Sir Henry BEDINGFIELD, Knight
Born: 1509, Oxborough, Norfolk, England
Died: 22 Aug 1583
Buried: Bedingfeld chantry, Oxborurgh, Norfolk, England
Father: Edmund BEDINGFIELD of Oxborough (Sir)
Mother: Grace MARNEY
Married: Catherine TOWNSEND (b. ABT 1513 - d. 8 Dec 1581) (dau. of Sir Roger Townsend and Anne Brewse) ABT 1533
1. Edmund BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1534 - d. 24 Aug 1585) (m.1 Anne Southwell - m.2 Anne Moulton)
2. Thomas BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1537 - d. 1613) (m. Anne Bedingfield)
3. John BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1540 - d. AFT 21 Feb 1606) (m. Margaret Sillisden)
4. Eve BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1542 - d. BEF 12 May 1632) (m. William Yaxley)
5. Catherine BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1544) (m. Walter Norton)
6. Nicholas BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1547 - d. 1636) (m. Elizabeth Hoogan)
7. Elizabeth BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1549) (m. Edmund Richers)
8. Anne BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1552)
9. Henry BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1554 - d. 1629) (m. Mary Daniel)
10. Amy BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1556) (m. Thomas Wilbraham)
11. Alice BEDINGFIELD (b. ABT 1558) (m.1 Thomas Carvel - m.2 Henry Seckford)
Sir Henry Beddingfield
Son of Edmund Bedingfield and his wife Grace, dau. of Henry Marney, first B. Marney. He was the grandson of Sir Edmund Bedingfield who had served in the Wars of the Roses, and to whom were granted by Edward IV for his faithful service letters patent authorizing him "to build towers, walls, and such other fortifications as he pleased in his manors of Oxburgh, together with a market there weekly and a court of pye-powder". Henry's father, other Edmund, had been Catalina of Aragon's custodian during her last sad years at Kimbolton Castle.
Sir Henry Bedingfield and his fellow-Member Sir William Drury were included in Cecil's list of gentlemen who were expected to transact 'affairs for Queen Jane', but in the event both rallied to Mary. Sir Henry was mainly instrumental, together with Sir Henry Jerningham, in placing Mary Tudor on the throne. In 'The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of two years of Queen Mary', the anonimous author said:
'... The 12. of Jul word was brought to the Councell, being then at the Tower with the lady Jane, that the Lady Mary was at Keninghall castle in Norfolk, and with her the earle of Bath, sir Thomas Wharton sonne to the lord Wharton, sir John Mordaunt sonne to the lord Mordaunt, sir William Drury, sir John Shelton, sir Henry Bedingfield, master Henry Jerningham, master John Sulierde, master Richard Freston, master sergeant Morgan, master Clement Higham of Lincolnes inne, and divers others; and also that the earle of Sussex and master Henry Ratcliffe his sonne were comming towards her...'
He proclaimed her at Norwich, and for his loyalty received an annual pension of £100 out of the forfeited estates of Sir Thomas Wyatt. Ultimately he became Lieutenant of the Tower of London and Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard.
As jailer of Princess Elizabeth, who was suspected of complicity in Wyatt's rebellion, he has been persistently misrepresented by Foxe and others. On 5 May 1554, Sir John Gage was relieved of his office as Constable of the tower and Sir Henry Bedingfield placed in his room. Bedingfield marched in to take over command of the Tower bringing with him a hundred men in blue liveries, and Elizabeth's reacción to this 'sudden mutation', at least as described by John Foxe, clearly illustrates her state of mind. The arrival of Sir Henry, being 'a man unknown to her Grace and therefore the more feared', seems to have induced a fit of panic. She demanded to be told 'whether the Lady Jane's scaffold were taken away or no?' Reassured on this point, but still not entirely satisfied, she went on to ask who Sir Henry Bedingfield was and whether, 'if her murdering were secretly committed to his charge, he would see the execution thereof?'
