BAYNTON, Sir Edward (by 1495-1544), of Bromham, Wilts.

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 1495, 1st s. of John Baynton of Bromham by Jane, da. of Thomas Diggs. m. (1) by 1516, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Sulyard of Wetherden, Suff., 3s. inc. Andrew and Edward 4da.; (2) by 1531, Isabel, da. of Sir John Leigh of Stockwell, Surr., 2s. inc. Henry. suc. fa. by 1516. Kntd. 1522.3

Offices Held

Sheriff, Wilts. 1522-3; j.p. 1523-d.; commr. subsidy 1523, 1524, musters 1539; other commissions 1530-40; esquire of the body by 1522; steward, lands of earldom of Warwick, Wilts. 1522; keeper, warren of coneys, Clarendon forest, Wilts. 1524-38, warden aft. Jan. 1538; doorward, Devizes castle, keeper, Devizes park, steward, lordships of Marlborough, Rowde and Devizes, lt., Pewsham and Blackmoor forest, Wilts. 1526; steward, Malmesbury abbey, Wilts. by 1531-5 or later; keeper, borough of Old Sarum 1531; warden, Chippenham and Melksham forest by Mar. 1534-d.; v.-chamberlain to Queens Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, Catherine Parr by 1534-d.; steward, Langley Marish and Wyrardisbury, keeper, Langley Marish park, Bucks. bef. 1538; steward, Bristol 12 Dec. 1542-d.4


The Bayntons had held land in Hampshire and Wiltshire since the 14th century and in 1508 John Baynton, who had secured the reversal of his father’s attainder as a Lancastrian, inherited property in both counties from a distant kinsman, Sir Richard Beauchamp, Lord St. Amand. None the less it was Sir Edward who so raised his family above its neighbours that in Wiltshire for a century after the Reformation Bayntons ranked, with Hungerfords and Thynnes, below only the Seymours and the Herberts. His career was that of a royal favourite, active at court, on campaign and in local administration, who emerged early and profitably as a champion of religious reform.5

Baynton rose rapidly in Henry VIII’s favour. First heard of at court on 8 Jan. 1522, when as an esquire of the body he was granted the annuity of 50 marks which he was to retain for 14 years, he was probably knighted between 2 Mar. 1522, when he became steward of lands at Cherhill and Broad Town, and the following 12 Nov. when he was pricked sheriff. In July 1523 he received the first of several wardships and in October he was sent with the Marquess of Dorset, Sir Nicholas Carew and others to join the Earl of Surrey’s army on the Scottish borders. In April 1528 he was among those asked by Lord Sandys to accompany him to his military command at Guisnes, but it is not clear whether Baynton went. On 7 July, Henry VIII instructed Wolsey to make him high steward and bailiff of Salisbury ‘in consideration of his good services’ and was surprised to learn three days later that the cardinal had already bestowed the offices elsewhere. After Wolsey’s fall the tables were turned: in October 1530 the threat to his college at Oxford forced him to promise Baynton a fee for his good offices.6

As Baynton prospered he became increasingly involved in current religious controversy. When in January 1532 Hugh Latimer was waiting to answer charges of heresy before the bishop of London, he commended himself to Baynton, whose scruples he tried to meet with the observation that he himself had once revered the pope, ‘so that if he should have deprived the King of his crown or you of the lordship of Bromham, it had been enough’. Baynton in reply told the reformer that he was ‘your assured friend and favourer’ but added the caution ‘in that that is the very truth of God’s word’; professing himself insufficiently learned to challenge the Fathers, he advised Latimer to avoid controversy. Latimer thanked his ‘singular good master’ for helping him but doubted the wisdom of disclosing the tenor of their correspondence to powerful friends; these friends were doubtless Anne Boleyn and her circle, to whom Latimer probably owed both his reinstatement when he submitted and his preferment to the see of Worcester three years later. Baynton himself wrote as a familiar to the new Queen’s brother Lord Rochford early in June 1533, describing the recent coronation and the festivities at court, and in the following January Anne asked the town of Bristol to give the advowson of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist to Baynton, by now probably her vice-chamberlain, Nicholas Shaxton her chaplain, and David Hutton.7

