HEYDON, Richard (by 1508-53), of Lincoln's Inn, London.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1508, yr. s. of Sir John Heydon of Baconsthorpe, Norf. by Catherine, da. of Sir Christopher Willoughby; bro. of Thomas. educ. L. Inn, adm. 23 Dec. 1522. ?unm.1

Offices Held

?Autumn reader, L. Inn 1539, treasurer 1542, gov. 1551-2.

J.p. Norf. 1540-d.2


Richard Heydon followed a family tradition by becoming a lawyer, but of his early years at Lincoln’s Inn all that is known is that in 1528 he was one of those put out of commons ‘for excess crying and shouting in their past revels within the term’. His later career at the inn is liable to confusion by the presence there of relatives and namesakes. If, as is likely, it was he who read in 1539 and was ordered to take up his place on the bench in the same year, it must have been a namesake who was ordered to read in 1540 and 1541, whereas Heydon himself paid £8 in February 1550 for not reading in the following Lent and was thereupon discharged from reading again.3

His long career at the inn, where he had a chamber at his death, makes it clear that Heydon was a practising lawyer. Letters written by his father in 1537 to Richard Gresham, ‘or in his absence to my son Richard Heydon’, suggest that he had some connexion with the great merchant family, perhaps as legal counsel: in 1545 he obtained the reversion of a lease of Weybourne priory, Norfolk, made in 1537 to John Gresham. He acted as feoffee a number of times for his kinsmen Sir Thomas Paston and Thomas Darcy, each time in conjunction with Nicholas Rookwood, his near-contemporary at Lincoln’s Inn, and seems to have been particularly close to Paston who made him overseer of his will and left him the remainder of a manor if Paston’s heirs male died. It was doubtless with Paston’s help that Heydon was elected to the Parliament of 1547 for Thetford belonged to the duchy of Lancaster and Paston was steward of the duchy lands in Norfolk and Suffolk. As the names of the Members for Thetford in the four preceding Parliaments have been lost, Heydon may have sat in one or more of them. Nicholas Rookwood’s seat at Euston was four miles southeast of Thetford, and Rookwood, who was himself to represent the borough in three Marian Parliaments, may also have assisted his friend’s return.4

Heydon made his will on 10 Jan. 1553; he seems not to have married and he distributed his possessions chiefly between his numerous relations. Among a number of other bequests were one to Rookwood of a horse and ‘my tablet of gold’ and another to his ‘cousin’ Clement Paston of ‘all the money he owes me’. Heydon named as executor his brother Thomas, to whom he left an iron chest in his study at London. By the time the will was proved on 28 Apr. 1554 Heydon had been dead a year, for on the previous 11 May the benchers of Lincoln’s Inn admitted William Bendlowes to the chamber which had been his. There appears to have been no inquisition post mortem. Heydon had bought Weybourne priory and its lands in Norfolk in 1545 but was licensed to alienate it to his nephew (Sir) Christopher Heydon in December 1546.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. Vis. Norf. (Norf. Arch.), ii. 187.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xvii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 87.
  • 3. Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 222, 254-7, 293.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xix, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 229; PCC 25 Coode.
  • 5. PCC 31 Tashe; Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 305; LP Hen. VIII, xx, xxi; Blomefield, Norf. ix. 451.