BAYNTON, Andrew (1515/16-64), of Stanley and Bromham, Wilts. and London.

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



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. 1515/16, 1st s. of Sir Edward Baynton by 1st w.; bro. of Edward and half-bro. of Henry Baynton. educ. tutored by John Palsgrave. m. (1) Philippa, da. of Gyllyam Brulet, s.p.; (2) by 1554, Frances, da. of Ralph (or John) Leigh, 1da. suc. fa. 27 Nov. 1544.1

Offices Held

Gent. household of Thomas Cromwell by 1538; commr. musters, Wilts. 1546.2


Andrew Baynton was educated at court by Henry VIII’s chaplain John Palsgrave, who was one of the foremost linguists of the period. Among his fellow-pupils were Thomas Howard, Viscount Bindon, Thomas Fitzgerald, 10th Earl of Kildare, and Charles Blount, 5th Lord Mountjoy, whom he recommended in his preface to Palsgrave’s Lesclarcissement de la Langue Francoyse (1530) to follow their teacher’s advice on mastering French pronunciation. He was evidently a model pupil, becoming proficient in Latin and Greek as well as French. On completing his studies under Palsgrave he travelled abroad, and while at Paris early in 1535 he witnessed the burning of heretics: the horror of the occasion, which was to make a deep impression on him, is reflected in his letter to Cromwell describing it. In the same letter he offered his services to the minister: the offer was accepted and by 1538 he was one of Cromwell’s servants recommended for employment in the royal household, where his father was an established figure. Early in 1539 Baynton displeased both his father and Cromwell by absenting himself from court to visit a sick friend near Reading: when he himself succumbed to ‘a great cold and ague’ which delayed his return his father threatened to disinherit him. Relations between the two were already strained, the father accusing the son of filial neglect and Baynton blaming this on the burden of his duties under Cromwell. His marriage may also have caused trouble: a projected match with Catherine Bassett, step-daughter to Viscount Lisle, fell through and his eventual marriage to the daughter of the court embroiderer was probably reckoned disparaging.3

Baynton survived the fall of Cromwell and in 1541 he accompanied Stephen Gardiner and Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton, Wiltshire, on an embassy to Ratisbon; although he did so ostensibly as a personal attendant on Knyvet, his own description of himself as ‘the King’s servant’ may mean that he enjoyed official standing. Two years later an indiscretion committed in France led to his arrest there, a negotiation by Sir William Paget for his release and the holding of an Italian as hostage until his return: from the concern shown by the Council in the affair it is to be inferred that he was abroad in the service of the crown. On his father’s death in 1544 Baynton succeeded to a handsome patrimony, but one burdened with lavish legacies and probably with debts, for it was not for three years that he sued for livery. Before doing so Baynton made an ill-advised move, the outcome of which was to vex him and his family for nearly two decades. He agreed to exchange his lands in Wiltshire with Sir Thomas Seymour II. Baynton honoured his part of the bargain, but Seymour failed to assign his property to Baynton or to pay the forfeit of £4,000, so that on Seymour’s attainder Baynton’s estates passed to the crown. Although in April 1554 Queen Mary restored his inheritance, her magnanimity came too late to save him from his creditors, and the piecemeal disposal of his estates to neighbours, including Sir William Sharington, Gabriel Pleydell and Nicholas Snell, reflects his continuing difficulties. In July 1560, following a dispute with his brother Edward, he entailed the bulk of his remaining property on Edward, with reversion to younger brothers to keep it ‘in the blood and name of Baynton’. The problems arising from his inheritance may explain not only the curtailment of his career in diplomacy, his last appearance in this sphere coming in 1546 when he received a small reward for a mission to France, but also his failure to cut a figure in local administration: he was named to one minor commission only during his headship of the family. Outside his county his public career was limited to military activity in 1548 and 1557 and to his Membership of Parliament.4

As a client of Cromwell and as the heir to his father Baynton may have sat in Parliament before 1545, but by that year both of them were dead and it was under different auspices that he was returned to the last of Henry VIII’s Parliaments. At the election held at Marlborough on 20 Jan. 1545 the Members chosen were John Thynne and John Berwick, but Berwick’s name was afterwards erased from the indenture and replaced, in a different hand, by Baynton’s, although it was left unchanged a few lines below. The intrusion of Baynton was probably the work of either Queen Catherine Parr, since 1543 lord of Marlborough, or of Sir Thomas Seymour. Baynton’s father had been vice-chamberlain of the Queen’s household and he himself was already in negotiation with Seymour over their exchange of lands. By the time the next Parliament was called Seymour had married Catherine Parr, and either or both could have sponsored Baynton’s return for a Sussex borough where Seymour had recently acquired an interest; while for his part Baynton may have solicited Seymour’s favour for his fellow-Member John Vaughan, who was to marry the widow of Baynton’s erstwhile patron Sir Henry Knyvet. The loss of so many names, especially those of Members for the Wiltshire boroughs, makes it impossible to say whether Baynton sat in the Parliament of March 1553, but his return to two of Queen Mary’s Parliaments for boroughs in that shire suggests both that he prized a seat in the Commons and that, his financial troubles notwithstanding, he could still on occasion command one. Of his role in the proceedings of these Parliaments there are only negative hints. As a Protestant he cannot have welcomed the restoration of Catholicism, yet he was not numbered among those who in the first of them ‘stood for the true religion’. On this occasion he may have been constrained by anxiety over the return of his lost lands, but although their restoration in the following year removed this deterrent, he seems not to have followed the lead of Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing the government in 1555, as did his fellow-Member for Marlborough, Gabriel Pleydell. On the face of it, therefore, he may be regarded as politically innocuous.5

Some curious activities cloaked the last few years of Baynton’s life, when Henry Sharington and Gabriel Pleydell became his two chief associates. These two clearly schemed to acquire the remainder of his lands, thus depriving Edward Baynton of his inheritance. Baynton’s will, made at Chippenham three days before his death on 21 Feb. 1564, contravened the grant of July 1560 by naming Pleydell and Sharington executors with power to sell the lands. Edward Baynton maintained that the will was a forgery and eventually obtained possession of the estate.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Aged 35 in 1551, Foxe, Acts and Mon. vi. 165-7. The Gen. n.s. xi. 248; Hoare, Wilts. Downton, 7; C142/72/92, 109, 143/7; Wilts. N. and Q. iii. 133; DNB; CP40/1140, r. 476.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xxi; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 445.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, v, viii, xiii, xiv; DNB (Palsgrave, John).
  • 4. Foxe, vi. 165-7; LP Hen. VIII, xviii-xxi; VCH Wilts. viii. 162; NRA 8196, no. 328; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 11, 141; 1548-50, p. 432; 1554-6, p. 107; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxvii. 170; Wilts. N. and Q. iii. 421; iv. 160, 213, 265, 504; SP10/5/17, f. 59; 11/11/7.
  • 5. C219/18C/140; VCH, v. 123; CPR, 1554-5, p. 107.
  • 6. CPR, 1560-3, pp. 381, 384, 600; St. Ch.2/18/44; 5/B9/18, B23/26; C3/8/113; 142/143/7; PCC 8 Stevenson, 2 Morrison.