LEWKNOR, Edward (1516/17-56), of Kingston Buci, Suss.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. 1516/17, 1st s. of Edward Lewknor of Kingston Buci by Margaret, da. of Roger Copley of Roughey, Suss. and Gatton, Surr. m. by 1542, Dorothy, da. of Robert Wroth of Durants, Enfield, Mdx., 3s. inc. Edward 6da. suc. fa. 7 July 1528.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suss. 1554-d.; commr. sewers, 1554, 1555.2


Edward Lewknor came of a Sussex family which had provided many Members of 15th-century Parliaments, one of them his grandfather. On his father’s death in 1528 Lewknor was committed to his mother’s custody but by 1535 he had become the ward of Robert Wroth. Wroth may have sent him with his own son Thomas Wroth to Gray’s Inn. Lewknor’s father and grandfather had served the Lords la Warr, and his mother’s sister had married the 8th Lord, but if he took service it appears to have been with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk; he was probably the ‘master Lewkenor’, a member of Norfolk’s household, who in December 1545 was committed to the Fleet with Thomas Hussey I, the duke’s treasurer, after the two had fought one another near the palace of Westminster. Hussey was a Member of the Parliament then in session and it is possible that Lewknor also sat in it; he could have been nominated by the duke for one of the several Sussex boroughs whose Members on this occasion are unknown.3

The fall of Norfolk did not harm Lewknor, who not only acquired some of the duke’s forfeited lands in Sussex but also established himself at the court of Edward VI, although no evidence has been found of his being groom porter there as is often said. In March 1551 both the King and Council recommended him for the packership of London, but the City refused on the ground that the yield of the office had been allocated to the poor. He could thus probably have relied on official support for his election at Horsham early in 1553, although this is sufficiently explained by his own local standing and his marriage-link with John Michell II, who was to succeed him as Member for the borough. He evidently did nothing in the summer of 1553 to compromise himself with Mary, for he was brought on to the Sussex bench early in 1554 and it was as one of the Queen’s servants that he was lent a corslet from the Tower armoury at the time of Wyatt’s rebellion.4

Two years later Lewknor was himself caught in the web of treason. As the brother-in-law of the exile Thomas Wroth he was doubtless in touch with dissidents. On 1 Feb. 1556 he and William West, the disabled heir of the 9th Lord la Warr, were informed by Henry Peckham of the conspiracy being hatched by Sir Henry Dudley and asked to procure a copy of Henry VIII’s will as proof of the Queen’s ineligibility to wear the crown; this Lewknor did, sending the document to West’s house in St. Dunstan’s, Farringdon Without, where it was handed over to Peckham. He was also said to have had meetings with sympathisers both at his house in Sussex and in London, and more vaguely to have been privy to a plot to kill the Queen during a card game. On 6 June 1556 Lewknor was taken to the Tower and on 15 June he was tried at Guildhall and sentenced to death for treason. He was among those whose execution was deferred, and he would probably have been pardoned but for his death on 6 Sept. in the Tower, where for several weeks his wife and one of his daughters had been lodged with him ‘for his better comfort’. The lieutenant of the Tower, Sir Henry Bedingfield (with whom he had sat in the Commons), reported that he had died without the sacrament but had asked the Queen to forgive him and to spare his wife and children. This Mary did to the extent of speedily restoring to Dorothy Lewknor the manors of Hamsey and Kingston Buci, although not all the movable property was returned: thus the moiety of a ship, the Bark of Shoreham, was sold to a Household servant. Lewknor’s heir Edward was restored in blood in March 1559 and was to become a leading Puritan Member of seven Elizabethan Parliaments.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s death. Suss. Arch. Colls. iii. 92-102; Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv. 142.
  • 2. CPR, 1553-4, pp. 24, 37; 1554-5, p. 111.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vi; PCC 28 Maynwaryng, 39 Porch, 36 Hogen; APC, i. 289.
  • 4. Suss. Arch. Colls. iii. 89; CPR, 1553, p. 102; SP10/19/61; 12/1/15; Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxvi. 106; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 12(1), f. 209v.
  • 5. CPR, 1555-7, pp. 451, 531, 539; SP11/8/68; E. H. Harbison, Rival Ambassadors at Ct. of Q. Mary, 198; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 208 and n, 228, 232-3, 236; E101/63/20; HMC 3rd Rep. 239; Harl. 608, f. 70v.