Wriothesley, John (DNB00)

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WRIOTHESLEY (more correctly WRITH or WRYTHE), Sir JOHN (d. 1504), Garter king-of-arms, is represented in the pedigree drawn up by his son Sir Thomas as descended from a Wriothesley who lived in the reign of John. That form of the name is, however, an invention by Sir Thomas, and probably the pedigree is also. The family name was Writh or Wrythe, and incidental notices of various members of it occur in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; a Nicholas Wryth (d. 1499) was fellow of Merton College, Oxford (Brodrick, Memorials, pp. 236–7; cf. Brit. Mus. Add. Charters, 26932–3; Cal. Ancient Deeds, P.R.O., i. 558).

Sir John is said to have been brought to the court of Henry V, and made by that king antelope pursuivant extraordinary, but both these statements are practically impossible. He was, however, faucon herald in the reigns of Henry VI and Edward IV, and was made Norroy king-of-arms on 25 Jan. 1477; he was promoted Garter king on 16 July 1479, being the third holder of that office. He was sent to proclaim war with Scotland at Edinburgh in 1480 and on many similar missions, and officiated at the funeral of Edward IV and coronation of Richard III, who renewed his grant. Writh was thus its official head when the College of Heralds was incorporated in 1483, and in compliment to him the college adopted his arms, changing only the colour; they were azure, a cross or, between four falcons argent. Writh also officiated at the coronation of Henry VII, who continued his salary of 40l. and gave him a gratuity of 80l. In September 1491 he conveyed the insignia of the Garter to Maximilian, king of the Romans, and three years later to Charles VIII of France.

Writh died in April 1504, on the 30th of which month his will, dated 25 March, was proved. He married, first, Barbara, daughter and heir of John de Castlecomb, a marriage by which he largely increased his fortune, and was father of two sons—Sir Thomas Wriothesley (d. 1534) [q. v.], and William, father of Thomas Wriothesley, first earl of Southampton [q. v.], and two daughters. He married, secondly, Eleanor, daughter of Thomas and sister of Richard Arnold [q. v.], by whom he had a son and two daughters; and thirdly, Anne Mynne, probably a relative of John Mynne, York herald.

[There is an excellent account of Writh in Anstis's Order of the Garter, i. 354–67; see also Gairdner's Letters and Papers, Richard III and Henry VII, and Campbell's Materials (Rolls Ser.) passim; Rawl. MSS. B. 58 f. 113, B. 102 f. 63; Ashmole MSS. 1116 ff. 111–13, 1133 f. 1; Ashmole's Order of the Garter; Noble's College of Arms; Dallaway's Heraldry, 1793 (where he is confused with his son Sir Thomas); Wriothesley's Chron. (Camden Soc.), pref. pp. viii–ix.]

A. F. P.