GRIMSTON, Edward (c.1508-1600), of Rishangles, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1508, 1st s. of Edward Grimston of Thorndon by Anne, da. of John Garneys or Garnish of Kenton. educ. ?Gonville, Camb. m. (1) Stirrup of Ipswich, 3s. 1da.; (2) Banks, ?s.p. suc. fa. 1520.

Offices Held

Gent. pens. 1540-53/58; comptroller of Calais 1552-8; alnager and collector of the subsidies for bays in several eastern counties 1553-72, from 1582; muster master at Berwick 1560-2, 1565; commr. piracy Suff. 1565, j.p. from c.1573, commr. musters by 1576; j.p. Essex from c.1591.


The Grimstons were a Yorkshire family, but this Member’s father, while keeping some lands in that county, had settled at Thorndon, Suffolk. On his death in 1520 he left his lands there to his widow with remainder to his son Edward. If his widow died within ten years after his own death the money from his estates was to be used to send his children to school.1

Edward Grimston is said to have gone to Gonville but did not take a degree. He must have entered royal service soon afterwards. His name was on the list of ‘the spears’ in Henry VIII’s new bodyguard in 1539, and in 1540 he was among the gentlemen pensioners who lined the way on the arrival of Anne of Cleves. As a pensioner he was in the lists of those going with the army to Flanders in 1543 and to France in the following year. He then obtained posts at Dover and Portsmouth, where he was acting captain in 1545-6. He did not obtain the command of the 2,000 men at Portsmouth although at one time it seemed likely that he would.

In Edward VI’s reign Grimston remained in favour and was granted land in Suffolk in December 1549 in fulfilment of Henry VIII’s intention and of his last will. He was a commissioner for the collection of the relief in 1550 and for the sale of church goods in Ipswich in 1553. In April 1553 he was made comptroller of Calais with effect from the previous Michaelmas. He warned the government of the bad state of the defences there, and when Calais fell in January 1558 he was captured and imprisoned in the Bastille. His ransom was set at 10,000 crowns, which was ‘more than I was anyways able to pay’. In October 1559 he obtained files from Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, cut through his bars, let himself down by sheets tied together, and made his way to Caen disguised as a Scotsman. From there he returned to England, arriving in November. Together with Sir Thomas Wentworth II and others, he was indicted for treason and confined to the house of Sir John Mason. He was tried on 1 Dec. and acquitted.2

On his release Grimston no doubt returned to his Suffolk estates, which were now restored to him, but in July 1560 he was appointed muster master of the army of the north. From August 1560 to November 1562 and in September 1565 he was at Berwick, perhaps returning to Suffolk about November 1565 when his name appears on the county commission against piracy. He was certainly settled there within the next ten years, and served on several committees, including the grain commission and the commission for musters. In 1582 he again bought the office of alnager and collector of the subsidies for bays etc., which by 1592 he had passed on to his son. It was presumably the son rather than Grimston himself who travelled to France in 1582 and 1591 and served as secretary to Sir Edward Stafford in 1587, giving information against English Catholics and Catholic plots. In July 1596 the Privy Council, at the request of Grimston, made an order for the repayment of some money spent ‘about the building and repairing of a sessions house gaol in Ipswich’, only to learn, first that it was never erected, and

second that the said sum was not leviable by law and yet that the residue of the former sum demanded by Mr. Grimston hath been 16 years since levied of the county and paid to him.3

Grimston was thrice returned to Parliament for Ipswich, where, from the time of his first election, he had property, and where he attended town assemblies ‘as of the commonalty’. In September 1567 the borough paid him £5 ‘for his pains, travail and friendship as burgess of this town at the last Parliament’, while in 1572 ‘by his own agreement he served without fee’. The Eye Member for 1589 may conceivably have been his son, but his being styled ‘esquire’, and his taking precedence of Edward Bacon, ‘son and heir apparent’ of Sir Nicholas, indicate that it was the elder Grimston who sat. In 1593 the old man, whose son had probably by this time married into the Wingfield family, represented Orford, at the (for this period) almost incredible age of 85. He had always been an active Member of the House of Commons. In January 1567 he was one of the two Members appointed by the House to distribute alms to the poor. On 7 Apr. 1571 he was appointed to the committee concerned with griefs and petitions, and on the same day he was chosen to confer with the bishops on matters of religion. He was appointed to a committee on religion on 28 Apr. Other committee work in 1571 included consideration of topics such as navigation and the navy (8, 21 May), tillage (21 May) and the river Lea (26 May). In 1572 he was appointed to a private committee (20 May) and to committees concerning the length of kerseys (26 June) and the continuance of certain statutes (28 June). Two speeches in June 1572 are reported briefly in Thomas Cromwell’s diary. He intervened in a debate (4 June) on the rearing of cattle to complain about the very great scarcity of ‘beefs ... which had need to be provided for and remedied’, and a week later (11 June) when a bill about weights and measures was before the House, made an attack on local officials:

The clerks of the market lease their offices to divers evil persons. They trouble the whole country. Although the measures be marked before, yet they will take two pence apiece for looking upon the same.

In 1576 Grimston served on committees concerning the subsidy bill (10 Feb.), the relief of the poor (11 Feb.), cloth (16 Feb., 9 Mar.), tanned leather (18 Feb.) and broggers and drovers (28 Feb.), while in 1581 he was appointed to committees on cloth (4 Feb.), wool (13, 23 Feb.), attorneys in the court of common pleas (17 Feb.), alien children (18 Feb.), the city of Carlisle (27 Feb.) and the navy (15 Mar.). During the Parliament of 1589 he was appointed to the subsidy committee (11 Feb.), and to committees dealing with private bills (12 Feb., 19 Mar.), Orford harbour (13 Feb.), forestallers (5 Mar.) and the town of Berwick (14 Mar.). In his last Parliament he was appointed to the committee on recusants (28 Feb.), the subsidy (1 Mar.), and Colchester (29 Mar.).4

He died on 17 Mar. 1600.5

LP Hen. VIII, xiv(2), p. 345; xv. p. 5; xviii(2), p. 468; xix(1), p. 162; xx(2), p. 30; APC, i. 177, 266, et passim.


Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.H.


  • 1. DNB; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 207; Egerton 2345, f. 32; Lansd. 56, f. 168 seq.; PCC 2 Maynwarying.
  • 2. CPR, 1549-51, p. 114; 1553, p. 41; HMC Verulam, 13-22; Neale, Commons, 318-19.
  • 3. APC, vii. 285; xxvi. 38, 402-3; Lansd. 48, f. 136; 60, f. 26; 71, f. 107; CPR, 1553 and App. Edw. VI, p. 389; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, pp. 81, 198, 223.
  • 4. N. Bacon, Annals of Ipswich, 270-94 passim; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 37; Vis. Essex, loc. cit.; Townshend, Hist. Colls. Hist. Colls. 17, 23, 26, 74; D’Ewes, 135, 159, 180, 181, 187, 189, 212, 224, 247, 298, 307, 308, 431, 432, 443, 446, 448, 477, 481, 512; CJ, i. 81, 83, 86, 88, 93, 96, 103, 104, 106, 108, 113, 122, 125, 127, 128, 129, 130, 134, 135; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. ff. 49, 61.
  • 5. HMC Verulam, 14.