BOYS, John (by 1479-1533), of Fredville and Sandwich, Kent.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1479, 1st s. of William Boys of Bonnington and Fredville. m. (1) by 1500, Elizabeth, da. of Nicholas Aldry (Adley or Alday) of Chequer Court in Ash, nr. Sandwich, at least 3s. inc. Thomas 3da.; (2) Agnes, da. of John Roper of Eltham, 1s. 1da.; (3) settlement 10 Sept. 1531, Alice, da. of one Haman or Harman of Crayford, wid. of John Somer (d.1526) of Sandwich, s.p. suc. fa. 1507.2

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Kent 1512, 1514, 1515, 1523, sewers 1531; jurat, Sandwich 1528-d., auditor 1530, mayor 1531-2.3


The Boys family of Kent traced its pedigree to a follower of the Conqueror, and its residence at Bonnington was said by the antiquary Philipot, writing in 1659, to have lasted for 17 generations. It was John Boys’s father who had added to that ancestral manor the neighbouring one of Fredville, and when he died this passed to the eldest son while Bonnington went to the second, Thomas. From these two lines the family later split into many branches scattered over east Kent: it produced two Elizabethan Members of Parliament, William and Sir John Boys, and among its distinguished scions was the surgeon-antiquary William Boys, mayor and historian of Sandwich.4

Until he embarked on a municipal career in 1528 John Boys’s life was presumably that of a country gentleman. Among his neighbours was Vincent Engeham, who had earlier followed a similar course, and it may have been Engeham who sponsored his introduction at Sandwich, with which he had had no previous official connexion, although Engeham was not one of the pledges at Boys’s admission to the freedom on 7 Dec. 1528. That the freedom was originally thought of as ‘honorary’ in character is implied by the accompanying agreement that Boys was not to be elected mayor or bailiff to Yarmouth save at his own request. Yet Boys was a candidate for the mayoralty in both 1529 and 1530, and at the next election he was chosen; he would also have been bailiff to Yarmouth in 1532 had it not been subsequently remembered that it was not the turn of Sandwich to elect and that as mayor he was not eligible. He made his second appearance at the New Romney Brotherhood at this time.5

It was Boys’s burgess-ship of Sandwich which made him eligible to represent that port in Parliament, and nine months after acquiring it he was elected with Vincent Engeham. Both of gentle birth, and both men of property and connexion, they were of a different stamp from most of those hitherto returned by Sandwich. Although they were not expected to serve without payment—Boys himself being appointed assessor in St. Clement’s parish for the levy of the grant required—they had to wait for their money; indeed, Boys died before receiving any, although he had been given his mayoral fee of £10 and 46s.8d. for his pipe of wine, and his heirs eventually accepted £10 in lieu of the ‘great sum of money’ due to him. As this sum is not stated, no estimate can be made of Boys’s record of attendance before death cut it short. He could have been present throughout the first four sessions, but the only glimpse of him in London—and this undatable—is of his agreeing then with the other Cinque Ports Members upon a uniform contribution of ‘three purses’, which Sandwich interpreted as £3, from each port at the following Brotherhood. By contrast, the names of the witnesses to his first will, made five days before the fourth session closed, strongly suggest that this one at least he did not see out: he may indeed have made the will on returning from a city already under the shadow of plague.6

Boys died on 4 Mar. 1533, half-way through the fifth session, but whether in London or in Kent is not known. His seat in Parliament was to be filled on the following 29 Dec. by Thomas Wingfield. He had supplemented the will made on 23 Mar. 1532 by a second on the following 27 June disposing of his lands. These, which were in the hands of a group of feoffees including the attorney-general Christopher Hales, he divided principally between his younger sons John and Thomas, with the eldest, William, receiving only a modest share on the ground that he had already been ‘sufficiently advanced’; the younger sons were also to have a yearly rent of £10 from the lands of Faversham abbey, out of which they would pay 10 marks a year for ten years to support the youngest son Edward, a monk in that abbey, in study at Oxford or Cambridge. His daughters, sons-in-law, stepdaughters and servants all had money, clothing or jewelry. Asking to be buried wherever the executors chose, Boys left sums for tithes and offerings at six churches, including St. Clement’s, Sandwich, where he also endowed masses for three years for himself and his family, including his three dead wives; and he likewise made bequests to the Friars Observant at Canterbury and other friars there and at Sandwich, and to his parish priest to pray for his soul. This series of bequests shows that Boys was untouched by the reformist tendencies already apparent in Kent. A sum of £20 went to the repair of highways and 5 marks to the upkeep of St. Mildred’s, Bread Street, London. The executors were his sons John and Thomas and the supervisor their brother William, and among the witnesses was Vincent Engeham.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 39; (lxxv), 123; Berry, Kent Peds. 440-1; PCC 2 Hogen.
  • 3. Statutes, iii. 79, 112, 168; LP Hen. VIII, iii-v; Sandwich old red bk. ff. 19, 24, 26, 30, 39.
  • 4. Hasted, Kent, ix. 246, 257; L. B. Behrens, Under Thirty-Seven Kings; Arch. Cant. lxxix. 70-76.
  • 5. Sandwich old red bk. ff. 13, 19, 24, 30, 36, 37; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 208, 214.
  • 6. Sandwich old red bk. ff. 18, 68v; treasurers’ accts. Sa/FA t. 29.
  • 7. C1/739/8; PCC 2 Hogen.