Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameSir Henry BERKELEY
Birth1547
Death1586
FatherSir Maurice BERKELEY (1500-1581)
MotherLady Catherine BLOUNT (1518-1559)
SpouseMargaret LYGON
Birth1553
Death1617
FatherSir William LYGON (1512-1567)
MotherLady Eleanor DENNIS (1508-1567)
Children
Birth1579
Death1667
Birth1576
Death1617
Notes for Sir Henry BERKELEY
Of Bruton Abbey

Keeper of Selwood forest and Norwood park, Som. from 1581, j.p. from 1582, dep. lt. 1585-90, from 1591, sheriff 1587-8; dep. lt. Worcs. from 1595.2

Biography

Berkeley owned estates in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, and, through his wife, Worcestershire. Until 1585 and the death of his stepmother, in whom the manor of Bruton was vested, he lived at Norwood Park, Glastonbury. He was influential in local affairs, and active in many inquiries and commissions, serving as a grain commissioner in 1586, and hearing the oath of supremacy from the other j.p.s in 1591. As keeper of Selwood and Norwood, he initiated numerous Star Chamber suits against poachers, deer-stealers and others.

As deputy lieutenant, he concerned himself with musters, was colonel of militia from 1583 or thereabouts, and as sheriff during Armada year himself raised a regiment 800 strong and assumed the command of 4,000 foot levies. He was also responsible for raising money to defray the charges of a ship which took part in the battle. Various accusations of profiteering, notably out of the supply of soldiers’ coats, were followed by litigation in the Queen’s bench and the Star Chamber. The 2nd Earl of Pembroke, who disputed Berkeley’s rights of office in Selwood forest, found the moment opportune to bring charges of disorder against him and secured his dismissal from the deputy lieutenancy. Replaced by Francis Hastings and dismissed from his military command, Berkeley was reinstated as deputy lieutenant after an appeal to the Privy Council. The quarrel over Selwood forest continued, and at the turn of the century the attorney-general filed a bill in the Star Chamber, claiming that Berkeley had committed forcible entry. Sir Henry also quarrelled with the Earl of Essex and, in 1593, was ordered to desist from hindering Gelly Meyrick, Thomas Crompton and other servants of the Earl.

Berkeley took an active part in the proceedings of the House in the 1584 and the 1586 Parliaments. He served on a legal committee concerning juries (12 Dec. 1584), on a conference with the Lords to discuss the progress of the fraudulent conveyances bill (15 Feb. 1585), and on the committee for the subsidy (24 Feb.). In the 1586 Parliament he was one of those appointed to petition the Queen for the speedy execution of Mary Queen of Scots (11 Nov.). On 22 Feb. the following year he might have served on the subsidy committee in his capacity as knight of the shire for Somerset.

He died 7 Sept. 1601. His will, made 30 May 1600 and proved at Oct. 1601 shows neither affluence nor financial embarrassment. Berkeley received a comfortable income from his estates, much of which must have gone in litigation. Until the debts were paid Norwood was to remain in the hands of his four overseers, each of whom was to receive £10. The widow, named as sole executor of goods and chattels, was to enjoy a life interest in Bruton. The remaining lands were divided among his three sons.4
Last Modified 18 Aug 2015Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh