Sir Edward POYNINGS, Knight

(Lord Deputy of Ireland)

Born: 1459 / 1465, Poynings, Sussex, England

Died: Oct 1521, Westenhangar, Kent, England

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: Robert POYNINGS (6º B. Poynings)

Mother:  Elizabeth PASTON

Married: Elizabeth SCOTT (d. 15 Aug 1528) (dau. of Sir John Scott, Marshal of Calais)



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2. Thomas POYNINGS (1º B. Poynings)

3. Mary (Joan) POYNINGS (B. Clinton of Marstoke)

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4. Adrian POYNINGS (Sir Knight)

5. Edward POYNINGS

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6. Margaret POYNINGS


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9. Francis POYNINGS (Sir Knight)

Supporter of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, fought at Bosworth Field, 22 Aug 1485. Commanded a force sent to aid Maximilian against rebels in the Netherlands. Famous Lord Deputy of Ireland, responsible for the measures known as Poynings' Law. Only son of Robert Poynings, second son of the 5th Baron Poynings. His mother was a daughter of Sir William Paston, and some of her correspondence is to be found in the Paston Letters. Robert Poynings was implicated in Jack Cade’s rebellion, and Edward was himself concerned in a Kentish rising against Richard III, which compelled him to escape to the Continent. He attached himself to Henry, Earl of Richmond, with whom he returned to England in 1485.

By King Henry VII Poynings was employed in the wars on the Continent. The King gave him many proofs of his favour. He was a Privy Councillor, a Knight of the Garter, had a command in Flanders, and with William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, went as Ambassador to the Emperor Maximilian. In 1493 he was made governor of Calais.

Henry VII determined to change the state of affairs in Ireland; to make the people more free and less dependent on their Lords than they had been. Finding this impossible under the existing laws and customs, when the Chief Governor and Council, or the Chief Governor alone, called Parliaments and imposed subsidies, whereby the obedient subjects were weakened and impoverished, and complaints were made by members of both Houses, of the great expense they were forced to incur in travelling to the capital or wherever else the Parliament assembled, the King resolved upon a change. Sir Edward Poynings went to Ireland as Lord Deputy, 'a right worthy servitor in war and peace', under the viceroyalty of Prince Henry, to repel Perkin Warbeck and meet the Parliament. He landed at Howth on 1 Oct 1494, replaced Garret Mór Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, and immediately set about Anglicizing the government of Ireland, which he thoroughly accomplished, after inflicting punishment of the powerful Irish clans who supported the imposture of Warbeck. He then summoned the celebrated parliament of Drogheda, which met in Dec 1494, and enacted the "Statutes of Drogheda" (Statute X. Hen VII.), famous in Irish history as "Poynings’s law", which made the Irish legislature subordinate to, and completely dependent on, that of England, till its repeal in 1782. Garret Mór was arrested in 1495, charged with treason and sent by Poynings to England. The following year Henry VII restored Garret Mór to his position as chief governor when he realised the difficulties of governing Ireland without him. The charge of treason was dropped and he was released from the Tower of London. Although he remained in power until his death in 1513 he now wielded his formidable power in the name of Henry VII and was a loyal Tudor subject. Garret Mór died in 1513 from wounds received in battle and was succeeded by his son, Garret Óg as chief governor and Earl of Kildare. Garret Óg's rule was marked with periodic displays of English authority which were the prelude to a new order in Irish politics.

After defeating Perkin Warbeck at Waterford and driving him out of Ireland, Poynings returned to England in 1496, and was appointed warden of the Cinque Ports. He was employed both in military commands and in diplomatic missions abroad by Henry VII, and later by Henry VIII, his most important achievement being the successful negotiation, with Sir Richard Wingfield, of the "holy league" between England, Spain, the Emperor, and the Pope, in 1513.

In 1520 he was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, in the arrangement of which he had taken an active part. He died in 1521. By his wife, Elizabeth Scott, Poynings left no surviving issue, and his estates passed through a collateral female line to the Earl of Northumberland. He had several illegitimate children, one of whom, Thomas Poynings, was created Baron Poynings in 1545, but died in the same year without heirs.


Bacon, Sir Francis The History of the Reign of King Henry VII. (London, 1641)

Bagwell, Richard Ireland under the Tudors (2 vols., London, 1885)

Gilbert, J. T. History of the Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin, 1865)

Froude, J. A. The English in Ireland (3 vols., London, 1872—1874)

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