Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wingfield, Anthony (1550?-1615?)
WINGFIELD, ANTHONY (1550?–1615?), reader in Greek to Queen Elizabeth, born probably in or soon after 1550, was the third son of Richard Wingfield of Wantisden, Suffolk, by his wife Mary, younger sister of the famous ‘Bess of Hardwick,’ countess of Shrewsbury [see Talbot, Elizabeth]. Sir Anthony Wingfield (1485?–1552) [q. v.] was his grandfather, and Sir John Wingfield (d. 1596) [q. v.] was his brother. He matriculated as a pensioner of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1569, appears to have been entered as a student of Gray's Inn in 1572, and was elected scholar of Trinity in 1573. He graduated B.A. in 1573–4, was elected fellow of his college in 1576, and commenced M.A. in 1577. Possibly through the influence of his uncle Anthony (d. 1593), usher to Queen Elizabeth, he was appointed reader in Greek to the queen. On 16 March 1580–1 he was elected public orator at Cambridge, and in 1582 he accompanied Peregrine Bertie, lord Willoughby de Eresby [q. v.], on his embassy to Denmark, but in October of the same year he was appointed proctor at Cambridge. On 21 March 1588–9 he was granted leave of absence by his university on going abroad in the queen's service, and on condition that he supplied a deputy public orator; this post he resigned on 25 Sept. 1589. On 19 Jan. 1592–3 the archbishop of York wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury promising to ‘take care that Anthony Wingfield shall be returned a burgess for one of the towns belonging to the see’ (Talbot MSS. I, fol. 158), and in the following month he was elected for Ripon.
Wingfield's relationship to Bess of Hardwick makes it probable that he was the correspondent of the earls of Shrewsbury, whose name frequently occurs in the Talbot manuscripts in the College of Arms (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. App. ii. 21); and he may have been the Anthony Wingfield who on 25 Jan. 1594–5 became joint lessee of the prebends of Sutton, Buckingham, Horton, and Horley, all in Lincoln Cathedral (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1595–7, p. 5). About the end of Elizabeth's reign, through the influence of the Countess of Shrewsbury or of her stepson, William Cavendish (afterwards first Earl of Devonshire), to whom Wingfield was related on his father's side, he was appointed tutor to Cavendish's two sons, William (afterwards second Earl of Devonshire [q. v.]) and (Sir) Charles, the mathematician. About 1608 Thomas Hobbes [q. v.], the philosopher, succeeded to this position, and Wingfield drops out of notice, though he is mentioned in the ‘Talbot Papers’ in 1611 (Lodge, Illustrations, iii. 281–2). He probably died about 1615, leaving no issue, and being unmarried, unless he was the Anthony Wingfield who was licensed to marry Anne Bird on 4 April 1575 (Chester, London Marriage Licences, col. 1489).
Cooper (Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 448) suggests that Wingfield was author of ‘Pedantius, comœdia olim Cantabrig. acta in Coll. Trin.’ (London, 1631, 12mo), on the inconclusive ground that it is generally assigned to ‘M. Wingfield’ (Hazlitt, Handbook, p. 660, Collections, i. 459, iii. 190), while Anthony is the only Wingfield of Trinity College, Cambridge, who could have written it. There seems to be more reason for attribuing it to Thomas Beard [q. v.] Wingfield has Latin letters in ‘Epistolæ Academiæ’ (ii. 468 sqq.), Latin verses in the university collection on Sir Philip Sidney's death, and an epigram on ‘The Peer Content,’ which has often been printed (Lodge, Illustrations, iii. 176).
It is almost impossible to distinguish the scholar with certainty from his uncle, two first cousins, two nephews, and several second cousins (one of whom, created a baronet in 1627, died in 1638), all of them named Anthony, and it is possible that the member for Ripon was (Sir) Anthony Wingfield (d. 1605), who had previously sat for Orford in 1572, Dunwich in 1584 and 1586, and Suffolk in 1588 (Official Return, i. 411, 415, 420, 425; cf. D'Ewes, Journal, p. 432; he was sheriff of Suffolk in 1597–8). The Anthony Wingfield who was employed with (Sir) William Waad [q. v.] in collecting evidence against Philip Howard, first earl of Arundel [q. v.], was probably the usher to Queen Elizabeth (Egerton MS. 2074, ff. 9 sqq.). The Captain Anthony Wingfield who saw much service in the Netherlands, and went on the expedition in 1589 against Spain, of which he wrote an account (printed in Hakluyt, Voiages, 1599, ii. ii. 134–55, where he is styled ‘colonel’), probably belonged to a different branch of the family, the Wingfields of Portsmouth (cf. Acts P.C. vol. xvi–xix. passim; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1591–4, p. 405).[Davy's Suffolk Collections, s.v. ‘Wingfield of Crowfield,’ in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 19155; Talbot MSS. in the College of Arms, H. f. 167, I. f. 158, L. ff. 354, 398, O. f. 105, P. f. 1019; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 448, 555; Lodge's Illustrations; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Powerscourt's Wingfield Muniments, 1894.]