BRAKYN, Richard (1522/23-86 or later), of Cambridge and Chesterton, Cambs.

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



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1522/23 s. of Thomas Brakyn. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1543. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Wren of Haddenham, Cambs. 2s. inc. Francis; (2) Alice Hutton, s.p. suc. fa. 16 Nov. 1545.2

Offices Held

Common councilman, Cambridge 1546, mayor 1549-50; commr. relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, to survey lands of bpric. Ely 1559; escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 1551-2, 1560-1.3


Richard Brakyn’s father had represented Cambridge in the Parliament of 1529 and in each of the three succeeding ones, and would have done so again in that of 1545 but for his death a week before the opening of the first session. Brakyn doubtless owed his own election in part to his father’s services to the borough, of which he himself only became a freeman in 1546; he had been left a house in Cambridge and thus met the residence qualification on which the borough insisted, but he always described himself as of Chesterton. He was not above accepting payment for his parliamentary service. The borough records mention several such items, one of them, in respect of the last session of the Parliament of 1547, being for 24 days’ attendance (out of a possible 80), in marked and unexplained contrast with his fellow-Member John Rust’s payment for 75 days. Brakyn’s legal training brought him the office of escheator, but he was never a justice of the peace for the county.4

Brakyn had livery of his father’s lands in July 1546, and most of the later references to him concern sales or purchases of land, particularly in Chesterton. His exploitation of his properties did not commend him during the agrarian troubles of 1549, when he was accused by anti-enclosure rebels of making un-unlawful enclosures. The reign of Mary saw him in trouble from a different quarter. In August 1555 he and others were imprisoned on the Privy Council’s order for obstructing the election of Richard Brasshey as mayor, although they were released when they dropped their campaign. Presumably Brakyn and his associates were among the 18 electors of the mayor; until 15 electors agreed on a candidate the election could be held up indefinitely, as had been done in 1529, when the outgoing mayor Edward Slegge and Brakyn’s father had been in conflict. By contrast, in 1555 Brakyn was a supporter of Slegge and probably opposed Brasshey for being one of a number of Cambridge councilmen whom Slegge and his sons were then suing in the Star Chamber. Brakyn was himself involved in a number of cases against members of the Swayne family over manorial rights in Chesterton; the dispute seems to have dragged on from the reign of Henry VIII until that of Elizabeth, but its details add nothing to our knowledge of the contestants.5

Brakyn sued out a pardon on Elizabeth’s accession, being described as of Cambridge and Chesterton. He retained his connexion with Cambridge at least until 1564, when he and others were appointed by the Privy Council to arbitrate in one of the recurrent disputes between the town and the university; the last mention of him in the Cambridge borough records occurs in 1561, when he was in dispute with the town over riparian rights at Barnwell. His appointment to the commission to survey the bishopric of Ely’s lands in October 1559 implies that he found no difficulty in accepting the Anglican settlement, but beyond that his religious views can only be conjectured: he had not, however, been among those listed as standing for Protestantism in the Parliament of October 1553. It is not known when Brakyn died, nor whether he left a will; he is last heard of as a party to a fine in 1586.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 2. Aged 32 in November 1555, St.Ch.4/2/54. C142/74/17; Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 68.
  • 3. C. H. Cooper, Cambridge Annals, i. 440; F. Blomefield, Coll. Cant. 224; CPR, 1553, pp. 362, 417; 1558-60, p. 31.
  • 4. C142/74/17; Cambridge Guildhall reg. bk. 1539-82, f. 15; Cooper, ii. 64.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1550-3, p. 244; 1554-5, p. 63; 1555-7, pp. 237, 240-1; 1558-60, p. 9; 1566-9, p. 420; Feet of Fines, Cambs. ed. Palmer, 85, 87, 96; VCH Cambs. iii. 15 and n.; Cooper, ii. 38-41, 44, 49, 64, 98-99; St.Ch.4/2/56; Req.2/2/22, 14/60, 24/94, 186/102.
  • 6. CPR, 1558-60, pp. 31, 163; APC, vii. 161; Feet of Fines, Cambs. 96.