GASCOIGNE, Sir William (by 1485-1540), of Cardington, Beds.

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 1485, s. of George Gascoigne of Cardington by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Refford. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Winter of Cardington, 1s. Sir John; (2) 1523/29, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Pennington of Muncaster, Cumb., wid. of Sir Walter Strickland and Sir Richard Cholmley (d.1521) of Thornton-on-the-Hill, Yorks., s.p. Kntd. June 1520.2

Offices Held

Receiver, estates of 3rd Earl of Kent temp. Hen. VII; sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 1506-7, 1513-14, 1517-18, Northants. 1518-19; almoner at coronation of Hen. VIII 1509, of Anne Boleyn 1533; j.p. Beds., Hunts. 1510-d., Northants. 1512-d., Mdx. 1524-8, Bucks. 1525-d., other counties 1525-8; commr. subsidy, Beds. 1512, 1514, 1515, 1524, Yorks. 1512, 1514, tenths of spiritualities, Beds. 1535; other commissions, Beds., Hunts. and Northants. 1510-34; treasurer, household of Cardinal Wolsey by Oct. 1523-9; steward to Sir John Neville I , 3rd Lord Latimer c.1535.3


William Gascoigne, a great-grandson of his namesake the judge, was of Yorkshire descent. His early career is obscure. There is no evidence of his having received any formal education, and Fuller’s description of him as ‘a rough gentleman, preferring rather to profit than to please his master [Wolsey]’ suggests that he kept some of the characteristics of north country families of the period. If it was he, and not one of his Yorkshire relatives, who appeared as an esquire at the funeral of Henry VII, this was his first recorded presence at court, and it may have taken place under the sponsorship of Richard Grey, a Bedfordshire magnate who had succeeded to the earldom of Kent in 1503.4

Most of what is known of Gascoigne during the early years of Henry VIII’s reign concerns his local offices, but he kept up a connexion at court, probably through the Earl of Kent: in June 1520 he was knighted in France (where the earl was attending the King at the Field of Cloth of Gold) and two years later he was present at the reception of Charles V in England. In April 1523, shortly before Kent’s death, Gascoigne was recommended to Wolsey by William Franklyn, archdeacon and chancellor of Durham, and within six months he was treasurer of the cardinal’s household. He kept the post until Wolsey’s fall and was with his master when the great seal was taken from him and he was ordered to leave York House.5

Gascoigne’s connexion with Wolsey prompts the question whether he had to convince the King of his suitability for election to Parliament in 1529. The writ for Bedfordshire was among those that the King had called for, and the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, with whom Gascoigne’s fellow-Member and relative by marriage, George Acworth, had some connexion, was to deliver other writs covered by the royal command and may have handled the one for Bedfordshire. If he needed to do so, Gascoigne doubtless set himself right with the King, as did Cromwell, another Wolseian with whom Gascoigne remained on intimate terms. In 1534, during a long dispute about the value of lands he had been forced to exchange with the King, he wrote to Cromwell for his ‘great good cheer’ at their last meeting. Gascoigne’s name appears with three others on the dorse of the Act for the sowing of flax and hemp passed during the fifth session of the Parliament as well as on the Act continuing this measure and other expiring laws passed during the following Parliament, in which he evidently served again as a knight for Bedfordshire in accordance with the King’s general request.6

After the autumn of 1536, when he provided 20 men for the Duke of Suffolk’s forces against the northern rebels and was summoned to attend the musters (later cancelled) before the King at Ampthill, little is known of Gascoigne. At some time after July 1537 he and his wife were sued in Chancery for allegedly having failed to carry out the conditions of the arrangement by which they had purchased the marriage of Lewis Dyve, who became the husband of Mary Strickland, Elizabeth Gascoigne’s daughter by her first marriage. Gascoigne was a wealthy landowner in Bedfordshire, inheriting property at Cardington and in other parishes, although the manor of Cardington came to him through his first marriage. At the Dissolution he added considerably to his estates. In 1537 he was involved in disputes over the former property of Bushmead priory, most of which had been leased by the crown to Sir John St. John. He had already been forced to agree to the King’s taking some of his Houghton Conquest land to form part of the new royal park at Ampthill, and he was anxious to have the Bushmead estate in exchange. In September 1537 he and his wife received the reversion to the property after St. John’s 21-year lease.7

Gascoigne’s Bedfordshire estates were not his only source of income. From 1526 he had received a crown annuity of £44; his service in Wolsey’s household, where in 1527 he was assessed for subsidy at £266 13s.4d., must have been profitable; and his second wife had a life interest in the property of her former husband Sir Richard Cholmley (father of Sir Roger Cholmley) in Cumberland, Kent and Yorkshire. During the last years of Gascoigne’s life, when he was suffering from recurrent ill-health, he probably left the management of at least the Bedfordshire estates to his son John. On 17 Mar. 1540 a priest wrote from Cardington:

Young Mr. Gascoigne put me in trust with the making of his father’s will and desires my abode for his spiritual comfort, and to preach at his funeral, which is like to be this week, so far is he past all help of physic.

The will, if made, has not been found, and the date of Gascoigne’s death is unknown. He was buried at Cardington where a monument was erected to his memory. John Gascoigne received livery of his lands early in March 1541.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 28 Hen. VIII, no. 9.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 172-3; Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 237; C. T. Prouty, George Gascoigne, 7-19 passim; LP Hen. VIII, iv; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 3; PCC 22 Maynwaryng; NRA 10733 (Essex RO, Mildmay Archs. D/DM/T43/1).
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, i-viii, x, xi, xiii, xiv; Statutes, iii. 83, 87, 117-18, 170; St.Ch.5/L33/28; Prouty, 10.
  • 4. Fuller, Worthies (1662), 186-7; LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv; A. F. Pollard, Wolsey, 265.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, iv, vii, xii; Letters of Stephen Gardiner ed. Muller, 43; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 24 Hen. VIII, no. 6; 28 Hen. VIII, no. 9.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xii, xiv, xx; Vis. Yorks. 135-6; C1/921/59; VCH Beds. iii. 166, 184, 187, 197, 292.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, iv, xii, xv, xvi; PCC 22 Maynwaryng; C142/38/40; Pevsner, Beds., Hunts. and Peterborough, 64.