FORSETT, Richard (by 1526-61), of London and St. Marylebone, Mdx.

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



Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1526. educ. G. Inn, adm. June 1540, called 1542, ancient 1552. m. by Aug. 1548, Margaret, 5 or 6s. inc. Edward 3da.1

Offices Held

Autumn reader, G. Inn 1557.

Surveyor, ct. augmentations, unknown lands by 1547, Staffs. by 1548-52 or later; commr. chantries, Salop, Staffs. 1548; common pleader, London ?1556-d.2


Richard Forsett’s parentage is uncertain; he could have been a nephew, but almost certainly not the son, of Edward Forsett of Lincoln’s Inn and Lincolnshire. He was admitted to Gray’s Inn in the same year as William Cecil, to whom he probably owed much of his advancement. No record of any Forsetts in Staffordshire has been found, and apart from his service on the chantry commission and as a surveyor in the county Forsett spent most of his life in or near the capital. It was presumably as a rising lawyer that he sought election to the first Parliament of Edward VI’s reign and as a crown official that he procured a seat at Stafford: the King’s secretary (Sir) William Paget took the senior knighthood for Staffordshire on this occasion, but Forsett was probably beholden to a colleague at Gray’s Inn, William Stanford, one of the town’s Members in the two preceding Parliaments but in 1547 returned for another borough susceptible to the influence of Henry, Baron Stafford. An honorary member of Gray’s Inn as well as recorder of Stafford, this nobleman may well have supported Forsett’s election as he was then seeking his own restoration in blood and recognition as a peer: an Act to this effect (1 Edw. VI, no. 18) was to be passed during the first session. The Journal throws no light on Forsett’s activity in the House. Although in 1548 he and his wife joined with the future Duke of Northumberland in the purchase of some former chantry property in Hertfordshire worth 40s. a year, Forsett is not known to have been returned to the Parliament of March 1553: not all the names for this Parliament survive but those for Staffordshire and its three boroughs are known and Forsett’s is not among them.3

By 1549 Forsett was living, as he continued to do for the rest of his life, in St. Andrew’s parish, Holborn, not far from Gray’s Inn. In 1555 he was described as ‘farmer of the King and Queen of their manor of Marylebone’ in an action in the court of requests which was settled by arbitration; Forsett later took a lease of the manor and rectory, but the formalities had not been completed by the time of his death. He was assessed at £50 in goods in Holborn for the subsidy of 1557 and obtained a certificate to acquit him of having to contribute to the subsidy in Marylebone also. He presumably practised as a barrister, and he became a common pleader to the city of London. He sat in Parliament twice under Mary, each time for a borough with which he had no personal link. At Heytesbury, where his name was inserted on the indenture over an erasure, he probably owed his place to the sheriff John Erneley, whose family had numerous ties with Gray’s Inn, and at Bossiney, where he was chosen with his friend George Harrison, he may have been recommended by Cecil to the high steward of the duchy, the 1st Earl of Bedford. Forsett was to reappear in the Commons on the accession of Elizabeth and but for his early death he might have become an old parliamentary hand.4

Forsett made his will on 5 July 1561, providing for his family and leaving money to Cecil and to Gilbert Gerard, both of whom he asked to take a son into service. The will was witnessed by George Harrison. He was presumably the ‘Master Phassett gentleman’ buried eight days later at St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and by the end of the month he had been replaced as one of London’s common pleaders. His widow married, first Roger Amyce, and later William Massey.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. PCC 31 Loftes, 32 Martyn; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.) i. 324; CPR, 1549-50, p. 31; The Gen. n.s. xxi. 107-13.
  • 2. CPR, 1548-9, p. 137; Harl 1912, f. 176v; Stowe 571, f. 11v; VCH Staffs. iii. 291 n. 25.
  • 3. CPR, 1548-9, p. 31; E315/296, f. 74v.
  • 4. CPR, 1549-51, p. 145; E115/151/143; Req. 2/23/7; The Gen. n.s. xxi. 113; C219/22/96; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 13(2), f. 389v.
  • 5. PCC 31 Loftes, 32 Martyn; City of London RO, rep. 14, f. 515v; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 263.