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Christopher Hoddesdon (1533/4 - 1611), merchant

Christopher was born in 1533/4 and was the second son of Simon and Joan Hoddesdon. Christopher's father was a landowner of Edgware, Middlesex. His mother was the daughter of John Etheridge.

Christopher was apprenticed to the merchant and haberdasher, Sir George Barne (Lord Mayor of London in 1552). After the formation of the Russia Company, Christopher entered its service. Initially he was in London, but subsequently he travelled to Russia where he struck deals for English goods. He remained there for approximately eight years until 1562, when he returned home. During his absence, both his parents had died as well as his patron, Sir George Barne.

After his return, using capital from inherited land, he set about establishing his own trade. By 1568 he had married to Alice Carleill (c. 1535 - 1602). She was Barne's granddaughter and the daughter of Alexander Carleill. Her brother was Christopher Carleill and she was the stepdaughter of Francis Walsingham. Through these new family connections he had a number of important ties to members of the Russia Company.

After 1567, Christopher was sent to the Baltic as chief of the English factory there, trading for the benefit of the Russia Company (during this time he also had to defend himself against accusations that he was trading on his own account). From 1575, Queen Elizabeth was employing Hoddesdon as a financial agent in Germany, and by 1578 he was the master of the Merchant Adventures in Hamburg, and free to trade for himself. Noted activitity included:

- Ventured in Frobisher's search for the north-west passage
- 1580, Commissioner to assay Frobisher's supposed gold ore
- 1580, investor in a voyage to Brazil
- 1580 - 82, sending intelligence from Emden and Antwerp to Walsingham and Leicester

As a result of his dealings, Christopher had become wealthy. He owned a house at Bishopsgate, London, and in 1582 he bought from his old patron's farmily, the Barne's, the manor of Leighton Buzzard. He then proceeded to improve his estates by enclosures, which involved him in a number of disputes with tenants. In 1591 -2 he was made Sheriff of Bedfordshire.

By 1600 Christopher had become the master of the Company of Merchant Adventures and on the 23rd July 1603 he was knighted by James I. In 1605 he became a charter member of the Spanish Company.

Christopher only had one child, a daughter called Ursula, born circa 1572-3. She married in 1588 to Sir John Leigh, of Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, and she died around 1597. Hoddesdon's first wife Alice died in 1602, and in 1604 he remarried to Elizabeth, who was the daughter of William Blount of Osbaston, Leicestershire and the widow of Richard Saunders of Dinton, Buckinghamshire.

Christopher Hoddesdon died in Leighton Buzzard on the 8th February 1611, and was buried in All Saints church on the 14th February 1611 with a full heraldic ceremony (see also his wills).

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