VAUX, Sir Nicholas (c.1460-1523), of Great Harrowden, Northants.

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. c.1460, o. s. of Sir William Vaux of Great Harrowden by Catherine, da. of Gregory Penison or Peniston of Coursello, Provence. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Henry, 5th Lord FitzHugh, wid. of Sir William Parr (d.1483/84) of Kendal, Westmld., 3da.; (2) 1507/8, Anne, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Green of Boughton and Greens-Norton, Northants., 2s. 3da. suc. fa. 4 May 1471. Kntd. 16 June 1487, banneret 17 June 1497; cr. Baron Vaux 27 Apr. 1523.2

Offices Held

Steward, Olney and Newport Pagnell, Bucks. 1485; numerous other stewardships; j.p. Northants. 1485-d.; commr. musters 1488, subsidy 1512, 1515; sheriff 1495-6, 1501-2, 1516-17; constable, Rockingham castle, Northants. 1502; lt. Guisnes 8 July 1502-d.; knight of the body 1508.3


Nicholas Vaux’s mother, an attendant on Queen Margaret of Anjou, remained constant to her mistress when others forsook the Lancastrian cause. Her husband, whom she had married not long before she obtained her letters of denization, was slain at the battle of Tewkesbury after which he was attainted and his property forfeited, but not even his death shook Catherine Vaux’s loyalty: she stayed by the Queen during her imprisonment in the Tower and on Margaret’s release in 1476 went with her into exile (as she had done earlier in the 1460s), living with her until her death six years later. Catherine’s two children did not share either her confinement or her travels abroad; instead, Nicholas Vaux was brought up in the household of Margaret, Countess of Richmond, without charge even though Edward IV restored two manors to the family for the maintenance of him and his sister.4

Catherine’s devotion was rewarded after the triumph of Henry VII at Bosworth, where Nicholas Vaux, as a protégé of Margaret Beaufort, probably fought under her husband Lord Stanley; the petition for the reversal of the attainder on Vaux’s father and the forfeiture of his property was accepted by the King in the Parliament of 1485, and not long after Vaux was named to the commission of the peace for his home county. He fought for the King at Stoke and Blackheath, being knighted on the field for his service in both battles. Not only was he active and diligent in local government but he was also frequently at court attending all the great state occasions at home and abroad until his death; in 1511 he entertained Henry VIII at Harrowden. It was as a soldier and diplomat, however, that he made his mark. Given the important command at Guisnes, he distinguished himself during the Tournai campaign in 1513 and then in the missions (he had had some earlier experiences in negotiating, chiefly with Burgundy) to the French King about the English withdrawal and the several royal marriage treaties. Later, he was one of the devisers of the Field of Cloth of Gold. His sister had also benefited from the change of dynasty: she entered the royal household, became governess to Henry VII’s daughters and married successively Sir Richard Guildford and the father of Sir Nicholas Poyntz.5

Vaux was a natural candidate for election to Parliament, although in the absence of so many returns for the early Tudor period he is known to have been a Member only in 1515 when he and Sir John Hussey took a memorandum on certain Acts from the Commons up to the Lords. Presumably he sat for his own shire on this occasion as he was afterwards appointed to the Northamptonshire commission for the subsidy which he had helped to grant.6

In October 1522 Sir William Sandys reported that Vaux was laid ‘very sore’ at Calais. Evidently he recovered sufficiently to return to England where in the following year he was summoned to the Upper House as a baron, apparently after the Parliament had opened at the Blackfriars. He did not survive the first session, dying on 14 May at the hospital of St. John, Clerkenwell. Three days previously he had made a will by which he provided for his children and servants and left the residue of his estate to his executors. who included Sir Henry Guildford, George Throckmorton and Richard Knightley; among the supervisors he appointed Henry Marney, Lord Marny, and Sir William Parr. He was presumably buried at the Blackfriars, which of his three choices for interment was the nearest.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. LJ, i. 46.
  • 2. Birth follows Wood, Ath. Ox. ed Bliss, i. 41; G. Anstruther, Vaux of Harrowden, 2, 489; CP; EHR, lxxxvii. 82, 99.
  • 3. CPR, 1485-94, pp. 279, 495; 1494-1509, pp. 255, 550, 552; CCR, 1500-9, nos. 99, 131-2; LP Hen. VIII, i; Statutes, iii. 88, 169.
  • 4. Anstruther, 4-7; CPR, 1452-61, p. 342; 1476-85, p. 94.
  • 5. Anstruther, 7-31; LP Rich. III and Hen. VII (Rolls Ser. xxiv), i. 403, 410; ii. 87, 291; LP Hen. VIII, i-iii; Rutland Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xxi), 31, 45; C. G. Cruickshank, Army Royal, 58; Chron. Calais (Cam. Soc. xxv), 3, 86.
  • 6. LJ, i. 46; Statutes, iii. 169.
  • 7. Anstruther, 37; LP Hen. VIII, iii; Orig. Letters, ed. Ellis (1st ser.), i. 223; PCC 11 Bodfelde.