DIGHTON, Robert (by 1491-1546), of Lincoln and Little Sturton, Lincs.

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 1491, illegit. s. of Robert Dighton (d. 4 Sept. 1523) of Lincoln. m. by 1521, Joyce, da. and h. of William St. Poll of Lincoln, 5s. 3da.2

Offices Held

J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 1538-44; commr. musters, Lincs. 1539, benevolence, Lincoln 1544/45; other commissions 1539-d.3


Robert Dighton was the illegitimate son of an alderman of Lincoln, a mercer or draper who usually paid the highest amount in civic levies and who provided for his offspring in his will of 1523, of which Dighton was an executor. Described as a glover when admitted to the freedom on 27 Sept. 1512, Dighton may have remained in trade during his earlier years, but by his closing ones he had become a landed gentleman, a rise doubtless assisted by his marriage into the St. Poll family. Although one of the local personages who summoned the county to suppress the rising of 1536, he fell momentarily under suspicion of lacking vigour in his stand against it and was required to swear loyalty to the King. He was nominated but not pricked sheriff in November 1536, but in February 1537 he received the King’s thanks for his zeal and in March he was on the grand jury which indicted men for co-operating with the rebels. In the years which followed he became a considerable dealer in monastic lands. In 1540 he bought Stixwould priory and other lands in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire for £179, seemingly a favourable price; during the next five years he received a dozen licences to alienate various portions of this acquisition. He is found associated in transactions with the Tyrwhitts or with the 9th Lord Clinton, and on one occasion with his son-in-law William Dalison; he often appears as a tenant of the great speculator John Bellow.4

Although perhaps of sufficient standing at Lincoln 2to have procured his election in 1539 Dighton may well have enjoyed the patronage of the Duke of Suffolk, whose chief legal counsel was his wife’s cousin George St. Poll; the other Member, Anthony Missenden, owed his recordership to the duke. When in 1540 the common council arranged a levy on the city to meet their expenses it was agreed that if anyone refused to pay the Members might ‘sue for their remedy by writ’, a proviso which, if it exempted them from the normal rule that freemen of Lincoln could sue one another only in the city’s courts, discharged the corporation from its responsibility to see that they were paid; how the arrangement worked does not transpire.5

Dighton’s provision for his family in his will of 22 Feb. 1545 included £100 toward the marriage of each of his two unmarried daughters and a bequest to a younger son Christopher provided he continued his study of the law. He named his wife executrix on condition that she did not marry again. He died on 18 May 1546, when his eldest son Edmund was. aged 25 and more, and the will was proved at Lincoln on the following 17 June. He was buried in Lincoln cathedral.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2]; Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, f. 278.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. PCC 13 Bodfelde; C142/40/65, 70; Lincoln consist. ct. wills 1545-6, i. ff. 269-70v; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. l), 301 ignores his illegitimacy.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xiv, xvi, xviii, xx, xxi.
  • 4. Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, ff. 8, 13, 17v; C142/40/65, 70; PCC 13 Bodfelde; LP Hen. VIII, xi-xiii, xv-xviii, xx.
  • 5. Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, ff. 277v-78.
  • 6. Lincoln consist. ct. wills 1545-6, i. ff. 269-70v; C142/74/114; LP Hen. VIII, xxi; Lincs. Wills 1500-1600, ed. Maddison, 66.