RYNGELEY, Sir Edward (by 1497-1543), of Knowlton and Sandwich, Kent.

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 1497, s. of one Ryngeley of (?Tipton), Staffs. m. by 1518, Jane, da. of Thomas Peyton, wid. of John Langley of Knowlton, s.p. Kntd. 1 July 1522.1

Offices Held

Gent. usher by Dec. 1521, master of the ordnance 1523; bailiff, Sandwich 1524-30, j.p. Kent 1526-d.; marshal, Calais 22 Nov. 1530-6 Oct. 1535, comptroller 29 Apr. 1539-d.; commr. coastal defences, Kent 1539.2


Sir Edward Ryngeley’s parentage is unknown. As he came from a minor Staffordshire family he may have been a son of William Ryngeley, gentleman, of Tipton, who witnessed a deed in 1506. He was also perhaps a protégé of a magnate powerful in both Staffordshire and Kent, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, since his career was to be linked with those of two of Buckingham’s sons-in-law, George Neville, 6th Lord Bergavenny, and Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and later 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Ryngeley established himself in Kent through his marriage with the widow of a local gentleman and through purchase of land. In 1521 he obtained the reversion of the stewardship of Dover castle, and of the keepership of a nearby warren, but on the death of their holders his entry was stopped by Sir Edward Guildford, the warden of the Cinque Ports, who claimed letters patent granting the offices to himself; for six years Ryngeley was in his own view wrongfully dispossessed before he took the matter to the Star Chamber, with what result is not known. His appointment to another post in the gift of the crown, the bailiwick of Sandwich, went no more smoothly, for a series of disputes with the townsmen prevented him from exercising it, and in 1530 he agreed to sell it to them for £100.3

In 1520 Ryngeley accompanied Henry VIII to the Field of Cloth of Gold and jousted at the tournament held in honour of Francis I at Guisnes. Two years later he served with some distinction in Brittany under Surrey’s command and was knighted by him on the capture of Morlaix: he served again under Surrey in the following year, this time on the northern marches against Scotland, where his skill in mining and gunnery brought him to the notice of Wolsey. In 1528 he was put on an important commission to survey the defences of Calais and he signed the reports submitted to the Council. His employment on this commission and his connexion with Surrey, now Duke of Norfolk, made Ryngeley a likely choice for election to Parliament in 1529, but his disputes with Sir Edward Guildford and at Sandwich doubtless precluded his return for a constituency in Kent: his place in the House for a Cornish borough, to which he was a complete stranger, he may have owed to one of the knights for Cornwall on this occasion, Richard Grenville I, whose family possessed interests both there and in Calais. Barely a year after his election Ryngeley was appointed marshal of Calais, doubtless with the approval if not at the instance of Norfolk and his brother-in-law the 2nd Lord Berners, the deputy of the town. As the office was not one to be exercised by deputy, Ryngeley must have been often absent from Parliament: it was probably on account of Berners’s fatal illness in the spring of 1534 that he missed the whole of the sixth session. In 1535 he handed over the marshalship to Grenville and so was able to attend the final session (Feb.-Apr. 1536) in the course of which legislation for Calais was enacted: two weeks before the session opened he wrote to Cromwell of his intention to cross to England, presumably to speak in the House on the bill, and he probably did so as he is known to have been in the country on the day the Parliament was dissolved. He was also available for its successor of June 1536, to which he is likely to have been elected again for Dunheved in accordance with the King’s request for the return of the previous Members.4

Ryngeley had got on well with Berners, whose will he witnessed, but he was not so fortunate in the new deputy, Viscount Lisle, with whom he soon quarrelled. The antagonism between the two may have influenced Ryngeley’s decision to sell his office to Grenville, who was related to Lisle, and to quit Calais for Kent. He thanked Lisle for saying that he was not a little sorry to see Ryngeley go, but he was not sorry himself: ‘My blunt fashion has served me enough hitherto, and I trust it will do as long as I live. If I have been blunt to you at any time, it has been for your honour, for I never meant worse to you than to myself’. Lisle was not alone in his dislike of Ryngeley’s plain speaking; his factor summed it up by saying that the marshal had a large mouth. Cranmer, however, had formed a favourable opinion of him and was able to work with him in Kent. In 1539 Ryngeley was entrusted with the erection of new fortifications on the Downs and during that summer he obtained the comptrollership of Calais, to the consternation of Lisle, whose dislike of him had not lessened with separation: on the other hand, Cromwell’s regard for Ryngeley had progressed in step with his doubts about Lisle, and it was as Cromwell’s man that Ryngeley returned to Calais. He may have had a further taste of Parliament that year—most of the Members’ names are lost—but if he was elected his duties on the Downs and at Calais must have made him again mainly an absentee. He survived the downfall of Cromwell and retained the comptrollership until his death. He is not known to have sat in the last but one of Henry VIII’s Parliaments, that of 1542, when his earlier association with Cromwell and Norfolk might have told against him.5

That Ryngeley had not shared Cromwell’s religious outlook is suggested by his treatment of the sacramentaries at Calais. This earned him the censure of Foxe, whose charge that he did not know ‘a B from a battledore, nor even a letter of the book’ was not unfair comment on one who admitted that he could neither read nor write: after his rough handling of her, Thomas Broke’s wife told him ‘the King’s slaughterhouse found wrong when you were made a gentleman’, and his death three years later was hailed by some as divine retribution. Ryngeley made his will on 24 July 1543, providing for his wife, kinsmen and servants, and naming Thomas Boys, whose brother his sister had married, one of the executors and Cranmer supervisor. He died not long after making his will, for Anthony Rous succeeded him as comptroller on 28 Aug. Ryngeley was buried, as he had wished to be, at Sandwich.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 66; Kent Recs. vii. p. xii; Req. 2/11/188; C1/563/40; Chron. Calais (Cam. Soc. xxxv), 31.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, ii. iv, v, viii, xiii, xiv-xviii; P. T. J. Morgan, ‘The govt. of Calais 1485-1558’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1966), 295, 296.
  • 3. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xii. 53; xv. 6, 29, 107; (ser. 3) 1928, p. 115; LP Hen. VIII, iii-xix; St.Ch.2/32/135.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iii-x; Chron. Calais, pp. xli, 31-32, 164.
  • 5. Chron. Calais, 138, 164, 196; LP Hen. VIII, xi-xix.
  • 6. Foxe, Acts and Mons. v. 516, 519-20; LP Hen. VIII, xix, xx; Canterbury prob. reg. C19, ff. 7v-12 ptd. Test Cant. ed. Duncan, 285-6.