PAKINGTON, Robert (by 1489-1536), of London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1489, 2nd or 3rd s. of John Pakington by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Washborne of Stanford-le-Teme, Worcs.; bro. of John. educ. I. Temple, adm. 1520. m. (1) by 1520, Agnes, da. and coh. of (Sir) John Baldwin of Aylesbury, Bucks., 2s. 3da.; (2) Catherine, wid. of Richard Collyer (d.1533) of London.2
Warden, Mercers’ Co. 1527-8, 1536-d.; auditor, London 1534-6.3
Robert Pakington was born in the parish of Stanford-le-Teme where lands long held by the family of Washborne were brought to his own by his father’s marriage to Elizabeth Washborne. His eldest brother was an Inner Templar and it was the same inn that he himself entered, although as a social rather than a professional step as he was pardoned all vacations and offices and was licensed to be in commons at his pleasure. By that time, indeed, he had already been a freeman of the Mercers’ Company for ten years, having completed his apprenticeship in 1510, and had recently become a member of the livery. An exporter of cloth and an importer of sundry wares, he was one of the ‘worshipful commoners’ present at a general court of the Merchant Adventurers in 1516. Although he never became a merchant on the largest scale Pakington continued in a fair way of business; in 1535, for example, he shipped 75 long and 168 short cloths to the midsummer mart at Antwerp. His trade took him from time to time to the Netherlands, where in February 1534 he was one of the assistants of the Merchant Adventurers at Bergen-op-Zoom, and whither Stephen Vaughan sent him to report on affairs to Cromwell in September 1535. In London he lived in the parish of St. Pancras, Needlers Lane, where he was assessed at £250 in goods for the subsidy of 1523 and at 500 marks for that of 1534.4
In preparation for the Parliament of 1523 Pakington and other Merchant Adventurers were elected by the Mercers’ Company ‘to devise such articles as should be thought necessary ... as well for the enhancing and bringing up of the hanse concerning the Merchants Adventurers and for all other things ... for the weal and profit of the said company’: a few days later he received a similar charge from the City, being one of those chosen by the court of aldermen ‘to devise what things be most necessary and behoveful for the common weal of this City to be moved at this next Parliament’. A number of Acts passed by the Parliament (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, cc.1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 11) may have owed something to these initiatives. Six years later Pakington was again called upon by his company to devise articles for presentation to Parliament by the City’s Members. Of the five grievances they suggested for redress, one was to figure prominently in the proceedings of the House of Commons: it was
to have in remembrance how the King’s poor subjects, principally of London, [have] been polled and robbed without reason or conscience by the ordinaries in probating of testaments and taking of mortuaries, and also vexed and troubled by citations, with cursing one day and assoiling the next, et haec omnia pro pecuniis.
Although thus early associated with the work of this Parliament, Pakington did not become a Member of it until he was elected to replace William Bowyer for its last two sessions: among his colleagues in the House was his fathey-in-law Sir John Baldwin. Pakington may have sat again in the Parliament of 1536, for which the names of the Members for London are lost but to which the King asked for the re-election of the previous Members. According to Edward Hall I, who described Pakington as ‘a man of a great courage, and one that both could speak and also would be heard’, he spoke in Parliament ‘somewhat against the covetousness and cruelty of the clergy’.5
This anti-clerical Londoner was nevertheless a daily worshipper in the church of St. Thomas of Acon across the road from his house in Cheapside. While on his way to mass there, early on the morning of Monday 13 Nov. 1536, he was shot and killed by an unknown assailant. All the accounts of the incident derive from Hall, who describes how the report of the gun was heard by neighbours and bystanders but the assassin hidden by a dense mist. His identity was never established, but there was no lack of speculation. Hall himself suggested that ‘most like’ Pakington had been murdered by a cleric, as Richard Hunne had been a generation earlier; Foxe went so far as to name the murderer as the dean of St. Paul’s, Dr. Incent, who on his deathbed was said to have confessed ‘that he himself was the author thereof, by hiring an Italian for 60 crowns or thereabouts to do the feat’. Eventually a less controversial, if less dramatic, sequel was recorded by Holinshed, who wrote that
at length the murderer indeed was condemned at Banbury in Oxfordshire to die for a felony which he afterwards committed, and when he came to the gallows on which he suffered, he confessed that he did this murder, and till that time he was never had in any suspicion thereof.6