BANESTER, Edward (1540-1606), of Idsworth, Hants and Blackfriars, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. Oct. 1540, s. of Edward Banester of Idsworth by Joan, da. of John Gunter of Racton, Suss. educ. M. Temple 1561. m. Mary, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. bef. 1549.1

Offices Held


Banester’s family remained Catholics throughout the Elizabethan period and suffered in consequence. Their principal residence, acquired in 1431, was at Idsworth, just inside the Hampshire border, near Havant, an area dominated by Henry, Earl of Arundel, and his two sons-in-law, Lord Lumley, living at Stansted across the Sussex border, and the Duke of Norfolk. The Gunter family of Racton, a few miles away, to which Banester’s mother belonged, had been neighbours of Cardinal Pole’s brother, and were ardent supporters of the Earl of Arundel. Arthur Gunter, Banester’s uncle, was a servant of the Earl, and Lawrence Banester, a follower of the Duke of Norfolk, was a distant relative. Banester presumably owed his return at Midhurst to his neighbour Viscount Montagu, the lord of the manor. His name is not to be found in the parliamentary journals of 1563.2

Banester was only a few years old when his father died, and his wardship was acquired by his grandmother Joan Everard, who in her will, made in 1549, decided that Idsworth should be occupied and maintained by her son-in-law Henry Goring, until Banester was 21. She hoped that his wardship would pass to her own family, the Erneleys, but it was bought in April 1551 by Sir William Goring, Henry’s father. It was not until the summer of 1562 that Banester was licensed to enter upon his lands. As well as Idsworth and the manor of Wellsworth in the same parish, he now owned Banester’s Court, Millbrook, near Southampton, houses in Portsmouth, a share in four manors in the Isle of Wight, two thirds of the manor of Horton Mabank or Horton Horsey and one third of the manor of Rustington, both in Sussex, as well as land in several other Sussex parishes.3

As a practising Catholic, Banester played no part in county administration, and it is only as a recusant that his name appears in national records. He was in trouble with the bishop of Winchester by 1573, and was named in the diocesan list of recusants in 1577. Later he fell into serious difficulties over the 1581 statutory fine, his liability after two or three years becoming so great that the Exchequer ordered his manor at Idsworth to be extended and seized and an annual sum of £66 13s.4d. to be paid. Banester’s brother-in-law, Edward Bellingham of Hangleton in Sussex, was installed as tenant and in September 1587 quarrelled violently with the under-sheriff of Hampshire who came to Idsworth to collect his dues, saying that these payments were Banester’s responsibility. The subsequent Star Chamber case reveals that Banester was then living in London, that hitherto he had paid his recusancy fine direct, but that the arrangement had broken down. Such difficulties may explain a reference in Banester’s will to frequent unkindness between him and the Bellinghams, ‘my nearest, kinsmen’.4

Other demands also had to be met. In May 1586, for example, the Privy Council wrote to the sheriff of Hampshire reminding him that Banester and other Catholics had been charged £50 each to provide horses for the Low Countries expedition, but had only paid £25, ‘excusing themselves from the rest by want of ability’. The Council had decided to take a firm stand:

Forasmuch as their estates are known to their Lordships to be sufficient to have yielded a far greater contribution, being persons who of long time have been spared and foreborne in all public charges and services, their Lordships see no reason why at this time they should be exempted of this charge. He is required to demand again of every [one] of them the other £25 remaining unpaid.

Those still refusing were to appear in person before the Council. Banester claimed, apparently, that he had paid the sheriff of Sussex and Surrey already. In 1598 he had to make a similar contribution, this time of £15, for the Irish wars. On another occasion he assigned his share in the manors of Horton and Rustington to several friends, perhaps to avoid confiscation, but by 1599 the lands had fallen into the Queen’s hands, if only temporarily. In 1577 his lands were assessed at £200 per annum and his goods at £200, and according to one estimate he suffered overall the loss of two thirds of his rentals and all of his goods.5

It is evident from Banester’s will, made in March 1600 and proved 24 Nov. 1606, that he was still well off at his death. Because of his ejection from Idsworth he had moved to Putney and then to Blackfriars. He now divided his property into three parts—one to the Queen for his son’s wardship, one to his widow for life and the third part for the payment of debts and other legacies. The house at Idsworth was to go to his son Edward when he was 23 and that at Blackfriars to his daughter Mary when she was 26. Mary also received £1,000 as ‘marriage money’. The widow was to live at Blackfriars until their daughter took possession and could then choose between the houses at Banester’s Court and Compton, with lands adjoining; she was also to enjoy the lease of the house at Putney. The will contains an unusually long inventory of Banester’s goods and shows him to have been a man of wide and cultivated taste. He bequeathed to his son ‘all my books, all my instruments of music, all my painted tables, painted cloths and pictures, all my marble stones of white marble and all manner of other stones and carving in wood’. He also mentions coffers full of plate and jewellery, and many items of furniture. The executors were the three members of his immediate family. He died 19 Sept. 1666 and was buried at Chalton church, near Idsworth.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. C142/92/104; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 20; J. Comber, Suss. Genealogies, Ardingly Centre, 15.
  • 2. VCH Hants, iii. 106; Suss. Arch. Colls. xxi. 79-80; HMC Hatfield, i. 252-3.
  • 3. PCC 5 Powell; CPR, 1550-3, p. 52; 1560-3, p. 364; VCH Hants, iii. 106, 107, 430; v. 147, 148, 162, 182; VCH Suss. iv. 92; Suss. Rec. Soc. xx. 378.
  • 4. HMC 7th Rep. 626; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 39; St. Ch. 5M/19/33; Lansd. 53, ff. 142 seq.; PCC 88 Stafford.
  • 5. APC, xiv. 87; xxix. 118; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 366; 1598-1601, p. 358; CPR, 1563-6, p. 269; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 39; VCH Hants, ii. 86.
  • 6. PCC 88 Stafford, 4 Meade; C142/292/177.