MOUNTFORD, Simon (by 1487-1537/38), of Sutton Coldfield and Kingshurst in Coleshill, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. by 1487, o.s. of Thomas Mountford by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Gresley of Drakelow, Derbys. m. (1) Anne, da. of Sir Ralph Longford of Longford, Derbys., 1s.; (2) Joyce, da. of Nicholas Rugeley of Dunton, Warws., wid. of Hugh Harman of Moor Hall, Sutton Coldfield. suc. fa. 1504/16.1
Servant of Queen Catherine of Aragon; capt. Erassmus Shype 1513; j.p. Warws. 1529-d.; escheator, Warws. and Leics. 16 Nov. 1530-16 Feb. 1532; commr. tenths of spiritualities, Warws., Coventry 1535, for survey of monasteries, Warws. 1536; collector, Sir James Fitzgerald’s forfeited estates, Glos., Warws. by 1537.2
The Mountfords of Coleshill were descended, through an illegitimate son of a 14th-century Peter de Montfort, from a family, the de Montforts of Beaudesert, which although not related to Simon de Montfort had played an important part in the Barons’ War against Henry III. Simon Mountford’s grandfather Sir Simon Mountford had been executed for complicity in Perkin Warbeck’s rising, and according to Dugdale his death ‘did put a period to the greatness of this ancient family’: his lands were confiscated and Coleshill itself passed to a branch of the Digbys. His eldest surviving son Thomas petitioned Henry VII in the Parliament of 1504 for the reversal of the attainder and the restitution of his patrimony. The pressure of other business did not allow the passage of the necessary legislation through both Houses before the Parliament was dissolved, although, to compensate for the defect in its timetable, the King was empowered by an Act (19 Hen. VII, c.28) to reverse certain attainders, including Sir Simon Mountford’s, without further recourse to Parliament: nothing came of this and it was left to Thomas’s son Simon to redeem the family property.3
Simon Mountford is probably not to be identified with the pupil at the royal foundations at Eton and Cambridge in the last decade of Edward IV’s reign. The first certain glimpse of him is during 1507-8 when he entered into four recognizances with several midlands gentlemen. He obtained a post in the service of Catherine of Aragon and commanded a victualling ship in the campaign of 1513. Two years later and no longer in royal employment he saw military service at Tournai where he received an allowance of 2s. a day, and possibly after his return to England he sued out a pardon for an unspecified offence. His departure from Catherine’s service by 1515 did not mean a complete break with the Queen for he attended her in 1520 as a sewer to the Field of Cloth of Gold. He may have used his link with the Queen to press his suit for the restoration of the Mountford estates, and in 1523 he was doubtless encouraged by the Act (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, c.21) enabling the King to reverse by letters patent all attainders for treason passed since the beginning of Richard III’s reign. He enlisted the help of Cromwell and after regaining some interest in Kingshurst, whence he wrote to Cromwell in 1531, had his persistence fully rewarded in March 1534. He may well have sought a seat in the Parliament of 1529 (and perhaps in an earlier one for which the names are lost) as a move in his campaign. He had no known link with the Cornish borough which returned him, and his election was probably the work of John Veysey alias Harman, bishop of Exeter and King’s Councillor, who was his wife’s brother-in-law and his own landlord at Sutton Coldfield. His nomination may also have owed something to the admiral under whom he had served in 1513 and who was now 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and even perhaps to the Queen. As the King asked that the Members of this Parliament should be elected to its successor of June 1536, Mountford probably also served in that one. Nothing is known of his part in either assembly.4
As a monastic visitor Mountford persuaded Cromwell to spare Polesworth abbey, Warwickshire, from dissolution as the adjacent village depended for its livelihood on the house and 30 or 40 gentlemen’s children were brought up there; it was not to be suppressed until after his death. At the outbreak of the northern rising he was ordered to raise 30 men, and later in the autumn he was nominated but not pricked sheriff for his home county. His burgeoning local career was to be cut short. When on 21 May 1537 he made his will he asked to be buried in Coleshill church and provided for his wife (his sole executrix) and his son Francis, a minor: as supervisor he named his ‘special good lord’ Cromwell, to whose favour he commended the heir. How soon after this he died is not known: William Popley presumed that he was still alive on the following 23 Aug., but if he was he must have died within the next ten months as on 27 June 1538 his widow accounted to Cromwell for his collectorship of Fitzgerald’s lands. The will was proved on the following 30 Nov.5