SIDNEY, Henry (1529-86), of London and Penshurst, Kent.

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. 20 July 1529, 1st s. of Sir William Sidney of Penshurst by Anne, da. of Sir Hugh Pagenham, wid. of Thomas Fitzwilliam. m. 29 Mar. 1551, Mary, da. of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, later Duke of Northumberland, 3s. inc. Philip and Robert 4da. Kntd. 1551, KG nom. 23 Apr., inst. 14 May 1564; suc. fa. 1553.1

Offices Held

Henchman of Henry VIII c.1538; royal cupbearer 1550; gent. of privy chamber by 1551; keeper Richmond park by 1552; high steward, honor of Otford and Knole park, master of otterhounds 1553; v.-treasurer [I] 1556-9, ld. justice 1557, 1558; pres. council in marches of Wales 1559-d.; j.p.q. Kent 1561-d.; ld. dep. [I] 1565-71, 1575-8; PC 1575.2


In 1538 Henry Sidney’s father was appointed chamberlain of the household to Prince Edward. The young Sidney became intimate with the prince, who after succeeding to the throne gave him a number of court offices. As late as 1583 Sidney still wrote of Edward as ‘my dear king and master’, and recalled that it was in his arms that the young king had died.3

In addition to his duties in the royal household Sidney was twice chosen, in 1551 and the following year, to go on special embassies to France. Before the first of these, which was intended to arrange the betrothal of Edward to Princess Elizabeth of France, he was privately married to Mary Dudley, the public wedding being postponed until his return at Whitsun. During this period, when he was in higher favour at court than at any other time of his life, he and his father received large grants of land from the crown, including the manors of Penshurst in Kent and Tyburn, Middlesex, and the lordship of Southwell, Nottinghamshire. He also sat in both Edwardian Parliaments. At Brackley, which appears to have returned Members for the first time in 1547, he was doubtless a nominee of the lord of the borough, the 3rd Earl of Derby, to whom he may have been recommended by the King, and in Kent he must have had the support of his father-in-law the Duke of Northumberland. Sidney signed the letters patent limiting the succession to Jane Grey but took no further part in the crisis of 1553 and was pardoned by Mary for his complicity before the end of July 1553. In October he sued out a general pardon; in the same month he surrendered to the Queen the lordship of Southwell, but in November 1553 he was confirmed in possession of the other lands and offices granted to him by Edward VI.4

Mary’s acceptance of Sidney was not merely formal. Early in 1554 he was chosen to accompany the commissioners on their voyage to Spain to bring Prince Philip to England, and in the following November Philip stood godfather to his eldest son. When the Queen was thought to be with child in the summer of 1555 he was instructed to be ready to carry the news of the birth to the King of the Romans; nine months later he was appointed vice-treasurer, receiver-general and treasurer of the wars in Ireland, offices which he held until July 1559. As lord deputy of Ireland in the 1560s and 1570s and as president of the council in the marches of Wales he served Queen Elizabeth until his death at Ludlow on 5 May 1586. He was buried at Penshurst.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Date of birth given in inscription on portrait at Petworth House. A. Collins, Mems. Sidneys, i. 82-83, 96; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 35; DNB.
  • 2. SP12/159/1; CPR , 1549-51, p. 174; 1553, p. 201; 1555-7, p. 82; 1558-60, p. 120; 1560-3, p. 438; APC, iii. 271; iv. 242-3; ix. 11; Stowe 571, f. 53v; R. Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 11 et passim; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 141, 265, 441; 1574-85, pp. 77, 142.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii; SP12/159/1; B. L. Beer, Northumberland, 128; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, ii. 519.
  • 4. Beer, 139, 146; Jordan, ii. 174-5; APC, iii. 271; iv. 196, 267; CPR, 1550-3, p. 358; 1553, p. 60; 1553-4, pp. 215, 467; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 13, 100.
  • 5. Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary, 68; Collins, i. 96, 98; APC, v. 126; CPR, 1555-7, p. 82; 1558-60, p. 120.