NAUNTON, William (by 1511-52/53), of Alderton, Suff.

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 1511, 1st s. of Thomas Naunton of Alderton by 2nd w. Margery, da. of Richard Basiarde. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1525. m. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Anthony Wingfield of Letheringham, 6s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Servant, household of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk by 1537, treasurer by 1540-15; j.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 1539-44; commr. musters 1546, relief 1550; gent. at arms in Feb. 1547; marshal of the King’s bench 1550-d.3


Thomas Fuller, writing of William Naunton’s grandson Sir Robert Naunton, author of Fragmenta Regalia, noted the family’s great antiquity, and the evidence of place names tends to confirm his statement. By the beginning of the 16th century, however, the Nauntons counted for little in Suffolk and when in 1550 Catherine, daughter of the 11th Lord Willoughby of Eresby and widow of the Duke of Suffolk, described William Naunton as her ‘cousin’ she was referring to the connexion arising from his own marriage to a second cousin of the duke.4

After a legal education Naunton entered the service of the Duke of Suffolk, who in 1537 rewarded him with a 99-year lease of two manors in the vicinity of Alderton, and a third part of the advowson there, at a rent of £6 12s.8d. In 1538 he leased Butley priory, Suffolk, with the rectories of Butley and Capel, but when two years later Suffolk asked Cromwell to allow Naunton to purchase the priory it went instead to the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Naunton was by then beginning to serve in local administration in Lincolnshire, where he was also perhaps engaged in overseeing both the Willoughby inheritance and the vast properties which Suffolk had acquired after the rebellion of 1536. Naunton remained in Suffolk’s service until the duke’s death in 1545, but is not mentioned in his will.5

One of Suffolk’s last acts had been to procure a borough charter for Boston with a large grant of property. Naunton’s election to the Parliament of 1547 obviously reflects the influence wielded there by his widow, a forceful woman who, as Baroness Willoughby of Eresby in her own right, was a landowner to be reckoned with in the parts of Holland: a correspondent of the 2nd Earl of Rutland wrote about this time, ‘In Leicestershire Lord [blank] and the Earl of Huntingdon have the rule, in Lincolnshire, Lady Suffolk’. Whether Naunton was elected in 1547 or by-elected later is not known, as the original return is lost and the Members’ names are known only from a list revised in preparation for the session of 1552. The duchess’s patronage of Naunton did not end with this election, for between April and November 1550 she wrote several times to Cecil for assistance to her ‘friend’ and ‘cousin’ in a dispute with Richard Fulmerston: the matter at issue was to be decided by the Protector Somerset, whose wife, according to the duchess, had caused Naunton to fall under his displeasure. The dispute may have been over the marshalship of the King’s bench, in which post Naunton succeeded Fulmerston on 14 Nov.6

Naunton died during or shortly after the final session of the Parliament, and his widow presented Boston with a bill for his wages. The town first offered to pay 40s. and finally, on 17 Jan. 1553, a week before the next parliamentary election, agreed on a compromise of £6 13s.4d. If Naunton had served throughout the Parliament he would have been entitled, at the standard rate of 2s. a day, to some £33: unless the town was prepared to make only a token payment, therefore, the figures suggest that he had been by-elected and had sat only during the later sessions. Even so, the demand was clearly unwelcome, and Boston was to take care in the future that no outsiders were paid.7

On 20 June 1548 Naunton and his wife purchased manors, lands and advowsons in Suffolk from Sir Thomas and Sir William Woodhouse, and on 2 Apr. 1550 they sold these properties, or most of them, to John Bacon. No transactions in Lincolnshire have been traced but Naunton’s continued connexion with that county is shown by his appointment as an overseer of the third payment of the relief there in 1550. His will has not been found. It was probably to his son William that Sir Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk’s illegitimate son, bequeathed £40 in his will of 1551.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from education. Vis. Suff, ed. Metcalfe, 153; Harl. 1820; Add. 19143 ff. 20, 31v.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII. xiv-xvi, xx, xxi; CPR, 1549-51, p. 164; 1553, p. 355; Add. Ch. 909; LC2/2, f. 43; 2/3(1), p. 113 ex inf. W. J. Tighe.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 27-31; Cal. Chs. Bodl. Lib. ed. Turner, 420.
  • 5. Add. Ch. 909; LP Hen. VIII, xiv, xv, xxi; Wills from Doctors’ Commons (Cam. Soc. lxxxiii), 28-41.
  • 6. St.Ch.3/8/18; HMC 12th Rep. iv(1), 32; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 27-31; CPR, 1549-51, p. 164.
  • 7. Boston min. bk. 1545-1607, ff. 12v-13.
  • 8. CPR, 1548-9, p. 86; 1549-50, p. 199; 1553, pp. 74, 355; APC, iv. 226; N. Country Wills, i (Surtees Soc. cxvi), 216-17.