HANNINGTON, William (by 1530-1607), of Dover and Hougham Court, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1530. m. (1) Battell (d. 21 Sept. 1574), da. of John Monninges ?of Swanton, 3s. 5da.; (2) Thomasin, da. of one Audley.2

Offices Held

Comptroller of customs, Sandwich Feb. 1551; jurat, Dover 1552-63, mayor 1554-5, 1561-2; commr. to survey lands of archbpric. of Canterbury 1559; bailiff to Yarmouth 1562.3


William Hannington, a ‘King’s servant’ who came from London, had a lease of lands at Eastbridge, Kent, until 15 Jan. 1551, when they were granted to Francis Everard. Five weeks later Hannington was appointed comptroller of customs and subsidies at Sandwich and keeper of the Maisondieu which was then being used to store victuals for the royal ships: he was to live rent free and to have wages of 6d. a day. This was the beginning of Hannington’s association with the Cinque Ports and especially with Dover. On 31 Oct. 1552 he was chosen by Dover as one of its solicitors to the Council about the state of the harbour. He represented the port at the Brotherhoods of the Cinque Ports in 1555 and 1562, and served on a commission to survey church lands during the vacancy in the see of Canterbury in 1559. He was again a solicitor to London about the harbour in 1560 and in 1562 was one of the arbitrators appointed to resolve a dispute about the will made by the widow of Thomas Portway.4

Hannington’s return for Dover to the Parliament of November 1554 was probably the result of an understanding between the port and the warden of the Cinque Ports, Sir Thomas Cheyne. At this time Cheyne was intervening freely in elections at the Ports and Dover in particular had to bow to his demands. As a jurat who was about to discharge his first mayoralty Hannington was an appropriate choice for the port itself, while as a son-in-law of the lieutenant of Dover castle he could rely on the warden’s backing. That this combination was to result in his appearance in only one Parliament is probably to be explained by his behaviour towards its close. He was one of over 100 Members who were absent when the House was called early in January 1555 and who were prosecuted in the King’s bench in the following Easter term. He failed to appear but no further action was taken against him until 1558, when he was distrained for non-appearance in three successive terms, 2s. at Easter, 5s. at Trinity and 3s.4d. at Michaelmas, after which the case lapsed with the death of the Queen.5

The accession of Elizabeth brought Hannington briefly into prominence as one of the Council’s agents in the settlement of the long drawn-out disputes within the Dover corporation. In April 1559 he and Thomas Keys began their first attempt at peacemaking, but this was quickly subverted by John Robins and Thomas Warren. After a further unsuccessful effort in the following year Hannington was appointed mayor by the Queen in September 1561 in a final attempt to end the troubles: it does not appear that his year of office had the desired result. Shortly after this Hannington drops out of the Dover records and although he had over 40 years of life ahead of him he seems to have taken no further part in public affairs. He lived at Hougham Court, on the cliffs west of Dover, and the inscription on his monument in Hougham church thus epitomizes his private and public life:

Here in their silent urns (again wedded after death’s divorce) lie William Hannington, Esq., and his wife, daughter of William [sic] Monin, Esq., some time lieutenant of Dover castle, expecting a blessed resurrection of the just. These happy olives budded fruitfully, in two sons [sic] and five daughters, two as soon blasted as blown. His words made his own demonstration under Henry VIII and his successive heirs, the last of whom, by special favoured order, sealed him twice in the mayoralty of Dover.

He died on 10 May 1607.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. C219/23/184; OR gives ‘Harrynton’.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 136; Berry, Kent Peds. 131.
  • 3. CPR, 1550-3, p. 177; 1553, p. 374; 1558-60, pp. 30, 167; Stowe 571, f. 8v; Egerton 2094, ff. 32, 107, 219v, 224v, 226.
  • 4. CPR, 1550-3, p. 177; 1553, p. 374; 1558-60, pp. 30, 167; 1560-3, p. 528; APC, iii. 192; Egerton 2094, ff. 58, 205v, 224; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 251, 264.
  • 5. KB27/1186-88; 29/188, rot. 48.
  • 6. J. Bavington Jones, Dover Annals, 244, 297; Egerton 2094, f. 230; Newman, N.E. and E. Kent, 354.