WINGFIELD, Sir Anthony (by 1488-1552), of Letheringham, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. by 1488, 1st s. of Sir John Wingfield of Letheringham by Anne, da. of John Tuchet, 6th Lord Audley. m. by 1528, Elizabeth, da. of Sir George Vere, 7s. inc. Sir Robert† 3da. suc. fa. Mar./July 1509. Kntd. 25 Sept. 1513; KG nom. 23 Apr. inst. 22 May 1541.2
Esquire of the body by 1509; j.p. Suff. 1510-d.; commr. subsidy 1512, 1514, 1515, 1523, 1524, dissolution of monasteries 1536, benevolence 1544/45, relief, Suff., London, royal household 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Suff. 1552; other commissions 1525-d.; sheriff, Norf. and Suff. 1515-16; PC 1539-d.; v.-chamberlain, the Household 1539-2 Feb. 1550, comptroller by 2 Feb. 1550-d.; capt. the guard 1539; member, council of Boulogne 1544; constable Denbigh castle, Denb., steward, lordship of Denbigh, chancellor and chamberlain, Denb. Dec. 1549; chamberlain, receipt of the Exchequer 1550; jt. ld. lt. Suff. 1552.3
As an esquire of the body Anthony Wingfield was present at the funeral of Henry VII, but it was the new King’s first war which brought him advancement. In 1512 he served in the Dragon of Greenwich with his kinsman Sir Charles Brandon and Sir John Seymour under the captaincy of Sir William Sidney, and in the following year his part in the capture of Tournai brought him a knighthood. Pricked sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in November 1513, he was ‘discharged’ and shortly afterwards succeeded by Thomas Gebon: the reason may have been that he was required either at court or with one of his uncles abroad, but two years later he served his term in the office. He was present at the Field of Cloth of Gold and also went with the King to Gravelines for the meeting with Charles V. He served in the campaign of 1523 under Brandon, now Duke of Suffolk, who was afterwards to use him in the suppression of the Lincolnshire rebellion in 1536. He last took the field in 1544 against the French: he commanded 500 men at the capture of Boulogne and was made a member of the council there, but he did not remain abroad for long.4
Like his prominent kinsmen Wingfield was more than a soldier: to long service in the administration of his county he was to add from 1539 responsibilities in the royal household and a seat on the Privy Council. Well placed to profit from the Dissolution, he purchased the lands of Campsea priory and those of Letheringham and Woodbridge, was appointed steward of the college at Worcester and in 1546 became keeper of the former abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. Other lands, this time in Essex, came to him after the attainder of Thomas Culpeper, but these he parted with almost immediately. In the last year of the reign he was in debt to the King and surrendered several manors in lieu of payment, but this evidently did not tell against him, for in the King’s will he was named an assistant executor and bequeathed £200. In the royal funeral procession he led the guard.5
During the Protectorate of Somerset, Wingfield was a member of the Council but he appears to have attended less frequently than he had hitherto done. Whether this reflected a lack of sympathy with the new regime does not appear, but with the outbreak of rebellion in 1549 Wingfield was to prove a strenuous and successful upholder of law and order in his county and the experience must have helped to align him with the revolt against Somerset which followed. It was he whom the Council despatched on 10 Oct. to Windsor to arrest Somerset and his adherents, an operation which he conducted without a hitch: four days later he escorted his prisoner from Windsor to the Tower. He was rewarded with offices in the Household and the Exchequer and with the constableship of Denbigh castle.6
