KING, Matthew (by 1520-66 or later), of Malmesbury, Wilts.

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



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1520, prob. s. of William King of Bremhill. m. at least 1da.2

Offices Held

High collector of subsidy, Malmesbury and neighbouring hundreds in 1549; alderman, Malmesbury 1554-5.3


Nothing is known for certain of the origins of Matthew King. He must be distinguished from a namesake who was clerk of the check in Ireland for at least 20 years from 1543. This official, however, was known to Cromwell and so may have been the Matthew King who in one of several letters written to the minister from Italy in 1532 and 1533 explained how he had taken ship for Messina to avoid imprisonment, ‘having nothing ... but five pieces of kerseys’, which suggests that, like the Member for Malmesbury, he was in the cloth trade.4

The Member’s father was probably the William King who acquired a copyhold in the manor of Bremhill, four miles east of Chippenham, from the abott of Malmesbury for the lives of his three sons John, Matthew and Robert. None of the family was assessed for subsidy in 1524 in Malmesbury itself and Matthew King was first assessed there in 1541 when his goods were worth £20. Eight years later their value had risen to £60, £20 less than that of the goods of John Hedges, a fellow-clothier who was returned with King to the first two Parliaments of Mary’s reign. Both men were assessed on goods valued at £40 in 1552 and on lands worth £20 in 1560. At the end of Henry VIII’s reign King acquired property in Burton, Brokenborough, Malmesbury, Milbourne and Thornhill, and in 1552 he received the manor of Througham, Gloucestershire, with lands there and at Bisley, from Sir James Stumpe, who was King’s fellow-Member in 1555. Througham was alienated to John Richman ten years later and in 1564 other lands nearby were conveyed to John Stumpe who had married King’s daughter. This prosperity and King’s links with the Stumpe family made him a natural choice as Member under Mary, when Malmesbury normally returned local men, and he sat in all her Parliaments except the third, which met during his term of office as alderman. He was not one of those who ‘stood for the true religion’ in the Parliament of October 1553 nor did he oppose a government bill in that of 1555.5

The lawsuits in which King was continually involved, usually as a defendant, reveal him as a powerful and unscrupulous man. As early as July 1541 he and a fellow-clothier of Malmesbury John ‘Hogge’ (probably John Hedges) were each bound in £40 to keep the peace and to appear at the next sessions held at Salisbury. For their failure to so attend, however, they were mulcted in £10, and not £40, in circumstances later explained in a plea in the Star Chamber made by the clerk of the peace, Christopher Dysmars. King was sued for debt in London while Audley was chancellor, and between 1544 and 1547 he not only became embroiled with a carrier over the number of cloths conveyed from Tetbury to London but was accused of procuring yarn at Cirencester market from the servant of a Northampton glover, whom he then refused to pay on the pretext that £30 was owed to him; a few years later he was charged with having used another clothier’s hallmark and between December 1550 and December 1562 he was fined four times by the cloth searchers for trying to sell defective wares. He was also denounced by the administrators of the goods of John Willoughby, a clerk of Westport, for breaking into the house on Willoughby’s death. He was involved in suits over a tenement in Hen Lane, Malmesbury, and a copyhold which he had forcibly occupied on the manor of Garsdon, when this estate was still held by Richard Mody, whose widow afterwards married William Stumpe; Mody and Stumpe were the two commissioners appointed by the Protector in December 1548 to investigate the second of these cases, in which King was described by his opponent as ‘a man of dissolute and licentious living’. In the reign of Elizabeth (assuming that his parentage has been correctly given above) he brought a chancery suit against the widow of his elder brother John over the Bremhill copyhold.

Neither will nor inquisition has been found for King: he was among the townsmen to whom the crown leased monastic lands at Malmesbury in September 1566, but no one with his surname was listed among the taxpayers there ten years later.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. G. D. Ramsay, Wilts. Woollen Industry in 16th and 17th Cent. 37-39.
  • 3. E179/198/255; C219/23/142.
  • 4. Ramsay, 37; LP Hen. VIII, v-vii, ix, xviii; Cott. Vit. B14, f. 77.
  • 5. C3/107/4; Ramsay, 37; E179/197/186, 198/255, 270, 275; Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. x. 29; Wilts. N. and Q. iii. 320; CPR, 1553, p. 259, 1560-3, p. 383; 1563-6, p. 265.
  • 6. St.Ch.3/5/14; 4/4/56; C1/1093/20, 1108/75, 1115/88-89, 1207/30-31, 1240/69; C3/107/4, 49; Ramsay, 38-40; Req.2/16/21, 18/157; APC, v. 240; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 509; Pembroke Survey (Roxburghe Club cliv), i. 98; CPR, 1563-6, p. 463.