HEYDON, Christopher (1518/19-79), of Baconsthorpe, Norf.

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. 1518/19, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Christopher Heydon of Baconsthorpe by Anne, da. of Sir John Heveningham of Ketteringham. m. (1) by 1540, Anne (d.1561), da. of Sir William Drury of Hawstead, Suff., 3s. 4da.; (2) lic. 23 July 1563, Temperance (d.1577), da. of Sir Wymond Carew of Antony, Cornw., wid. of Thomas Grey of Merton, Norf., s.p.; (3) lic. 4 Oct. 1578, Agnes, da. of Robert Crane of Chilton, Suff., wid. of John Smith of Halesworth, Suff. and of Francis Clopton of Melford, Suff., 1da. suc. fa. 11 Mar. 1541; gd.-fa. 16 Aug. 1551. Kntd. 1549.1

Offices Held

J.p. Norf. 1547-d.; commr. relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; sheriff, Norf. and Suff. 1556-7, 1569-70; jt. (with (Sir) Edmund Wyndham) lt. Norf. 1560, dep. lt. 1570, custos rot. 1564-d.; high steward, Norwich cathedral aft. 1557.2


Christopher Heydon inherited landed wealth accumulated by a succession of long-lived ancestors, beginning with the John Heydon familiar from the Paston Letters. This John Heydon’s son Sir Henry acquired much land and built the house at Baconsthorpe. His son Sir John lived to a great age, outliving his own son Sir Christopher, so that Sir Christopher’s son and namesake had to wait until his grandfather’s death before succeeding to the extensive property in north-east Norfolk and the manors elsewhere in that county and in Kent.3

Heydon’s election as a knight of the shire when in his mid twenties and before attaining the headship of the family is the more unexpected in that, so far as is known, he was the first of his line since his great-grandfather to sit in Parliament and the first since its founder to do so for the shire. The fact that his kinsman and fellow-knight Sir Thomas Paston was similarly deficient in local standing suggests that both enjoyed some particular advantage. In Heydon’s case this is likely to have accrued from his first marriage, for the sheriff at the time of his election was his father-in-law Sir William Drury. Himself a Suffolk man, Drury would doubtless have secured the approval of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, with whom he had worked in the north; Heydon is not known to have served Norfolk, but his grandfather was to ask the duke to oversee the execution of his will, and a Lady Heydon, probably the younger Christopher’s mother, had an annuity of £3 6s.8d. out of one of the Howard manors. If Norfolk had any share in his election, Heydon’s inclusion in the jury which on 13 Jan. 1547, the day before the opening of the Parliament’s second session, found the Earl of Surrey guilty of treason may have signified more than his availability in London for that invidious duty.