GRIMSTON, William (by 1508-52/53), of Wardour Castle and Salisbury, Wilts. and Motcombe, Dorset.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1508. m. (1) Joan, 1s. 3da.; (2) Sybil Huyland or Hewland.2

Offices Held

Servant of Sir John Rogers c.1530, Queen Anne Boleyn 1534.3


William Grimston’s parentage is unknown but he may have been of East Anglian origin, a suggestion which receives some colour from Grimston’s connexion with his successor as tenant of Wardour Castle, Matthew Colthurst, who is thought to have taken his first wife from the Suffolk family of this name. Although there is no record of his admission to an inn of court, Grimston was a lawyer. He was at one time a servant of Sir John Rogers, who may have been his parliamentary patron at Wareham, although in 1534 it was reported to Rogers’s son that William Grimston had spoken disrespectfully of the family and had professed allegiance to Cromwell, whose servant he declared himself to be: he was also said to have threatened with praemunire charges various men in London and Gillingham, Dorset, and to have taken a fine from one London draper ‘to relieve him of the praemunire’. The letter containing these statements is endorsed, ‘The within named William Grimston is now sworn the Queen’s servant’, but no other evidence to this effect has been found. One William Grimston, probably a northern namesake (since the Member is not known to have had any interest outside the capital and the south-west), was employed in the 1540S successively by John Gostwick and (Sir) Michael Stanhope, the Protector’s brother-in-law.4

Grimston was the plaintiff in a number of lawsuits. He complained in Star Chamber of attacks upon his servants and friends in Motcombe and Shaftesbury in 1535 and assaults upon himself and his wife in their house at Motcombe in 1536 and 1537; the chief defendant in the second charge, a servant of John Zouche I, the Queen’s tenant, whose duty it was to protect the deer, alleged that Grimston was a nuisance to the whole neighbourhood and had often broken down Zouche’s fences. Grimston complained in Chancery of another assault with theft from his house in 1540; the defendants in this case asserted that they had entered Grimston’s house to distrain for rent which was overdue. Later, in the reign of Edward VI, Grimston and his second wife put a bill of complaint into Star Chamber against John Charter and others who had cut and taken away crops from their land in East Grimstead, Wiltshire, land which Charter alleged rightly belonged to him, not to Sybil Grimston and her husband.5

Grimston probably sat again for Wareham in the Parliament of 1536, in accordance with the King’s request for the re-election of the previous Members, and he could have done so in 1539 and 1542, when the Wareham names are lost. In 1547 he probably owed his seat at Bridport to an influential neighbour, Sir Thomas Arundell, who sat as one of the Dorset knights in the same Parliament, and who in the same year bought the castle which had been Grimston’s home until Colthurst acquired the lease; as Colthurst was linked with one of Bridport’s leading townsmen, Richard Moone, he too may have had a hand in securing Grimston’s return. The Journal affords one glimpse of Grimston’s activities in the House when on 31 Mar. 1552 he was ordered to report with John Gosnold on a misdemeanour.6

Grimston made his will on 25 Dec. 1552, asking to be buried in the churchyard of St. Martin’s, Salisbury, and leaving to his wife all his lands in Motcombe; the residue of his goods was to be divided between his wife and his son William, whom he appointed his executors. The will was proved on 12 Oct. 1553. His widow later declared that Grimston had died so much in debt that she was unable to satisfy his creditors: she therefore sold the annuity which Grimston had bequeathed to his son.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Presumed to be of age at election. C1/995/30; PCC 18 Tashe; St. Ch.3/1/10.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vii.
  • 4. C1/1308/26; LP Hen. VIII, vii, xv; NRA 13018, pp. 266, 268.
  • 5. St. Ch.2/16/351-9; 3/1/10; C1/995/30-31.
  • 6. R. B. Pugh and A. D. Saunders, Old Wardour Castle, Wilts. 7; CJ, i. 21.
  • 7. PCC 18 Tashe; C1/1355/70-75.