TAYLARD, Lawrence (1498/99-1573), of Diddington, Hunts.

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



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. 1498/99, and but 1st surv. s. of Walter Taylard of Diddington by Alice, da. and coh. of Robert Forster of London. educ. M. Temple, adm. 2 Nov. 1520. m. (1) Margaret, da. of Edmund Mordaunt, 10s. 4da.; (2) Dorothy, da. of Thomas Roberds of Willesden, Mdx., wid. of Alan Horde (d.1554) of the Middle Temple, London and Ewell, Surr. s.p. suc. fa. 1515. Kntd. 4 Feb. 1531/16 Feb. 1532.1

Offices Held

J.p. Hunts. 1522-45, 1554-d.; escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 1523-4; commr. subsidy, Hunts. 1524, musters 1541, benevolence 1544/45, relief 1550; other commissions 1534-69; sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1546-7, 1555-6.2


Taylards of Diddington had practised law and sat in Parliament for almost a century before Lawrence Taylard began to do so. By the close of the 15th century his forbears had acquired all three manors at Diddington as well as property in the south of Huntingdonshire and in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire: they remained, however, well below the first rank of local landowners and their continued prominence in the area rested more on their legal attainments than on their wealth.3

Lawrence Taylard’s father died in 1515 and his mother three years later, whereupon he became the ward of his uncle William Taylard, a doctor of law and rector of Offord Darcy near Diddington. Another uncle who took an interest in him, and whose heir he became, was John Taylard of Upwood, Huntingdonshire, an Inner Templar who had sat in Henry VIII’s first Parliament, but it was to the Middle Temple that Taylard was admitted in 1520. Within four years he was named a justice of the peace for his native county, its escheator and one of its subsidy commissioners. He may also have sat in the Parliament of 1523 for Huntingdon, which lies a few miles north of Diddington, and thus have been able to add experience of the Commons to the qualifications which six years later were to secure him the junior knighthood of the shire. His achievement on that occasion perhaps owed something to the current paucity of candidates from the leading county families, a situation in which Taylard’s own standing could have sufficed for his election: already in Wolsey’s time he was described by an opponent in Chancery, although not perhaps without some conventional exaggeration, as ‘a great man of power and friends’ in the shire.4

Of Taylard’s part in the proceedings of the Parliament of 1529 nothing is known for certain, but two facts may throw indirect light on it. The first is the knighthood which was conferred on him at an early stage in that Parliament’s lifetime. Coinciding as it probably did with the knighting of Nicholas Harvey, his fellow-Member for Huntingdonshire, Taylard’s promotion may look like the counterpart of Harvey’s but it must also imply satisfaction with his conduct both at Westminster and elsewhere. By contrast, the appearance of his name on a list of Members drawn up by Cromwell early in 1533 suggests something quite different, for this list is thought to record the names of known or putative opponents of the bill in restraint of appeals and Taylard stands second on it and next to such well-known dissidents as Sir William Essex, Sir Richard Shirley and Sir George Throckmorton. It may be that Taylard’s initial acquiescence in what was demanded of this Parliament gave way to disenchantment and that the change did not escape official notice: by this time he was almost certainly married, and the strongly Catholic Mordaunts could well have influenced both his outlook and his fortunes. Such an interpretation of the meagre evidence gains some colour from Taylard’s record in local government: named to a variety of commissions, and nominated for sheriff five times between 1532 and 1541, he was passed over at each pricking and not chosen until 1546. His parliamentary career exhibits a similar pattern: it is not known whether he was returned to the Parliament of June 1536, in accordance with the King’s request for the re-election of the previous Members, but he did not sit again for the shire (save, perhaps, in 1545, when the names of the Members are lost, or in the spring of 1553, when the name of only one Member is known) until the reign of Mary.5

What looks like Taylard’s partial withdrawal or exclusion from public affairs under Henry VIII was to become more evident in the following reign. Put off the commission of the peace for his shrieval year in 1546-7 he was not restored to it nor employed, as before, on judicial ones: only three such appointments came his way. His demotion is not surprising in view of a clash between him and the Protector Somerset in October 1547. When one Dowve and certain others of St. Neots, which lies not far from Diddington, carried out the injunctions of that year to remove ‘certain images of abuse’ from the church there, Taylard, who was still sheriff, and Oliver Leder, the steward of St. Neots, tried to make them restore the images and, when they failed in this, so maltreated Dowve as to cause a tumult. Dowve complained to the Protector, who was then passing through from Scotland, and Somerset told Taylard and Leder in friendly fashion to stop molesting the image-breakers, but no sooner had he left than the two started making fresh trouble for Dowve. They were then summoned before the Council and again ordered by Somerset to behave themselves, ‘upon pain, if they were found any more culpable in that part, to be therefor sharply punished’.6

With the accession of Mary, Taylard resumed full public activity: he was restored to the commission of the peace, served again for oyer and terminer and gaol delivery, and had another term as sheriff. With his comrade Oliver Leder he reappeared in the House of Commons, which had probably not seen him for 17 years; not surprisingly, the Members who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism, did not enlist his support. Yet neither then nor later can he have distinguished himself by his zeal for Catholicism, for the Elizabethan settlement was not to interfere with his public life as the Edwardian Reformation had done: in 1564 the bishop of Lincoln categorized him as ‘indifferent’ in religion and he kept his place on the commission of the peace. He was included in that of 1573/74 but apparently died in 1573 when letters of administration were issued for his estate. His eldest son had predeceased him and the heir was a granddaughter Catherine, who married into the Catholic family of Brudenell and whose son Thomas became the 1st Earl of Cardigan.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at grandmother’s and brother’s i.p.m.s, E150/68/3, 71/4. Vis. Hunts. (Cam. Soc. xliii), 89-90; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 487; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 52, 222-3.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, iii-v, vii, viii, x, xii, xiii, xv-xviii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 75, 76, 292, 369; 1550-3, p. 141; 1553, p. 354; 1553-4, pp. 20, 29, 34; 1563-6, pp. 22-23, 41, 491; 1569-72, p. 220.
  • 3. VCH Hunts. ii. 265, 270-1; Harl. 2044, f. 113 (formerly 89); E150/10/4, 68/2, 3; 179/122/91, 99, 109.
  • 4. Vis. Hunts. 89-91; VCH Hunts. ii. 240, 327; C1/541/55.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, v-vii; ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234; xi, xvi, xix, xxi.
  • 6. APC, ii. 140-1.
  • 7. APC, vii. 58; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 29; Hunts. Wills (Index Lib. xlii), 149; Surr. Arch. Colls. xxviii. 69; J. Wake, Brudenells of Deene, 47.