GUILDFORD, Sir Edward (by 1479-1534), of Halden and Hemsted, 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 1479, xst s. of Sir Richard Guildford of Cranbrook and Rolvenden by 1st w. Anne, da. and h. of John Pimpe of Kent; half-bro. of Sir Henry Guildford. m. (1) by 1496, Eleanor, da. of Thomas West, 8th Lord la Warr, 1s. 1da.; (2) Joan, da. of Stephen Pitlesden, s.p. suc. fa. 6 Sept. 1506. Kntd. 25 Sept. 1513.2

Offices Held

Jt. (with fa.) master of armoury Dec. 1493-1506, sole 1506-d.; j.p. Kent 1503-d.; bailiff, Winchelsea, Suss. 1506; esquire of the body by 1509, knight by 1514; steward, several lordships in marches of Wales 1509; sheriff, Lincs. 1511-12; commr. subsidy, Kent 1512, 1514, 1515, 1523, 1524; other commissions 1510-d.; marshal, Calais May 1519-24; constable, Dover castle and lord warden, Cinque Ports 1521-d.; jt. (with Sir Ralph Egerton) standard bearer Sept. 1524, (with Sir Anthony Browne) Oct. 1528-d.; jt. (with Sir Henry Guildford) constable, Leeds castle, Kent 1531-d.; Councillor by May 1534.3


Edward Guildford and his half-brother Henry were intimate friends of Henry VIII and both were prominent in the festivities which marked the first New Year of his reign. Henry Guildford was to make his career in the royal household; Edward, the elder by some ten years, would spend less time at court but he also progressed in the service of the crown.4

In November 1509 Guildford received a pardon concerning debts to the crown as the administrator of his father’s estate. Two years later he was granted the reversion of the office of lord warden of the Cinque Ports after Sir Edward Poynings, and in November 1511, concurrently with being pricked sheriff of Lincolnshire, he received four manors in that county forfeited by the attainder of Edmund Dudley. The King had already committed to him the ‘governance and rule’ of the young John Dudley, and in the Parliament of 1512 a bill was introduced reversing the Dudley attainder: cast in the form of a petition by Guildford, the King’s ‘daily servant’, that John Dudley might be restored in blood and his wardship and marriage granted to the petitioner, the bill passed both Houses and received the royal assent (3 Hen. VIII, c.19).5

The outbreak of war in 1512 meant increased activity for Guildford as master of the armoury and as a serving captain he was knighted by the King on the entry of the English army into Tournai on 25 Sept. 1513; he organized the celebratory tournament there on the following day. At home he was responsible for defence works on the English coast. The manor of Higham, which he had inherited from his father, was held by the service of building and maintaining a tower in the marshland, and during 1513 and early 1514 he received nearly £1,000 by royal warrant for making a new bridge and tower for the defence of the Camber.6

In the years following the war Guildford was often abroad again: in 1514 he was at Guisnes, and in May 1515 he went on a mission to Margaret of Savoy, ostensibly to escort the Duke of Suffolk’s daughter to England but also to disburse £1,000 on an unspecified piece of royal business. It was perhaps in reward for this service that in September 1515 received a 40-year lease of the alnage of cloth in Kent, followed in November by a grant of the manor of Duddington in Northamptonshire. Sent to France again in 1519 he was back at court in 1518, attending the King at the reception of a French embassy, and in May 1519 he was appointed marshal of Calais. His duties there included the provision of lodgings for the King’s retinue for the Field of Cloth of Gold, and he was himself in attendance at the meeting with Francis I; in May 1522 he received Charles V at Calais. When during that summer he led raiding parties into French territory, the enemy knew him from his badge—and perhaps for other reasons—as the firebrand. In 1521 the death of Sir Edward Poynings, lord warden of the Cinque Ports, had brought Guildford the benefit of the reversion granted to him ten years before, but it was not until he had been replaced at Calais in 1524 that he entered upon the office, to which he was admitted and sworn in June 1525.7

Thenceforward Guildford remained in England, devoting himself to the wardenship and to a variety of other duties in Kent. In August 1523 he was reappointed by the crown to the keepership of North Frith park, Kent, an office which he had held earlier from the 3rd Duke of Buckingham. The duke’s attainder in 1521 had implicated the 5th Lord Bergavenny, who was Buckingham’s son-in-law, and it was probably about this time that, in obedience to an order by the Council, Guildford laid articles in the Star Chamber against Bergavenny for illegal retaining, ‘intending to have the substance of the whole shire of Kent retained unto him’; Guildford also informed against Bergavenny in the King’s bench for giving liveries, an offence for which a pardon was granted in March 1522.8

These actions were doubtless contrived by the crown with a view to exploiting the rivalry of two local magnates. As a landowner Guildford could not compare with Bergavenny, but the warden of the Cinque Ports was a man of power in the county. In 1529 Guildford was elected, as many wardens had been before him, knight of the shire for Kent, and his fellow-Member was his half-brother Sir Henry. It may not have been Guildford’s first appearance in the Commons, for he would have been almost as natural a choice in 1523, a Parliament for which the knights for Kent are unknown. There is thus no certainty that it was at this election that Guildford indulged in what looks like bribery: writing to a neighbour who was about to buy timber from him, he asked for the £13 13s.4d. agreed for the sale to be paid to his servant at once. ‘for I have appointed him to bestow it against the day of choosing knights of the shire’. Later on, the lord warden was to dominate parliamentary elections in the Cinque Ports, but in 1529 Guildford appears to have exercised no patronage there except perhaps at New Romney, which returned in Richard Gibson a man with whom Guildford in his younger days, and more recently his half-brother, had worked in the preparation of revels at court.9

Neither of the Guildfords was to outlive the long drawn-out Parliament of 1529. Sir Edward died at Leeds Castle on 4 June 1534, it was rumoured without receiving any sacrament of the Church. He had apparently made no will, and as his only son had died leaving no children the inheritance was disputed between the heir general, his daughter Jane, whom he had married to his ward John Dudley, and his nephew, John Guildford, the heir male. Four months later Dudley was by-elected to Parliament in his father-in-law’s place.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., CIPM Hen. VII, iii. 374. Pylgrymage of Sir Richard Guylforde (Cam. Soc. li), ped.; Arch. Cant. xiv. 4; xxviii. 277; LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 3. CPR, 1485-94, p. 467; 1494-1509, p. 645; LP Hen. VIII, i-v, vii; Statutes, iii. 79, 112, 168.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, ii.
  • 5. Ibid. i.
  • 6. Ibid. i; C. G. Cruickshank, English Occupation of Tournai, 22.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, i, ii-iv; Hall, Chron. 634, 641, 644.
  • 8. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 645; Statutes, iii. 79, 112; LP Hen. VIII, i, iii-v; St.Ch.2/16/365-72.
  • 9. LP Hen. VIII, add.
  • 10. Ibid. vii.