POYNTZ, John (c.1485-1544), of Alderley, Glos.

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.c.1485, 2nd s. of Sir Robert Poyntz of Iron Acton by Margaret, illegit. da. of Anthony Wydevill, 2nd Earl Rivers. m. (1) by 1528, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Matthew Browne of Betchworth Castle, Surr., 4s. inc. Matthew 3da.; (2) settlement 1 May 1544, Margaret, da. of Nicholas Saunders of Charlwood, Surr.1

Offices Held

Sewer to Queen Catherine of Aragon in 1520; commr. for surrender of Kingswood abbey, Glos. in 1538, musters, Glos. 1542; j.p. 1539-d.2


When Sir Robert Poyntz made his will on 19 Oct. 1520 he left to his brother Thomas a life interest in the manor of Alderley, with its appurtenances in Hillesley, Kilcott and Tresham, all of which were afterwards to pass to John Poyntz and his heirs. As these lands lay in southern Gloucestershire, to the east of Wotton-under-Edge and a few miles from the western border of Wiltshire, it might be inferred that John Poyntz of Alderley is more likely to have represented a Wiltshire borough than is his namesake and remote kinsman of North Ockendon, Essex.3

His return for Devizes, however, owed less to Poyntz’s geographical propinquity than to his official connexions. Like its neighbour Marlborough, Devizes formed part of the jointure of queens consort and in 1529 its parliamentary patronage was clearly exercised by Catherine of Aragon’s vice-chamberlain, Sir Edward Darrell of Littlecote. Poyntz’s connexion with the Queen’s household, begun by his father’s vice-chamberlainship to Catherine before her second marriage, had been maintained by his own appointments in her service, first as a sewer, the office which he held when he attended her at the Field of Cloth of Gold, and later as a receiver, with his son William, of some of her lands. (It is, however, more likely to have been John Poyntz of Ockendon who was to act as receiver for both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr.) Through his first marriage, Poyntz also acquired kinship with Sir Henry Guildford, comptroller of the King’s household: in 1528 he acted as a feoffee for Guildford and four years later witnessed his will. Another friend was Sir Thomas Wyatt I who, probably in 1536, addressed a satire on the courtier’s life to ‘mine own John Poyntz’.4

If in 1529 Darrell had thus not far to look for one of his nominees to the Queen’s two Wiltshire boroughs, Poyntz’s election gave Devizes a Member familiar with clothmaking, which was the mainstay both of the town and of his own village, as he was later to inform the visiting Leland. It may thus have been as much his concern for that industry as his connexion with the unfortunate Queen which led to the inclusion of his name on a list of Members drawn up early in 1533 and believed to indicate those who, on grounds either of religion or of trade, were opposed to the bill in restraint of appeals to Rome. It is uncertain whether Poyntz, perhaps for this reason a marked man, sat again in 1536, following the King’s general request for the return of the previous Members, or in 1539, when the names of borough Members are for the most part unknown.5

In 1533 Poyntz took a 21-year lease of the manor of Symonds Hall, near Alderley, and in 1541 he was licensed to alienate his manor of Sturden to John Smith, a Bristol merchant. He joined his nephew Sir Nicholas Poyntz in accepting the surrender of the neighbouring abbey of Kingswood in 1538 and in granting pensions to the monks; they also arrested a suspect friar at Wotton, and John Poyntz later warned Sir William Kingston that there was unrest in the district.6

Poyntz made his will on 1 June 1544 and added a codicil six days later, before leaving with the army for the invasion of France. He asked to be buried without any pomp and besought Sir Nicholas Poyntz, to whom he bequeathed a silver-gilt cup, to be good to his young children. Henry the eldest son was to be cared for by his mother, who could use the rents from the former Kingswood property to ‘see him honestly kept and found during his life because he is not able, by reason of his weakness, to govern himself’. The bulk of the property was left to the second son Matthew and his heirs, with remainder to the third and fourth sons Robert (later a distinguished Catholic divine) and William; three daughters, Frideswide, Elizabeth and Alice, were to receive £40 each on their coming of age or marriage. Poyntz’s widow, who later married James Skinner of Reigate, was joined as executrix by the parson of Alderley and another resident there, but the will was placed in the care of John Anderden of the Middle Temple, who had been given an annuity of 13s.4d. and who was to assist the testator’s ‘cousin’ Charles Bulkeley and Thomas Saunders in resolving any ambiguities. Poyntz seems to have perished on the ensuing expedition, or shortly after his return from it, for an inquisition found that he died on 29 Nov. 1544, leaving the 16 year-old Henry as his heir. A painting and a drawing of Poyntz by Holbein survive.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from those of elder and younger brother, DNB (Poyntz, Sir Francis). Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 129; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 270; PCC 19 Pynnyng; C142/70/27.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, iii, xiii-xvii, xx.
  • 3. PCC 28 Ayloffe.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv, vii, xix; Sir Thomas Wyatt, The Complete Poems, ed. Rebholz, 186-92.
  • 5. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, iv. 111, 116; v. 95; LP Hen. VIII, ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, vi, xiii, xv, xvi.
  • 7. PCC 19 Pynnyng; DNB (Poyntz, Robert); C142/70/27; Holbein (The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace 1978-9), 87.