COLLY, Anthony (1502/3-74), of Glaston, Rutland.

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



Mar. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1502/3, 1st s. of John Colly of Glaston by Isabel, da. of William Palmer of East Carlton, Northants. m. (1) Catherine, da. of Sir William Skeffington of Skeffington, Leics., 3da.; (2) by 1554, Julian, da. of Cuthbert Richardson of Yorks., 2s. 4da.; 16 other ch. suc. fa. 1519.1

Offices Held

Servant of Sir William Skeffington; comptroller, household of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland by 1541; j.p. Rutland 1543-d.; sheriff 1547-8, 1551-2, 1559-60, 1568-9; commr. relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553.2


Anthony Colly was heir to a medium-sized estate in Rutland. On his father’s death he was made the ward of Sir William Skeffington, one of the country’s most experienced soldiers, and was himself evidently brought up to that profession. He also married Skeffington’s daughter Catherine, thus allying himself with a family for which he showed genuine affection. He remained in his father-in-law’s retinue after reaching his majority, and when Skeffington was made deputy lieutenant of Ireland, first in 1529 and again in 1534, Colly accompanied him as one of his most trusted captains. During his second deputyship Skeffington quarrelled finally with Lord Leonard Grey and Colly ardently supported his father-in-law. After Skeffington’s death Colly protested to Cromwell at Grey’s vindictiveness and the two men remained enemies for life.3

By 1541 Colly was comptroller of the household to Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, another noted soldier; he continued in the service of Henry, the 2nd Earl, being so described in 1544 when supplying men for service against France, and receiving money from him five years later both for expenses and for winning at dice. As a follower of both earls he saw more fighting: he was later to claim that he had served twice in France, twice in Scotland and three times in Ireland.4

His connexion with the 2nd Earl was also doubtless of advantage to Colly when it came to the representation of the shire in Parliament. He was to sit in five out of the eight Parliaments summoned between 1545 and 1558, a figure exceeded only by his friend Kenelm Digby, with whom he was returned at three successive elections. Like Digby, but unlike the earl, Colly remained a Catholic and he must have found the religious legislation of the two Marian Parliaments in which he sat more congenial than that of the Edwardian ones. The ‘Mr. Colley’ to whom two bills dealing with foreign merchandise and the purveying of meat were committed in April 1554 was probably Thomas Colly, a Member for Dover.5

Although in 1564 the bishop of Lincoln was to call Colly one of the three justices in Rutland who were ‘great hinderers of religion’, his rejection of the settlement of 1559 did not exclude him from public life: under Elizabeth he was twice sheriff and in 1563, with his son-in-law John Flower, he was again elected knight of the shire. His plea of poverty when required to contribute £50 to the loan of 1570 may have been genuine, for in his will of 28 Oct. 1573 he had to defer the transmission of his landed income for seven years in order to provide two of his daughters with modest dowries and his servants with annuities. He died on 27 Nov. 1574 and was buried, as he had asked to be, at Glaston with his first wife.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/35/89. Vis. Rutland (Harl. Soc. iii), 25-26; VCH Rutland, i. 183.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, x, xx; HMC Rutland, iv. 319; CPR 1547-8, p. 88; 1550-3, p. 395; 1553, p. 357; 1553-4, p. 23.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iv. x; PCC 10 Dyngeley.
  • 4. HMC Rutland, iv. 319, 356, 362; LP Hen. VIII, xix; VCH Rutland, i. 182.
  • 5. CJ, i. 33, 34.
  • 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 37; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 388; VCH Rutland, i. 182-3; PCC 8 Pyckering; C142/171/67.