ALINGTON, Giles (1499-1586), of Horseheath, Cambs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. June 1499, 1st s. of Sir Giles Alington by Mary, da. and h. of Richard Gardiner of London. m. (1) 1515, Ursula (d.1522), da. of Sir Robert Drury I of Hawstead, Suff., 1s. d.v.p. 1da., (2) 1524, Alice (d.1563), da. and coh. of John Middleton of London, wid. of Thomas Elrington (d.1523) of Willesden, Mdx., 4s. 6da., (3) c. June 1564, Margaret, da. of John Tolkarne of Cornw., wid. of Thomas Argall, s.p. suc. fa. 3 Apr. 1520. Kntd. 1530.2

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Cambs. 1523, 1524, tenths of spiritualities, Cambridge and Cambs. 1535, benevolence, Cambs. 1544/45, musters 1546, relief, Cambs., Suff. and Cambridge 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Cambridge 1553, other commissions, Cambs. etc. 1530-d.; j.p. Cambs. 1524-44, 1554, q. 1558/59-d.; sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1530-1, 1545-6, 1552-3.3


The Alingtons had been Cambridgeshire landowners since the early 15th century, when the family probably moved from Devon. They also held Great Wymondley manor, Hertfordshire, by the serjeanty of offering the first cup at coronations. Giles Alington’s father performed this service at the coronations of Henry VIII and of Catherine of Aragon and he himself is known to have officiated at those of Anne Boleyn and Edward VI and presumably did so at those of Mary and Elizabeth. Two of the family were Speakers of the House of Commons during the 15th century. Alington also had a former Speaker for his first father-in-law, while his second wife was stepdaughter and pupil of another Speaker, Sir Thomas More. Two of More’s daughters were married in Alington’s private chapel at Willesden, Elizabeth to William Dauntesey and Cecily to Giles Heron.4

With such a background, it is possible that Alington sat as knight of the shire in the Parliament of 1523, for which the returns are lost; when he was returned to its successor in 1529 his connexion with More, then chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and soon to become lord chancellor, may have strengthened his claim to represent a shire in which he was already a considerable figure. It is likely that he sat again in 1536, as he is known to have done in 1539. There is nothing to suggest that his apparent absence from the last two Parliaments of the reign was due to any connexion with Cromwell; on the contrary he may have sat in 1545, since Cambridgeshire is one of the few shires for which the returns of that year are missing. He had continued to perform the other duties of a leading gentleman of his county. He was among those commissioned to keep order there at the time of the Pilgrimage of Grace, having previously been summoned for service against the rebels, a summons which was later countermanded. He was at court for the christening of Prince Edward in 1537, and at the receptions of Anne of Cleves in 1540 and of the French ambassador in 1546. In 1544 he served in the vanguard of the army that crossed to France and he brought back to Horseheath a large copper ball and a bell from Boulogne as trophies of its capture.5

Alington sued out a pardon after Edward VI’s accession; his recent discharge of the shrievalty perhaps explains his omission from the new commission of the peace, for he served on the other Cambridgeshire commissions of the reign. As sheriff again in 1552-3, Alington was not surprisingly included in Cecil’s supposed list of gentlemen who would be needed to transact affairs for Queen Jane: what attitude he took when the crisis came we do not know, but he obtained a pardon from Mary and thereafter seems to have supported her government: in June 1555 he and others were thanked by the Privy Council ‘for their diligence in the well ordering’ of their shire. The encomium, in so far as it related to Alington, would have been rejected by Anne, Countess of Oxford, who two years later was to bring a Star Chamber action against Alington and others, including his servant and later son-in-law Robert Chapman, for armed entry upon a property of hers. In March 1556 Alington effected settlements of his Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire property for the benefit of several of his family, including a son, Richard, who married a sister of another Speaker-to-be, William Cordell. It may have been to Cordell that Alington owed his seat in the first Marian Parliament: as sheriff he was disabled from election within his own shire, and his return for Liverpool, a duchy of Lancaster borough, would have needed the assent of Sir Robert Rochester, the duchy chancellor, with whom Cordell, himself high in the Queen’s favour, was on terms of close friendship. Alington’s name appears on the indenture in a different hand and over an erasure. His son was to be a duchy official from 1558 until his death in 1561. This was to be the only aberration in Alington’s record of Membership, which concluded with the knighthood for Cambridgeshire in two more Parliaments. Nothing is known of his service in the House which was spread over nearly 30 years.6

Alington appears to have accommodated himself as easily to the Elizabethan regime as he had to the Marian. In 1564 he was described as ‘conformable’ in religion. Four years later he and Roger North, 2nd Lord North, were among those made freemen of Cambridge so that they might assist in the revision of the town’s electoral rules, and in 1574 the two men reported to the Privy Council on the proceedings in the Cambridgeshire musters. When in 1572 North and Alington were successively hosts to the Queen, it was noted that at Horseheath ‘things were well, and well liked’. It was there that Alington died on 22 Aug. 1586, survived by his wife, upon whom he had settled Wymondley and other Hertfordshire lands in 1564, his two younger sons and at least two daughters; he had outlived his eldest son and grandson, and his heir was a great-grandson, a boy of 14 also called Giles.7

Alington had made his will on 26 Feb. 1580, leaving cash, plate and other presents to his wife and family and £20 for division among the poor of four Cambridgeshire and Suffolk villages. The executors were his wife, his youngest son, who was also residuary legatee, a grandson, and Sir William Cordell, who had predeceased him. Lord Burghley, who was named supervisor, was left a cup worth £10 ‘for the duty, love and good will that I have ever borne unto him’ and was asked to see that the marriage arranged between Alington’s heir and a daughter of Burghley’s heir-apparent Thomas Cecil should take place, as it later did.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Date of birth given at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/36/16. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 15-16; More Corresp. ed. Rogers, 249n; Mar. Lic. London, ed. Foster, c.16; Trans. Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. iii. 1 seq.; Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 542; Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xli. bet. pp. 50-51.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv, viii, xvi, xvii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 141, 395; 1553, pp. 351, 417; 1553-4, pp. 17, 28-29; 1558-60, pp. 31, 422; 1560-3, p. 435; 1563-6, pp. 20, 41.
  • 4. Copinger, Suff. Manors, ii. 75-76; Clutterbuck, loc. cit.; CIPM Hen. VII, i. 31, 994; PCC 14 Porch; LP Hen. VIII, iii, vi; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, ccxcvii; J. H. Round, King’s Serjeants and Officers of State, 264-7; Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. lii. 30-55; S. E. Lehmberg, Ref. Parlt. 29.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xii, xiv, xix-xxi; Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xli. 6; N. and Q. (ser. 6), x. 362.
  • 6. Lansd. 103, ff. 1-2; CPR, 1548-9, p. 150; 1553-4, p. 444; 1555-7, pp. 55-56, 85; APC, v. 150; St.Ch.4/7/16; C219/21/87; Somerville, Duchy, i. 413-14, 577; LP Hen. VIII, iv.
  • 7. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 24; VCH Cambs. iii. 48; C. H. Cooper, Cambridge Annals, ii. 233; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 483-4; J. Nichols, Progresses Eliz. ii. 221; CPR, 1563-6, p. 143; C142/211/163.
  • 8. PCC 49 Windsor.