PASTON, John (1510/12-75/76), of Paston, Norf. and Huntingfield, Suff.

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. 1510/12, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir William Paston of Caister and Oxnead, Norf., and bro. of Clement, Erasmus and Sir Thomas. m. (1) 1da.; (2) by 1565, Anne, da. of Christopher Moulton, wid. of one Arrowsmith of Huntingfield, 1da.1

Offices Held

Gent. waiter, household of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, by 1536-43, of Henry, 2nd Earl 1543-9 or later; gent. pens. from c.1542-69; keeper, Old Park, Wakefield, Yorks. 1542-62; steward, duchy of Lancaster, Cambs., Norf., Suff. 3 Nov. 1550-10 Nov. 1553, former lands of Vale Royal abbey in 1546.2


John Paston was presumably introduced at court by his father who held a minor appointment there. Although he never cut as important a figure as his younger brother Sir Thomas, he was to be remembered after his death as having been in youth ‘a gallant courtier ... with rarest virtues adorned, to courtiers all a glass.’ He became a gentleman pensioner and it was in this capacity that he ‘faithfully’ served four successive monarchs. The first trace we have of him is not at court, but in the company of his brother-in-law the 1st Earl of Rutland at the meeting with the Pilgrims of Grace at Doncaster in 1536; when not required by the King he often joined the earl, and gifts of cloth to him as one of the earl’s attendants are recorded in Rutland’s household accounts. In 1544 he fought in France under Henry VIII’s direction, and a year later the King rewarded him with an annuity of £20. In 1547 he was a mourner at the King’s funeral and shortly afterwards he performed the happier duty of attending Edward VI’s coronation.3

Paston’s election to the young King’s first Parliament was doubtless the work of his nephew the 2nd Earl of Rutland, who was constable of Nottingham castle; he took precedence over his fellow-Member, the town’s recorder Nicholas Powtrell. One of his brothers-in-law, (Sir) Francis Leke, sat for Newcastle-upon-Tyne and another kinsman, Henry Leke, for Lyme Regis. Nothing has come to light about his activity in the Commons, but as Rutland’s uncle and a household official he presumably helped the passage of a bill enacted during the first session assuring the King of certain lands from the earl. During the second prorogation he kept the earl informed about the unrest in the west and begged his nephew to obtain permission for him to leave the court and join the earl with the army in Scotland. It is possible that he sat in the second Parliament of the reign summoned on the Duke of Northumberland’s advice, but in the absence of so many names his Membership in March 1553 is uncertain: he appears to have enjoyed Northumberland’s favour as he succeeded to his brother’s post in the duchy of Lancaster, but if he did reappear in the Commons it was not as one of the Members for Nottingham.4

On Mary’s accession Paston and his brother Clement were ordered to stay with their father in Norfolk until the Queen’s pleasure concerning them became known, with the result that the pair missed the funeral of Edward VI. Nearly a month later both brothers were summoned back to court and resumed their duties there. On 13 Oct. 1553 Paston sued out a pardon as ‘of Paston, Norfolk, esquire’, but this was almost certainly a general precaution rather than one relating to his behaviour in the succession crisis earlier in the year. Although his whereabouts then have not been traced, his loyalty may have been doubted as he lost his stewardship in the duchy of Lancaster to (Sir) Richard Southwell and he was not to sit in Parliament again. His last known appearance at court was for the funeral of Mary, but he almost certainly continued to frequent it until his death, when a panegyric claimed that ‘the court laments his end’. A fter his second marriage he settled in Suffolk and kept a flock of sheep. Like his brother Clement he was drawn into the circle of Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk, and he became a regular visitor to Kenninghall. He lost his gentleman pensionership between 1 Jan. and 28 Sept. 1569, and on a list compiled in 1570 of alleged Catholics associated with the duke he was noted as indulging in ‘too broad talk for religion’. He made his will on 4 Sept. 1575, providing for his wife and two daughters and remembering several kinsmen. He appointed his wife residuary legatee and sole executrix, with two lawyers to assist her, and his brother Clement and a nephew as overseers. In compliance with his wishes his body was buried in the chancel of the church at Huntingfield where a monument was erected to his memory. His will was proved on 30 May 1576.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at death according to MI. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. iv), 216; Pevsner, Suff. 259; PCC 9 Carew.
  • 2. HMC Rutland, iv. 284; LP Hen. VIII, xvii, xx, xxi; E407/1/4, 5, ex inf. W. J. Tighe; CPR, 1563-6, pp. 278-9; Somerville, Duchy, i. 595.
  • 3. Pevsner, 259; LP Hen. VIII, xix, xxi; HMC Rutland, iv. 279, 284, 287; LC2/2, f. 42.
  • 4. M. A. R. Graves, ‘The Tudor House of Lords’ (Otago Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1974), ii. 282; HMC Rutland, i. 36; M. L. Bush, Govt. Pol. Somerset, 85.
  • 5. APC, iv. 306, 309, 330; CPR, 1553-4, p. 439; LC2/4/2; Pevsner, 259; HMC Hatfield, i. 438, 440; N. Williams, Thomas Howard 4th Duke of Norfolk, 188; PCC 9 Carew.