Sir James Hales

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Sir James Hales

Death: after June 25, 1589
at sea
Immediate Family:

Son of Humphrey Hales, Esq. and Joyce Atwater
Husband of Alice Kempe
Father of Cheyney Hales, Esq.
Brother of Humphrey Hales, Esq.; John Hales, Sr.; Samuel Hales; Abigail Hales; Margaret Hales and 3 others

Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:

About Sir James Hales

Sir James Hales

This striking memorial on the north wall of the nave relates to four members of the influential Hales family in Kent.

What to see:

Sir James Hales (grandfather of Sir James Hales mentioned below) drowned himself in the River Stour in 1555 in old age following imprisonment and torture in the Fleet prison - the painting backdrop to the central panel of the memorial provides an overview of the Stour at Thannington where this took place (writers have disputed whether the square towered church is St Mildred's or Thannington)

the grandson, another Sir James Hales, died at sea following the attack on Cadiz in 1589, a reprisal for the Spanish Armada attack the year before - he is shown here as an armed figure being lowered into the water (Image 2 - the only example of such a scene in English cathedrals)

Alice (Image 3) the wife of the grandson kneels at a priedieu or prayer desk in front of (unfortunately obscuring the painted overview of the Stour)

Cheyney Hales, son of the above, survived his father by only 7 years - he appears in the lowest panel of the memorial as a young Elizabethan gallant

Note that Alice and Cheyney face west (those at prayer in church memorials normally face east) but there is evidence that the entire memorial was once located in St Michael's chapel




Notes: James Hales was Treasurer of the 1589 expedition to Cadiz and died on the voyage back. The memorial was erected by Alice Hales' second husband Richard Lee d. 1608, Ambassador to Russia. Lee claimed part of the Hales estate, a claim contested by the children of James Hales's brother.

Bibliography: K.A. Esdaile 'English Church Monuments' (London, 1946); Rupert Gunnis 'History in Marble', 'Country Life' vol. cxviii, pp.396-398 (25 August, 1955).


(1) Hasted, Edward, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Volume XI, Canterbury, England: 1800, pp. 149-150:

. . . Sir James Hales . . . was of the Dungeon, and being treasurer to the expedition made to Portugal, he died at sea in 1589; he married Alice, daughter of Sir Thomas Kempe, of Ollantigh, afterwards remarried to Richard Lee, esq. She died in 1592, and was buried in St. Michael's Chapel, in Canterbury cathedral, where there is a monument erected as well to her memory, as that of her two husbands. . . .


Reference: PROB 11/75/275

Description: Will of Sir James Hales

Date: 07 May 1590

Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Legal status: Public Record


Parishes: Boughton Malherbe - Pages 397-415

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

BEWLEY is a manor in this parish, of considerable repute, extending itself into the parish of Harrietsham. It was antiently called Boughley, and was part of those possessions which William the Conqueror gave to his half-brother Odo, bishop of Baieux; under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in Domesday:

Adam Fitzbubert holds of the bishop of Baieux, Bogelei. It was taxed at two sulings. The arable land is two carucates and an half. In demesne there is one carucate, and two villeins, with two borderers having half a carucate. There is a church, and four servant:, and one mill of five shillings, and six acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of twenty hogs.

After which there follows another entry, importing, that of this same manor one tenant named Adam held one suling, called Merlea, of which a further account will be given, under the description of Marley, in the adjoining parish of Harrietsham.

¶On the bishop of Baieux's disgrace in 1084, all his possessions were confiscated to the crown; after which this manor appears to have become the property of Eudo Dapiser, and afterwards of Philip de Leleburne, or Leyburne, whose descendant Robert de Leiburne held it in the reign of king Edward I. in which name it continued till it was alienated to Tregoze, (fn. 8) one of whom, Thomas Tregoze, held it in the beginning of king Edward III.'s reign, in the 5th year of which he obtained a charter of free warren for his lands at Boggeleye. John Tregoze died possessed of this manor in the 5th year of Henry IV. but it did not remain long in that name; for in the reign of Henry VI. it was become the property of Goldwell, from whence it was alienated to Atwater, of Lenham, from whence by Joane, daughter and coheir of Robert Atwater, of Royton, in that parish, it went in marriage to Humphry Hales, esq. of the Dungeon, in Canterbury, who had a numerous issue by her. He was succeeded in it by his eldest son Sir James Hales, of the Dungeon, whose son Cheney Hales, esq. of the Dungeon, passed it away to his kinsman John Hales, esq. eldest son of Sir Edward Hales, created a baronet in 1611. He parted with it to his brother Mr. Samuel Hales, whose son Edward Hales, esq. of Chilston, succeeded him in it. Since which it has passed in like manner as Chilston, before described, down to George Best, esq. of Chilston, the present possessor of it.


Will of Sir James Hales, with notes. Beneficiaries include wife "Alison," son Cheyney, brothers Humphrey, John, and Samuel, Mr. Richard Lee (who would marry his widow), Capt. James, Thomas Nevenson, Mr. Coote.

excerpts and will:

The testator was the son of Humphrey Hales (d.1571) and Joyce Atwater, the daughter of Robert Atwater of Royton in Kent. For the will of Humphrey Hales, dated 18 August 1568 and proved 13 May 1571, see TNA PROB 11/53/261.

The testator was knighted by Queen Elizabeth at Lord Cobham’s seat of Cobham Hall in Kent in September 1573 (see Baronetage, p. 60, and Kinney, Arthur R., Titled Elizabethans (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon, 1973), p. 72).

