POYNTZ, Sir Nicholas (c.1528-85), of Iron Acton, Glos.

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.1528, 1st s. of Sir Nicholas Poyntz by Joan, da. of Thomas, 5th Lord Berkeley. m. (1) 1555, Anne, da. of Sir Ralph Verney of Penley, Herts., 1s. Sir John 2da.; (2) Margaret (d.1586), da. of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, wid. of John Jermyn of Rushbrooke, Suff., 3s. suc. fa. 1556. KB Jan. 1559.

Offices Held

Esquire of the body by 1560; j.p. Glos. 1559-c.80, sheriff 1560-70; commr. survey river Leddon 1565, piracy 1577, musters; commr. eccles. causes, diocese of Bristol and Gloucester 1574.


Poyntz’s grandmother was a daughter and coheiress of Sir William Huddsfield of Dittisham, some few miles from Totnes, where Poyntz was returned in 1559. He was related to the Devon Carews, and, through his sister’s marriage, to Sir Thomas Heneage, and at the time of his return Poyntz was at the height of his own brief court career. At Elizabeth’s coronation he was made KB and soon afterwards an esquire of the body. Why, or even if, he resigned this office has not been ascertained, but some time during 1560 he retired to his Gloucestershire estates and thenceforward is referred to as a local official. He was elected to Parliament for Gloucestershire in 1571, and was appointed to the committee of a bill about Bristol, 12 Apr. His servant was granted privilege 3 May.1

Poyntz was a considerable landowner in the county, having in 1557 been granted livery of estates including the manors of Iron Acton, Acton Ilger, Tockington and Hill. In June 1560 he obtained a crown lease of ‘the disparked park’ of Pucklechurch at a rent of £40. Some of his land was held of the dean and chapter of Bristol, who early in Elizabeth’s reign brought a Chancery case against him, a man ‘greatly friended and allied’, for non-payment of £68 rent. In 1565 he sold some property in Ozleworth, where his father had built a manor house with materials from the dissolved monastery of Kingswood. The Berkeleys, who owned land at Ozleworth and Tockington, sold him part of their estates there, and for a time in 1584 he was living at Tockington Lodge. Before his death at Iron Acton on 1 Sept. 1585 he enfeoffed Thomas Throckmorton, Matthew Poyntz and others of most of his property, to the use of himself and his heirs.2

Poyntz’s surviving correspondence shows a highly strung and emotional man, one perhaps who after 1564 never recovered from his mother’s death following atrocious treatment at the hands of her second husband Sir Thomas Dyer. In 1575 Poyntz was ‘much troubled to think I must speak to any woman one loving word’, the Queen had forgotten him, and he would as soon go into hell as to the court. About 1583 he uttered ‘unreverend speeches against the Queen, the Council and all the ladies and gentlemen of the court’. By this time, too, his religion was suspect, which may explain why he put his lands in trust. His name disappears from the commission of the peace after 1579, and a report by Ralph Betham, ‘minister of the word and curate of Shepperton in Middlesex’, dated 10 Feb. 1584 states that Poyntz was ‘very well acquainted and known’ to the Catholic priest John Colleton ‘sometime of Lincoln College in Oxford, who afterwards going beyond the seas, was made priest there’, returned to England and ‘resorted ... to one Sir Nicholas Poyntz’s dwelling at Acton within three miles of Sodberry in Gloucestershire’. Poyntz was on a list of Catholics dated 1582, and his sister Frances was the mother of the abbess Joanna Berkeley. All this is not to say that the government distrusted him in local affairs: shortly before he died he was asked to supervise the despatch of 300 soldiers from Cirencester to London. He made his will in June 1585, and it was proved in the following September. The preamble refers to ‘the forged complaint of a varlet, my enemy’, possibly one of the Throckmortons, with whom he had a serious quarrel. The widow was sole executrix. Litigation among the family over its provisions went on well into the seventeenth century.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. C142/107/51; Lansd. 7, ff. 177-8; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xii. 153-4; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 129; J. Maclean, Fam. Poyntz, 74 seq.; PCC 31 Windsor; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 199; CPR, 1558-60, p. 332; EHR, xxv. 553; CP, iv. 210 n; HMC Finch, i. 21; CJ, i. 84, 87.
  • 2. CPR, 1555-7, p. 379; 1558-60, p. 332; 1563-6, p. 268; C3/20/20; C142/107/51, 210/81; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xi. 214; xii. 136, 159.
  • 3. Lansd. 7, ff. 177-8; 63, f. 187; HMC Finch, i. 20, 21, 23; PCC 42 Brudenell; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 147; W. H. Stevenson, Gloucester Recs. 65-6; Lansd. 146, f. 19; W. R. Williams, Parl. Hist. Glos. 44; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. lix. 66 seq.; lxxxviii. 24-5; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 120; SP12/168/25; Cath. Rec. Soc. xiii. 141.