BANESTER, Lawrence (d.1588), of Wem, Salop.

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

s. of Nicholas Banester of Altham, Lancs. by his w. Anne, née Preston. educ. M. Temple bef. 1565. m. Elizabeth, da. and h. of Robert Allen, wid. of William Charlton, 3s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Agent in the north parts of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, by 1569-72.

J.p. Cumb. Nov. 1569.


Banester, possibly a relation of Edward Banester, owed his seat at East Grinstead to his master, the Duke of Norfolk, who no doubt arranged the matter with Thomas Sackville. Nothing is known of his early life, and he evidently began his legal studies late, perhaps after he had already started his career in land management. He was acting as a trustee for the Dacre estates in 1565, and one of his name was put on the Cumberland commission of the peace in November 1569. He stated in 1571, when he was hoping to be made vice-chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, that since he became ‘a student of the Temple’ he had given up being a ‘Papist’, but his behaviour throws doubt on the assertion. At the time of the 1569 rebellion, he kept Norfolk informed of the situation in the north, and it was partly through him that the rebels hoped to enlist the Duke’s aid. Banester was one of the few of his trusted servants allowed to visit Norfolk in the Tower. Even in May 1570, after the rising had been crushed, Banester wrote to Edward Dacre urging him to ‘stir up the common people’ in the north against the Queen. When Dacre pointed to the recent fate of his brother Leonard and protested his own powerlessness, Banester reminded him that the Dacre lands were worth £5,000 a year, and offered to find him friends and £5,000 cash within 14 days. ‘Now is the time’, he insisted, ‘for the Duke is in the Tower and will die for his offences, but if you would stir up a small commotion in the north, then we have promise of the city of London to set him at large’. In 1571, at the time of the Ridolfi conspiracy, Banester rode into Scotland with a bag of gold to seek the aid of Lord Herries, a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots. In September he was arrested, his papers at Wem were impounded, and he was closely questioned about his association with the Duke of Norfolk since Darnley’s murder. Having been threatened with the rack and even ‘tasted the smart thereof’, he was kept in the Tower until November 1573, after which he was placed in the custody, first of the solicitor-general, and later of the sheriff of London. Considering how deeply he had been involved, it is a comment on the clemency of the government that he was released before the end of the year. Norfolk, before his own execution, stated ‘surely Banester dealt no way but honestly and truly’.2

In December 1586 Banester was accused of complicity in the Babington conspiracy, but nothing, apparently, was proved against him. He was listed as a recusant in 1588, and in the same year was, together with John Blennerhasset and William Dix, enfeoffed by Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, of lands worth nearly £2,000 a year. He died at Wem 20 Aug. 1588, having made his will 2 May. He asked that inventories should be compiled immediately after his death, and his debts discharged. The revenue of one-third of his lands was to go to his wife during widowhood, and of the remaining two-thirds to his eldest son Richard. A younger son Robert was to have certain tithes which the Duke of Norfolk had conferred on his father. Banester appointed the Countess of Arundel supervisor of the will, apologising for his ‘great boldness in troubling her’, and saying that ‘her Ladyship is the person that of all others I have the greatest confidence in’.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


  • 1. PCC 1 Leicester; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 25.
  • 2. CPR, 1563-6, p. 264; 1569-72, p. 225; HMC Hatfield, i. 464, 511, 521-2, 529; N. Williams, Duke of Norfolk, 222-3, 242-3; CP, i. 255; iv. 22-3; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, pp. 377, 414-15, 420-1; APC, viii. passim.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 370; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 125; Wards 7/23/6; PCC 1 Leicester.