The testator married Alice Kempe (d.1592), the daughter of Sir Thomas Kempe (d. 7 March 1591) of Olantigh, Kent, by his first wife, Katherine Cheyney. It is possible that the comedian Will Kempe was a member of Alice Kempe’s family....

RM: T{estamentum} Iacobj Hales Militis

[f. 212r] In the name of God, Amen. I, James Hales, knight, whole both of body and mind, thanked be the Lord of all health, do make this my last will and testament the five and twenty day of March a thousand five hundred eighty-eight;

First, I commend myself both soul and body into the hands of Almighty God; Item, I will that my debts be paid by Alison Hales, my dear wife, whom I do hereby appoint to be my sole executrix upon my goods and chattels personal, which I doubt not but will fully answer the same with some reasonable overplus;

Item, I give the same overplus, whatsoever it fall out to be, to my said executrix (except only such legacies as hereafter shall be set down);

Item, I will that the profits of my lease of Chart, being first redeemed from young Mr Boyes to whom I have pawned the same, shall both pay my brother, Humphrey Hales, twenty-six pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence by the year and my brother, John Hales, twenty pound by the year, and to my mother three pounds a year for Naylers farm sold by me, and also that upon ye yearly profits of the same so much of my father’s will as yet is not accomplished shall be fulfilled;

Item, after those annuities expired which depend both upon their own lives and the life of my mother, then I will the same lease of Chart to my son Cheyney at his age of one and twenty years, and that the profits thereof [f. 212v] age of one and twenty years shall be taken by my executrix to the uses before limited;

Item, I will unto Mr Richard Lee all that money whatsoever he oweth unto me, so that no part thereof shall ever be demanded;

Item, I give unto him all my books that I shall leave behind me;

Item, I give him all my pictures and maps;

Item, I will all my lands in possession or remainder to be divided into three parts, whereof two full parts I will unto my above-named dear wife during her life, and after her decease to my son, Cheyney Hales and to his heirs of his body, the remainder for default of heirs of his body to my well-beloved brother, Samuel Hales, and to the heirs of his body;

Item, I will all the rest of my goods and chattels not bequeathed to my said wife after this my will performed, whom as before is expressed I make my sole executrix, desiring her to have care of her son and mine for his education in learning and qualities fit for a gentleman, but principally in the fear of God;

In witness that this is my absolute and last will I have written it wholly with mine own hand and signed and sealed the same in the fifteen day of March a thousand five hundred eighty and eight before expressed;

I do add unto this my will the eighteen day of March in the year aforesaid 1588 that my will is that my very good Lord, the reverend Father in God the Lord Bishop of Dover have one of my two smaller silver dishes for a token of my love towards him. James Hales. By me, the said James Hales. Sealed in the presence of us, Richard Lee, Thomas Godfrey, John Ebourne

Anno Domini 1589 Iunij xxvto

I, James Hales, knight, whole of mind though sick of body, I thank my God and Saviour for it, do add this unto ye will I made before my coming forth:

First, I give unto my wife her jewel called Fortune which she lent me when I came from her, to be delivered by Mr Coote, the writer hereof;

Item, I give unto my wife during her life my tune(?) of plate consisting of six cups, one salt and five spoons;

After her, I desire that my son Cheyney may have it, the same to be delivered by Mr Coote aforenamed;

Item, I give unto Captain James my new satin doublet and my new velvet hose, two velvet cloaks, one new pair of silk stockings, one new pair of Spanish leather shoes, my best taffeta hat with a little feather in it, to be delivered by Mr Coote above-named;

Item, I give to my good friend, Mr Richard Lee, the card and compass found at Lisbon, and to the Bishop of Dover my sphere likewise had there;

Item, I give to my wife her seal of arms and her nineteen casting-counters;

Item, I give unto my son Cheyney my colours that have been before Lisbon, and my watch-tower bell of Dase(?) Keyes Castle, to be hanged up presently at my house called the Dungeon in place convenient;

Item, I give to him my three bundles of long pike Spanish staves and all the rest of mine armour that I can have found in the Dreadnought or elsewhere, saving one long Spanish pike with the arming thereof which was taken from a Spaniard at Lisbon, which I give unto Mr Richard Lee;

Item, I give unto Mr Thomas Nevenson a bannerol of silk taken from a Spanish lance before the gates of Lisbon;

Item, I give all the toys in my little box to my wife, saving such as I shall dispose here; Item, all my books I have here I give to Mr Coote, saving Mr Lee’s books and my mother’s little testament, which I will to be restored;

Item, I leave my dear wife my only executrix as in my other will;

Item, I give my arming-points to Mr Richard Lee;

Item, to my household servants, I will all their wages to be paid until the last Lady Day to so many as shall return home. James Hales.

Probatum fuit testamentu{m} suprascriptu{m} apud London coram venerabili viro Magistro Will{el}mo Lewin legum doctore ad exercend{um} officiu{m} Mag{is}tri Custodis siue Comissar{ij} Curie Prerogatiue Cantuarien{sis} l{egi}time deputat{i} septimo die mensis Maij Anno Domini Mill{es}i{m}o quingentesimo nonagesimo iuramento Ioh{ann}is Burroughe notarij publici procuratoris D{omi}ne Alisone Hales Relicte et executric{is} in h{uius}mo{d}i testam{en}to no{m}i{n}at{e} Cui &c De b{e}ne Iurat{e}

[=The above-written testament was proved at London before the worshipful Master William Lewin, Doctor of the Laws, lawfully deputed to exercise the office of Master, Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, on the seventh day of the month of May in the year of the Lord the thousand five hundred ninetieth by the oath of John Burrough, notary public, proctor of the Lady Alison Hales, relict and executrix named in the same testament, to whom etc. Sworn to well [+etc.]]

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