STUMPE, Sir James (by 1519-63), of Malmesbury and Bromham, Wilts.

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. by 1519, 1st s. of William Stumpe of Malmesbury by 1st w. Joyce, da. of James Berkeley of Bradley, Glos., bro. of John Stumpe. m. (1) by 1542, Bridget, da. of Sir Edward Baynton of Bromham, 1da., (2) Isabel, da. of Sir John Leigh of Stockwell, Surr., wid. of Sir Edward Baynton (d. 27 Nov. 1544). Kntd. 1549 or later; suc. fa. 22 July 1552.2

Offices Held

Keeper, Little Vastern park, Wilts. 1546, Braydon forest, Wilts. by 1563; sheriff, Wilts. Aug.-Nov. 1552, 1560-1; commr. oyer and terminer 1554; j.p. 1558/59-d.; steward, Hungerford manor, Berks. 1560-d.3


The life of Sir James Stumpe shows how rapidly the family of a rich Tudor clothier could be assimilated into the landowning class. Although his father may have been known to Henry VIII, it was probably Stumpe’s relationship to the Bayntons which brought him the keepership of Little Vastern on 25 May 1546 at the suit of ‘Mr. Seymour’. Vastern formed part of the jointure of Queen Catherine Parr, whom Sir Edward Baynton had served as vice-chamberlain and who continued for a time to be attended by his widow, Stumpe’s future wife; ‘Mr. Seymour’ was presumably Sir Thomas Seymour II later Baron Seymour of Sudeley. Perhaps if Stumpe had been an older man he would have been returned to Parliament in 1547 under Seymour’s auspices; on the other hand it is possible that no place could be found for him, since William Stumpe and a prominent royal official, Sir Maurice Denys, represented his native borough of Malmesbury.4

William Stumpe showed in his will that he wanted his younger sons to continue as clothiers, while his heir was to take his place in the shire. The favour of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who had succeeded the Seymours as the dominant power in Wiltshire, may now have furthered Stumpe’s career. On 3 Aug. 1552 he was nominated to complete the remainder of his father’s term as sheriff, and on the following day Pembroke wrote to Sir William Cecil from Wilton asking that Stumpe should become under steward of Malmesbury, where his father had been named steward in 1545. The stewardship of Hungerford manor was probably also secured at the request of the earl, who had succeeded Sir Edward Baynton as steward of the lands of the duchy of Lancaster in Wiltshire and whose own heir was to be granted Stumpe’s office in 1564. Pembroke may have been responsible for the return of the clothier’s son as a knight of the shire to the Parliament of March 1553, when he himself was in close alliance with the Duke of Northumberland, although Stumpe’s candidature was doubtless also furthered by the sheriff, (Sir) William Sharington, a kinsman of the Bayntons. In November 1552 Stumpe had bought from Northumberland four Wiltshire manors.5

Four days before this transaction Stumpe sold the manor of Througham and lands at Bisley, in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, to Matthew King, a Malmesbury clothier whose daughter married Stumpe’s younger brother at about this time; in January 1553 he sold a fulling mill and a corn mill at Woodchester, Gloucestershire. None the less he had not yet entered on the lands of his father, who had continued to buy property until the year of his death and whose estate was burdened with provisions for his widow and the infant son of his third marriage. On 6 June 1553 Stumpe was promised special livery, after agreeing with the court of wards that an auditor could check the property and that there would be no abuses or evasions, and ten days later he was at last licensed to enjoy his inheritance. A number of lands and rents in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire were afterwards sold. William Stumpe’s house within the precincts of Malmesbury abbey ceased to be the main residence of the head of the family: Sir James Stumpe is described as of Little Vastern in a deed of June 1558, as ‘late of Malmesbury, alias of Oddington’ when pardoned in January 1559, and as of Bromham in his will.6

Stumpe was among the Wiltshire gentry who were ordered to proclaim Mary at Warminster on 14 July 1553, and two days later he joined (Sir) John Bonham, (Sir) John Thynne and Sir William Wroughton in a dutiful reply to the new Queen. Their proceedings brought protests from Charles, 8th Baron Stourton, on the ground that Mary had already named him lord lieutenant, and Stumpe was associated with his colleagues in denouncing Stourton to the Council on 24 July, although he does not figure in the later stages of this dispute. He cannot have been harmed by an order from the Council in April 1554 for the arrest of his servant Richard Cove and of Sir Anthony Hungerford’s man Thomas Cove, for in the following month he was appointed a commissioner of oyer and terminer. Although not assessed for subsidy in the borough, Stumpe retained property there and so was probably able to arrange his own return in 1555, when his name was inserted on the indenture in a different hand from that of the document. He may have been involved in earlier elections of Matthew King, his kinsman by marriage and fellow-Member.7

