Yelverton, Christopher (DNB00)

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YELVERTON, Sir CHRISTOPHER (1535?–1612), judge, born about 1535, was third son of William Yelverton of Rougham, Norfolk, by his first wife, Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Fermor of East Barsham, in the same county. His father, who was great-great-grandson of William Yelverton [q. v.], was reader at Gray's Inn in 1535 and 1542, and died on 12 Aug. 1587 (Inq. post mortem, 30 Eliz. vol. ccxix. No. 91; Lansdowne MS. 144, f. 131). His eldest son, Henry, was father of William Yelverton, created a baronet in 1620, which dignity became extinct on the death of Sir William, third baronet, in 1649.

Christopher was, like his father, educated for the legal profession, entering Gray's Inn in 1552. He represented Brackley, Northamptonshire, in the parliament of 1562–3, and about 1566 wrote an epilogue to the blank-verse tragedy ‘Jocasta,’ performed at Gray's Inn, and written by George Gascoigne [q. v.], then a student of Gray's Inn (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. i. 436). Yelverton also took an active part in other masques and entertainments organised by the society, of which he was treasurer in 1579 and 1585. Before 1572 he was appointed recorder of Northampton, for which borough he was returned to parliament on 24 April of that year; during its first session he distinguished himself by his defence of parliamentary privileges (Parl. Hist. i. 747, 762, 779; Manning, p. 268). In 1574, and again in 1583, he was reader at Gray's Inn, and in 1589 he was called to the degree of the coif. In the parliament of 1592–3 he represented Northamptonshire, and on 1 March was one of a committee of the House of Commons appointed to confer with the House of Lords (Cal. Hatfield MSS. iv. 291). In 1597 he was again elected to parliament for Northamptonshire, though the return is lost; and on 24 Oct. was chosen speaker. Manning prints a long extract from the speech Yelverton made on this occasion, and the prayer which, according to custom, he composed and read to the house every morning is said to have been of much devotional beauty (Foss). During the course of this parliament, which actually sat only two months, the queen vetoed forty-eight different bills which had passed both houses (Parl. Hist. i. 897, 905). In 1598 Yelverton was promoted to be queen's serjeant, and in this capacity he took a prominent part in the indictment of Essex for treason in June 1600 (Collins, Letters and Mem. ii. 199).

On 2 Feb. 1601–2 Yelverton was appointed justice of the king's bench. James I renewed his patent and made him knight of the Bath on 23 July 1603. He is said in most of the authorities to have died in 1607, but in reality he survived till 1612, dying ‘of very age’ on 30 Oct. (Court and Times of James I, i. 202; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–18, p. 154). He was buried at Easton-Mauduit, Northamptonshire, where he had settled in Elizabeth's reign. An anonymous portrait of Yelverton, painted in 1602, was lent by the Marquis of Hastings to the first loan exhibition at South Kensington in 1866 (Cat. No. 388). He married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Catesby of Whiston, Northamptonshire, and had issue two sons and four daughters; the eldest son, Henry [q. v.], is separately noticed.

A collection of Yelverton's speeches, readings, and letters formerly belonged to his descendant, Viscount Longueville (Bernard, Cat. MSS. Angliæ, pt. iii. No. 5359). Two volumes of collections, mainly on legal and constitutional subjects, and a transcript of a third and similar volume belonged to the Earl of Ashburnham (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. App. pp. 20 b, 22 b; cf. Stow MS. 421).

[A complete History of the Yelverton Family, Manchester, 1861, 8vo, contains meagre details. More adequate accounts are contained in Foss's Lives of the Judges, and Manning's Speakers of the House of Commons. See also Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Dugdale's Origines Jurid. and Chronica Series; Official Ret. Memb. of Parl.; D'Ewes's Journals; Acts of the Privy Council; Parl. Hist.; Foster's Gray's Inn Reg.; Visitation of Norfolk, 1563 (Harl. Soc.); Blomefiell's Norfolk; Bridges's Northamptonshire; Rawlinson MS. C. 927, f. 12; Burke's Extinct Baronetcies.]

A. F. P.