RUGGE, Robert (by 1503-59), of Norwich, Norf.

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 1503, yr. s. of William Rugge of Northrepps, by Agnes. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Robert Wood of Norwich, 5s. inc. Francis 3da.; (2) Alice (d.1566), da. of William Wayte of Tittleshall, wid. of William Hare of Beeston, ?s.p.1

Offices Held

Common councilman, Norwich 1529-31, alderman 1533-d., sheriff 1537-8, chamberlain’s council 1539-44, auditor 1551, mayor 1545-6, 1550-1.2


Of a family which had settled at Northrepps in the 14th century, Robert Rugge was a much younger brother of William Rugge or Repps, who in 1536 became bishop of Norwich. By then a freeman of 12 years’ standing, a prosperous merchant and an alderman, in the following year Rugge was to be elected sheriff, an office he had twice before evaded, and seven years later was a candidate for the mayoralty. Although passed over on that occasion, before the year was out he was elected with Richard Catlyn to the Parliament summoned for January 1545, and during the interval before its postponed meeting in October he became mayor. It was not the first time that one of the city’s current Members had been chosen—both its Members in the Parliament of 1529 had served as mayor during that Parliament’s lifetime—but in thus enhancing Rugge’s status the city added weight to its representation in the Commons. His kinship with the bishop must have been a political liability rather than an asset, in view of William Rugge’s low reputation, but materially he did well out of it, with a grant of the manor of Greengate and leases of two others belonging to the see helping to swell the landed interest which he amassed in and around Northrepps.3

In 1549 Rugge was one of the two ‘chiefest citizens’, the other being Augustine Steward, whom the rebel leader Robert Ket used as intermediaries with the royal commander the Earl of Warwick. After his second mayoralty in 1550-1 his evident wish to avoid another led the Norwich assembly to exempt him from the office for six years, an interval which he did not survive. He made his will on 24 Dec. 1558 and died on the following 18 Feb. He gave his wife Alice a life interest in certain lands and a house, furnishings and plate, and divided the remaining lands between his elder sons William and Francis. To the third son John, a priest who had gone into exile under Mary, spending some time in Italy with Thomas Wyndham (probably a son of (Sir) Edmund Wyndham), his father left £4 a year, with the proviso that if on his return he remained in the ministry this should be exchanged for the advowson of the archdeaconry of Sudbury. The executors were William and Francis Rugge, and the supervisors two sons-in-law, Robert Flint (possibly the Member for Thirsk in 1547) and George Thimblethorpe. Rugge was buried in St. John’s, Maddermarket, Norwich, where a brass bears his merchant’s mark but styles him esquire. His will was proved on 26 June 1559.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Blomefield, Norf. iv. 292; vii. 247; viii. 151-2; xi. 35; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc, xxxii), 229; Vis. Norf. (Norf. Arch.), ii. 72.
  • 2. Norwich ass. procs. 2 passim.
  • 3. Blomefield viii. 151-2; xi. 35, 39; Norwich ass. procs. 2, ff. 120, 156, 158, 186v; DNB (Rugg or Reppes, William); W. Rye, N. Erpingham Hundred, 16.
  • 4. Holinshed, Chron. iii 977; Norwich ass. procs. 3, f. 13v; Norwich consist ct. 447 Colman; Norf. Arch. xiv. 63-69; C. H. Garrett, The Marian Exiles, 274-5; Merchants’ Marks (Harl. Soc. cviii), unpaginated; Pevsner, N.-E. Norf. and Norwich, 245.