MARSHE, John (by 1516-79), of London and Sywell, Northants.

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



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1516, 1st s. of Walter Marshe of London by w. Eleanor. educ. L. Inn, adm. 31 July 1536, called 1545. m. 1543, Alice, da. and h. of William Gresham of Holt, Norf. and London, at least 3s. 1da. suc. fa. Jan. 1540.3

Offices Held

Sewer of the chamber by 1543; steward, manor of Finsbury 1543; under sheriff, Mdx. 1545-6; commr. chantries, Northants., Oxon., Rutland 1546, 1548, enclosures various counties inc. Northants. 1548; relief, Mdx., Northants. 1550, eccles. causes 1572; other commissions 1554-72; j.p. Mdx. 1547, 1561-4, Northants. 1547, 1558/59-62; common serjeant, London 1547-63, under sheriff 1563-4; surveyor, ct. augmentations, Northants. by 1553; gov. Merchant Adventurers 1555, 1559-60, 1562-72; warden, Mercers’ Co. 1558-9, 1565-6; receiver-gen. Exchequer, Salop and Worcs. 1559-74; constable, the Staple 1561; pres. Spanish Co. 1577.4


John Marshe was the son of a London mercer and nephew of two other members of the Company, Henry Marshe, who died in 1556, and John Marshe the elder, who died in 1561. He inherited a small landed estate in Buckinghamshire and Middlesex. Although he was apprenticed to his father, he also received a legal training, entering Lincoln’s Inn by special admission two years after completing his apprenticeship in the Mercers’ Company.5

As a lawyer Marshe was appointed steward of the manor of Finsbury by the city of London in 1543 and in the following year was granted a reversion of the offices of common serjeant and under sheriff of London. In 1545 the two sheriffs of London and Middlesex appointed him their under sheriff of Middlesex and on 19 Apr. 1547 he became common serjeant of London under his grant of reversion. He was also increasingly active as a merchant: in 1547-8 he exported 409 cloths to Antwerp; by 1553 he was shipping goods from Barbary to London via the Netherlands; in 1555 he became an original member of the newly formed company for the discovery of unknown lands and was for the first time elected governor of the Merchant Adventurers. He was in Antwerp in May 1555 for negotiations between the Company and Bergen-op-Zoom, and in September was licensed by the court of aldermen in London ‘to remain, attend and follow the earnest affairs of the said Company beyond the seas’. After he was elected warden of the Mercers in July 1558 the Company gave him leave to follow his other business, ‘as in going oversea to Bruges for the Staple’. Further licences of absence were granted him by the court of aldermen in 1558, 1559 and 1562, but after he succeeded to the office of under sheriff in 1563, when his grant of reversion was upheld against a claim of Thomas Bromley II, the City offered him an annuity of 100 marks to relinquish his title and Bromley was then appointed in his place.6

Marshe sat in every Paliament (except that of November 1554) from 1547 until his death. (There is nothing to support the idea that it was his uncle and namesake who was returned to any of these Parliaments.) His fellow-Member at Reading in 1547, William Grey II, was a servant of the Duke of Somerset, and Marshe, as the nephew by marriage of Sir Richard Gresham, probably also owed his return for a borough with which he seems to have had no connexion to the Protector. Somerset’s servant, (Sir) John Thynne, who had then recently become a member of the Mercers’ Company, was to marry Gresham’s daughter by 1549. Marshe’s aid was sought by London during the Parliament. On 22 Nov. 1547 ‘a bill devised to be exhibited into the parliament house against strangers dwelling within this city and the suburbs thereof by the waterside’ was committed by the court of aldermen to the common serjeant ‘to be by him, with the advice of [Master [Thomas] Bacon], salter, reformed in certain points’. The bill had its first—and only—reading in the House of Commons on 14 Dec. In the next session a Lords’ bill against conspiracies of merchants and artificers was committed by the Commons to Marshe; it returned as a new bill, which was then enacted (2 and 3 Edw. VI, c. 15). Marshe and Robert Broke, the recorder, were also expected to ‘travail for the benefit of the city for the ordering and disposition of the fee-farm of the same by Act of Parliament for certain time’, again following Bacon’s advice; the bill for the release of fee-farms in cities and towns for three years passed quickly through both Houses (2 and 3 Edw. VI, c.5). In the last session, on 10 Mar. 1552, a bill against forestalling, regrating and engrossing was committed to Marshe.7