In May 1533 there arose a dispute at Malmesbury abbey, of which Baynton was steward at a fee of 26s.8d. a year, over the choice of a new abbot. Cromwell supported Richard Frampton, the chamberlain, and sent Rowland Lee to browbeat the monks, who had already produced a candidate in Walter Bristow. Baynton, although he claimed to be representing the King’s will, opposed Frampton, and he persuaded the prior and four or five senior brethren to visit him at Bromham, whence on 5 July they submitted to the King the names of four compromise candidates. A week later Lee told Cromwell that Baynton had frustrated all his efforts and it was not until 22 July that the King finally agreed to Frampton’s election. This was not the only dispute with an ecclesiastical setting in which Baynton was involved. Earlier that year William Button I had complained to Cromwell of his attempt to obstruct Button’s cousin in the leasing of a prebend at Highworth, and in November Archbishop Lee of York wrote to the King, Cranmer, Cromwell and his ‘cousin’ Baynton (he was a distant kinsman of Baynton’s second wife) about a quarrel with the archdeacon. In January 1534 a priest of Salisbury told Baynton that the King would have an ally in the see of Salisbury if only the present proctors could be discharged. In March he received a letter denouncing the activities of the bishop in Pembroke, and in May a canon of St. Paul’s, sending a jewelled cross which had been coveted by the King, promised Baynton two years’ rent of a prebend at All Cannings if he would use his influence with the Queen to prevent a rival from taking over the dean’s house. Of Baynton’s leaning towards reform there is evidence in a note by Shaxton, who became bishop of Salisbury in February 1535, that he was one of the few who had seen Shaxton’s newly written book, evidently a religious work, and had approved it, although Latimer ‘seemed to mislike it’.8

A courtier of Baynton’s standing can have had little difficulty in being returned as knight of the shire to the Parliament of 1529, where he was doubtless a strong supporter of royal policy. A glimpse of his activity in the House is to be found on the dorse of the Act regulating the keeping of sheep (25 Hen. VIII, c.13) where his name appears with six others. Following the prorogation of the sixth session in which that Act was passed, it was rumoured that Baynton had died of the sickness in the head and stomach which was killing many people at Westminster, but by 4 Apr. 1534 his recovery was reported. His name was included in a list drawn up by Cromwell, probably in December 1534, and thought to be of Members having a particular, but unknown, connexion with the treasons bill then on its passage through Parliament. In February 1535 he surveyed the wardrobe left by Catherine of Aragon at Baynard’s castle, and later that year Thomas Starkey told Reginald Pole that Baynton, ‘to whom the King’s pleasure is not unknown’, had said that the exile might still enjoy the royal favour if he would return. In August the King visited Baynton at Bromham. He does not seem to have been compromised by the fall of Anne Boleyn (to whom he was in debt for £200), perhaps because he did not plead her cause: when she was under arrest in May 1536 he declared his belief that, although Mark Smeaton was the only prisoner who would admit to adultery, there were two other culprits on whose silence their mistress was relying. It is not known whether he was returned again for Wiltshire to the Parliament of 1536, when the King asked that the previous Members should be re-elected, and thus involved in that Parliament’s attainder of his mistress.9

Baynton’s survival of this tragedy was symbolised by his retention of the vice-chamberlainship under Jane Seymour, whose fatal illness in October 1537 he chronicled to Cromwell from Hampton Court. His own second wife was present at the funeral in November: it is likely that she had also served the late Queen, and even Anne Boleyn, although she first appears as one of four ladies of the privy chamber only with the advent of Anne of Cleves. On 14 Mar. 1539 Cromwell told the King that he had relieved Lady Kingston of her post in the household of the two princesses and that the Bayntons ‘have willingly accepted the charge by your grace appointed unto them’. Baynton’s care to retain favour shows in an apology from his son to Cromwell in March 1539, when Andrew Baynton declared that his father had threatened him with disinheritance for failing to wait upon the minister. Under Catherine Howard the couple naturally retained their posts, for the widow of Lady Baynton’s uncle Ralph Leigh had married Lord Edmund Howard, Catherine’s father. Within 18 months Baynton had faced, and again survived, the disgrace of a mistress. When the Queen was arrested in the autumn of 1541 he was placed in charge of her smaller retinue at Syon, and although Catherine was allowed to choose her own female attendants it was on condition that Lady Baynton should be one of them.10

