WARNER, Sir Edward (1511-65), of Plumstead and Polsteadhall, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. 1511, yr. s. of Henry Warner of Besthorpe by Mary, da. of John Blennerhasset of Frenze; bro. of Robert. m. (1) Elizabeth (d.1560), da. of Thomas Brooke, 8th Lord Cobham, wid. of Sir Thomas Wyatt, 3s. all d. inf.; (2) Audrey, da. and h. of William Hare of Beeston, wid. of Thomas Hobart of Plumstead, s.p. Kntd. 18 May 1544.2

Offices Held

Member of Henry VIII’s household by 1537, sewer by 1545; constable, Clitheroe castle 1542; marshal of the field against Ket’s rebellion 1549; esquire of the body by 1552; lt. of the Tower Oct. 1552-July 1553, from Nov. 1558 (jointly with Sir Thomas Cawarden) to 1563; master of St. Katharine’s hospital and steward of East Smithfield 1560, j.p. Mdx. from c.1561, Norf. from c.1564; collector for loan, Mdx. 1562; commr. piracy, Norf. 1565.3


By the accession of Elizabeth a large part of Warner’s public career was over. He had been a household official and soldier under Henry VIII, earning his knighthood during the Scottish campaign of 1544. Even before the end of Henry’s reign there are indications that he had protestant leanings, and he gained his position of lieutenant of the Tower under Northumberland’s radically protestant government. His initial support of Lady Jane Grey lost him the post under Mary. In the first Parliament of her reign he was among those who ‘stood for the true religion’ thereafter interrupting his parliamentary service until the accession of Elizabeth. After a short spell of imprisonment for suspected implication in the Wyatt rebellion of 1554, he was released in the following year, being bound to good behaviour, and presumably lived in retirement until Mary’s death.4

At the beginning of the new reign he was restored to royal favour and to office, and sat in the first Elizabethan Parliament for Great Grimsby. Lord Clinton, who asked the borough for a nomination, was presumably responsible for his return, but Clinton, not in general an energetic parliamentary patron, may have been acting for Sir William Cecil or some other leading statesman.5

The confidence which Elizabeth’s government initially had in Warner was shown by his restoration to his former office at the Tower, jointly with Cawarden, presumably as being more dependable in religion than Sir Robert Oxenbridge, the Marian constable. However, Oxenbridge also remained in office, at least for a time, and during part of November and December 1558 there seem to have been three men in charge of the Tower. From about the end of the year, when Cawarden retired, Warner was the senior official, although Elizabeth never gave him the higher title of constable, as Sir Nicholas Throckmorton had suggested in his advice on her accession to the throne.

In July 1562 the Privy Council ordered him not to allow the Marian bishops in the Tower to confer freely with one another, and early in the following year his leniency over Lady Catherine Grey and the Earl of Hertford led to his dismissal and imprisonment, when a second child was about to be born to the couple in the Tower. The matter was raised in the House of Commons, since he was a knight of the shire and Parliament was in session. On 1 Feb. 1563 ‘Mr. Comptroller, with others, was appointed to confer of the privileges of this house, upon motions made for the imprisonment of Sir Edward Warner’. It was apparently decided that privilege could not be extended to him: Sir William Cecil told Members of the judges’ advice to the Queen that ‘she might commit any of the House during the Parliament for any offence against the Crown and dignity’.6

After his release from imprisonment later in the year, Warner seems to have retired to the Norfolk estates which he owned largely in right of his second wife, but he still kept up his London house in Sermon Lane. In September he wrote to Cecil that he was enjoying his leisure from office. However, he was not allowed to remain a plain country gentleman. He was already a justice of the peace for Middlesex (the bishops’ letters to the Council describing him as a favourer of sound religion) and in 1564 he was added to the Norfolk commission. In July of that year he served as a commissioner for gaol delivery in the Yarmouth district. Early in 1565 he was one of a general commission appointed to deal with coiners and other felons, and received a Council letter to supervise the ‘good assessing’ of the subsidy. In the last year of his life he spent some time in the Netherlands, apparently inquiring into the condition of English trade there. It was probably on the same visit to the Continent that he wrote to Cecil from Spa in August 1565. He was worried about a rumour that a secret agent from Elizabeth had been to the Pope to obtain a revocation of the bull declaring her illegitimate.7

The last known reference to Warner as an active official is on 3 Nov. 1565, when he was appointed a piracy commissioner for Norfolk. He died four days later at Norwich. The heir was his brother Robert. In his will, drawn up a fortnight before he died, he set aside £40 for his funeral, which was to be ‘with as little pomp as may be’. The preamble bequeathed his soul to ‘Almighty God our saviour Jesus Christ, by whose death and passion I do verily believe to be received into the everlasting kingdom of heaven’. He asked to have his ‘scutcheons’ in a number of parish churches, and the executors were to bestow £4 on the poor of Plumstead and other parishes, to be distributed to them ‘in their homes’. Warner made detailed arrangements for the support of his widow, her two daughters by her former husband, and her son ‘Henry Hobart’, aged under sixteen. Among bequests in kind were ‘the table of my picture in the parlour at Plumstead, and all my books of statutes and chronicles, and all my pedigrees of kings or of any other person’. He was £650 in debt to various relatives and acquaintances, but the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Cobham each owed him £100, and there were other outstanding debts to him which the executors—the widow, his brother Robert and ‘cousins’ John and William Blennerhassett—were reminded to collect. He was buried in the chancel of Little Plumstead church, Norfolk, where his monument shows him in armour, his feet resting on a dog. There is a long inscription in English verse.8

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. DNB; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 308-9; Vis. Norf. 1563 (Norf. Arch. Soc.), i. 18; LP Hen. VIII, xix(1), p. 328.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii(1), p. 579; xx(2), p. 549; Somerville, Duchy, i. 499; DNB; CPR, 1550-3, p. 300; APC, iv. 422; vii. 471 n; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 150; Yale Univ. Lib., Osborn Coll. 71.6.41.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xviii(1), pp. 467, 469; xix(1), p. 328; Bodl. e Museo 17; DNB; APC, i. 411; iv. 422; v. 35, 90.
  • 5. HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 255.
  • 6. APC, i. 411; vi. 427; vii. 118-19; J. Bayley, Hist. Tower, ii. 663-6; EHR, lxv. 94-5; HMC Hatfield, i. 261, 264; CJ, i. 64; Add. 5123, f. 16.
  • 7. CPR, 1558-60, p. 141; 1563-6, pp. 40, 257; Lansd. 7, f. 68; 8, f. 79; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 60; DNB; CSP Dom. Add. 1547-65, p. 571.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 258, 261; Add. 1547-65, p. 571; APC, vii. 285; E150/658/3; PCC 12 Crymes; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 360.