WADHAM, Sir Nicholas (by 1472-1542), of Merrifield, nr. Ilton, Som.

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 1472, 1st s. of Sir John Wadham of Merrifield by Elizabeth, da. of Hugh Stukeley. m. (1) Joan, da. of Robert Hill of Halsway, Som. and Bridport, Dorset; (2) Margaret, da. of John Seymour of Wolf Hall, Wilts.; (3) by June 1517, Isabel, da. of Thomas Baynham of Clearwell, Glos., wid. of Sir Giles Brydges (d.1511) of Coberley, Glos., (4) Joan, da. of Richard Lyte, wid. of William Walton; 5s. 2da. suc. fa. 20 Apr. 1502. Kntd. 18 Feb. 1504.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Som. and Dorset 1498-9, 1534-5, Devon 1501-2, 1514-15, Wilts. 1516-17; esquire of the body by 1503; j.p. Som. 1503-d., Hants 1515, Dorset 1521, western counties 1540; capt. I. o. W. May 1509-20; commr. array, Hants 1511, musters Southampton 1512, Portsmouth 1514, subsidy, Hants, Som. 1512, Som. 1514, 1515, 1524; v.-adm. 1522.2


Sir Nicholas Wadham’s life was divided between the court and the west country, with an interlude in the Isle of Wight. Pricked sheriff before succeeding to the headship of his family and put on the bench not long after he was active in island administration before being appointed governor there by Henry VIII. Although he is not known to have fought in the French and Scottish campaigns of 1512 and 1513 he helped to muster troops at Southampton and Portsmouth. In 1520, the year that he surrendered his governorship, he went with the King to the meetings with Francis I and Charles V. Four years later he received an honorary admission to the Middle Temple.3

Elected to the Parliament of 1529, he came to stand well with Cromwell and, no doubt, was a good servant to the King. Presumably he was re-elected in 1536 in compliance with the general request for the return of the previous Members, when his presence as one of Queen Jane Seymour’s alliance would have further commended him to the regime. After an interval of 35 years he again became sheriff of Somerset and Dorset, although he seems to have left all the duties to the under sheriff. In October 1535 he asked Cromwell if he could be pricked again, so as not to lose many of the potential profits of the office, but the request was refused. During the next five years he corresponded intermittently with Cromwell (who had taken his son into his household), asking for his long and faithful service to be mentioned to the King, and hoping for some reward. He seems to have got little but further duties: in 1540 he was placed on several judicial commissions in the west. He died in the middle of this flurry of activity on 5 Mar. 1542.4

Wadham had made his will on 25 Nov. 1539. To his fourth wife he left the plate, apparel and goods that she had brought to their marriage, together with much of his own jewellery and plate, livestock and corn. To each of his three younger sons then living he bequeathed a horse and a sum of £100. Most of the remainder of his goods he ordered to be sold to pay his debts and legacies. He named (Sir) Hugh Paulet and William Portman among the executors and Sir William Stourton, 7th Baron Stourton, and Richard Pollard supervisors. None of his property outside Somerset is mentioned in this testament, which was proved 31 Jan. 1543.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., CIPM Hen. VII, iii. 295. Collinson, Som. i. 48; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 216; Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 84; LP Hen. VIII, iii.
  • 2. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 316; LP Hen. VIII, i-xvi; VCH Hants, v. 223; CCR, 1500-9, p. 358.
  • 3. CPR, 1494-1509, pp. 322, 455, 580; CCR, 1500-9, pp. 134, 345; VCH Hants, v. 223, 229, 233; LP Hen. VIII, i; M.T. Adm. i. 12.
  • 4. C1/924/1; LP Hen. VIII, ix-xv; Elton, Policy and Police, 109-10; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 580; E150/182/3.
  • 5. PCC 15 Spert.