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Possibly fictitious portrait of Richard Onslow.

Richard Onslow (1528 – 1571) was a 16th century English lawyer who served as Solicitor General and Speaker of the House of Commons. (He was one of two Richard Onslows and three Onslows to be elected Speaker.)

Onslow was a barrister and member of the Inner Temple, and Recorder of London in 1563. From 1557 to 1571 he was Member of Parliament for Steyning, a tiny borough in Sussex. His religious sympathies were with the Puritan party, and the Spanish ambassador described him as a "furious heretic".

In 1566 he was appointed Solicitor General, and was summoned to attend the House of Lords by a writ of assistance. However, later the same year the Speaker of the Commons died, and the Privy Council chose Onslow to succeed him. At this period the appointment was effectively a Crown nomination, though theoretically the House of Commons had a free choice; Onslow was the royal candidate but was opposed, the only occasion on which this happened during the Elizabethan period. As is the convention, Onslow spoke in opposition to his own appointment, and argued that the independence of the Speakership was incompatible with the Solicitor General's oath to the Queen; this gave his critics good excuse to oppose, but he was nevertheless eventually approved by 82 votes to 70, and became Speaker on 2 October 1566. He was Speaker for the remaining five years of his life.

Onslow may have been the author of Arguments Related to the Sea Landes and Salt Shores.

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Rosewell
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Bromley
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Thomas Williams
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Sir Christopher Wray


  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  • J E Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • J E Neale, Elizabeth I and her Parliaments, 1559-1581 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1953)


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