JUSTICE, Richard (by 1488-1548/49), of Reading, Berks.

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. by 1488, s. of Henry Justice of Reading by Agnes. m. (2) 14 Apr. 1539, Alice, da. of Thomas Bye of Reading; ?2da.1

Offices Held

Member of guild, Reading 1509, mayor 1539-40, 1543-4, alderman 1542; groom of the wardrobe to Queen Catherine of Aragon 1509-20 or later; jt. (with Richard Smith I) bailiff, manor of Caversham, Berks. 1510-15, sole 1515-43; receiver for Queen Anne Boleyn’s manors of Bray and Cookham, Berks. and Langley Marish and Wyrardisbury, Bucks. 1534; keeper, Swallowfield park, Berks. 1534; bailiff, manor of Shinfield, Berks. 1534; collector of fines, Lymington, Hants 1546; particular receiver for Queen Catherine Parr, Hants in 1547, for Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, Berks. by 1548.2


Richard Justice’s father held minor offices at Reading. The date of his death has not been found but by 1509, when the first references to his son appear, his widow was married to Richard Smith of Reading and London. It was presumably to his stepfather, a yeoman of the robes by 1486, that Richard Justice owed his preferment in the Household, and in 1510 he was appointed joint bailiff of Caversham with Smith. The bailiwick of Swallowfield had also been held by Smith, and the steward of Langley Marish and Wyrardisbury was Sir Andrew Windsor, Lord Windsor, who as keeper of the great wardrobe knew both Justice and Smith.3

Justice attended the coronation in 1509 and was at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. It was not until 1536 that he began to take a regular part in the affairs of Reading. He stood for the mayoralty in 1536 and was chosen in 1537 but had to be excused the office because his first wife was dying at Stepney. He stood again without success in 1538, the last year when the abbot exercised his right of nomination, and in 1539 was elected by his fellow-burgesses after a deputation had visited Cromwell, then high steward of the borough. The mayors had previously taken the oath from the abbot but Cromwell, after apparently promising that the oath should be administered by the retiring mayor, now decided that Justice should be presented to the deputy steward, Thomas Vachell I. After Cromwell’s fall, the corporation was able to establish its claim that the oath should be administered by the retiring mayor. The corporation had also resolved in 1539 that in future one of the town’s parliamentary representatives should be a burgess and Justice’s return in 1542 may have been meant to balance that of the unpopular Vachell.4

Justice made his will on 1 Feb. 1543, after the opening of the second session, although whether at Reading or in London is not known: he was still alive on 5 Sept. 1548, when he joined in signing letters undertaking to limit the membership of the Reading guild to 30, and the will was not proved until 12 Jan. 1549. He provided for his wife and asked her and the other executor Richard Turner to do ‘deeds of charity’ for his soul. The witnesses included William Edmonds (probably the Member of that name) and Thomas Vachell. Although no children are mentioned, Justice may have left daughters. In the charter of 1560 a list of rents granted to the corporation states that John Browne and Edmund Getter held property in right of their wives, Joan and Frances, daughters and coheirs of Richard Justice.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Reading Recs. i. 169; Reg. St. Mary’s, Reading, ed. Crawfurd, ii. 1.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, i, ii, vii, xviii, xxi; SC6, Edw. VI 32, f. 1; 726, f. 7; Reading Recs. i. pp. xli, 112, 172 178, 185.
  • 3. Reading Recs. i. 65, 70, 71, 76; Assize of Bread Bk. 1477-1517 (Soton Rec. Soc.), 15; CFR, 1485-1509, p. 22; LP Hen. VIII, i; PCC 22 Holder, 31 Hogen.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, i, iii, xiv, xv; Reading Recs. i. 119, 164, 169-70, 172, 180.
  • 5. PCC 22 Populwell; Reading Recs. i. 210-11; Reading Chs. 36, 39, 41.