Weston, Francis (DNB00)

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WESTON, Sir FRANCIS (1511?–1536), courtier, born about 1515, was the only son of Sir Richard Weston (1466?–1542) [q. v.] In 1526 he was appointed page at court, and frequent notices of him are found among the privy-purse expenses of Henry VIII. Most of these relate to small grants of money to himself and his servants, but others show him to have lived on terms of the closest intimacy with the king. Among these may be mentioned an entry of 6l. ‘paied to my lorde of Rocheford for thuse of Maister Weston for iiij games which he wanne of the kinges grace at Tennes at iiij angelles a game.’ Other losses of the king to Weston at dice, bowls, ‘Imperiall,’ and ‘pope July's game’ are recorded. A contemporary French account lays stress on Weston's skill at games, which, together with his ‘bonnes meurs et graces,’ caused him to be extremely popular. In 1532 he was appointed gentleman of the privy chamber; in the next year the office of governor of Guernsey was granted to him and to his father in survivorship. On 31 May of the same year (1533), during the festivities of the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn, he was created knight of the Bath.

In 1536, however, Sir Francis was compromised by some confessions made by the queen the day after her arrest, and on 4 May was himself arrested and sent to the Tower. He pleaded not guilty at his trial on 12 May, but was condemned to death. Influential attempts, which at one time seemed likely to be successful, were made to obtain a pardon, not only by members of his family (which had hitherto been opposed to the party of the Boleyns), but also by the French ambassador, M. Jean de Dinteville. ‘If any escape,’ writes John Hussey to Lord Lisle, ‘it will be young Weston, for whome importunate suit is made.’ He was, however, executed on Tower Hill, 17 May 1536, and buried in the churchyard of St. Peter's in the Tower. His farewell letter to his parents and wife, appended to a list of debts which he asks them to discharge, and signed ‘by me a grete offender to God,’ is still extant.

In May 1530 Weston married Anne, daughter and heiress of Sir Christopher Pickering of Killington in Cumberland, an orphan who had been a ward of his father's since 1519. They had one son, Henry (1535–1592), who was restored in blood in 1550, served at the siege of Calais in 1557–8, was sheriff of Surrey in 1569 and 1571, and twice entertained Queen Elizabeth at Sutton. His son, Sir Richard (1564–1613), was father of Sir Richard Weston (1591–1652) [q. v.]

[Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Brewer and Gairdner, passim; Wriothesley's Chronicle (Camden Soc.), i. 36, 39; Crapelet's Lettres de Henri VIII, 1835, p. 185; Histoire de Anne de Boullant; Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII, ed. Nicolas, 1827 (see p. 361 for a brief sketch of Weston and his family); Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, ed. Singer; Harrison's Annals of an Old Manor House, 1893, pp. 72–80; Manning and Bray's History of Surrey, i. 134; Friedmann's Anne Boleyn, 1884, vol. ii.; Froude's Divorce of Catherine of Arragon, 1891, pp. 417 et seq.]

E. C.-e.