BYNG, Robert (by 1530-95), of Wrotham, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. by 1530, 1st s. of John Byng of Wrotham by Agnes, da. of Robert Spencer of Essex. educ. ?G. Inn, adm. 1540. m. (1) Frances, da. of Richard Hill of Hartley Wintney, Hants, 3s. inc. George†; (2) Mary, da. of William Maynard, 3s. 1da.1
?Yeoman of the chamber in 1545; prothonotary and clerk of the crown, Card., Carm. and Pemb. 3 May 1551; j.p.q. Kent 1561-d.; sheriff 1592-3.2
The identity of the Robert Byng who sat for Steyning in 1555 is not beyond dispute, but it is probable that the same man sat again in 1559, this time for Abingdon. If so, he was the Robert Byng of Wrotham, Kent, who married a stepdaughter of Sir John Mason, the patron of Abingdon; it is this Robert Byng’s career and connexions which point to his earlier election for Steyning.3
The date of Byng’s birth is a matter of inference. His son Francis’s matriculation at Cambridge in 1556 shows that he could not have been born much after 1530, but the date is pushed back by a reference to his being in the service of Walter Hendley by 1541. It does not appear that Byng went to Cambridge, as did his younger brother Thomas, three of his own sons and an older kinsman and namesake, but it was probably he (although called Richard Byng) who entered Gray’s Inn in 1540 and there formed the association with Hendley which continued until the older man’s death ten years later. If he was the yeoman of the King’s chamber who was paid a quarter’s wages in 1545 he had probably obtained the place through Mason, whose stepdaughter, herself the daughter of a household officer, he may have already married. It was doubtless also to Mason that he owed his appointment in May 1551 as prothonotary and clerk of the crown in three Welsh counties.4
Byng’s continuing dependence on Mason is reflected in Mason’s grant to him and his wife of the manor of Wrotham, for which a licence was issued on 1 Apr. 1557, and Byng’s nomination for Abingdon to the Parliament of 1559. Mason may also have had a hand in Byng’s election in 1555: then ambassador at Brussels, he could well have felt the need for a personal informant on the proceedings of a Parliament which might affect his fortunes. But Byng probably owed his return for Steyning to local rather than to court patronage. Walter Hendley’s daughter Anne had married Richard Covert, whose father John Covert was sheriff of Surrey and Sussex at the time of the election. Byng also had Sussex connexions of his own: one of his wife’s sisters married in succession a Bellingham and a Lewknor, and another took as her second husband Richard Shelley. (Byng’s nephew Henry Shelley was to sit for Steyning in 1584.) Of particular interest in view of Byng’s alignment in the House is the marriage of a third sister to (Sir) John Cheke, one of the Protestant exiles whom the government sought to penalize by Act. Byng’s name appears on a list of Members who voted against one of the government’s bills, and although this may not have been the bill against the exiles the implication is that he also helped to defeat that one.5
Mason died in 1566 and Byng passed the remaining 30 years of his life as a country gentleman and local administrator in Kent. He died on 2 Sept. 1595.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Authors: R. J.W. Swales / A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Date of birth estimated from prothonotaryship. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 27; (ibid. lxxiv), 36; PCC 76 Scott; C142/244/126.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1550-3, p. 129; 1563-6, p. 23; 1569-72, p. 229.
- 3. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 20.
- 4. The year 1537 given for Byng’s parents’ marriage in Clutterbuck, Herts, i. 160 cannot be accepted, especially as Byng’s younger brother Thomas was born no later than 1538; DNB (Byng, Thomas): LP Hen. VIII, xvi: PCC 10 Coode.
- 5. CPR, 1555-7, p. 335; Hasted, Kent, v. 11; F. R. H. Du Boulay, The Lordship of Canterbury, 326; Arch. Cant. xlviii. 179; Comber, Suss. Genealogies (Ardingly), 183; Vis. Hants, 20; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
- 6. C142/244/126.