STANHOPE, Michael (by 1508-52), of Shelford, Notts., Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks. and Beddington, Surr.

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 1508, 2nd s. of Sir Edward Stanhope of Rampton, Notts. by Adelina, da. of Sir Gervase Clifton of Clifton, Notts. m. by Nov. 1537, Anne, da. of Nicholas Rawson of Aveley, Essex, 7s. inc. Edward Stanhope I, Edward Stanhope II, John Stanhope, Michael and Sir Thomas 4da. suc. bro. 21 Jan. 1529. Kntd. Sept. 1545/Feb. 1546.2

Offices Held

Servant of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland by 1532; j.p. Notts. 1537-d., Yorks. (W. Riding) 1543-d., (E. and N. Ridings) 1544-d.; (?yeoman) of the stable by 1538-40; keeper, Knessall park., Notts. 1538, Hundon park., Suff. June 1542-Dec. 1543, Beddington House, Surr. 1547-d.; bailiff, lordship of Knessall 1538, former estates of Lenton priory, Notts. 1539; esquire of the body 1540; lt. Kingston-upon-Hull 17 Feb. 1542-d., gov. by Sept. 1544-d.; steward, ct. augmentations, Earl of Northumberland’s lands by 1544; commr. benevolence, Yorks. (E. Riding) 1545, relief, Notts. 1550; custos rot. Notts. in 1547; groom of the stole 24 Aug. 1547-25 Mar. 1549; master of the King’s harriers July 1548-d.; chief gent. the privy chamber by 1549.3


Michael Stanhope was born into a well established Nottinghamshire family. His father, who fought at Stoke in 1487 and at Blackheath ten years later, was afterwards a knight of the body, constable of Sandal castle and steward of the town and lordship of Wakefield: he died in 1511 and was succeeded by his eldest son, whose own death without male issue in 1529 gave Michael Stanhope the patrimony. Stanhope was in the Earl of Rutland’s service by 1532, when he received a livery on the earl’s behalf, but it was the marriage of his half-sister Anne to the royal favourite Sir Edward Seymour which set the course of his career. His first post in the royal stables was a modest one but from 1540, when he became an esquire of the body, his rise was swift.4

In October 1536 Stanhope met the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury in Sherwood Forest to help prevent the rebellion in Lincolnshire from spreading to neighbouring counties. His decisiveness on this occasion earned him a place on the Nottinghamshire bench and several offices in the locality, as well as enabling him to secure much ex-monastic property. His most important acquisition was Shelford priory, which he bought with some neighbouring manors in November 1537; it was followed two years later by leases of Lenton priory and of all the booths and profits of Lenton market, and appointment as bailiff of the lordship. In 1540 he bought Shelford manor and other lands nearby as well as rectories in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire formerly appropriated to Shelford priory.5

Stanhope’s appointment first as lieutenant of the Hull garrison and then as governor of the town he must have owed to his brother-in-law, by then Earl of Hertford; as well as carrying responsibility for the town’s defence the offices involved him in supplying ships and provisions for Berwick. His manner of carrying out these duties soon brought him into conflict with the townsmen of Hull, whose ‘lewd behaviour’ he complained of in 1546 to the Privy Council, but despite the countervailing complaints of his own high-handedness he was kept in office. The downfall of his brother-in-law weakened his position, but the issue was only to be resolved by his death.6

Stanhope had reached the peak of his career with the accession of Edward VI and Hertford’s elevation to the dukedom of Somerset and the Protectorate. As groom of the stole he controlled the King’s privy purse and by 1549 he was recognized as the leading figure in the royal entourage: it was to circumvent Stanhope that Somerset’s brother, Admiral Seymour, used John Fowler as intermediary in his dealings with the King. With enhanced status went material benefits and influence. In 1548 Stanhope purchased, with John Bellow, large parcels of chantry land in various counties, the main body being in the East Riding of Yorkshire. In the previous year he had acquired the hospital of St. Sepulchre near Hedon and all its possessions within the borough, and it was clearly at his suit that Hedon was straightway re-enfranchised. Neither of the Members returned to the Parliament of that year was a resident, and one of them, Robert Googe, had sat for Hull in 1545, doubtless also as Stanhope’s nominee.7

