REYNOLDS, George (by 1518-77), of Rye, Suss.

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 1518, poss. s. of George Reynolds of Rye. m. (2).2

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Rye 1539-40, 1543-4, jurat 1546-77, mayor 1551-3, 1556-7, 1564-6, dep. mayor 1571-3; bailiff to Yarmouth 1554.3


George Reynolds’s first Membership of Parliament was a landmark in his career. As a local official he was already known to Sir Thomas Cheyne, the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, and in 1544 he had conducted men to Dover for Cheyne’s use. It is possible that his return to the Parliament of 1547 was Cheyne’s work. The indenture is lost, but a list compiled from the collections of a 17th-century lieutenant of Dover castle (who had access to manuscripts no longer extant) suggests that Rye reelected its two previous Members, Alexander Welles and Robert Wymond. Although payments of wages to Welles and Reynolds are recorded for the last three sessions, none has been traced for the opening session. As Wymond was released from service as a jurat in the summer of 1548 on account of ill-health, he may have been replaced at the same time as one of the town’s Members, but it is more likely that Cheyne had overridden Rye’s apparent choice in the previous year as he did there and elsewhere in the Cinque Ports on other occasions. Reynolds assisted Welles in soliciting advice and support for three bills in which the town was interested and in enforcing the ecclesiastical reforms which they had helped to pass.4

Although not elected again until 1563, Reynolds made an appearance in Parliament during Mary’s reign. At a mayoral meeting held at Rye on 24 Nov. 1554 he was made ‘solicitor to the Parliament for the repealing of a certain statute made for the delivering of herring at the town of Great Yarmouth in the time of the free fair there’. He was thus preferred to the town’s two Members John Holmes I and Thomas Smith II, neither of whom was a jurat, when it came to a matter of which first-hand knowledge was desirable, and rightly so for he was at that time bailiff to Yarmouth. There is no knowing what influence he had on the course of the bill ‘for buying of herrings upon the sea in the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk’ which passed the Commons but which failed after two readings in the Lords.5

Reynolds kept a tavern. In January 1555 he obtained a patent licensing him, ‘forasmuch as the house in Rye in which he dwells is by reason of his great costs in building and repairing a meet place for subjects and strangers to resort to’, to keep a tavern in this house or any other in Rye which he might inhabit in future; he was also pardoned for all offenses against the Act (7 Edw. VI, c.5) fixing the retail price of wine and forbidding the keeping of any tavern without licence.6

A year later the Council asked Rye to choose as mayor George Reynolds, the Queen’s servant, and the port complied. In the following year the Council wrote again, saying that whereas they had previously ‘recommended’ Reynolds they now, being informed that he had acquitted himself well in office and was likely to do so again, ‘required’ the mayor and jurats to take order for his re-election. This time, however, the Council’s instruction, which was brought down by Reynolds himself, was ignored and his friend, colleague and possibly kinsman Welles elected. At a Guestling held earlier in 1557 he and Welles had been chosen as Rye’s solicitors in the suit against the writ of quo warranto directed to the Cinque Ports: the expenses were borne by the town, Reynolds being paid £6 13s.4d. during the spring when he went to London on this business.7

Reynolds made his will on 17 Sept. 1577 and died two weeks later. The will was proved on 4 Oct.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 5, ff. 184, 185v; Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. E. Suss. RO, Lewes archdeaconry wills A7, ff. 67v-69; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 119.
  • 3. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 4-8 passim; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 250; Rye Shipping Recs. (Suss. Rec. Soc. lxiv), 13.
  • 4. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 5, ff. 91v, 184, 185v, 186, 190, 218, 218v, 219, 222; 6, f. 39; churchwardens’ accts. 1513-70, f. 114; Add. 34150.
  • 5. Rye hundred ct. bk. 1546-56, f. 31; CJ, i. 38-39; LJ, i. 477-8.
  • 6. CPR, 1554-5, pp. 236-7.
  • 7. APC, v. 327; vi. 112; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 6, ff. 129, 147v; hundred ct. bk. 1556-61, ff. 5, 6v; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 225.
  • 8. E. Suss. RO, Lewes archdeaconry wills A7, ff. 67v-69.