Cholmley, Roger (DNB00)

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CHOLMLEY, Sir ROGER (fl. 1565), judge, was the natural son of Sir Richard Cholmley, who was knighted by the Earl of Surrey under Henry VII in 1497 for his services against the Scots, and afterwards became lieutenant of the Tower of London. Sir Richard died in 1522, leaving Roger, who had already entered Lincoln's Inn, well provided for. The date of his admission cannot now be found, but from the Black Book of Lincoln's Inn (iii. 22 b) it appears that he was readmitted to that society in Michaelmas term 1 Hen. VIII, and in 1524 was elected to the bench. He held the office of reader of Lincoln's Inn three times (Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales, 1680, . 251), and on All Saints’ day, 21 Hen. VIII, was appointed treasurer. In the following year his name appears as one of the four ‘gubernatores’ of the society (ib. p. 259). In July 1530 he was appointed with three others on the commission to inquire into the possessions of Cardinal Wolsey in Middlesex (Rymer, Fœdera, 2nd edit. xiv. 402-4), and in 1531 was promoted to the dignity of serjeant-at-law.

In 1535 he was a pointed recorder of London in the place of John Baker, and on 18 Oct. 1537 received the honour of knighthood. In 1540 he was selected as one of the London commissioners to inquire into all transgressions against the Acts of the Six Articles. In 1545 he was made king’s serjeant, having on 10 Nov. in the same year, surrendered the office of recorder, when the corporation granted him a yearly new year’s gift of twenty gold angels. During the ten years he was recorder he was probably returned to parliament as one of the members for the city. The returns for the parliaments of 1536 and 1539 have, however, been lost, and his name is only to be found in the list of the parliament of 1542 (Parl. Papers, 1878, lxii. pt. i. 371-4). On 11 Nov. 1546 he was appointed lord chief baron of 'the exchequer, in the room of Sir Richard Lyster, who had been promoted to the king’s bench. In the following year he was appointed one of the royal commissioners for executing 1 Edw. VI, c. 14, by which the property of all guilds ‘other than such of mysteryes or craftes,' was confiscated to the crown (Memorials of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, p. 105). On the resignation of Lyster, Cholmley became lord chief justice, 2 March 1552. On 27 July 1553, a few days after Mary’s accession to the throne, he and Sir Edward Montague, the chief justice of the common pleas, were committed to the Tower (Stow, Annales, 1615, p. 613) for witnessing the will of Edward VI, whereby the late king had endeavoured to exclude Mary from the throne. After six weeks he was enlarged on the payment of a heavy fine; but, though he was received into the queen’s favour, he was not restored to his seat on the judicial bench, Sir Thomas Bromley being appointed in his lace. Cholmley's name appears in several of the commissions of oyer and terminer in the first year of this reign, one of them being for the trial of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (Cobbett, State Trials, 1809, i. 870-902, where a curious colloquy between Throckmorton and Chelmley will be found). He was also admitted to the queen’s privy council. After his dismissal from the chief justiceship he retired to where on 15 Feb. 1555 Princess Elisabeth spent the night at his house on her way to court. In 1562 he founded the free grammar school at Highgate for the education of poor boys living in the neighbourhood, which was incorporated by letters patent of Queen Elizabeth on 6 April 1565. He died in the following June and was buried on 2 July at St. Martin's Ludgate, where his wife Christine had been buried early in December 1558. Elizabeth, the elder of his two children, who survived him, was married first to Sir Leonard Beckwith of Selby, Yorkshire, and secondly to Christopher Kern of Kern, Somersetshire. Frances, the other daughter, was married to Sir Thomas Russe of Strensham, Worcestershire. By his will, dated April 1565, Chelmley devised his messuage in the parish of Christ Church in Newgate Market, London, then in the tenure angaoccupation of Laurence Shyriff, grocer, to certain trustees, upon trust, towards Lincoln’s Inn. There can be but little doubt that this identifies the shop in which the founder of Rugby School carried on business. Roger Ascham relates in his ‘Scholæmaster' 'a notable tale that old Sir Leger Chamloe, sometime chief justice, would of himself. When he was ancient in inn of court, certain young gentlemen were brought before him to be conrected for certain misorders; and one of the lustiest said, “Sir, we be young gentlemen; and wise men before us have proved all fashions, aud yet those have done full well” This theysaid, because it was well known that Sir Roger had been a good fellow in his youth. But he answered them very wisely: “Indeed,” saith he, “in youth I was, as you are now; and I had twelve fellows like unto myself, but not one of them came unto a good end. And therefore follow not my example in youth, but follow my counsel in age, if ever ye think to come to this place, or to these years that I am come unto; lest you meet either with poverty or Tyburn in the way”’ (Ascham, Works, 1815, pp. 229-30).

[Foss's Judges of England (1857), v. 293-8; Recorders of the County of Loudon from 1298 to 1860 (printed by the direction of the court of aldermen), p. 8; Maitland's History of London (1756), pp. 1198, 1205-6; Machyn's Diary (Camden Soc. Pub. 1848); Fuller’s Worthies (1840), iii. 415; Carlisle's Endowed Grammar Schools (1818), ii. 162-3; Pickett's Highgate (1842), pp. 28-31; Gent. Mag. (1823), xciii. (pt. 1.) 238-9; Notes and Queries, 3rd series, i. 47-8, 5th series, i. 209.]

G. F. R. B.