The Tudor Society

April 2 – Sir Ambrose Cave

Coat of Arms - white cross on a red background - of the Knights Hospitaller

Coat of Arms of the Knights Hospitaller

On this day in Tudor history, 2nd April 1568, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Ambrose Cave, member of Parliament, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Knight of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, died at the Savoy. He was buried at Stanford after a funeral at the Savoy Chapel.

Cave, who was the son of Richard Cave of Stanford, Northamptonshire, was just twenty in 1524, when he joined the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, a religious military order that had been founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century with the aim of caring for the sick and defending the Crusader kingdom. He had to spend 5 years in the order’s convent in Europe, and, undertake three “caravans”, each of those being a year’s service on galleys, before he was eligible for a commandery.

Cave was knighted in 1525 and in 1529 was appointed to the commandery of Yeaveley and Barrow in Derbyshire. In 1534, he became a procurator general for the common treasure. In 1535, he set off for Rhodes, but was forced to return in 1537 when he was involved in a dispute with Thomas Dingley over the command of the preceptory of Shingay in Cambridgeshire. The Order of St John were on Cave’s side, but Henry VIII interfered and installed Dingley. Sadly, the Order of St John was dissolved in 1540 by Henry VIII.

Despite his prior involvement in the Order of St John, Cave went on to embrace reform and to serve King Henry VIII. He served under Lord Grey in the French campaign in 1544 and in the king’s navy in 1546.

Cave also served as a Member of Parliament, for Leicestershire in 1545, 1547 and 1553, and for Warwickshire in 1558, 1559 and 1563. He was also a Justice of the Peace for Leicestershire in 1547 and sheriff for Warwickshire and Leicestershire in 1548-9.

After the Order of St John was dissolved, and Cave left the religious life, he married Margaret Willington, daughter of William Willington of Barcheston in Warwickshire, and widow of Thomas Holte of Duddeston. They had a daughter together, Margaret, who went on to marry Henry Knollys, eldest son of Sir Francis Knollys.

By 1553, Cave was a manager of Princess Elizabeth’s estates and on her accession in 1558 he was present at Hatfield to sign the first documents of her reign. He served on her privy council and was appointed as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He also served on the commissions tasked with enforcing Elizabeth’s Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy.

Cave died on 2nd April 1568 and at his funeral at the Savoy Chapel on 19th April, Sir Francis Knollys acted as chief mourner.

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April 2 – Sir Ambrose Cave