HONING, William (c.1520-69), of London, Carlton Sudbourne, Suff.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. c.1520, 1st s. of Roger Honing of London by Margaret, da. and h. of Robert Owle. m. Frances, da. of Nicholas Cutler of Eye, Suff., 11s. inc. Edward 2da. suc. fa. 3 May 1541.1

Offices Held

Sec. to Edmund Bonner c.1538; clerk of signet by 1543-d., of Privy Council 1543-50; commr. relief, Suff. 1550, sewers 1566; j.p. 1554-d., q. by 1564.2


William Honing’s great-uncle and namesake came to London from Algarkirk in Lincolnshire, prospered as a merchant and purveyor and became a serjeant of the acatery in the royal household. It was probably he who obtained for his great-nephew, through the good offices of his cousin Thomas Wriothesley, a position as secretary to Edmund Bonner. In August 1538 Honing joined Bonner in France and throughout Bonner’s embassy was one of his most trusted servants, although the 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s report of February 1540 critical of Bonner’s diplomatic shortcomings was written in Honing’s hand.3

Honing probably returned to England with Bonner as he was home by 5 Nov. 1540. His father died in May 1541, leaving the care of his ‘many children’ to his wife, his son and uncle William, and on 6 Feb. 1542 the younger William Honing sued out livery of his lands. In October 1541 he had been granted the reversion of the next vacancy among the four clerks of the signet, an office which he was holding by May 1543, when he became a clerk of the Privy Council. In December of the following year he was granted the manor of Carlton, Suffolk, and in June 1546 obtained a lease of lands in North Mimms, Hertfordshire; in November 1545 his annual salary as a clerk of the Council was increased from £10 to £20.4

Honing’s patron Wriothesley was appointed one of the executors of Henry VIII’s will (which Honing wrote) but was disappointed in his expectation of a predominant influence on the government of the new reign. Honing nevertheless remained in the service of the Privy Council, from 1548 receiving a salary of £50 a year. He also acquired leases of property in London and Yorkshire. He was present in the Council chamber when Bishop Gardiner was sent to the Fleet, and again in June 1548, when the bishop was instructed in the sermon he was to preach before Edward VI. Honing and (Sir) Ralph Sadler were ordered to seal up the doors within Gardiner’s house after his committal to the Tower on 30 June. The return of Honing in 1547 for Winchester, a city with which he had no personal connexion, is probably to be explained as the intrusion of a crown official into a constituency opened to outside influence by the bishop’s disgrace. It is noteworthy that Honing’s three fellow-clerks of the Council, Sir Thomas Chaloner, Thomas Smith I and Armagil Waad, were all returned to this Parliament. Honing’s fellow-Member John Foster II was related by marriage to the Protector Somerset and Honing himself may well have owed something to Wriothesley, still a leading figure in Hampshire.5

On 7 Oct. 1549 Honing was sent with letters from the Council in London to the King and the Councillors with him at Windsor. Although there is no evidence of his being personally involved in the crisis which led to the fall of the Protector, he soon afterwards lost his office as clerk of the Privy Council, although it had been granted him for life. On 19 Apr. 1550 William Thomas was sworn as clerk and the next day the bishop of Ely and Nicholas Wotton were appointed to examine Honing ‘that he might be dispatched’; not until 28 June was he released on bonds. It may be significant that on the same day Wriothesley, a sick man, was given permission to leave London. Honing continued in office as clerk of the signet and on 2 Mar. 1551 obtained the Salisbury prebend of Chipping Farringdon, Berkshire. He was returned to the Parliament of March 1553 for the borough of Orford, which lies near Sudbourne: he may have benefited by his connexion with the leading local family of Rush and he was to name the sheriff, Sir Thomas Cornwallis, a supervisor of his will. In the month before Honing’s election at Orford, Edward Grimston, perhaps on the initiative of the Duke of Northumberland, had unsuccessfully recommended him to Ipswich.6

Nothing has come to light concerning any part Honing may have played in the succession crisis of the following summer but since he was continued in office under Mary and named to the Suffolk bench he is unlikely to have been the ‘Mr. Honnyngs’ who was sent to the Tower after Wyatt’s rebellion. On 16 Mar. 1558 he and the other three clerks drew up articles of agreement stipulating how they were to conduct the business and share the fees of the office. With his father-in-law Nicholas Cutler, Honing was granted more lands in Suffolk in February 1558, and in 1566 he bought the manor of Manton there.7

In his will of 25 Dec. 1566 Honing made provision for his wife and children out of his lands in Essex, London, Middlesex and Suffolk. He named Nicholas Cutler, Edward Grimston and Anthony Rush (also Cutler’s son-in-law) executors and William Cecil, Cornwallis and (Sir) William Petre supervisors. Honing died on 10 or 17 Nov. 1569 and was buried at Eye. A copy of a portrait of him with his family survived in 1841.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Aged ‘31 or thereabouts’ in 1551, Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 153-4. Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 96; Coll. Top. et Gen. vii. 394-400; PCC 19 Coode, 31 Alenger.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xviii; CPR, 1553, p. 359; 1563-6, p. 27; 1569-72, pp. 217-18.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, i, x, xiii-xv; G. M. V. Alexander, ‘The life and career of Edmund Bonner, bp. of London, until his deposition in 1549’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1960), 197-8.
  • 4. PPC, vii. 76; PCC 31 Alenger; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xviii-xxi.
  • 5. Wealth and Power, ed. Ives, Knecht and Scarisbrick, 94; LP Hen. VIII, xxi; APC, ii. 183, 210; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 4, 182, 269, 368; Foxe, vi. 153-4.
  • 6. Tytler, Edw. VI and Mary, i. 220, 223; APC. iii. 4, 7, 59, 60; CPR, 1550-3, p. 174; Ipswich central lib. letters, accession 2672, no. 4.
  • 7. Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc, xlviii), 66; CPR, 1553-4, p. 24; 1557-8, p. 163; 1558-60, p. 229; 1563-6, p. 506; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 90.
  • 8. PCC 25 Sheffelde; CPR, 1569-72, p. 396; Pevsner and Radcliffe, Suff. 207.