KINGSTON, Anthony (by 1512-56), of Cadleigh, Devon and Painswick, Glos.

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 1512, o.s. of Sir William Kingston of London, and Elmore and Painswick, Glos. m. (1) by 18 Oct. 1524, Dorothy, da. of Robert Harpur; (2) Mary, da. of Sir John Gainsford of Crowhurst, Surr., wid. of Sir William Courtenay I (d. 23/24 Nov. 1535 of Powderham, Devon; 2s. illegit. Kntd. 2 May 1540; suc. fa. 14 Sept. 1540.3

Offices Held

Steward of the King 1528; keeper, Sedbury park, Glos. 1528, New park, Thornbury, Glos. 1533, town and castle of St. Briavels, Glos. 1547; steward, castle and lordship of Berkeley, Glos. 1531-d., duchy of Lancaster, Glos. and Herefs. 5 Feb. 1541-d., town and hundred of Tewkesbury, Glos. 1541-d.; sheriff, Glos. 1533-4, 1550-1; sewer extraordinary by 1533; sergeant of the King’s hawks 5 Aug. 1536; j.p. Glos. 1537-d.; esquire of the body by 1539; commr. musters, Glos. 1539, 1542, chantries 1546, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; custos rot. 1546; chief steward, former lands of Cirencester abbey owned by Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, by 1547-9; member, council in the marches of Wales 1551; knight marshal 1555.4


Anthony Kingston followed his father to court. Sir William Kingston had been associated with the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and evidently through this connexion he arranged the marriage of Anthony with the daughter of a ducal servant and kinsman of Richard Harpur. The marriage was not a success and Kingston applied for a divorce in 1533, probably shortly after Cranmer’s conclusion of the King’s ‘great matter’. The archbishop felt unable to grant a separation, whereupon Sir William Kingston accused him of using the ‘old process’. Cranmer retorted that he had not only acted according to his conscience but as any judge would have, and suggested that the young couple should try to agree and so live happily as man and wife. The outcome is unknown: the pair may have separated, or Dorothy may have died shortly afterwards as Kingston was to marry again. His second marriage appears to have been no more successful and in 1552 he was accused of adultery, rebuked for it by Bishop Hooper, and fined £500 for abusing and striking the bishop.5

Kingston was often at court and in attendance on the King. He went with Henry VIII to Calais in 1532. He was present at the christening of Prince Edward, and at the arrival of Anne of Cleves in 1540 and of the French embassy in 1546. He delighted in jousting, being a challenger for the tournaments held in May 1540 (when he was knighted) and February 1547. His name often appears in Cromwell’s remembrances. At the outbreak of the northern rebellion in 1536, Kingston was ordered to join the army for its suppression and to supply 100 men; at Ampthill, Bedfordshire, he was placed in command of the entire Gloucestershire company of 1,000 men. He served in the French campaign of 1544. Five years later he played a notorious part in extinguishing the western rebellion—his marriage with Sir William Courtenay’s widow had brought him lands in Devon and this may explain both his activity and his ferocity. After the rout at Sampford Courtenay, Sir John Russell, Baron Russell, instructed him to organize the pursuit of the fugitives, and made him his deputy and provost marshal in the field with responsibility to execute the Cornish rebels and to re-establish peace and order.6

Several years before his father’s death Kingston began to assume an important role in the affairs of Gloucestershire and this he maintained until his own death. He expanded his influence and estates there by small and infrequent purchases of monastic property, the most important being the manor of Quenington in 1545. On 27 Aug. 1550 he received a licence to retain 60 men. After the death of Edward VI, Jane Grey wrote to Kingston and John St. Loe on 18 July 1553, ordering them to muster forces and march to Buckinghamshire in her support, but her cause was probably lost before they were able to act.7

Kingston was returned with his father for Gloucestershire to the Parliament of 1539. Three days after his election on 1 Apr. he wrote to Cromwell to complain that the commissions for musters had only been received on 28 Mar. and to say that he would return to the court as soon as he had fulfilled his commission. During the third session he must have obtained leave of absence for at least six days so that he could take part in the May tournament. Since he served on the commission to appoint collectors for the subsidy granted during the Parliament of 1542, he may then have sat for the shire again; in the three succeeding Parliaments he took the senior seat. Kingston was not chosen to sit in the first three Marian Parliaments probably because his Protestantism was well known to the Queen, and perhaps significantly it was not until after he had served as one of the commissioners responsible for the burning of Bishop Hooper that he secured re-election.8

During the Parliament of 1555 Kingston had three bills committed to him, the first on 6 Nov. ‘for weavers in Gloucestershire to have greater wages’, the second on 19 Nov. ‘touching clothmakers, weavers and tuckers’, and the third on 23 Nov. ‘touching an order for watermen and boats upon the Thames’. This activity was inoffensive. What disturbed the Queen were his efforts to obstruct the passage of several bills and to organize opposition. Informants drew the Council’s notice to a dinner, attended by Kingston, where parliamentary matters had been openly discussed. A main government bill was rejected through the intervention of several who had attended this dinner, when they stopped Members from leaving the chamber until it was put to the vote. Kingston, who had led this action by seizing the key and locking the chamber door, was on 10 Dec. committed for his ‘contemptuous behaviour and great disorder’ to the Tower, from where he was discharged on 24 Dec. only after he had humbly submitted and acknowledged his offences.9

This speedy action by the Council did not subdue Kingston but rather engendered resentment. On his release and return to the west he became embroiled in the conspiracy of February 1556. The conspirators acted so injudiciously that their plans were discovered, and their arrest ordered. On 8 and 9 Apr. Kingston was examined about his part at Coberley, Gloucestershire. While being taken to London for trial, he died on 14 Apr. at Cirencester. Apparently he had made no will. His niece Frances, wife of Sir Henry Jerningham, was found to be his heir at an inquisition held on 10 Oct. 1556 and she inherited most of his estates. Kingston’s two illegitimate sons, Anthony and Edmund, received several small properties in Gloucestershire.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Hatfield 207.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first shrievalty. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. vi. 292; xix. 312; Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 246; Wriothesley’s Chron. i. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xi), 117; LP Hen. VIII, iv.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, ii, iv, vi-viii, xi, xii, xvi, xvii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1550-3, p. 394; 1553, pp. 351, 413; 1553-4, p. 19; Somerville, Duchy, i. 637; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 469; information from A.J.A. Malkiewicz; C60/35 m. 10; SC6 Edw. VI, 188, f. 4.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, vi; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. lx. 86; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, ii. 301.
  • 6. HMC Bath, iv. 2; LP Hen. VIII, v, x-xii, xiv, xv, xix, xxi; Lit Rems Edw. VI, p. ccc; F. Rose-Troup, Western Rebellion of 1549, pp. 300, 306, 310-11; Jordan, i. 475; Carew, Survey Cornw. ed. Halliday, 127.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xviii, xix, xxi; CPR, 1549-50, p. 327; 1550-3, p. 411; DKR, x. 225; APC, iii. 269; Strype, iii(1), 15-16; VCH Glos. xi. 16, 49, 61, 66, 152.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, xv; Wriothesley’s Chron. i. 116-17; Strype, iii(1), 15-16; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 653; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 108; C60/355 m. 5.
  • 9. CJ, i. 43-45; APC, v. 202, 207-8; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xliii); 98; CSP Dom. 1547-80; p. 73; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 183-7, 189, 219; H. F. M. Prescott, Mary Tudor, 317, 334.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 79; Holinshed’s Chron. iv. 84; C142/107/50; VCH Glos. xi. 49, 66.