Opposition to a government bill in 1555 could have prevented Stumpe’s re-election in 1558 and although in favour under Elizabeth he was not to sit in her first Parliament. He exchanged New Year gifts with the Queen in 1562; this may have led to the marriage of his only child, Elizabeth, a fortnight after his death, to Henry Knyvet, whose wounding in the Scottish wars had excited the Queen’s sympathy. Much of Stumpe’s time, however, must have been taken up by a series of lawsuits over his wife’s inheritance or his father’s estate, and he did not live long enough to perpetuate a tradition of family representation at Malmesbury. His heirs were to sell property there, although his younger brother John was to remain active in municipal life for most of the reign and in 1584 was to represent the borough in Parliament with Sir Henry Knyvet.8

The extent of Stumpe’s wealth is indicated by the will which he made on 28 Apr. 1563, the day before he died. His lands in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire were estimated to be worth 500 marks a year in rent and to have been leased for 700 marks; the plate and the household goods were valued at £1,000, and the livestock included 1,800 sheep and 300 cattle. Stumpe also recorded that the Queen owed him £100 and two London mercers, Thomas Egerton and Henry Saxey, £600 and £300 respectively; he himself had incurred debts of £100 apiece to Sir Giles Poole of Sapperton, Gloucestershire, and Richard Roberts of London. His widow, who was assured of rents totalling £100 for her jointure, also received the interest in Bromham and Edington which she had brought to Stumpe on her marriage, together with 1,000 sheep, the household stuff at Edington and all her husband’s plate, jewels, corn and cattle. Stumpe’s daughter Elizabeth was left the remainder of the lease at Edington, 800 sheep and the household stuff at Bromham, in addition to the bulk of the inheritance as residuary legatee. Further bequests included £100 to the testator’s ‘trusty friend’ Sir John Leigh, £40 to John Young, perhaps the former Member for Old Sarum, £20 to Stumpe’s brother John, the same sum to every son of their uncle, another John Stumpe, and numerous legacies to servants. The executors were the widow and Sir John Leigh, and the supervisor the daughter, who was aged at least 20 when an inquisition was taken on 2 August.9

Stumpe must have spent his last days in London, for he had asked to be buried in St. Margaret’s, Westminster. Machyn records that on 10 May 1563 two heralds accompanied the impressive funeral procession from Channel Row to St. Margaret’s, where the lady chapel was hung with black. Henry and Elizabeth Knyvet were to be survived only by three daughters, who transmitted the blood and fortune of Wiltshire’s most successful clothier to the dynasties of their respective husbands, the Earls of Lincoln, Rutland and Suffolk.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. C219/20/138.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/95/91. Wilts. N. and Q. viii. 393, 448; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 7.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1553, p. 412; 1553-4, p. 28; 1554-5, p. 52; 1560-3, pp. 443, 491; Somerville, Duchy, i. 627.
  • 4. G. D. Ramsay, Wilts. Woollen Industry in 16th and 17th Cents. 36; LP Hen. VIII, xxi.
  • 5. Ramsay, 36; CSP Dom. 1547-80 p. 43; CPR, 1550-3, p. 258; 1553, p. 412; Somerville, i. 627.
  • 6. CPR, 1550-3, pp. 258-9; 1553, p. 259; 1557-8, p. 329; 1558-60, p. 153; 1560-3, pp. 89, 367; Wilts. RO, 88: 30, 34-40; Wilts. N. and Q. iv. 119, 160, 311, 403; viii. 445-6.
  • 7. Wilts. Arch. Mag. viii. 311-3; APC v. 14; CPR, 1553-4, p. 28; Ramsay 39; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 509.
  • 8. Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; J. Nichols Progresses Eliz. i. 115, 125; E. M. Richardson, The Lion and the Rose, i. 294; C3/105/64, 109/19, 157/78, 173/82; CPR, 1563-6, p. 135.
  • 9. PCC 23 Chayre; Wilts. N. and Q. viii. 445-6.
  • 10. Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 308, 395; Wilts. N. and Q. viii. 447; Ramsay, 37.