WALDEGRAVE, Sir Edward (1516/17-61), of Sudbury, Suff. and Borley, Essex.

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
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1516/17, 1st s. of John Waldegrave of Essex by Laura, da. of John Rochester of Terling, Essex. m. by 1551, Frances, da. of Sir Edward Neville of Aldington, Kent, 2s. 3da. suc. fa. 6 Oct. 1543, gdfa. 1545. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553.3

Offices Held

Gent. household of Princess Mary by Aug. 1551-July 1553; PC Aug. 1553-17 Nov. 1558, commr. augmentations 1553, heresy 1557; bailiff, manor of Havering-atte-Bower, Essex Oct. 1553, keeper, great wardrobe 28 Oct. 1553-20 July 1559; jt. (with John Cosworth) receiver-gen. duchy of Cornwall 4 Nov. 1553-Feb. 1554; j.p.q. Essex 1554-58/59, Suff. 1554; steward Clare honor, duchy of Lancaster, 18 Mar. 1554-d., chancellor 22 Jan.-25 Dec. 1558.4


Edward Waldegrave was a kinsman of Sir William Waldegrave. His grandfather had added to his Suffolk property in and near Sudbury the lands of his wife in Somerset. Waldegrave seems not to have held a post before the death of his father and grandfather, and he is not to be confused with a namesake, one of Prince Edward’s servants who was found guilty of concealing Catherine Howard’s premarital indiscretions. At his grandfather’s death he was living at Sudbury with his mother but probably soon afterwards joined his uncle, Robert Rochester in the household of Princess Mary.5

By 1551 Waldegrave had become one of Mary’s chief advisers. In August of that year he, Sir Francis Englefield and Rochester were summoned before the Privy Council, accused of encouraging Mary’s Catholicism and ordered to prevent the celebration of mass in her household. Mary forbade them to carry out this order and sent them back with a letter for Edward VI. When the Council repeated its instructions on 22 Aug. they refused to obey and were committed to the Tower. After two months’ imprisonment Waldegrave, who had contracted a quartan ague, was removed to a house outside the Tower, but he was not liberated until the following March. On 14 Apr. 1552 he and the others were allowed to return to their mistress.6

On Mary’s accession Waldegrave was rewarded with a Privy Councillorship and the keepership of the great wardrobe; he also received a number of local offices in Essex and was put on the commission to compound for fines with supporters of Jane Grey. He was knighted at the coronation in October and sat as knight of the shire for Wiltshire, where he had little (if any) land, in the Parliament which followed. In the Privy Council there was latent hostility between those who had suffered for their faith and loyalty and the ‘politiques’ who had held office and prospered during the Protestant ascendancy. This antagonism became mingled with the dispute over the Queen’s marriage. In the early autumn Waldegrave argued strongly against the proposed Spanish alliance, claiming that it would mean war with France. The Queen was impressed but the arrival of the new imperial ambassador stiffened her resistance to Stephen Gardiner’s advocacy of the Courtenay match. In the struggle that followed Waldegrave played a leading part. At the beginning of November, possibly during a temporary ascendancy of Gardiner’s party, it was rumoured that he would succeed the Marquess of Winchester as treasurer; this proved unfounded although on 4 Nov. he shared a grant of the receiver-generalship of the duchy of Cornwall. On 8 Nov. the ambassador reported that Waldegrave and his associates were wavering, but it was soon clear that he was mistaken because a few days later the Commons began to prepare an address to persuade Mary to marry an Englishman. Waldegrave and Sir Edward Hastings seem to have been instrumental in this, and the ambassador suspected that Gardiner was also privy to the plan. As it became increasingly clear that the Queen was set on marrying Philip, many dropped their opposition, but Waldegrave remained ‘entirely for Courtenay’ and spoke openly of leaving the Queen’s service, to be told that she would have no one in her Council or Household who opposed her on such an issue. By Christmas he had realised that further protest was useless: Wyatt’s rebellion made continued support for Courtenay impossible, though the two remained on friendly terms and Waldegrave was one of the earl’s trustees during his exile. Waldegrave was still regarded with suspicion by the ambassador who believed that his efforts in the early months of 1554 to expedite Cardinal Pole’s return to England were really aimed at preventing the marriage with Philip.7

