WARNER, Sir Edward (1511-65), of Polsteadhall and Plumstead, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. 1511, yr. s. of Henry Warner of Besthorpe by Mary, da. of John Blennerhassett of Frenze, bro. of Robert. m. (1) Elizabeth (d.1560), da. of Thomas Brooke, 8th Lord Cobham, wid. of Sir Thomas Wyatt I (d.1542) of Allington Castle, Kent, 3s. all d. inf., (2) Audrey, da. and h. of William Hare of Beeston, Norf., wid. of Thomas Hobart of Plumstead, s.p. Kntd. 18 May 1544.3

Offices Held

Member, King’s household by 1537, sewer by 1545, esquire of the body by 1552; constable, Clitheroe castle, Lancs. 1542; lt. the Tower Oct. 1552-July 1553, jt. (with Sir Thomas Cawarden) Nov. 1558-63; commr. to investigate office of master of Ordnance 1553, musters, Mdx. in 1559; master, St. Katharine’s hospital and steward, East Smithfield 1560, j.p. Mdx. 1561-d., Norf. 1564, collector for loan, Mdx. 1562; steward for William Paget, 1st Lord Paget, unknown property.4


A younger son of a Norfolk gentleman, Edward Warner was a professional soldier and household official. Described in 1536-7 as of the Household in a minor augmentations grant of Nottinghamshire property, he became an active dealer in monastic property, selling or exchanging nearly as much as he bought. In one of these transactions, the purchase of the Carmelite friary at Burnham, Norfolk, in 1541, his name is associated for the first time with that of his future brother-in-law George, 9th Lord Cobham.5

Warner is listed in the army for the Netherlands in 1543, and his service in the Scottish campaign of the following year brought him a knighthood: in this campaign one of his commanders was his future parliamentary patron, the 2nd Earl of Rutland. In 1546 he was examined about the Earl of Surrey’s alleged treasonable statements but could give no information at first hand. On 8 May 1546 he was himself brought before the Privy Council for ‘indiscreet talking of Scripture matters’ but was dismissed on promising to amend: it was a foretaste of his later radicalism.6

With the accession of Edward VI, Warner advanced rapidly. He received a £50 annuity for his services to the late King and a wardship carrying an annuity of £22, while in a series of transactions with other purchasers he acquired a share in monastic and chantry lands worth between £3,000 and £4,000. He was also granted a licence to eat flesh in Lent for life, perhaps a token of his developing Protestantism. In 1549 he took the field as marshal against Ket’s rebellion and in 1552 his military prowess was rewarded with the lieutenancy of the Tower. It is slightly surprising that the Duke of Northumberland should have entrusted him with this key post, as Warner had become an intimate of the ex-Protector Somerset’s loyal colleague Lord Paget, whose house he visited 15 times between December 1550 and March 1551 and again as late as 6 Sept. 1551, only a month before Somerset’s arrest.7

Warner had begun to represent the borough of Grantham in Henry VIII’s last Parliament. He may have owed something at first to his brother Robert’s service with Catherine Parr, who held the manor of Grantham, but his immediate patron was the 2nd Earl of Rutland, as is made clear by a letter from the burgesses of Grantham to William Cecil in February 1553, when Cecil had asked for the nomination of both Members: they ‘most gladly’ granted Cecil one seat, but the other they had already committed to their former Member Warner, ‘at the special suit of the Earl of Rutland ... from which agreement, made at the instance of so noble a man, we cannot with our honesties digress’. Rutland seems to have been heir to the Hussey influence at Grantham, and was to marry a daughter of John Hussey, Lord Hussey. His connexion with Warner had apparently begun at court and in the field and had been strengthened by their common attachment to extreme Protestantism. Warner’s marriage to a daughter of Lord Cobham had also made him a figure of some standing.8

In the crisis of July 1553 Warner held the Tower for Northumberland, and Mary’s triumph brought his immediate dismissal from the lieutenancy. He was, however, re-elected for Grantham to Mary’s first Parliament, where he was one of those who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism. The outbreak of Wyatt’s rebellion inevitably cast Warner under suspicion. On 23 Jan. 1554 he was denounced to Gardiner by the Spanish ambassador for plotting against the Tower and two days later he was arrested with the Marquess of Northampton, a relation by marriage who was staying at his house by Carter Lane. Within six months Warner had sunk from lieutenant of the Tower to prisoner there, but his punishment was not to be severe: he was not put on trial, his wife continued to receive the revenues of his lands, and on 18 Jan. 1555 he and several other prisoners were ceremonially released, with ‘a great shooting of guns’. At first bound in a recognizance of £300, he received his pardon on 2 July. He was to survive the Marian period with no worse damage than the loss of a few of his monastic lands, and before the end of the reign he was even employed under Sir Thomas Tresham in a survey of the Isle of Wight.