BABTHORPE, Sir William (1489/90-1555), of Osgodby and Flotmanby, Yorks.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1489/90, 1st s. of William Babthorpe of Osgodby by Christina, da. of John Sothill of Stockfaston, Leics. educ. ?M. Temple. m. by 1529, Agnes, da. of Brian Palmes of Naburn, Yorks., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 10 Feb. 1501. KB 20 Feb. 1547.2

Offices Held

Member, council of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, July 1525-36, council of Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, 1533-7, council in the north 1536-d., council of Thomas Lord Darcy by 1537; j.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1525-d., (W. Riding) 1528-47, (N. Riding) 1538-47, liberty of Ripon 1538, liberty of dean and chapter of St. Peter’s, York 1538; steward, Beverley, Yorks. in Feb. 1532; constable, Wressle castle, Yorks. 1535; commr. tenths of spiritualities, Yorks. 1535, monasteries 1536, musters 1539, benevolence, Yorks. (E. and W. Riding) 1544/45, chantries, Yorks. 1546, 1548, relief, 1550, goods of churches and fraternities Yorks. (E. Riding) 1553; steward, Howden and Howdenshire Nov. 1547; custos rot. Yorks. (E. Riding) c.1547.3


William Babthorpe’s father was a younger brother of Sir Ralph Babthorpe of Babthorpe in the East Riding. Sir Ralph, who died in 1490, left no male heir and the younger William was later among the claimants to Babthorpe, which eventually passed to his son. Babthorpe was 11 years old when his father died and three years later his wardship was purchased for £40 by his stepfather William Bedell; but it was probably his future father-in-law, Brian Palmes, a serjeant-at-law, who had most influence on his career, assisted perhaps by his brother-in-law, Palmes’s son George, a canon of York and confessor to Wolsey. Such patronage might explain Babthorpe’s early appointment to the Duke of Richmond’s council: he was to remain a member of it until the duke’s death in 1536, and afterwards became a member of the council in the north. To these crown appointments Babthorpe added service to magnates in the north. In 1533 he became one of the 5th Earl of Northumberland’s learned councillors, and between that year and 1535 constable of Wressle castle, steward of Wressle and Neasham and master forester of Wressle, with the reversion of these offices to his son; by February 1537 he was also a legal adviser to Lord Darcy. If it was through Palmes that he had become a member of York’s Corpus Christi guild in 1512, his admission may provide an approximate date for his marriage.4

His connexions with the northern nobility would doubtless have involved Babthorpe in the Pilgrimage of Grace, but it was his kinship with its leader Robert Aske which seems to have first drawn him in. His name appeared on Aske’s first proclamation of 10 Oct. 1536 and it must have been with his permission that Wressle castle became the rebel headquarters. He was with Darcy at Pontefract and thereafter at York and Doncaster, but his early sympathy with the movement evaporated and by January 1537 he was doing his part, in Darcy’s phrase, to stay the commons. On 19 Jan. he wrote to Darcy that he had heard of the scattering of Sir Francis Bigod and his company and that if Darcy had anything for London his son would attend him, Babthorpe himself not intending to go to London that term. On 1 Feb. he wrote to Aske to say that he and Sir Marmaduke Constable I, another of his kinsmen, had spoken with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and that Aske should not be discouraged if the duke gave him an unfriendly reception: Constable had said that Aske could count on the duke’s favour and the esteem of the King and Council. Whether Babthorpe was being naive or subtle is not clear, but Aske was to pay the penalty and Babthorpe go free. Later in the year Norfolk described Babthorpe to the King as just, diligent and underpaid, and in September he used Babthorpe and another to declare his intentions to Cromwell.5

Bills were committed to Babthorpe in both the Parliaments in which he sat: on 14 Dec. 1548 the second reading of a bill for the keeping of county days, on 7 Nov. 1549 one for sales and grants made by patentees out of patents, on 29 Jan. 1550 one for leases made out of lands in the right of the wife, and on 24 Apr. 1554 the first reading of a bill to repair the way between Bristol and Gloucester. He was also one of the Members mentioned by Thomas Jolye in a letter of 7 Jan. 1549 who spoke against Richard Musgrave’s bill to deprive the 2nd Earl of Cumberland of his hereditary shrievalty of Westmorland; another who spoke against the bill was Babthorpe’s fellow-Member for Yorkshire and kinsman, Sir Nicholas Fairfax. Later in November of the same year he was named to the four-man delegation sent to excuse ‘Mr. Palmer, burgess’ from appearing in the common pleas.6

Babthorpe was among the first to obtain monastic property in Yorkshire, including Drax rectory, a lease in Flotmanby and, in August 1543, the manor of Flotmanby itself. In the early 17th century, however, the Babthorpes, as Catholics, were to lose all their landed property and another Sir William, the last of his family to reside at Osgodby, was reduced to taking service as a common soldier in the Spanish army. Sir William Babthorpe died on 27 Feb. 1555 and his eldest surviving son William, aged 26 at his father’s death, had licence to enter on his lands on 16 June.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: L. M. Kirk / Alan Davidson


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 939. Glover’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 102-3; T. Burton, Hemingbrough, ed. Raine, ped. bet. pp. 310-11.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iv, v, vii, viii, x-xxi; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 91, 92; 1548-9, p. 136; 1550-3, p. 394; 1553, pp. 353, 354, 361, 416; 1553-4, pp. 26, 35; R. R. Reid, King’s Council in North, 491; M. E. James, Change and Continuity in Tudor N. (Borthwick pprs. xxvii), 22n; C66/801; 193/12/1.
  • 4. CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 939; Burton, 312; Reid. 104, 112, 138, 173n; LP Hen. VIII, xii; Gooder, Parl. Rep. Yorks ii. 8.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xii; M. H. and R. Dodds, Pilgrimage of Grace, i. 148, 150, 186, 308-9, 314, 342, 345-6; R. B. Smith, Land and Politics, 181.
  • 6. CJ, i. 5, 11, 16, 35; Clifford Letters (Surtees Soc. clxxii), 101-3.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xvi, xviii; J. T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 15, 229; C142/102/62; CPR, 1554-5, p. 80.