Maurice Berkeley (died 1617)

Maurice Berkeley (c. 1576  1617) was an English landowner and gentleman who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1597 and 1614.


Maurice Berkeley was the eldest son of Sir Henry Berkeley (d.1601) of Bruton Abbey, Somerset, and Margaret Lygon (d. 1616),[1] widow of Sir Thomas Russell (d. 1574) of Strensham, Worcestershire, and a daughter of William Lygon (d. 29 September 1567), esquire, of Madresfield, Worcestershire, by Eleanor Dennis. By his mother's marriage to Sir Henry Berkeley, Maurice Berkeley had two brothers of the whole blood, Henry Berkeley and Edward Berkeley, and by her first marriage to Sir Thomas Russell, Maurice Berkeley had a half-brother, Thomas Russell (1570-1634) of Strensham, who married firstly Katherine Bampfield (d. before 1599) and secondly, Anne St. Leger, widow of Thomas Digges, and who in 1616 was overseer of the will of William Shakespeare.[2]


On 13 February 1590 Berkeley matriculated at Queen's College, Oxford, at the age of thirteen, together with his eleven-year-old brother, Henry. His half-brother, Thomas Russell, was also at Queen's College at the time, in his second year. Berkeley graduated BA on 14 February 1593, and was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1594.[3]

In the 1590s, acrimonious conflicts between Sir Henry Berkeley's father and Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, required the intervention of the Queen and the Star Chamber; however, Maurice Berkeley appears to have managed to remain uninvolved in his father's long-standing quarrels with Pembroke.[4]

Berkeley was with Essex in the expedition to Cadiz in 1596, and in January 1598 was to have accompanied his cousin, Sir Robert Cecil, to France, although it is unclear whether he did travel to the continent at that time. In August of that year he requested a military appointment. In 1601 he succeeded his father.

In 1597, Berkeley was elected a Member of Parliament for Truro. He was elected as one of the members for Somerset in 1601 and for Minehead in 1604.[5] In 1614 he was re-elected as a knight of the shire for Somerset.[6]


Berkeley married Elizabeth Killigrew, the eldest daughter of Sir William Killigrew (died 1622) of Hanworth, Middlesex, from an ancient Cornish family, a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I and to King James I, whom he served as Groom of the Privy Chamber. According to Bellany, William Killigrew, and his brother, Henry Killigrew, 'made their fortunes at Elizabeth I's court'. William Killigrew was a diplomatic courier, a Groom of the Privy Chamber by 1576, and Treasurer of the Chamber in 1595. He held various offices in Cornwall and Devon, was a member of Parliament, was knighted by King James I at Theobalds on 7 May 1603, and in 1605-8 was Chamberlain of the Exchequer.[7] By Elizabeth Killigrew Sir Maurice Berkeley had five sons and two daughters:


Sir Maurice Berkeley's mother died in the winter of 1616, leaving him her household goods at Bruton and the wedding ring 'which I had of his father, my late husband, Sir Henry Barkley, knight', and leaving his half-brother, Thomas Russell, a basin and ewer of silver 'which was his father's, Sir Thomas Russell, deceased'. Berkeley survived his mother by only a few months. He made his will on 26 April 1617, and died on 11 May, purportedly ‘far indebted’. He left Bruton to his eldest son, Charles. His son William Berkeley was later Governor of Virginia.[8]


  1. Margaret was a great-granddaughter of Maurice, Lord Berkeley.
  2. Richardson III 2011, p. 23; Hotson 1937, pp. 21–6, 42–4, 141.
  3. Foster 1891, pp. 106–141; Hotson 1937, p. 42.
  4. Hotson 1937, pp. 71–96.
  5. Willis, Browne (1750). Notitia Parliamentaria, Part II: A Series or Lists of the Representatives in the several Parliaments held from the Reformation 1541, to the Restoration 1660 ... London. pp. onepage&q&f&#61, false 229–239.
  6. Foster 1891, pp. 106–141.
  7. Bellany 2004.
  8. Hotson 1937, p. 260.


  • Bellany, Alastair (2004). Killigrew, Sir Robert (1579/80–1633). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 16 November 2012. (subscription required)
  • Foster, Joseph, ed (1891). Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714. pp. 106–141. Retrieved 16 November 2012.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Hotson, Leslie (1937). I, William Shakespeare Do Appoint Thomas Russell, Esquire . . . London: Jonathan Cape.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. III (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 144996639X
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1460992709
Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Parker
Nicholas Smith
Member of Parliament for Truro
With: Reade Stafford
Succeeded by
William Daniel
Thomas Harris
Preceded by
Sir Francis Popham
Sir Hugh Portman
Member of Parliament for Somerset
With: (Sir) Edward Phelips
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Hastings
(Sir) Edward Phelips
Preceded by
Dr Francis James
Lewis Lashbrooke
Member of Parliament for Minehead
With: Sir Ambrose Turville
Succeeded by
No return made
Preceded by
(Sir) Edward Phelips
John Poulett
Member of Parliament for Somerset
Succeeded by
Charles Berkley
Robert Hopton
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