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Onslow, Richard (1528-1571) (DNB00)


ONSLOW, RICHARD (1528–1571), speaker of the House of Commons, was second son of Roger Onslow of Shrewsbury, by his first wife Margaret, daughter of Thomas Poyner of Shropshire, presumably a member of the family of Poyner settled at Beslow. The family of Onslow had long been settled at Onslow and other places in the county (Eyton, Antiq. of Shropshire, vol. x.) Roger Onslow lived chiefly in London, though he belonged to the Mercers' Company of Shrewsbury. His eldest son, Fulk, held the office of clerk of parliament under Elizabeth; married Mary Scott, a widow; died 8 Aug. 1602, aged 86, and was buried at Hatfield, where there is an inscription to his memory in the chancel of the church (Clutterbuck, Hertfordshire, ii. 366). Richard Onslow was called to the bar from the Inner Temple, and in 1562 was autumn reader. His progress at the bar must have been very rapid, as in 1563 he was made recorder of London. He sat in the parliaments of 1557–1558 and 1562–3 as member for Steyning, Sussex, and represented that borough till his death. On 27 June 1566 he became solicitor-general, having previously held the attorney-generalship to the Duchy of Lancaster and the court of wards, and after the death in 1566 of the speaker of the House of Commons, John Williams, Onslow was early in October chosen to fill his place. He did not wish to be speaker, urging various technical objections—his attendance as member of the council at the sittings of the House of Lords, and his own unworthiness—but his wishes were overruled. He had considerable difficulties to face. The commons at once began to debate the question of the succession and the queen's marriage (Parl. Hist. i. 708–10); but the parliament was dissolved early in the following year. Before the next parliament was called, having paid a visit to Shrewsbury early in April 1571, he was seized at the house of his uncle Humphrey Onslow, then bailiff of the town, with a pestilential fever, and, though he was removed to Harnage, he died five days afterwards. He was buried in St. Chad's Church, Shrewsbury, on 8 April 1571. There is a monument to his memory in the church. In London he lived at the Blackfriars convent, of which he had had a grant from the queen. Onslow married, 7 Aug. 1559, Catherine, daughter of Richard Harding of Knoll, Surrey, with whom he acquired the Knoll estate, which continued in his family. By her he had two sons, Robert and Edward, and five daughters. Of the sons, Robert died unmarried; Edward was knighted at some uncertain time, married Isabel, daughter of Sir Thomas Shirley of Preston Place, Sussex, and died 2 April 1615. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Thomas, who, dying without issue in December 1616, was succeeded by his brother Sir Richard Onslow the parliamentarian [q. v.], who is separately noticed.

Onslow was a very learned lawyer (cf. Pycroft, Introd.), and has been assumed to be the author of the ‘Arguments relating to Sea Landes and Salt Shores’ which has been edited by J. W. Pycroft, London, 1855, 4to. The original forms Lansdowne MS. C. 6. Others of Onslow's opinions will be found in Lansdowne viii. 64 and x. 39.

[Manning's Lives of the Speakers, p. 230; Visitation of Shropshire (Harl. Soc.), p. 378; Manning and Bray's Hist. of Surrey, i. 536, iii. 54, &c.; Owen and Blakeway's Hist. of Shrewsbury, ii. 167; Strype's Parker, pp. 302–3; Ret. of Members of Parl. i. 398, 406; Book of Dignities; Acts of the Privy Council, 1558–70; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1547–80.]

W. A. J. A.