William Musgrave was born at Hayton Castle, son of Thomas Musgrave, Marshal of Berwick and his wife Elizabeth Dacre. He married Isabel, daughter and co-heiress to the estate of James Martindale of Newton, Bromfield Cumberland. Their marriage produced six children, Thomas Musgrave of Brakenburgh (died two months before his father); Sir Edward Musgrave MP, Anne, John, Jane and Leonard.
Civic & parliamentary duties
Musgrave inherited his father’s estate in February 1542 and took advantage of the general pardon at the beginning of Queen Mary’s reign. Although he did not play any part in county affairs prior to 1559, he became that year, a justice of the peace; and a Member of Parliament for the Cumberland constituency in the first parliament of Queen Elizabeth I. The most probable explanation for his sudden emergence into public life lies in his connection to the Dacre family. William Lord Dacre, the Warden of the West March and head of one of the oldest and most powerful families in the north-west of England, was his maternal grandfather; his wife was a Dacre by her previous marriage, and his fellow-Member of Parliament for the county was Leonard Dacre, the Lord Warden’s second son. Although he attended the Palace of Westminster he does not appear to have made any significant contribution to the debate. In 1562, Musgrave became High Sheriff of Cumberland, and served in that position again in 1573 and 1592. Thereafter, he served infrequently as a Commissioners in Lunacy, and a member of the Inquiry Post-Mortem, but it is noticeable that he lost his commission of the peace soon after 1559, and did not reappear as a justice again until 1571, a position once retained he held for a further sixteen years. Possibly his connection with the Dacre’s, once an asset, became a liability. In 1568, he was arrested in Carlisle, along with two other members of the Musgrave family, for his part in a riot led by Francis Dacre. Lord Scrope, a successor to Lord Dacre as Warden, ordered him to appear before the Council of London. John Aglionby of Carlisle, one of the two friends who stood surety for his appearance in the sum of £200 each, had earlier been described as ‘not staid’ in religion and several of the Dacre family were known to be similarly unreliable. Possibly Musgrave shared their conservative religious views. He did, however, keep clear of the northern rebellion and the treasonable activities of Leonard Dacre, though in 1571 Cuthbert Musgrave alleged that he had had ‘much and often conference’ with the traitor and been a ‘daily practiser’ with him.
In a border county the gentry, notwithstanding their views, had to take part in its defence. Musgrave participated in a reprisal raid into Scotland in 1570, and ten years later he became a commissioner responsible for surveying the border forts and castles. However, in 1583, a report on the musters of light horsemen made on Sir Francis Walsingham’s orders, suggested that Musgrave and a neighbour had defaulted on the number of horsemen they had supplied, pleading a recent raid against them as their excuse. A note in the margin — in Lord Burghley’s hand — urged that they should be ‘treated withal’.
The Star Chamber suits brought by Musgrave and Cuthbert Musgrave in 1571 appear to have been the culmination of a long-standing quarrel given new life by the indictment of Cuthbert Musgrave’s son for a minor offence at the quarter sessions when William Musgrave was on the bench. To the charges and counter-charges the parties laid against one another, Cuthbert Musgrave added the complaint that, as part of the quarrel, he and his tenants had been subjected to raids by unknown Scots. A similar case reoccurred in 1588 when a widow, Jane Briscoe, alleged that a band of Scots procured and guided by certain of Musgrave’s tenants had attacked and plundered her house. A further petition from her in 1591 claimed that nothing had been done to restore her possessions and that she was still pursued by threats and open violence.
Musgrave died 18 August 1597; he was succeeded by his second son, Edward. Some of his property went to Isabella, daughter and heiress of his deceased first son Thomas.
Sir Thomas Musgrave, Marshal of Berwick
Sir Thomas Musgrave (1483-1532) was born at Hayton Castle, the son of Nicholas Musgrave and his wife Margaret Colville-Tilliol. He married Elizabeth Dacre, daughter of Lord Dacre of Gilsland and had nine children. He died 23 February 1532, at Hayton; however an inquisition into his estate lasted until 1536. He became Constable of Bewcastle, a border castle and village near Carlisle, during a lawless period, when during raids by marauding Scots, such castles became sanctuaries, The 16th century saw tenancy by the Musgraves, who defended it against their sworn enemies, the Grahams and Armstrongs. Sir Thomas also received the appointment of Marshal of Berwick, a town with a strategic castle on the eastern coast of England, bordering with Scotland. The castle's location in the hotly disputed border region between England and Scotland made it one of the most important strongholds in the British Isles, and it enjoyed an eventful history. As a major tactical objective in the region, the castle was captured by both the English and Scots on a number of occasions and frequently sustained substantial damage.
- Hutchinson, History of. Cumberland Volume II page 289
- Betham :Musgrave Baronets
- Bulmer page 122-3
- William Hutchinson (1797). The History Of Cumberland Vol. 2. London.
- T. Bulmer (1901). History and Directory of Cumberland. Preston: T. Bulmer & Co. Hesperus Press Ltd.
- William Betham (2011). The Baronetage of England Volume 5; Or the History of the English Baronets, and Such Baronets of Scotland, as Are of English Families; With Genealogic. London: Nabu Press.