WILBRAHAM (WILBRAM), Richard (by 1504-58), of Woodhey, Cheshire.

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



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1504, 2nd s. of William Wilbraham of Woodhey by Ellen, da. of Philip Egerton of Cheshire. m. Dorothy, da. of Richard Grosvenor of Eaton, at least 1s. suc. bro. 3 July 1558.1

Offices Held

Clerk of kitchen and of spicery, household of Princess Mary in 1525 as, clerk comptroller by 1533, gent. usher in 1536; member, household of Queen Catherine Parr 1547; keeper, Shotwick park, Cheshire 1548-d., Kenninghall park, Norf. in 1552-3; master of jewel house 1553-d.; butler, duchy of Lancaster, Lancs. 14 Nov. 1553-d.; bailiff, manor of Walsall, Staffs. 30 Nov. 1553; commr. accts. 1555, 1557, sale of crown lands 1557; sheriff, Cheshire 1555-6.2


A younger son who came into the family inheritance on his brother’s death a month before his own, Richard Wilbraham was a lifelong servant of Mary Tudor. First recorded as an officer of her household on its establishment at Ludlow, he had risen to be clerk comptroller when in May 1533 the princess asked Cromwell to excuse his father, then nearly 80, from travelling from Cheshire to receive a knighthood. Later in the same year the 3rd Duke of Norfolk replaced Wilbraham in the post by one Richard Tomes, a move which the Duke of Suffolk and others believed had so affronted the princess and her mother that they advised Norfolk to rescind it. Wilbraham is included as clerk comptroller in a roll of Mary’s household dating from October 1533 and three years later he appears as one of her gentlemen ushers. Both he and his wife received gifts from the princess. He presumably remained in her entourage, the place which he obtained in Queen Catherine Parr’s household being perhaps an extension of his role in the princess’s at a time when Mary regularly visited her stepmother. It was during these years that Wilbraham acquired some of the property of Combermere abbey, including the houses and saltworks at Nantwich for which he paid £228 in 1546.3

It is not known whether Wilbraham shared in the harassment of Mary’s servants under Edward VI, but his services were rewarded on her accession by the mastership of the jewel house and grants of local office. He was also found a place in her first Parliament for Tavistock, a borough controlled by the 1st Earl of Bedford, who presumably transmitted to it a nomination by the Queen herself or by Sir Robert Rochester, Wilbraham’s chief as comptroller of the Household. His return to the next three Parliaments as one of the knights for Cheshire he must again have owed to his standing at court. Predictably, his name is not to be found on any of the lists of Members opposing the government. It was while he was attending the Parliament of 1555 that he was pricked sheriff of Cheshire. The marks of royal favour might have been expected to include a knighthood, but the precedent of his father’s evasion of the order perhaps stood in his way.

Wilbraham’s absence from the last Parliament of the reign may not have been unconnected with the premonition which led him in February 1558 to secure the wardship of his four year-old son Thomas for his wife, her father and his own kinsman Sir Rowland Hill, and his eminent friend (Sir) William Cordell. He was to survive this transaction by only six months, dying on 6 or 7 Aug. 1558. In his will of the previous 25 July he had invoked the prayers of the Blessed Virgin and the company of saints and asked to be buried in Acton church near his father under a marble slab which he hoped would elicit the prayers of its beholders. He made provision for a priest who would say a requiem mass for his family on every 17 Aug. with the children of Acton parish whom he was also to teach, and left money for church repairs, for a canopy over the sacrament and for the poor. His other bequests included that of ‘a long wood knife gilt sometime King Henry VIII’s’ to his son Thomas. The executors were his wife, his sister Elizabeth Whitmore and his ‘cousins’ William Liversage and Thomas Clutton. The Thomas Wilbraham who became attorney of the court of wards in 1571 and his nephew Sir Roger Wilbraham, the diarist, were also distant cousins. Wilbraham’s widow married Henry Savile.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 377-9; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 249.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi, x; Privy Purse Expenses of Princess Mary 1536-44, ed. Madden, 12, 52, 73; CPR, 1553-4 p. 83; 1554-5, pp. 11, 343; 1555-7, pp. 314-15; 1557-8, p. 14; 1558-60, p. 64; APC, ii. 85; iv. 361, 425; v. 37; E179/69/47; Ormerod, iii. 378; Stowe 571, f. 52; Somerville, Duchy, i. 491.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vi, x, xix, xxi; Privy Purse Expenses, 52, 184; E179/69/47.
  • 4. CPR, 1557-8, p. 178; C142/124/176; Ormerod, iii. 378; Chetham Soc. xxxiii. 85-90.