FREVILLE, George (c.1502-79), of Isleham and Little Shelford, Cambs.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1502, 2nd s. of Robert Freville of Little Shelford by Rose, ?da. of Anthony Hasleden. educ. Camb. c.1520; Barnard’s Inn c.1525; M. Temple by 1533. m. (1) by 3 Jan. 1550, Dorothy (d.1568); (2) 7 Oct. 1568, Jane, wid. of Edward Banckes of London.1

Offices Held

Bencher, M. Temple 1557, Lent reader 1559.

J.p. Cambs. 1539-47, q. 1554-d., Mdx. 1569; commr. chantries, Cambs. 1548, relief, Camb. 1550; other commissions 1553-9; retained of counsel, duchy of Lancaster 1548-76; steward, manor of Great Marlow, Bucks. by 1549, manors of Barwell, Cottenham, Fulbourn and Graveley, Cambs., Great Stukeley, Hemingford Grey, Old Hurst and Woodhurst, Hunts. Nov. 1553-d.; dep. high steward, Cambridge Univ. in 1549; recorder, Cambridge Feb. 1553-Jan. 1559; third baron of Exchequer Jan. 1559-Apr. 1564, second baron Apr. 1564-d.2


A younger son in a family established at Little Shelford since the reign of Edward II, George Freville received under his father’s will of 1521 only a small annuity which he shared with another brother until the latter’s death. He was sent to the university of Cambridge and later to the Middle Temple, perhaps at the instigation of his rich kinsmen, the merchant families of Withypoll and Fermor.3

During 1537 another kinsman, Richard Sampson, bishop of Chichester, wrote on his behalf to Thomas Wriothesley for Cromwell’s help towards an office with the priory of Ely. Even as a student Freville appears to have impressed Cromwell, who asked St. John’s College, Cambridge, to grant him the lease of the parsonage of Great Shelford in 1539 and may have sponsored his inclusion in the commission of the peace for Cambridgeshire in the same year. Whether Cromwell’s fall affected Freville is not known, for little has come to light about him during the next few years except that he practised as a lawyer. It is possible, however, that about this time (Sir) Edward North, a close neighbour and friend, commended him to Sir William Paget, the King’s secretary and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster; Freville and Paget had been contemporaries at the university and had both been trained as lawyers. Freville was employed in a legal capacity by Paget in connexion with estate management, property transactions and confidential business, and it was to Paget that he owed his appointments in the duchy, in the university of Cambridge and elsewhere, and his nomination at Preston for the Parliament of 1547.4

Nothing is known of Freville’s part in this Parliament. By the time that John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was manipulating elections to its successor Paget was in disgrace, so that it is unlikely that Freville was returned again, although Northumberland did arrange for Edward VI to ask the corporation of Cambridge on 23 Feb. 1553 to make him recorder, which it had in fact done earlier that month. By clinging to the restored Paget instead of the doomed Northumberland, whom he helped to indict, Freville ensured his future under Mary, but he did not reappear in Parliament before his appointment to the Exchequer bench by Elizabeth closed that institution to him.5

On his brother’s death in 1552 Freville became head of his family during the minority of his nephew Robert. Its affairs had not prospered and Robert Freville’s position was insecure, so that in 1556 he was forced to grant, with reversion to himself, the manor of Little Shelford to his uncle, who had leased and occupied it since 1552. To Robert Freville’s chagrin his uncle sold Little Shelford to Edmund Banckes, who in turn sold it to Sir Toby Palavicini; as late as 1575 Freville unsuccessfully petitioned Robert against his uncle’s sharp practice.6

In 1564 the bishop of Ely described Freville as quite conformable in religion. The date of his death is unknown. He appears to have died intestate, the administration of his goods being granted early in 1580, and no inquisition post mortem survives for his property. As Robert Shute was appointed second baron of the Exchequer on 1 June 1579 it is to be presumed that Freville died in the preceding month. A namesake and distant kinsman sat for Appleby in the Parliament of 1572.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from elder brother’s, C142/36/19. A. W. Franks, ‘Freville Fam.’ (Camb. Antiq. Soc. Quarto Publications ser. 1, xiv), 27-28; Notable Middle Templars, 98; Reg. St. Pancras, Soper Lane (Harl. Soc. xlv), 442;CPR, 1548-9, p. 171; Camb. reg. bk. f. 65; DNB.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiv; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 81, 136; 1553, p. 352; 1553-4, pp. 17, 28, 35, 284; 1554-5, p. 109; 1558-60, p. 31; 1563-6, pp. 41, 177; 1569-72, pp. 223, 226; Somerville, Duchy, i. 455; NRA 5914, p. 33.
  • 3. Foss, Judges, v. 488; Franks, 27-28.
  • 4. Franks, 28-29; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiv; CPR, 1553-4, p. 308; 1558-60, p. 132; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. gentry 1529-58’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1959), 588.
  • 5. Royal 18, cxxiv. f. 306v; Camb. reg. bk. f. 65; VCH Cambs. iii. 59.
  • 6. C142/95/15; CPR, 1553-4, p. 468; 1555-7, p. 148; APC, ix. 33.
  • 7. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 25; Franks, 29.