BEDINGFIELD, Sir Henry (by 1509-83), of Oxborough, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. by 1509, 1st s. of Sir Edmund Bedingfield of Oxborough by Grace, da. of Henry Marney, 1st Baron Marny. educ. L. Inn, adm. 1528. m. by 1535, Catherine, da. of Sir Roger Townshend of Raynham, Norf., 5s. 5da. Kntd. by July 1551; suc. fa. June 1553.1
J.p. Norf. 1538-53, q. 1554-58/59, q. Suff. 1554-58/59; commr. relief, Norf. 1550; other commissions Norf., Suff. 1534-60 PC Aug. 1553-Nov. 1558; lt. Tower Oct. 1555-c.Sept. 1556; v.-chamberlain of the Household and capt. of the guard Dec. 1557-Nov. 1558.2
Henry Bedingfield came from an old Suffolk family with extensive estates in East Anglia. After his marriage to the daughter of one of the most favoured crown officials in the region he was named to the Norfolk bench; however, while his father lived he was not outstanding in either national or county affairs, although in 1544 he led a troop of his tenants to the army at Boulogne. In 1549 he helped the Marquess of Northampton to put down Ket’s rebellion, but was himself captured and only released after its suppression. Bedingfield seems to have supported or at least acquiesced in the Duke of Northumberland’s rise to power, for he was recommended by the Council as knight of the shire for Suffolk to the second Parliament of Edward VI’s reign. Although noted by Cecil on a list of those thought to be sympathetic to Lady Jane Grey he was one of the first to rally to Mary. His decisiveness during the succession crisis earned for him the trust of the Queen and a place on her Council. As one close to her and a major landowner in his own right following his father’s death he was elected one of the knights of the shire for Norfolk to the first Parliament of the new reign and re-elected to its successor early in 1554. When after Wyatt’s rebellion the Queen sought a stricter guardian for her sister, she found in Bedingfield the qualities necessary—honesty, loyalty, obedience and perhaps a certain lack of initiative. Possibly she realized the touch of irony in her setting as guard over Elizabeth the son of the man who had been her own mother’s custodian. Bedingfield remained at Woodstock as guardian of the princess from May 1554 to April 1555. His correspondence with the Council and Queen concerning his duties hardly bears out Foxe’s accusation of cruel treatment of his charge. It shows, rather, a severe and rigid man of limited imagination and lacking in humour, but by no means cruel; it also indicates that he had much to endure from Elizabeth’s temper and her constant importunity.3
In June 1556 Bedingfield surrendered an annuity of £100 (granted to him for his services in July 1553), together with two Yorkshire manors, receiving in return the manor of Uphall and the reversion of numerous other lands in Norfolk. His promotion at court in December 1557 marked a further stage in the growth of his power and influence, and preceded his re-election for a third and final time as a knight of the shire for Norfolk. There seemed no obvious limit to his career when the death of Mary and the accession of his former charge brought his career to an abrupt close. He asked Elizabeth’s forgiveness for his treatment of her at Woodstock; the Queen showed no malice but hinted that she would prefer not to see him at court. In 1569 he refused to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity, and had to enter into a bond for his good behaviour. Nine years later he was accused of refusing to attend services and giving refuge to papists, and bound over in £500 to remain at Norwich: not long afterwards he was summoned to London but excused on account of ill-health. The last years of his life were troubled by similar actions against him, but he was fortunate in having at court a son-in-law, Henry Seckford, who in December 1581 obtained permission to take the old man into his own home ‘until he may pass over the remembrance of the lady his wife, lately deceased’. Bedingfield made his will on 16 Aug. 1583. He had previously settled some of his lands on his younger sons and he divided his goods between them and his daughters, apart from some heirlooms which were to descend with Oxborough manor. Bedingfield died on 22 Aug. and was buried at Oxborough.4
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Roger Virgoe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/98/51. Vis. Norf. (Norf. Arch.), i. 158-9; DNB; CPR, 1553, p. 265; C142/200/61.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII , xiii-xxi; CPR, 1569-72, p. 217; APC, iv. 318; v. 26, 110, 361; HMC 3rd Rep. 238-9; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 162.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, vii, xii, xiii, xix; Blomefield, Norf. iii. 240, 243; Lansd. 3, f. 36; 103, ff. 1-2; CPR, 1553, p. 265; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 5; APC, iv. 430; v, 26, 110; Foxe, Acts and Mons. viii. 614-20; Add. 34563 largely ptd. in Norf. Arch. iv. 140-226.
- 4. CPR, 1555-7, p. 76; Foxe, vi. 554; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 357; APC, x. 312-16; xi, xii, xiii passim; PCC 16 Butts; C142/200/61; Blomefield, vi. 187; Pevsner, N.W. and S. Norf. 281.