AYLWORTH, John (by 1516-75), of Wells, Som. and Dartington, Devon and Bangor Place, Holborn, London.

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



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1516, prob. 2nd s. of Anthony Aylworth (d.1565) of Aylworth Glos. by 1st w. m. Elizabeth Ashton, 6s. inc. Ashton and Edward 1da.4

Offices Held

Servant of Richard Cromwell alias Williams by 1537-40; receiver, ct. augmentations, Cornw., Devon, Dorset, Som. 1 Nov. 1544-54, Exchequer 1554-61; commr. chantries, south-western counties 1546, relief, Mdx. 1550; esquire of the body to Anne of Cleves by 1547; keeper, Marylebone house, Mdx. in 1552; member of the Twenty-Four, Wells 12 Jan. 1558-d., master 1559-60; receiver for Exchequer, Launceston lands, Cornw. by 1560.5


John Aylworth is first glimpsed in May 1537 as a servant of the young Richard Cromwell, who tried unsuccessfully to secure for him the farm of the parsonage of St. Martin, Salisbury; it was, however, doubtless his connexion with Cromwell which in September 1539 did secure him, as John Aylworth junior of London, a lease of the former hospital of St. John the Baptist, Wells. This seems to have been his first connexion with that city, but his appointment a few years later to the augmentations post called for his presence in the west country, and thereafter he seems to have divided his time between Wells and London. He took full advantage of his opportunities for acquiring land to obtain considerable ex-monastic property in Wells and elsewhere in Somerset and Devon: between 1545 and 1550 he expended over £1,000 in purchases which included the college of Monteroy, Wells, where he built a mansion. His main residence seems, however, to have been in Holborn, where he acquired a long lease of Bangor Place in 1551. He had a grant of arms in 1546, and it may have been about the same time that he became an esquire of the body to Anne of Cleves: in this capacity he was present, with two servants, at the funeral of Henry VIII. When in September 1549 Cecil reported to Sir John Thynne the death of Sir Anthony Denny, he mentioned as a possible consequence that ‘virtuous Mr. Aylworth without your good help may chance have Mr. Whalley ride before him?’. The reference was presumably to the succession to one of Denny’s offices, but whether Aylworth did benefit in this respect is not known.6

Aylworth began his parliamentary career by sitting for Wells. He presumably needed no outside support to procure his election there in 1547, but it is possible that he enlisted the aid of Sir Thomas Arundell, whom he succeeded in several appointments. Aylworth and Thomas Clerke agreed to ask no wages and it was not until some two weeks after election that he was admitted to the freedom of the city and paid a fine of 10s. For the succeeding Parliament Wells elected Thomas Lewis II and William Godwin on 6 Feb. 1553, but a fortnight later it was announced that Lewis had resigned his seat, which was then given to Aylworth. Although it is tempting to see in this substitution the hand of the Duke of Northumberland or one of his followers, there is no indication that Aylworth was connected with any faction. Perhaps because Lewis insisted on being returned to Parliament once his term as master of the guild of merchants was over, Aylworth did not sit again for Wells in the following autumn but was returned for Penryn, a borough owned by the bishop of Exeter. As augmentations receiver for the southwest Aylworth was well placed to secure his own election in the region. His return on this occasion was perhaps favoured by Ralph Couche I, but it is more likely to have been the work of two of his colleagues in augmentations, the Mildmay brothers, Thomas and Sir Walter, who were influential in the duchy of Cornwall. It was not until 1558 (when he resumed living at Wells after several years at Dartington) that he was again elected by Wells, which then continued to return him without a break until his death.7

Aylworth’s absence from three Marian Parliaments may have been connected with his religion. Although he had not been named among those who ‘stood for the true religion’ in the Parliament of October 1553, his will has a distinctly Protestant flavour. He obtained a general pardon in March 1554 and retained his augmentations receivership throughout the reign of Mary. In January 1558, when he and John Mawdley II agreed to serve in Parliament without wages, he was also elected a member of the Twenty-Four, and in the following year he served as master. For the next few years his connexion with Wells seems to have been close, but towards the end of his life he probably retired to Holborn and it was there that he made his will several months before his death on 28 Dec. 1575.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: Roger Virgoe / M. K. Dale


  • 1. Wells act bk. 2, p. 496; Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Wells act bk. 2, p. 541.
  • 3. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 4. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 7; PCC 24 Morrison, 4 Carew; information from W. D. Pink.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1550-3, p. 224; 1553, p. 356; LC2/2, f. 62; A. L. Rowse, Tudor Cornw. 93; Stowe 571, f. 49; Wells act bk. 3, ff. 25v, 35; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 47-49, 281; Duchy Cornw. RO E6. 1/2v, 10.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiv-xv, xxi; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxix. 118-19; HMC Wells, ii. 255; CPR, 1547-8, p. 406; 1550-3, pp. 36, 224, 231; 1554-5, p. 77; DKR, ix. 161; E. Williams, Early Holborn, no. 768; Add. Ch. 8661; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 2, f. 116.
  • 7. Wells act bk. 2, pp. 496-7, 541-2; 3, f. 25v; CPR, 1550-3, p. 224; 1553-4, p. 419.
  • 8. PCC 4 Carew; CPR, 1553-4, p. 419; LR6/12/1-3; Wells act bk. 3, f. 25v.