STONOR, Francis (1551-1625), of Blount's Court, Stonor Park, Oxon. and London.
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Family and Education
b. 1551, 1st s. of Sir Francis Stonor by Cecily, da. of Sir Leonard Chamberlain† of Shirburn, Oxon. educ. sp. adm. M. Temple 1572 (bound with John Southcote, the judge’s son). m. by 1579, Martha, da. of John Southcote†, c.j. Queen’s bench, of Witham, Essex, 3s. suc. fa. 1566. Kntd. 1601.1
Escheator, Oxon. 1584-5, sheriff 1593-4, 1621-2, j.p. by c.1591.
The Stonors were a Catholic family (though Stonor himself escaped indictment for recusancy until 1612) and were consequently declining from their ancient position as one of Oxfordshire’s leading families. They neither owned property near Woodstock nor had any close connexion with Sir Henry Lee, the high steward, and it is not certain exactly how Stonor came to be returned for the borough in 1586. The Chamberlains, his mother’s family, held the lieutenancy till 1570 and retained some interest in Woodstock; John Doyley, once Stonor’s guardian, was sheriff at the time of the election; and the influence of Sir Francis Knollys, neighbour to the Stonors, after whom Stonor himself may have been named, had earlier extended to Woodstock. Perhaps however, a powerful kinsman, John Fortescue I, ranger of Wychwood, near Woodstock, is the most likely patrons.2
Shortly after the capture of Edmund Campion in the summer of 1581, an order was given for the searching of Stonor Park, and there was discovered the press on which Campion and Parsons had printed the Decem Rationes under the protection of Stonor’s mother. Stonor had removed himself to another of his manors, and may or may not have been ignorant of the activities of the Catholics his mother had gathered round her. Lady Stonor and later his brother John were committed to his charge, to see only ‘Francis, and such other godly and learned persons as he shall think meet ... to reduce [them] to conformity’. Stonor also farmed for some £250 a year the lands taken from Lady Stonor for her recusancy. He was a sympathetic guardian, obtaining leave for his mother to visit Bath for treatment, and defending his brother in lawsuits. In 1603 he transmitted to Cecil a petition from John Stonor, who had been an exile in the Netherlands for 20 years, asserting that his brother had never intended any ‘undutiful action’. In fact Stonor devoted assiduous attention to Sir Robert Cecil, whom he thanked for securing his knighthood in December 1601 and plied with congratulations and New Year presents. Though Stonor’s wife, sister and daughter were committed to prison and he was on one occasion summoned before the Privy Council and on another actually indicted, he never quite fell out of favour, and even served a term as sheriff. He suffered from gout, and like his mother and son, Francis, paid visits to Bath, where in 1624 he erected a rail about the King’s bath in memory of benefits received on a previous visit. He died on 21 Oct. 1625, leaving £1,630 in money, £300 of it to charity. The will was disputed and sentence pronounced in June 1626.3
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: Alan Harding
- 1. C142/274/150; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 237; Foster, Al. Ox. i. 1430.
- 2. Trinity, Camb. mss R.5.14, art. 6; E. K. Chambers, Sir Henry Lee, 81-2; Wards 9/138, f. 680; R. J. Stonor, Stonor: a Catholic Sanctuary, 233.
- 3. APC, xiii. 151, 190, 396-7; xv. 84; xx. 291, 310; xxvi. 112-13; xxxiv. 166; Cath. Rec. Soc. ii. 29; xviii. 251; xxxix. p. xxxviii; Egerton Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xii), 453; HMC Hatfield, xi. 510; xv. 199, 291; xvi. 316; xvii. 215; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 570-1, 611, 1611-18, p. 145; 1623-5, p. 5; Lansd. 71, f. 170; 78, f. 165; Stonor, 270, 273; C142/423/76; PCC 130 Clarke.