SKIPWITH, Sir William (by 1510-86), of South Ormsby, Lincs.

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. by 1510, 1st s. of Sir William Skipwith of South Ormsby by Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Tyrwhitt of Kettleby; half-bro. of Henry Skipwith. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1527. m. by 1534, Elizabeth (bur. 7 Apr. 1573), da. of Sir Richard Page of Beechwood, Herts., 1s. 5da.; 1s. illegit. Edward by Anne, da. of John Tothby of Tothby, Lincs. suc. fa. 7 July 1547. Kntd. 28 Sept. 1547.1

Offices Held

Gent. pens. 1540-47/49; feodary, duchy of Lancaster, Bolingbroke honor 1544-5; commr. relief, Lincs. 1550; other commissions, north midlands 1554-d.; sheriff, Lincs. 1552-3, 1563-4; j.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 1554-72, q. 1573/74-d.2


William Skipwith began to take part in the affairs of his native county from about 1530, and the frequency with which his name appears from then onwards in local transactions and assignments calling for legal expertise suggests that his admission to Gray’s Inn had not been a formality. Presumably it was with the help of his kinsmen the Tyrwhitts, and particularly of his father-in-law, that he obtained a post in the new royal guard of gentlemen pensioners. In this capacity he attended the funeral of Henry VIII and fought in the Scottish campaign of 1547, being knighted for his military service by the Protector Somerset. Skipwith’s father had died during the summer of that year, so it was as head of the family that he was elected to the first Edwardian Parliament, together with his relative Sir Edward Dymoke. He might have been expected to support the Protector, but nothing has been discovered about his whereabouts during the coup d’état of 1549 and he seems to have commended himself to Somerset’s successor the Duke of Northumberland, for in 1552 he was pricked sheriff. Two Parliaments were summoned during his year of office from which he was for that reason excluded. His role in the succession crisis of 1553 remains obscure, but he emerged from it unscathed. Mary appointed him to the Lincolnshire bench, and it was in the maintenance of order and the administration of his estates that the remaining 32 years of his life were to be mostly spent.3

Under Elizabeth, Skipwith enjoyed a second term as sheriff, but apparently he showed no desire for re-election to Parliament; this was not out of distaste for the Anglican settlement, for in 1564 he was noted as ‘earnest in religion’, that is to say, in the reformed faith. Following the rising of the northern earls he sued out a general pardon, but this was doubtless as a precaution rather than a necessity. He was living with his friend George Metham at Hanby when on 4 June 1584 he made his will providing for his children and appointing as executors George Metham and Andrew Gedney. He was not to die until 17 Oct. 1586, being buried at South Ormsby on the following day.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/87/26. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 889, 895; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 219; W. O. Massingberd, Ormsby, 102, 391.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 582; The Gen. n.s. xxx. 21; CPR, 1553 to 1569-72 passim; information from W. J. Tighe.
  • 3. Lincs. Wills, 1500-1600, pp. 7, 15-16; Lincs. Wills (Lincoln Rec. Soc. xxiv), 45; LC2/2, f. 41v.
  • 4. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 27; C67/49; 142/214/235; Lincs. Wills, 1500-1600, p. 112; Massingberd, 103.