SULYARD, John (by 1518-75), of Wetherden, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. by 1518, 1st s. of John Sulyard of Wetherden by Margaret, da. of Robert Baker of Wetherden. educ. Clifford’s Inn. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Sir Edmund Bedingfield of Oxborough, Norf., 1da.; (2) by 1541, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Jerningham of Somerleyton, Suff., 2s. 2da.; (3) Alice, da. of Humphrey Carvell of Wiggenhall St. Mary, Norf., s.p. suc. fa. 20 Mar. 1540. Kntd. Mar. 1557/Jan. 1558.1
J.p. Suff. 1554-61; sheriff, Norf. and Suff. 1555-6; standard bearer, gent. pens. late 1553-late 1558; commr. sewers, Norf. and Suff. 1566.2
John Sulyard was a devout Catholic lawyer whose public career seems to have begun with the accession of Mary. He was one of a number of East Anglians who early in July 1553 hastened to her aid at Framlingham: his services then were rewarded by an annuity of 40 marks, which he later exchanged for a grant of the manor of Haughley, Suffolk. His loyalty was further recognised by his appointment, while still in his thirties and apparently only a year after his first appearance on the Suffolk commission of the peace, as sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. The surviving records of his term show him as having nothing more serious to contend with than the illegal export of corn, the troublesome behaviour of gypsies and the activities of a notorious highwayman.3
Sulyard’s two elections at Ipswich were doubtless helped by his relationship to Sir Henry Jerningham and Sir Henry Bedingfield, knights of the shire for Suffolk and Norfolk respectively in Sulyard’s first Parliament; the sheriff at the election of September 1553 was his relative by marriage Sir Thomas Cornwallis. He was not re-elected for the town to the following Parliament, when Clement Heigham, the crown’s choice as Speaker, and the court official Thomas Poley were returned, but he was found a seat in Cornwall. He was not Bodmin’s original choice, but Thomas Prideaux whom it had elected got himself returned also at Grampound and Newport iuxta Launceston: Prideaux opted for Newport and presumably with the help of Bedingfield Sulyard replaced him at Bodmin and Cornwallis at Grampound. At Preston in November 1554 his patron was probably the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Robert Rochester, and at Chippenham in 1558 it was perhaps the sheriff of Wiltshire, Sir Walter Hungerford, a former gentleman pensioner to whom the lordship of Chippenham had recently been restored and who himself sat for Bodmin in this Parliament. Sulyard must also have been known in the area through his kinship with Sir Edward Baynton, and as standard-bearer of the gentlemen pensioners he had doubtless gone to France in 1557 with the Wiltshire magnate William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke; it may have been during the St. Quentin campaign that he received his knighthood. Although the Journal throws no light on his part in the business of the House, he is not surprisingly missing from the ranks of the opposition in 1553 and 1555.4
Mary’s death brought Sulyard’s public career virtually to a close. In 1574 his name stands sixth on a list of English knights who remained firm in their Catholicism, but he seems to have caused no trouble to the government. He died on 4 Mar. 1575, leaving his eldest son Edward as heir to his lands in Suffolk. Both Edward and his widowed mother were to become well-known recusants after Sir John Sulyard’s death.