Sharington, William (DNB00)

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SHARINGTON or SHERINGTON, Sir WILLIAM (1495?–1553), vice-treasurer of the mint at Bristol, born about 1495, came of an old Norfolk family, and was the eldest son of Thomas Sherington (d. 1527?) and his wife Catherine, daughter of William Pirton of Little Bentley, Essex (Blomefield, Norfolk, x. 201–3). He entered the service of Sir Francis Bryan [q.v.], and subsequently became page of the king's robes. In 1540 he bought the dissolved Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, for 783l., and on 3 May 1546 he became vice-treasurer of the mint at Bristol (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–1581, p. 3). He was made knight of the Bath at the coronation of Edward VI on 19 Feb. 1546–7. His position at the mint he used to perpetrate extensive frauds. In April 1547 the council forbad the coining of any more ‘testons’ or shillings, two-thirds of which were alloy. Sharington nevertheless bought up large quantities of church plate from the Somerset villagers, and during May, June, and July, coined it into testons. He also made over 4,000l. in three years by shearing and clipping coins, and to conceal his frauds he made false copies of the books of the mint and destroyed the originals. Fearing discovery, he entered into the plots of Thomas Seymour, baron Seymour of Sudeley [q.v.], who promised to protect him. Sharington in return lent Seymour money and put the mint at Bristol at his disposal; he also undertook to coin 10,000l. to be devoted to raising adherents for the admiral. With part of his ill-gotten fortune he purchased of the king Winterbourne, Aubrey, Charlton, and other manors, chiefly in Wiltshire, for 2,808l. But his frauds and Seymour's plots soon came to the knowledge of the government. On 6 Jan. 1548–9 Lacock Abbey was searched by the council's agents, and on 19 Jan. Sharington was arrested. He was examined several times in the Tower during January and February; at first he denied his frauds and all knowledge of Seymour's designs, but made full confessions on 2, 11, and 16 Feb. A bill for his attainder passed all its stages in both houses of parliament between 11 Feb. and 7 March. Seymour's connivance at Sharington's frauds was made one of the counts in his indictment (Cobbett, State Trials, i. 501–2); but Sharington, who threw himself on the king's mercy, was pardoned, and an act restoring him in blood was passed, 30 Dec. 1549–13 Jan. 1550.

In the following April he was again in employment, being commissioned to go to Calais and receive an instalment of the French purchase-money for Boulogne. He was also able to buy back his forfeited estates for 12,000l.; he seems in addition to have made a voluntary restitution of some property to the king, and Latimer, in a sermon preached before the king in the same year, extolled his example and described him as ‘an honest gentilman and one that God loveth’ (Frutefull Sermons, 1575, f. 115b). In 1552 he served as sheriff of Wiltshire. He died in 1553 (Acts of the Privy Council, 1552–4, p. 370). His portrait among the Holbein drawings in the royal library, Windsor Castle (Cat. Tudor Exhib. p. 148), has been engraved by Dalton (Bromley, p. 11). He married (1) Ursula, natural daughter of John Bourchier, second baron Berners [q. v.]; (2) Eleanor, daughter of William Walsingham; (3) Grace, daughter of one Farington of Devonshire, and widow of Robert Paget, alderman of London. He left no issue, and was succeeded in his estates by his brother Henry.

[Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Gairdner, vols. xi–xv.; Haynes's Burleigh Papers; Cal. Hatfield MSS. pt. i.; Cat. Harl. MSS.; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent; Lords' Journals, vol. i. passim; Lit. Remains of Edward VI (Roxburghe Club); Strype's Eccl. Mem. vol. ii. pts. i–ii.; Ruding's Annals of the Coinage, i. 313–4; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Spelman's Hist. of Sacrilege; Tytler's Edward VI and Mary, i. 139; Froude's Hist. vol. iv.; Common Weal of England, ed. E. Lamond, 1893, xxiii. 117, 191; Wilts Archæol. Mag. xviii. 260; Visitation of Wiltshire, 1623, printed by Sir T. Phillips, 1828; Bowles and Nichols's Annals of Lacock Abbey, pp. 297–8.]

A. F. P.