SACKVILLE, Richard II (by 1507-66), of Ashburnham and Buckhurst, Suss. and Westenhanger, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. by 1507, 1st s. of John Sackville I by 1st w., and bro. of Christopher and John II. educ. Camb.; I. Temple. m. by 1536, Winifred, da. of (Sir) John Brydges of London, 3s. inc. Thomas 1da. Kntd. by 17 Feb. 1549; suc. fa. 27 Sept. 1557.3
Gov. I. Temple 1558-d.
Escheator, Surr. and Suss. 1541-2; steward, abp. of Canterbury’s Suss. manors 1544, duchy of Lancaster lands in Suss. 1549-53, 1561-d.; commr. chantries, Suss. 1546, 1548, relief 1550; j.p. Suss. 1547, Essex, Kent, Surr. Suss. 1558/59-d.; chancellor, ct. augmentations Aug. 1548-Oct. 1553, 20-23 Jan. 1554; custos rot., Suss. 1549-d.; ld. lt. Suss. 1550; PC 20 Nov. 1558-d.; under treasurer, the Exchequer Feb. 1559-d.4
Richard Sackville was nicknamed ‘Fill-Sack, by reason of his great wealth and the vast patrimony which he left to his son’. On his own showing his success owed little to education, for he told Roger Ascham that before he was 14 his schoolmaster drove him ‘with fear of beating from all love of learning’, and although he went up to Cambridge he left without taking a degree to enter an inn of court. It was as a lawyer that he began his career and entered local administration, but as most of the references to a Richard Sackville active in Sussex during the 1530s and early 1540s are to his uncle and namesake, a servant of the earls of Arundel, little can be established about his early progress. His hard-headedness is perhaps to be discerned in the manumission of a bondman by his father and himself in 1541, as in their subsequent exploitation of their claim to knight’s service; and their joint purchase in 1544 of over £900 worth of property in London, Surrey, Sussex and elsewhere, some of which they disposed of profitably in the following two years, was certainly a portentous operation, for the younger man was to make his career and fortune in the administration and disposal of ex-monastic lands.5
Sackville was rising 40 when he was returned as the senior Member for Chichester to the first Parliament of Edward VI’s reign. Although from east Sussex, his family was well known at Chichester, where his uncle had been prominent at the local sessions, and it is possible that he had sat for the city before the death of Henry VIII; but in 1547 he enjoyed the great advantage of being the son of the sheriff, who was also a follower of the 12th Earl of Arundel. Nothing has come to light about his part in the first two sessions of this Parliament, but it was presumably as a client of Arundel’s that in 1548 he was chosen to replace (Sir) Edward North as chancellor of augmentations and about the same time given a knighthood. He did not go to the Protector Somerset’s assistance during the coup d’état in the autumn of 1549, and was rewarded by the Earl of Warwick with increased powers in his court and with lands and a lord lieutenancy: he had probably been disturbed by the unrest in Sussex which Arundel had pacified, and it may not be without significance that it was to him as ‘Mr. Chancellor’ that during the next session of Parliament the bill for repressing unlawful assemblies and risings was committed after its second reading. On the arrest of the ex-Protector and the Earl of Arundel for treason in 1551, the custody of Arundel’s heir with his schoolmasters and servants was entrusted to Sackville.6
In July 1552 Edward VI noted in his diary that Sackville had been asked to ‘surcease’ his chancellorship of augmentations, but the request was evidently withdrawn as he kept the office until the court was dissolved under Mary. The decision may have been the Duke of Northumberland’s as part of his quest for support in his political manoeuvring. Sackville seems to have been a Member of the Parliament which Northumberland caused to meet in March 1553, for ‘Mr. Chancellor’ again had a bill committed to him, this time the bill that clothiers and handicraftmen should dwell in boroughs and towns, which went to him after its second reading on 17 Mar. 1553. He cannot have sat for Chichester, or for any Sussex borough, as the names of their Members are known, but as lieutenant for the county he would have been a likely choice as one of the knights of the shire whose names are lost.7
Sackville was prepared to follow Northumberland to the point of signing the device for the alteration of the succession, and it was probably this political misjudgment, rather than the allegations of corruption against him, which accounted for his dismissal from office in October 1553. He was compensated with an annuity of £300. Early in the following year he was briefly recalled to supervise the winding-up of the court, but this summons did not indicate a return to favour. He was, however, returned to the Parliament of April 1554 for Portsmouth, where he presumably owed his election to William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, whose son Chidiock, captain-designate of the garrison there, had been a receiver under Sackville in augmentations: Winchester was to be one of the overseers of Sackville’s will and his heir would marry Sackville’s widow. How Sackville conducted himself in this Parliament has not come to light: it was to be his only appearance there during the reign, but in 1558 he was to have a son sitting in the House.8
Sackville was to resume his political career under Elizabeth: appointed a Privy Councillor before the new Queen set out for London, he figured prominently in her administration until his death on 21 Apr. 1566.