SWILLINGTON, George (by 1508-58/60), of Sutton Bonnington, Notts. and Liddington, Rutland.
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Family and Education
b. by 1508, s. of one Swillington of Driffield, Yorks. educ. M. Temple. m. settlement 1539, Anne, da. of William Turvile of Aston Flamville, Leics., 3da. suc. fa. by 1520.1
Servant of Cromwell by 1538, of the 3rd Marquess of Dorset by 1544; commr. subsidy, Rutland 1543, relief, Leics. and Rutland 1550; j.p. Leics. 1547, Rutland 1547-d.2
George Swillington was a descendant of the family long established at Driffield, Yorkshire. His grandfather had four sons, of whom Peter became a cleric, Robert a citizen and draper of London, and Ralph Swillington recorder of Leicester and Coventry; all three died without issue, leaving property or money to their nephew George, whose father, unnamed in any of the wills, had presumably died earlier. George Swillington, when he died, no longer possessed any of the property in Yorkshire which had been bequeathed to him, but his most prominent uncle’s long connexion with the midlands, and his own marriage into a Leicestershire family, are sufficient to explain his removal from his native county.3
The date of Swillington’s entry into the Middle Temple is unknown, but his first appointment there, as marshal for Christmas 1551, must have come late in his career, for he had first appeared in 1529 acting with a number of other Leicestershire lawyers in a property transaction with the 1st Earl of Rutland. He had then attached himself to Cromwell, who in 1535 wrote to the bishop of Lincoln requiring him to grant Swillington the lease of the prebend of Liddington, which he eventually, although reluctantly, did. Swillington must have proved a satisfactory servant, for he was placed on the panel to try the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and about the same time Cromwell described him as a man of sufficient freehold in London for any service. In 1538 he was named one of Cromwell’s gentlemen ‘meet to be preferred to the King’s service’, but nothing came of this, and after the minister’s fall he entered the service of the 3rd Marquess of Dorset, in whose train he went with the army to France in 1544.4
By this time Swillington was a modest landowner, for he had acquired by marriage and by purchase both parts of the manor of Sutton Bonnington in Leicestershire. He had also successfully defended a lawsuit brought by his nearest neighbour, Francis Shirley, over fishing and manorial rights, a success which enhanced the value of the property. It was not, however, his own standing in two neighbouring counties which accounts for Swillington’s successive returns to Parliament for Leicester under Edward VI: these he owed to his master Dorset, whose ascendancy there was signalized by the bestowal of the stewardship of the honor of Leicester in 1551, and in some measure perhaps also to the repute of his uncle the late recorder. Dorset’s advancement, which led by way of the dukedom of Suffolk to his daughter’s designation as Edward VI’s successor, put other opportunities in Swillington’s way, notably in the acquisition of further land: he increased his estate at Sutton Bonnington and was granted ex-monastic property at Normanton-upon-Soar. His attachment to the duke survived the débacle of July 1553 for in December of that year he received from Suffolk, probably as a feoffee, the manor of Over Locko, Derbyshire; but from Suffolk’s fatal attempt, a few weeks later, to raise Leicestershire and Warwickshire against the government Swillington evidently held aloof. He had already sued out his pardon from the Queen and his retention as a magistrate throughout her reign bespeaks his acceptability. In July 1554 he took a lease from the crown of a portion of his attainted master’s property in Loughborough. With the eclipse of the Grey faction in Leicestershire, however, Swillington’s parliamentary career came to an end.5
Swillington’s date of death has not been discovered; he appeared on the first Elizabethan commission of the peace but in October 1560 his surviving daughters had licence to enter on their inheritance. His widow made a will on 30 Oct. 1562 (proved on 5 June 1567) asking to be buried by her husband in the chancel of Liddington church.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. M. Thorpe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Farnham Leics. Med. Peds. 6; Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 55; C1/568/54, 1071/61; CPR, 1558-60, p. 447; PCC 19 Stonard.
- 2. M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 568-9; E179/281; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 85, 88; 1553, pp. 356-7; 1553-4, p. 23; LP Hen. VIII, xix.
- 3. PCC 3 Porch, 26 Ayloffe, 26 Alen, 29 Alenger.
- 4. M.T. Recs. i. 82; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xix.
- 5. St.Ch.2/29/5, 10, 82/83; C142/127/37; CPR, 1553-4, p. 350; 1557-8, p. 177; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 25-34.
- 6. CPR, 1558-60 p. 447; PCC 19 Stonard; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 11.