although the manoeuvres of the opposition would probably have offended him and it is not surprising that his name is absent from the list of them. His fellow-knight in that Parliament, Vincent Mundy, was to be one of those commissioned in 1556 and 1557 to investigate a dispute, which had already reached the Star Chamber, between Bradbourne and his cousin Aden Beresford over a brook which ran through their adjacent properties. Bradbourne was involved in a number of other suits in both Chancery and Star Chamber, including one in the reign of Henry VIII when he was charged with enclosing common land. In February 1557 he appeared before the barons of the Exchequer to meet an accusation of maintaining retainers in blue livery who accompanied him to the local sessions of the peace and the assizes. The case was brought by Thomas Gravenor, a husbandman of Bentley: Bradbourne asked for trial by jury but no further process is recorded.5

Bradbourne died on 17 Apr. 1581, not without suspicion of foul play. Three days after his death the Privy Council ordered two Derbyshire gentlemen to investigate a ‘dangerous practice taken in hand by certain lewd persons, whereby is intended the destruction of the person of Sir Humphrey Bradbourne, knight, and conveying away of his goods’. The upshot of the inquiry was a charge of murder against one Richard Haughton, a yeoman of Lea, for allegedly having smeared Bradbourne’s right leg with an ointment containing poison which, after a lapse of three years, proved fatal. Whether Haughton was found guilty has not been established. By his will of 8 Oct. 1580 Bradbourne had appointed as sole executrix his wife Elizabeth and as overseer John Manners. His tomb of alabaster with ‘pictures of myself, my wife and all my children ... set thereupon’, and the coats of arms of himself and his wife, still survives in the church at Ashbourne.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., E150/743/14. The Gen. n.s. vii. 12; Derbys. Arch. Soc. Jnl. lvii. 116; Harl. 5809, f. 71.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xv, xvi, xviii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 82; 1550-3, pp. 141, 394; 1553, pp. 352, 414; 1569-72, p. 201; 1572-5, p. 245; HMC 9th Rep. II, 385.
  • 3. Derbys. Arch. Soc. Jnl. lvii. 113; Ind. 10217(1), f. 5v; Wards 9/129/29; HMC Bath, iv. 59, 66, 71; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 35, 301.
  • 4. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 43-44; PCC 24 Sheffelde; APC, x. 130-1.
  • 5. The Gen. n.s. vii. 8; St. Ch.2/24/278; 4/9/20; E159/337 Rec. Hil. 18.
  • 6. E150/773/4; APC, xiii. 33; C.J. Black, ‘Admin. and parlty. rep. Notts. and Derbys. 1529-58’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1966), 291; PCC 24 Darcy; Derbys. Arch. Soc. Jnl. lvii. 117.