On 19 May, at one o'clock in the afternoon he joined Sir John Williams and Sir Leonard Chamberlain to escort Elizabeth from the Tower to Woodstock. Foxe, in his "The myracolous preservation of Lady Elizabeth, nowe Queen" said:
"... In conclusión, on Trinitie Sonday being the 19. day of Maye, she was remooved from the Tower, the Lorde Treasurer being then there for the lading of her Cartes and discharging the place of the same. Where Syr Henry Benifielde (being appoynted her Gailer) did receive her wyth a companie of rakehelles to Garde her, besides the Lorde of Darbies bande, wayting in the Countrey about for the mooneshine on the water. Unto whome at length carne my Lorde of Tame, ioyned in Commission with the sayd Syr Henry, for the guiding of her to prisone: and they together conveied her grace to Woodstock, as hereafter followeth..."
Foxe's narrative contains many circumstantial anecdotes of her imprisonment, intended to emphasise her constant danger, and the boorish behaviour of Sir Henry. In fact, he seems to have been nomore than conscientious, and Elizabeth herself understood that. The whole history of his custodianship of Elizabeth is contained in a series of letters addressed to the Queen and the Privy Council, and in their replies. This correspondence, which has been published by the Norfolk and Norwich Archæological Society, completely exonerates Sir Henry from either cruelty or want of courtesy in his treatment of the royal captive.
Thomas Parry, the princess cofferer had to provide for her household but on 26 May, three days after her arrival at Woodstock, the Council told Bedingfield that there was no reason for Parry to stay there. Elizabeth's guardian communicated this decision to Parry, who baffled him by staying in the town. Parry now proceeded to make Bedingfield's life a misery. He first objected to the provisioning of his retinue out of Elizabeth's resources, until Bedingfield was commanded to supply them by a special warrant. This was simply a harassing tactic, for books were being conveyed to Elizabeth, some of which Bedingfield suspected of being seditious, and when Parry sent him two harmless ones he was forced to return them for want of explicit instructions. Bedingfield complained that he was helpless, as ‘daily and hourly the said Parry may have and give intelligence’, and once again the cofferer's position was referred to the Council. Early in Jul Parry was at the Bull inn, ‘a marvellous colourable place to practise in’, receiving every day as many as 40 men in his own livery, besides Elizabeth's own servants. At length the Council forbade such large meetings and, from Bedingfield's subsequent silence on the point, it seems that the order was obeyed.
Sir Henry Bedingfield also informed the Council of a meeting at Woodstock, Oxfordshire, between Francis Verney and a servant of the late Duke of Suffolk and cited Sir Leonard Chamberlain's judgement that "if there be any practice of ill within all England, this Verney is privy to it". Bedingfield apologised to the Council for the fact that he was being 'enforced, by the importunate desires of this great lady, to trouble your lordships with more letters than be contentful to mine own opinion'. In Apr 1555 Henry Bedingfield, escort Elizabeth to Hampton Court, where she met the Queen. A weeks later ended a period of close restraint for the Princess, which had lasted just over fifteen months. It would probably be difficult to say whether prisoner or jailer was the more relieved.
On Elizabeth's accession he retired to Oxborough and was called upon in a letter, in which the Queen addressed him as "trusty and well-behaved", to furnish a horse and man armed, as his contribution to the defence of the country against an expected invasion of the French.
When, however, the penal laws against Catholics were enforced with extreme severity, Sir Henry Bedingfield was not spared. He was required to pay heavy monthly fines for non-attendance at the parish church, while his house was searched for priests and church-furniture, and his servants dismissed for refusing to comform to the new state religion. Together with his fellow-Catholics, he was a prisoner within five miles of his own house and might pass that boundary only by a written authorization of the Privy Council.
In his will of 24 Jul 1561 Sir Richard Southwell bequeathed over 10,000 sheep to members of his family and left his personal armour to his ‘cousin and friend’ Sir Henry Bedingfield.
He died 22 Aug 1583, and was buried in the Bedingfeld chantry at Oxborurgh.
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