TAILBOYS, Sir Gilbert (by 1500-30), of Kyme, 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 1500, 1st s. of Sir George Tailboys, de jure 9th Lord Kyme (d. 21 Sept. 1538), by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Gascoigne of Gawthorpe, Yorks. m. by 1522, Elizabeth (d.1539/41), da. of (Sir) John Blount of Kinlet, Salop, 2s. 1da. Kntd. May/Nov. 1524; cr. Lord Tailboys, adm. Lords 1 Dec. 1529.2

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Lincs. 1521, subsidy, Lincs. (Lindsey) 1523; j.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 1522-d., (Holland, Kesteven) 1528-d.; sheriff, Lincs. Jan.-Nov. 1526; bailiff and keeper of castle, Tattershall, Lincs. 1525; gent. the chamber in 1527.3


The Tailboys family, originally of Durham and Northumberland, acquired its Lincolnshire estates, together with the Northumberland lordship of Redesdale and a claim to the barony of Kyme and the earldom of Angus, through a 14th-century marriage into the house of Umfraville. Sir Luke Tailboys was knight of the shire for Northumberland in 1300 and Sir Gilbert Tailboys was the fourth of his line to serve as knight for Lincolnshire. In or about 1499 his father, who had been sheriff of both Lincolnshire and Northumberland, contracted ‘the land evil’, which enfeebled his mind, at Berwick while lieutenant of the east and middle marches. Although badly enough stricken to be thought a lunatic, he made a temporary recovery which enabled him to renew his service to the crown: a knight of the body in December 1509, when he was licensed to appoint justices in Redesdale, he fought in the French campaign of 1513. Within four years, however, he was again a sick man and in March 1517 the custody of his person and lands was entrusted to Cardinal Wolsey, whom Tailboys had first known as dean of Lincoln, and to eight of his Lincolnshire relations and neighbours, several of whom had been named executors in his will of five years before. These guardians appear to have been chosen in accordance with at least the spirit of an agreement made with the crown at the time of the first illness.4

Wolsey evidently took an interest in Gilbert Tailboys, who was presumably the man of that name listed among the cardinal’s servants in 1517, and it was probably at his suggestion (as one of his critics was later to claim), if also with the King’s approval, that Tailboys was married to Elizabeth Blount, once a maid of honour to Queen Catherine and more recently the mother of the King’s son Henry Fitzroy. The marriage is usually assigned to 1519, the year of the boy’s birth, but the first reference found to the pair is a grant made to them in June 1522 of the Warwickshire manor of Rokeby. By that time Tailboys had been appointed to the commission of the peace in Lincolnshire and had shared with Wolsey and others in a grant of the wardship of George Vernon, later his brother-in-law. In 1523 he received the first of three nominations for the shrievalty of Lincolnshire, although he was not pricked, and despite his youthfulness he may have sat for the shire in the Parliament of that year: the name of only one of the knights, Sir John Hussey, is known, and he was to be returned with Tailboys in 1529 and then raised to the peerage with him. It was this Parliament, too, which saw the passing of an Act (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, c.34) to ensure a life estate in certain Tailboys manors to Elizabeth Tailboys: ostensibly a response to a petition from Sir George Tailboys and his son, moved by gratitude for the ‘great sums’ and ‘many benefits’ brought to them by the marriage, the Act may have resulted either from the King’s wish to make further provision for his ex-mistress or from Gilbert Tailboys’s to remove some of the family property from the control of his father’s guardians. Five years later Tailboys’s mother complained to Wolsey that she could not meet all her son’s demands as well as maintain her household and bestow her four daughters in marriage: of these, Anne took as her first husband Sir Edward Dymoke, Margaret became the wife of George Vernon, and Elizabeth married Sir Christopher Willoughby, to whom she bore the Sir William who sat for Lincolnshire in 1545. Lady Tailboys also reminded Wolsey that her son already had lands worth £343 a year, a figure which contrasts sharply with the £66 13s.4d. at which he had been assessed for the previous year’s subsidy as a member of the King’s chamber.5

Returned to the Commons in the autumn of 1529, Tailboys was one of four Members promoted to the Lords before the close of the first session. Unlike his fellow-knight Hussey he had done little to deserve the honour. If he was not unsuited to it by lineage—his father had sued out a pardon in 1509 as lord of Kyme and Redesdale and Earl of Angus—his real claim arose from his peculiar relationship to the King: his stepson Richmond was being groomed for greatness, although he seems to have had no part in the boy’s upbringing. It is not known who replaced Tailboys in the Commons although late in 1532 or early in 1533 three names, those of Robert Hussey, William Skipwith and Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, were put forward.6

Tailboys survived his translation for no more than four months; he died on 15 Apr. 1530, apparently intestate, and was buried at South Kyme. His three children succeeded in turn to the barony of Tailboys, which became extinct on the death some 30 years later of Elizabeth Lady Tailboys. His widow, whose hand had been sought with apparent ardour by Lord Leonard Grey, married Edward Fiennes, 9th Lord Clinton.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first commission. CP; DNB; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 945. LP Hen. VIII, iv.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv.
  • 4. VCH Durham, iii. 286-8; Soc. Antiq. Newcastle-upon-Tyne rec. ser. i. 170; Northumb, Co. Hist. xv. 383-4, 475-6; CIPM Hen. VII, i. 971, 1037, 1043-5, 1048, 1050, 1053-4; CPR, 1494-1509, pp. 176, 611; LP Hen. VIII, i, ii; N. and Q. (ser. 8), iv. 482.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, ii-iv; Cam. Misc. ii(4), pp. xi, xii.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 7. Lincs.Church Notes (Lincoln Rec. Soc. i), 186; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 287; LP Hen. VIII, v.