Whether or not he had already had the experience six years earlier, in 1542 Baynton accepted election to a Parliament whose initial purpose was to attaint his royal mistress: what part, if any, he took in that process is not known. It is, however, to the sensitiveness of his position that we may perhaps attribute his election, not as hitherto to the knighthood of the shire, but as a burgess for Wilton: such a demotion would otherwise be hard to explain, unless indeed the shire was already showing that preference for a spread of its representation among leading families which was to characterise its parliamentary future. Throughout Baynton’s career his local offices and his services to successive queens (who held much Wiltshire property in jointure) probably allowed him to influence borough elections within the shire. Whatever the fall of Catherine Howard had meant to the Bayntons must have been largely offset, shortly after the second session of this Parliament in the early months of 1543, by the arrival of her successor: Baynton and Sir William Herbert, his fellow-Member for Wilton, were among the few courtiers who witnessed the King’s marriage at Hampton Court to Catherine Parr. Baynton himself resumed his vice-chamberlainship under the new consort, and his wife continued her attendance as a lady of the Household extraordinary. True, these closing years were not without disappointment and even danger. Although proposed for the Garter by Sir Thomas Cheyne at least three times between 1541 and 1544 Baynton was not elected, and if he had better fortune in escaping with an admonition, after pleading royal licence in answer to a Council summons for eating flesh during the Lent of 1543, his Protestant sympathies may well have told against him during this time of reaction.11

Baynton had profited enormously from the dissolution of the monasteries. In January 1537 he secured the site of the abbey of Stanley, with 12 manors in Wiltshire, three in Berkshire and one in Somerset, to the annual value of £111. Bromham, which he had previously held of Battle abbey, was granted to him by the King in 1538; he had already built the mansion there, which Leland says was constructed from the ruins of the Queen’s manor house at Corsham, pulled down in Anne Boleyn’s time. In October 1539 the abbot of Malmesbury protested to Cromwell at letters urging him to lease the few remaining demesne lands to Baynton, who was nevertheless given custody of the site and buildings when the abbey was at last surrendered two months later. In the following July its former manor of Bremhill near Chippenham was also granted to him and his wife, and the same month saw the passing of a private Act (32 Hen. VIII, no. 71) to assure to the Bayntons the enjoyment of their inherited manors of Falston and Market Lavington, Wiltshire, and Chilton Candover, Hampshire. Finally, in January 1541 they were granted three manors in Wiltshire as well as a lease of the manor of Paddington, Middlesex. John Hussee was probably not exaggerating when he told Lady Lisle in 1538 that if she could give 500 marks towards the marriage of her daughter Catherine Basset, she might secure in the Baynton heir a bridegroom who could spend 1,000 marks a year.12

Baynton was among the gentry of Wiltshire who mustered for the French expedition in 1544. On 8 July he made his will, leaving 2s. to every man in his retinue if he should die overseas, and on 21 July he was sent to command the other captains at the siege of Boulogne. In October he was reported to be in charge of transporting the sick back to England but he himself may never have returned, for he died on 27 Nov. In his will, after committing his soul simply to Almighty God, Baynton concerned himself chiefly with the division of chattels between his widow and the three sons of his earlier marriage, Andrew, Edward and Henry; his estates had already been demised and a number of recent conveyances had included entails for the benefit of his sons by his second wife, Henry the younger and Francis. Other beneficiaries included Sir Robert Tyrwhitt I, Robert Keilway II, Sir Richard Rich and Archbishop Cranmer. The last three were appointed overseers, while Andrew Baynton and George Harper were named executors. The will was proved on 21 May 1545, but inquisitions were not taken until the following November. Baynton’s widow married Sir James Stumpe.13

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Wilton entry bk. p. 160.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from grant of livery, 1516, LP Hen. VIII, ii. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 5; DNB (Baynton, Andrew); Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 20-21; PCC 15 Bodfelde.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iii-v, vii, viii, xii-xvi, xviii, xx, xxi; E371/300/50; VCH Wilts. iv. 437, 442; vii. 185; Bristol AO, 04721, f. 44.
  • 5. VCH Hants, iv. 185, 295-6; VCH Wilts. v. 123; vii. 102, 172, 191; CP, xi. 303.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv, x; Hall, Chron. 666; SP1/49, ff. 90v, 101v.
  • 7. Foxe, Acts and Mons. vii. 484-98; DNB (Latimer, Hugh); LP Hen. VIII, vi, vii.
  • 8. VCH Wilts. iii. 225-6; vii. 185; LP Hen. VIII, v-viii, add.
  • 9. LP Hen. VIII, vii-x; VCH Wilts. vii. 179; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 25 Hen. VIII, no. 13.
  • 10. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiv-xvii; Merriman, Letters, Thomas Cromwell, ii. 193.
  • 11. VCH Wilts. v. 124; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xviii, xix, xxi.
  • 12. LP Hen. VIII, xii-xviii; VCH Wilts. vii. 179-81; Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, i. 133; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxxviii. 462; LJ, i. 156, 159, 163.
  • 13. LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xix, xxi; PCC 28 Pynnyng; C142/72/93, 109.