RAY, Alexander (by 1529-92), of Cambridge and Saffron Walden, Essex.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1529, o.s. of John Ray of Cambridge by Catherine. m. by 1572, Elizabeth, da. of John Lawe, at least 1s. d.v.p.2

Offices Held

Alderman, Cambridge, mayor 1550-1, 1566-7; j.p. 1556; commr. gaol delivery 1561.3


Alexander Ray’s father had combined, or pursued successively, scholarship and business, being both a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and a mercer and draper. Ray himself followed the second of these callings without, so far as is known, any similar educational advantage. He lived in Great St. Mary’s parish, Cambridge, where he was a churchwarden from 1563 to 1565. He was one of the chief supporters of Robert Ray in his various and sometimes violent disputes with Edward Slegge and his sons in the time of Queen Mary, but the two Rays do not seem to have been closely related. Seniority in borough government rather than religion was probably the important qualification for Cambridge Members in this period, for Ray was returned to Parliament under both Edward VI and Mary; his name does not appear as one of those opposing a government bill in the Parliament of 1555. He served his second term as mayor two years after the bishop of Ely had named him as one of the borough officers whom he ‘misliked’ for their religious views. In November 1564 Ray was chosen one of the three arbitrators on the borough’s side for the settlement of disputes with the university.4

Ray must have owned one of the largest houses in Cambridge, for the 4th Duke of Norfolk lodged with him when the Queen visited Cambridge in the same year. His position as an alderman probably helped him in trade; the borough’s largest single expense when called on to raise troops in 1563 was a payment of £6 13s.4d. to Ray ‘towards the setting forth of the soldiers’. By 1564 he owned the Hand inn, which he was said to have acquired on mortgage from Robert Ray, refusing then either to let him the inn or to accept repayment of the mortgage money. Ray purchased Paul’s inn, St. Michael’s parish, in 1572 jointly with his wife; it was in her right that he acquired, for a term of 40 years, a manor or grange at Saffron Walden, where he evidently retired in middle or old age. This acquisition led to his involvement in at least two lawsuits in the court of requests, one of which seems to have dragged on. Their outcome is not known, nor has any will or inquisition post mortem for Ray been found. He died in 1592 and was buried in Great St. Mary’s church, Cambridge; his widow continued to live at Saffron Walden until her death in 1596.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. The christian name, torn from the indenture (C219/20/15), is supplied from C. H. Cooper, Cambridge Annals, ii. 82.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Camb. Univ. Arch. vice-chancellor’s ct. wills 1, ff. 59 and v; Req.2/68/13; C. H. Cooper, Cambridge Memorials, iii. 352n; PCC Admins. ed. Glencross, ii. 106.
  • 3. Cooper, Annals, ii. 108; F. Blomefield, Coll. Cant. 224-5; CPR, 1560-3. 406.
  • 4. Churchwardens’ Accts. Great St. Mary’s, Cambridge, ed. Foster, 149, 155; St.Ch.4/2/56; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 25; APC, vii. 161.
  • 5. Cooper, Annals, ii. 178, 205; Memorials, iii. 352n; CPR, 1560-3, p. 269; Req.2/68/13, 157/359; C3/150/11, 154/116, 164/94; APC, xiii. 360; Churchwardens’ Accts. Great St. Mary’s, 226; Essex RO, 253/CW/3.