WALDEGRAVE, Sir William (1507-54), of Smallbridge, Suff.

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. 2 Aug. 1507, 1st s. of Sir George Waldegrave of Smallbridge by Anne, da. of Sir Robert Drury I of Hawstead. m. settlement 7 July 1528, Juliana, da. of Sir John Raynsford of Bradfield, Essex, 1s. William 4da. suc. fa. 8 July 1528. Kntd. 25 May 1533.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. ?1531, 1532-d.; commr. tenths of spiritualities 1535, coastal defence 1539, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; other commissions 1534-d.; sheriff, Norf. and Suff. 1550-1.2


William Waldegrave was born and brought up at his maternal grandfather’s house in Suffolk. The deaths within the space of 14 months of his paternal grandfather Sir William Waldegrave and his own father left him heir to one of the handsomest patrimonies at the age of a few weeks short of 21. The marriage contracted for him by his father while dying strengthened his connexions in the region and added to his property. From thenceforward he combined local administration with attendance at court and military service. Knighted at the coronation of Anne Boleyn he headed the commission to take the oath of succession in Suffolk. In the autumn of 1536 he was one of a group of men who the 3rd Duke of Norfolk believed would quell any rising in Suffolk. Two years later he approached Cromwell about help in obtaining an unspecified reward from the King, but nothing came of this, perhaps because later in the same year he told the minister about his troubled conscience over enforcing the injunctions for divine service to be said in English. Nothwithstanding his ‘great heartburning’ he remained on the bench and in 1539 he was ordered to attend the reception of Anne of Cleves.3

In 1542 Waldegrave served under the Duke of Norfolk’s command against the Scots and two years later he captained 60 of his own men in the French campaign. His election to the Parliament of 1545 reflected this recent military experience as much as his own standing in Suffolk and may have been promoted by his uncle Sir William Drury as sheriff. Of his part in the Parliament nothing has come to light but during the prorogation he was present at the reception of the Admiral of France at Greenwich. Although he was not to be re-elected, early in January 1553 the Council considered him for nomination with Sir William Drury as knights for Suffolk in the forthcoming Parliament but in the event nominated Sir Henry Bedingfield with Drury. Following Edward VI’s death in the summer Cecil listed Waldegrave among potential supporters of Queen Jane but on being summoned to Kenninghall by Mary on 8 July he joined the princess in her successful bid for the throne. Later he heard the indictments in Suffolk against Jane’s adherents.4

While on a visit to Calais late in 1554, perhaps in connexion with the arrival of Cardinal Pole, Waldegrave fell sick. By his will made on 8 Nov. he asked to be buried in the graveyard of St. Mary’s church there, provided for his wife and children and remembered his mother and other kin. He died on the following 12 Dec., and the will was proved by the executors in October 1555 a week before they renounced the administration in favour of the widow. A monument to his memory was placed in Bures church near the tombs of his ancestors and an inscription in the church of St. Mary, Sudbury.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Date of birth given in proof of age, C142/48/142. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 298-9; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 96, 121; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 75; PCC 29, 36 Porch; LP Hen. VIII, vi; E150/630/7; Procs. Suff. Inst. Arch. iv. 357-66.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, v, vii, viii, xii-xiv, xviii, xx; C193/12/1, f. 33; E371/300, m. 48; CPR, 1547-8, p. 89; 1553, pp. 358, 415; 1553-4, p. 24; 1554-5, pp. 151, 158.
  • 3. Copinger, Suff. Manors, i. 51-54, 351; ii. 285; iv. 61, 313; v. 45, 275; Add. 19154, ff. 36-77; 34651, ff. 3-20; Suff. Green Bks. x. 19, 299, 338; LP Hen VIII, vi, vii, xi, xiii-xv; Elton, Policy and Police, 258-9.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xvii, xix, xxi; Lansd. 3(19), f. 36; 103, ff. 1-2; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 175; APC, iv. 300; CPR, 1553-4, p. 224; 1554-5. p. 43, 151, 158.
  • 5. PCC 34 More; C142/104/92; Copinger, i. 54; J. Weever, Funeral Monuments, 484.