SUTTON, Nicholas (by 1465-1532/33), of Rye, Suss.

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 1465, o. surv. s. of John Sutton of Rye. m. 3s. ?at least 2da. suc. fa. 1506.6

Offices Held

Jurat, Rye 1495-1503, 1504-32 or 33, mayor 1509-11, 1516-17, 1519-20, July-Aug. 1529, 1531-2; bailiff to Yarmouth 1496; commr. subsidy, Rye 1514.7


Nicholas Sutton was the only son mentioned in his father’s will of 1506. John Sutton was then about 80 years old and his son had been married long enough to have three sons of his own, James, Thomas and Richard, and, it seems, daughters for whom their grandfather made provision. Nicholas Sutton had attended his first Cinque Ports Brotherhood in 1486, and scattered entries in the customs accounts—in 1508 he shipped out six cows and in 1531 brought in some wine—reflect his perhaps limited involvement in trade.8

First chosen a jurat in 1495, when John Cheseman was mayor, Sutton was not re-elected in 1503 by Richard Berkeley; he was restored in the following year and when he became mayor for the second time in 1516 he turned the tables on Berkeley by displacing him from the juratship. This temporary demotion was the only check to his municipal progress and from 1514 he regularly headed the list of jurats, having started at the bottom; his precedence, however, he owed to length of service, not to status, for he was never styled ‘esquire’ as his father had always been. Between 1486 and 1520 he represented Rye at Brotherhood assemblies a score of times, although he only once acted as bailiff to Yarmouth. In 1514 he was one of two commissioners for Rye appointed by the crown to levy the subsidy granted in the last session of the Parliament of 1512. Although the Cinque Ports were specifically exempted from all charges by a proviso to the Subsidy Act (5 Hen. VIII, c. 17), some of the inhabitants were assessed; there followed a long struggle with the Exchequer to uphold the ports’ immunity, which they eventually won.9

The little that is known about Sutton’s parliamentary career relates chiefly to his record of attendance. In his first three Parliaments he performed well in this respect, to judge by the days he claimed and was paid for, at the standard rate of 2s. a day. His attendance began to fall off in 1515, when he was paid for only 76 days out of the 101 consumed by the two sessions, and after his last election in 1529 it became progressively more erratic. The task of tracing it is complicated by the practice which the town’s chamberlains began to adopt—perhaps as much through prudence as through economy—of paying Sutton by instalments, but he is known to have missed the first 30 days of the second session early in 1531, and the total amount he received for that and the first session (£8 12s.8d. out of the maximum payable, £13 12s.) represents a loss of 50 days in all. This was nothing, however, to the tale of 1532: for the two sessions of that year Sutton received only 10s. and 20s. respectively, and as both payments were made in arrear and as the number of days was specified on each occasion it seems to follow that Sutton made no more than these two brief appearances at Westminster. His absenteeism may have more than one explanation. It occurred while Sutton was serving his fifth term as mayor, and although Rye several times returned its mayor to Parliament—Sutton himself had been returned in 1510—on this occasion he may have found the combination burdensome. He was at least in his late sixties and perhaps already an ailing man. As he was still alive in August 1532 it was probably not his last fleeting visit to London which cost him his life from the epidemic which struck down several of his fellow-Members that summer: yet it may well have been plague which killed him between then and the following August when, after nearly 30 years of unbroken appearances there, his name is no longer found on the jurat list. He received no payment for the parliamentary session of February-April 1533 but whether because he was already dead, or too ill to attend, is not clear. His place was filled by Richard Inglet. Sutton apparently died intestate, unlike his namesake, a gentleman of Osbaston, Leicestershire, the subject of many contemporary references, who died on 31 Dec. 1530.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Add. 34150, f. 135.
  • 2. Ibid. f. 135.
  • 3. Ibid. f. 136.
  • 4. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 4, f. 11v.
  • 5. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 6. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 13 Adeane.
  • 7. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 3, 4 passim; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 120; LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 8. PCC 13 Adeane; E122/35/18, 200/8.
  • 9. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 3, ff. 23, 143, 157, 252; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. passim; LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 10. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 3, ff. 43v, 46, 248, 278v, 294, 315; 4, ff. 11v, 21v, 22v, 190v, 192, 205-6, 207v, 222, 226; C142/52/78. The days for which Sutton was paid are as follows, the number of days in each Parliament or session being placed in brackets: 1497, 66(57); 1510, 44(34); 1512(i), 67(55); (ii), 36(47); (iii), 40(41); 1515(i), 42(60); (ii) 34(41).