In all his later Parliaments Marshe sat for London, except in 1555 when he was returned for Old Sarum shortly after he became governor of the Merchant Adventurers. John Tull, one of the Members for Old Sarum in the previous Parliament, was a Merchant Adventurer and may have enjoyed the support of Lord Paget. Marshe must have been known to Paget, a Londoner to whom Sir Richard Gresham had left a gold ring in 1549, but he may also have been able to attract the interest of the 1st Earl of Pembroke; again, Thynne, despite his increasing rivalry with Pembroke, may have been the intermediary. Marshe was also elected by London to the Parliament called for September 1553 but cancelled by the death of Edward VI. In the first Parliament of Mary’s reign he was noted as having ‘stood for the true religion’ against the initial measures towards reunion with Rome, and he was an opponent of a government bill in 1555. In October 1553 the court of aldermen required his assistance in preparing a bill against bowling alleys in London. During that Parliament he served on the committee to determine whether Alexander Nowell and John Foster II were eligible to sit in the House, and had a bill for the currying of leather in London and its suburbs committed to him. In the following Parliament a bill for clothmaking in Worcester was committed to him and in that of 1558 he accused Thomas Wild, one of the Members for Worcester and a clothier, of slandering him ‘to the drapers of London, saying that he had unburdened the clothiers from the search of cloths and laid it upon the buyers’. On 18 Feb. 1558 the House ordered Sir John Baker and (probably) Robert Mason to investigate Marshe’s complaint. During the second session of this Parliament Marshe had two further bills concerning tanners committed to him. He was to be an active Member in the following reign.8

In 1542 Marshe sold some of the land which he had inherited to the crown and in 1543 received in exchange the manor of Sywell which became his country residence, and the reversion to the dissolved abbey of Delapré. In 1544 Marshe and Christopher Edmonds paid £1,015 for former monastic property in Berkshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire, and two years later both were associated with Edmonds’s stepfather Sir John Williams, later Lord Williams of Thame, in the sale of part of this grant. Edmonds and Marshe were Lincoln’s Inn men and their fathers had both asked to be buried in the church of St. Lawrence Jewry. In 1548 Marshe sold Delapré but by 1550 he had acquired another Northamptonshire manor, Bozeat. He later settled Bozeat upon his eldest son and Sywell upon his son-in-law, Anthony Jenkinson the merchant and traveller. Marshe died in January 1579.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Bodl. e Museo 17; City of London RO, Guildhall, jnl. 16, f. 263.
  • 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m. C142/62/98; E150/494/3. LP Hen. VIII, xviii; C2 Eliz./P10/23; PCC 2 Bakon; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. i), 51; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 81, 254.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xxi; City of London RO, rep. 10, f. 345v; rep. 11, ff. 226, 344; rep. 15,, ff. 194, 201v, 315; Stowe 571, f. 11v; O. de Smedt, De Engelse Natie te Antwerpen, ii. 90; Mercers’ Co. acts of ct. 1527-60, f. 297; 1560-95, f. 81v; CPR, 1547-8, p. 419; 1548-9, p. 137; 1553, p. 356; 1553-4, p. 29; 1558-60, p. 40; 1560-3, p. 29; 1563-6, pp. 126, 403; 1569-72, pp. 29, 216-18, 353-4, 438, 440-2; 1572-5, pp. 30, 350; C66/1158; Guildhall Misc. ii. 386.
  • 5. PCC 2 Alenger, 6 Ketchyn, 16 Loftes; List of mercers (T/S Mercers’ Hall), 330.
  • 6. City of London RO, rep. 10, f. 345v; rep. 11, ff. 50, 226, 344; rep. 13(2), f. 323v; rep. 14, ff. 46, 186; rep. 15, ff. 104, 201v, 263v, 314v-15; E122/167/1 ex inf. Prof. P. Ramsey; de Smedt, i. 194; ii. 283; CPR, 1554-5, p. 56; Mercers’ Co. acts of ct. 1527-60, f. 297v.
  • 7. Reading MPs, 37; City of London RO, rep. 11, f. 391v; rep. 12(1), f. 46; CJ, i. 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 16, 19; LJ, i. 335-6, 350, 352-3.
  • 8. City of London RO, Letter Bk. R, f. 259v; rep. 13(1), f. 86v; Bodl. e Museo 17; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; CJ, i. 27, 28, 33, 49, 51.
  • 9. LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xix, xxi; PCC 14 Bodfelde, 2 Bakon; CPR, 1547-8, p. 332; 1549-51. p. 202; 1563-6, p. 262; VCH Northants. iv. 4, 133.