By April 1554 the marriage was assured and Waldegrave’s opposition was soothed by a promise of a pension of 500 crowns. He remained in his offices and in the Privy Council, although there was an unsuccessful attempt in the following November to reduce its membership by removing Courtenay’s former supporters. He was assiduous in attendance, and served on the committee dealing with financial matters. During 1557-8 he was put on the important commissions to increase the royal revenue. In January 1558 he at last reached high office, succeeding his uncle as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster.8

Waldegrave’s position at court and on the Council was buttressed by great landed wealth, which he took every opportunity to extend. In June 1546 he added to his ancestral estates the manor of Borley, Essex, where he made his chief home, and during the next ten years paid some thousands of pounds to the crown for lands and leases of lands in Devon, Essex, Kent, Somerset and Suffolk. Although his main seat was in Essex, his largest agglomeration of property was in north Somerset, where he owned some 15 manors at his death. As two senior Councillors, Sir William Petre and Rochester, were returned as knights of the shire for Essex throughout most of Mary’s reign, he had to turn elsewhere for a seat. He used his connexions with the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster to favour others, but appears to have relied on his position at court and his standing in Somerset to secure a knighthood of the shire there. Since that county, however, had returned two Protestants to Mary’s first Parliament, when Waldegrave sat for Wiltshire, it may have done so again in 1555, thus forcing Waldegrave either to retreat to a borough seat or to forgo one altogether. By 1558 Rochester was dead, and Waldegrave was at last returned for Essex: he took a bill up from the Commons to the Lords shortly before the first session closed on 7 Mar. 1558.9

On the accession of Elizabeth, Waldegrave was dismissed from the Council and before July 1559 he had surrendered nearly all his offices. He did not conform to the Elizabethan religious settlement; in April 1561 he and his wife were indicted at Brentwood, Essex, on charges of hearing mass and harbouring priests, and in June they there convicted at Westminster. Waldegrave, who had been confined to the Tower since April, fell ill soon afterwards, died on Sept., and was buried there two days later. His widow took as her second husband Lord Chidiock Paulet.10

Waldegrave had made his will on 14 Sept. 1559. He left his wife a life interest in the greater part of his lands and named her executrix, but a few days before his death, when he confirmed the will, he provided that in the event of her death Anthony Browne II, Sir Francis Englefield, John Throckmorton I and (with Browne’s approval) Sir Thomas Cornwallis should take her place and hold the lands in trust for his children.11

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Bodl. e. Museo 17.
  • 2. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 3. Aged 44 at death, Morant, Essex, i. 182. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 119; C142/68/58; PCC 43 Pynnyng.
  • 4. APC, iii. 333; iv. 318; vi. 429; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 19-393 passim; 1555-7, pp. 281, 312-13, 315; 1557-8, p. 73, 211; Somerville, Duchy, i. 602.
  • 5. CIPM Hen. VII, i. 111-12; ii. 51-52; LP Hen. VIII, xvi; PCC 43 Pynnyng.
  • 6. APC, iii. 333-508 passim; H. F. M. Prescott, Mary Tudor, 153-5, 159; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, ii. 263; CSP Span. 1550-2, pp. 356-8.
  • 7. CPR, 1553-4, pp. 75-76; CSP Span. 1553, pp. 263-471 passim; 1554, pp. 90, 152-3, 295; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 68, 71; E. H. Harbison, Rival Ambassadors at Ct. of Q. Mary, p. 89 seq.; Prescott, 214, 217, 261; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 8, 15, 176.
  • 8. CSP Span. 1554, pp. 101, 316; 1554-8, p. 369; CPR, 1555-7, p. 312 seq.; 1557-8, p. 71 seq.; Prescott, 281.
  • 9. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 178; 1553-4, pp. 136, 319; 1555-7, p. 185; 1557-8, p. 171 seq.; C142/133/130; PCC 29 Loftes; CJ, i. 50.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 173-4, 176, 179, 183, 185; CSP Span. 1558-70, p. 288; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 256, 266.
  • 11. PCC 29 Loftes.