Paston, Clement (DNB00)

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PASTON, CLEMENT (1515?–1597), sea-captain, second son of Sir William Paston (1479?–1554) [q. v.], is said by Lloyd (State Worthies) to have served the king of France in the time of Henry VII, but the inscription on his monument, which gives the date of his death, says: 'Twice forty years he lived and somewhat more,' fixing the date of his birth about 1515. He is first mentioned in 1544 as ‘one of the pensioners’ and a fitting man to command a king's ship. In 1545 he commanded the Pelican of Danzig, of three hundred tons, in the fleet under Lord Lisle. In 1546, still, presumably, in the Pelican, he captured a French galley, having on board the Baron St. Blanchard, who appears to have been coming to England on some informal embassy from the king of France. The galley was probably the Mermaid, which was added to the English navy; but of the circumstances of the capture no record can be found. It was afterwards debated whether the galley was ‘good prize,’ and whether St. Blanchard ought to pay ransom, for which Paston demanded five thousand crowns, with two thousand more for maintenance. At the request of Henry, on giving his bond for the money, the baron was released, and he returned to France with his servants, 'two horses, and twelve mastiff dogs.' Afterwards he pleaded that he was under compulsion at the time, and that the bond was worthless, nor does it appear that the money was paid. Paston, however, kept the plunder of the galley, of which a gold cup, with two snakes forming the handles, was in 1829 still in the possession of the family. Lloyd's statement that Paston captured the admiral of France and received thirty thousand crowns for his ransom is as incorrect as that 'he was the first that made the English navy terrible.' At the battle of Pinkie in 1547, Paston was wounded and left for dead. It is said that he was the captor of Sir Thomas Wyatt in 1554, which is contrary to evidence (Froude, Hist. of Engl. cabinet edit. v. 354), and that he commanded the fleet at Havre in 1562, which is fiction. In 1570 he was a magistrate of Norfolk, and a commissioner for the trial and execution of traitors (State Papers, Dom. Elizabeth, lxxiii. 28), and in 1587, though a deputy-lieutenant of the county, he was suspected of being lukewarm in the interests of religion (Strype, Annals, iii. ii. 460). In 1588 he was sheriff of Norfolk. He died on 18 Feb. 1597, and was buried in the church of Oxnead, where a ‘stately marble tomb’ testifies that

. . . princes he served four,
In peace and war, as fortune did command,
Sometimes by sea and sometimes on the
shore.

He married Alice, widow of Edward Lambert. Her maiden name was Packington. He appears to have had no children, and left the bulk of his property to his wife, with remainder to his nephew, Sir William Paston [cf. Paston, Sir William, 1479?–1554].

[Blomefield and Parkins's Hist. of Norfolk, vi. 487; Chambers's Hist. of Norfolk, p. 211, 959; the account in Lloyd's State Worthies is untrustworthy; State Papers of Henry VIII (1830, &c.), i. 811, 866, 894, xi. 329; Acts of the Privy Council (Dasent), 1542–7 pp. 514, 566, 1547–50 p. 447; State Papers of Henry VIII (in the Public Record Office), vols. xvi–xix. As these papers have not yet been calendared, many of them being nearly obliterated by damp, and the writing very bad, it remains possible that an exhaustive search through them might lead to the discovery of some details concerning the capture of St. Blanchard, which is equally unknown to French and naval histories.]

J. K. L.