WENMAN, Richard (1524-73), of Witney, Oxon.

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. April 1524, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Wenman of Witney by Ursula, da. and h. of Thomas Gifford of Twyford, Bucks. educ. ?Corpus, Oxf. 1540/41. m. by 1547, Isabel, da. and event. coh. of Sir John Williams, Lord Williams of Thame, 3s. inc. Thomas 2 or 3da. suc. fa. 8 Aug. 1557. Kntd. 6 Sept. 1566.1

Offices Held

J.p. Oxon. 1561-d.; sheriff, Oxon. and Berks. 1563-4, Oxon. 1571-2.


Richard Wenman’s father held a lease of the parsonage at Evenley, Northamptonshire, and would inherit Hellidon from the Giffords, while his family’s relationship and association with the Fermors, another family of Witney origin which had risen largely through the wool trade, brought him into alliance with the predominant group in the shire. The Wenmans’ own continued interest in the wool trade may also have given Richard a link with Northampton itself, but he probably owed his return to the Parliament of 1547 for a borough which at this period customarily chose residents to the influence of his father-in-law. Sir John Williams, who himself sat in this Parliament for Oxfordshire, secured the return of his eldest son Henry for Northamptonshire and probably contributed to that of his other son-in-law Henry Norris for Berkshire: like Wenman, both were inexperienced youngsters. Norris was himself further related to Wenman through the marriage of his aunt Elizabeth Norris of Yattendon, Berkshire, to William Fermor.2

Nothing is known of Wenman’s role in the Commons and little of his life thereafter. His father-in-law rallied to Mary in the succession crisis of 1553 and his father (who had suffered outlawry earlier in the same year) was knighted on the day after the coronation, but Richard Wenman was not to sit in Parliament again either in this or the succeeding reign, when his appointment to the commission of the peace and two shrievalties presumably signalized his succession to his parents’ lands and, through his wife, to a moiety of the Williams inheritance. In 1564 the archbishop of Canterbury reported on the Oxfordshire gentry but could do no more than list those, including Wenman, who had been commended to him with the observation, ‘I know them not’. Wenman received his own knighthood during the Queen’s visit to his brother-in-law Norris’s house at Rycote. He died in March 1573 leaving the estates which he had consolidated by judicious sale and purchase to his eldest son Thomas, then aged 25. His widow erected a monument to him in Twyford church, Buckinghamshire and later married Richard Huddlestone of Little Haseley, Oxfordshire.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa’s i.p.m., E150/821/14-15. Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 178-9; F. G. Lee, Thame, 433-6; Lipscomb, Bucks, iii. 136; Corpus visus bk. (unpaginated).
  • 2. Bridges, Northants. i. 167; APC, iv. 243; Baker, Norhants. 1. 396-7.
  • 3. APC, iv. 243; VCH Bucks. iv. 255; Cam. Soc. ix(3), 81; J. Nichols, Progresses Eliz. 1. 250; C142/163/5; CPR, 1553-4, p. 374; 1558-60, pp. 73, 448; 1560-3, p. 134; 1569-72, p. 139; Lipscomb, iii. 136; VCH Oxon. vii. 177; Pevsner, Bucks. 271.