Wingfield regularly sat for his county in Parliament. His earliest known election dates from 1529, when he was returned first knight of the shire with Sir Thomas Wentworth I. Both were followers of the Duke of Suffolk and Wingfield probably took precedence as the elder, but it was no mean achievement, for not only was Wentworth to be ennobled before the year was out but Wingfield’s uncle Humphrey, the future Speaker, was to appear in the same House in the inferior role of Member for Yarmouth. Nothing is known of Wingfield’s part in the proceedings of this Parliament, but it was perhaps during its first session that he, his brother-in-law Edmund Knightley and Knightley’s brother Richard were assaulted in Cheapside. Presumably he sat for Suffolk again in the following Parliament, that of 1536, when the King asked for the re-election of the previous Members. He was to do so in 1539, when in the course of the second session he was the bearer of several bills, including the bill dissolving the greater monasteries, from the Commons to the Lords, and perhaps again in 1542, for which Parliament only the name of one of the knights of the shire for Suffolk remains: of the other all that is known is his style ‘the right worshipful’, which would accord with Wingfield’s status as a Councillor. In December 1544, while presumably at Boulogne, he was returned for Horsham, a borough controlled by his kinsman the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. It is possible that Wingfield, sensing that his current duties at Boulogne were an obstacle to re-election for Suffolk, asked for the duke’s help in obtaining a place elsewhere or alternatively that the duke, perhaps anxious to promote the election of Arthur Hopton, offered to compensate Wingfield if to facilitate Hopton’s election he forwent his own. The opening of the Parliament of 1545 was postponed from January until the following autumn and when it assembled Wingfield, who had long since ceased attending the council at Boulogne, took his place in the House, on 23 Dec. taking three bills up to the Lords.7
The Parliament of 1547 was to be Wingfield’s last and once more he appeared as knight of the shire for Suffolk: it was also, to judge from the Commons Journal, the one which kept him most busy. Bills were committed to him which dealt with the export of bell-metal (14 Dec. 1548), the buying of pensions (19 Dec. 1548), regrators (30 Jan., 11, 12 Nov. 24 Dec. 1549 and 3 Jan. 1550), the forestalling of herring in Lowestoft Roads (12 Nov. 1549), farms (6 Dec. 1549), the ownership of sheep and farms and the export of corn, leather, cheese and tallow (6 Dec. 1549). The third session also saw him deliver bills to the Lords and append his signature to the Acts for the general pardon, the restitution of Sir William Hussey, the acquisition of a churchyard at West Drayton by Sir William Paget, and the fine and ransom of the Duke of Somerset. In February 1549 and in February and March 1552 the House granted privilege to servants of Wingfield but on the last occasion revoked the grant made to Hugh Flood after receiving a petition against it. Flood’s escape from custody and recapture engaged the attention of the House and of Wingfield himself for several days.8
On the list of Members of this Parliament, as revised in the winter of 1551-2, Wingfield is marked ‘mortuus’, but he survived its dissolution by four months, dying on 15 Aug. 1552 at the house of his friend (Sir) John Gates at Bethnal Green. He had made his will two days earlier, providing for his family and servants, and naming as executors his wife and his second but eldest surviving son Robert, and as supervisor Sir Thomas Wentworth II, 2nd Lord Wentworth. He was buried at Stepney on 21 Aug.9
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: R. J.W. Swales
- 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. DNB; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 79; LP Hen. VIII, i, iv, xvi; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 457; J. M. Wingfield, Some Recs. Wingfield Fam., 32; M. E. Wingfield, Visct. Powerscourt, Muniments of Wingfield, 3-4, 30.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, i-iv, viii, xi, xiii, xix, xx; Statutes, iii. 83, 116, 172; CPR, 1547-8, p. 89; 1549-51, pp. 163, 291; 1550-3, p. 395; 1553, pp. 358, 360, 363; APC, iv. 50; D. E. Hoak, The King’s Council in the Reign of Edw. VI, 47, 49, 51, 79, 270.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, i, iii, xi, xix.
- 5. Ibid. xi, xvi, xvii, xxi; SP10/1, f. 73.
- 6. APC, ii. 342; SP10/9, f. 82; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, i. 88, 446-7, 520-1; Hoak, 44, 69, 195, 252; M. L. Bush, Govt. Pol. Somerset, 97.
- 7. C219/18B/82; LJ, i. 125, 281.
- 8. CJ, i. 5, 7, 11-16, 18, 20-23; Jordan, ii. 336; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 3 and 4 Edw. VI, nos. 24, 25, 30, 31.