JOHNSON, William I (by 1513-58), of Leighton Buzzard, Beds.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1513. m. by 1542, da. of Robert Stucley, 5s. 6da.2

Offices Held

Under sheriff, Beds. ?1554.3


The William Johnson who leased the prebendal manor of Leighton Buzzard in 1534 was presumably the William Johnson, ‘gentleman’, who was returned for Bedford in 1539 and 1542. According to a lawsuit brought against him by the town during 1547-8, Johnson promised on both occasions to forgo his parliamentary wages. His father-in-law’s discussion of the second promise with Sir Francis Bryan suggests that Bryan may have been influential in obtaining Johnson’s return as he may also have been in obtaining that of Henry Parker in 1545. That it was the Bedfordshire man who was returned 12 years later to Mary’s second Parliament is shown by the claim to parliamentary privilege which he made on 23 Apr. 1554 after being assaulted by one Monington for taking a net from the house of Mr. Bray in Bedfordshire. Johnson declared that he had acted as under sheriff and that the net belonged to the 1st Lord Mordaunt, while Monington explained that he had not known that his victim was a Member of Parliament; this plea did not save Monington from the Tower. The sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1554 was (Sir) William Dormer and it may have been he who brought Johnson to the notice of his uncle Sir Leonard Chamberlain, the patron of Woodstock. It may be significant that Chamberlain, who for a short while in June 1554, held land in Bedfordshire, left £20 to one ‘Barbara late wife to Thomas Johnson’ and a further 20 marks to her mother. It is even possible that Johnson is to be further identified with the servant of William Paulet, Baron St. John, who was paymaster of the works at Portsmouth between 1545 and 1547. If so, the civilian William Cooke, his immediate precursor at Woodstock and a Member for Portsmouth in April 1554, could have had a hand in his election.4

Johnson’s will of 6 June 1557 was proved on 31 Oct. 1558. He left all his interest in the prebend of Leighton Buzzard to his eldest son and namesake, while a moiety of a pasture in the manor of Leighton or Grovebury was divided between two younger sons, subject to a rent charge payable to their elder brother. Two more sons were each left £100, and four unmarried daughters received 100 marks apiece; smaller sums went to a fifth daughter, Isabel Redes, and a son-in-law, Lawrence Eton. The testator’s brother-in-law Edward Willoughby, Lawrence Eton and John Sacheverell were named executors and Lawrence Washington overseer.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. C24/27.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. A. Richmond, Leighton Buzzard, 69; PCC 66 Noodes; C24/27.
  • 3. CJ, i. 35.
  • 4. Richmond, 69; C24/27; CJ, i. 35; VCH Oxon. viii. 197; VCH Beds. iii. 361; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 167, 349; PCC 28 Loftes; LP Hen. VIII, xxi; APC, i. 274, 493; ii. passim; iii. 321.
  • 5. PCC 66 Noodes.