1605, Marie Hills seeks a licence to sell rabbits and chickens

Marie Hills, widow of Gabriell Hills. SP 14/12 f. 167 (1605)

To the right honourable Sir Robert Cecill knight Vicount Cranborne baron of Essindon principall secretarie to the Kinges majestie and one of his highnes most honourable privie councell.

The humble peticion of a poore distressed widowe Marie Hills late wife of Gabriell Hills who was one of the messengers of her late majesties chamber.

Most humblie sheweth unto your honour that whereas your poore suppliantes husbande served our late majestie both in England and in the lowe countries by the space of xxtie yeares and hath spente all his goodes and [illegible] his life in her majesties service and by meanes of his sudden death hath left your poore suppliant greatlie indebted and was chardged with three smale children and in greate miserie that your poore suppliant was forced to goe to service where she contynued till sicknes by force made her to endure noe longer, and nowe havinge nothinge lefte, nor noe freinde to comforte her in her olde age alive and havinge bene at times a suiter to your honour theis vii yeares she is yet forced to contynue and ymportune your honour that your lordship would be pleased in charitie and for Godes cause in consideracion of her late husbandes longe service and for that he dyed suddenlye unpaide for much of his service to the utter undoinge of your said poore suppliant to graunte unto your poore suppliant this lente a licence for a poore kinsman of hers that would sell a fewe rabettes and chickins and somme smale poultrie ware for sick folkes accordinge to the lawes of this realme. And your poore suppliant and her kinsmann shall ever be bound to praie to God for the longe health and prosperitie of your good lordship to contynue.

[For the response, see the full transcription]

Report by Sally O’Donnell

Unfortunately, the only references that I have found on any of the research sites are a mention of Mary Hilles, widow of Gabriel Hilles, messenger of the Queen’s Chamber, asking for relief.  This is undated and included in the Cecil Papers: Miscellaneous 1603.[1]

There is also mention of a petition of Mary Hills to Visct. Cranborne, for license for a poor kinsman of hers to sell poultry for sick persons during the present Lent; dated February 12th 1605.  This is presumably the petition above.[2]

I did some research on the nature of Gabriell’s job as messenger of the Queen’s Chamber [3] and assume that as he also worked in the Low Countries that he may have been part of Cecil’s spy network.  However, I was unable to find details of their marriage.  There is record of a burial for Gabriell Hills on 2nd April 1574 at St John’s the Baptist, New Windsor, Berkshire [4] but I cannot corroborate that this is the same person.


  1. ‘Cecil Papers: Miscellaneous 1603’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 14, Addenda, ed. E Salisbury (London, 1923), pp. 263-344. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol14/pp263-344.
  2. ‘James I: Volume 12, January-February, 1605’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1603-1610, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1857), pp. 185-200. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/jas1/1603-10/pp185-200.
  3. http://www.renfaire.com/History/elizabeths-household.html
  4. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=GBPRS%2FD%2F250251662%2F1 

    This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, 1600-1625’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.