Stanhope himself sat in the Parliament of 1547 as one of the knights for Nottinghamshire: he had done so in its precursor and may have been first returned for the shire in 1542, when the names have not been preserved. Nothing is known of his role in the Commons, but his knighting at Hampton Court almost certainly took place while he was attending the first session of the Parliament of 1545. He probably missed the whole of the third session of the following Parliament on account of his captivity in the Tower and the terms of his release from it. He had accompanied the Protector to Windsor during the coup d’état of 1549, and for his share in Somerset’s ‘ill-government’ he was sent to the Tower a month before the session opened. Somerset was released on 6 Feb. 1550, and although an order of 17 Feb. for Stanhope’s custody without servants or visitors seemed to presage his continued detention he too was freed five days later upon entering into a bond of £3,000 to ‘be from day to day forthcoming and to abide all orders’. The renewed attack on Somerset a year-and-a-half later saw Stanhope’s re-entry to the Tower, this time with his half-sister the duchess, as an accomplice in the alleged conspiracy against the Duke of Northumberland. On 26 Jan. 1552 he and Sir Miles Partrych were indicted for having ‘feloniously’ instigated Somerset to insurrection and for ‘holding rebellious assemblies, for the purpose of taking imprisoning and murdering’ Northumberland, the Marquess of Northampton and the 1st Earl of Pembroke. At his trial he pleaded not guilty, but the court convicted him of felony and sentenced him to be hanged. In the event Stanhope was beheaded on 26 Feb. His attainder was confirmed by Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no.37) and his death was noted on the list of Members then in use, but there is no evidence that he was replaced in the Commons before the dissolution nearly two months later.8

On 2 Mar. 1552 (Sir) Richard Sackville II was ordered to eject Stanhope’s widow from her house at Beddington and to provide her with alternative accommodation; on 13 Mar. she received a grant of Lenton priory, the demesne lands and other lordships in Nottinghamshire, and it was there that she ‘brought up all the younger children in virtue and learning ... and kept continually a worshipful house’ until her death in 1587. Stanhope’s lands were restored to his heir Thomas by an Act for his restitution in blood (1 Mary st. 2, no. 26) passed in Queen Mary’s first Parliament. Thomas Stanhope was the ancestor of the earls of Chesterfield.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at brother’s i.p.m., C142/47/17. Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 7; APC, iii. 484; DNB.
  • 3. HMC Rutland, iv. 271; LP Hen. VIII, xii-xiv, xvii-xxi; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 52n, 53; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 88, 91-92, 274; 1550-3, p. 381; 1553, pp. 137, 357; APC, ii. 394; E351/2932.
  • 4. Trans. Thoroton Soc. vii. 38 seq.; CPR, 1404-1509, p. 303; HMC Rutland, iv. 271; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xxi.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xi-xv.
  • 6. Ibid. xvii-xx; Hamilton Pprs. ii. 329(2); APC, i. 533; iii. 102, 196, 203.
  • 7. E351/2932; CPR, 1547-8, p. 170; 1548-9, pp. 37-39, 204-8; HMC Bath, iv. 374.
  • 8. HMC Bath, iv. 112; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, i. 520, 521; ii. 32, 91-92, 97, 110; R. S. Gammon, Statesman and Schemer, 167; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 234, 355, 361, 385, 394; APC, ii. 343, 393, 398; iii. 102, 391, 397, 484; DKR, iv(2), 231-2; B. L. Beer, Northumberland, 130-1; CJ, i. 23; Hatfield 207.
  • 9. Trans. Thoroton Soc. vii. 38 seq.; APC, iii. 495, 506; Pevsner, Notts. 157.