Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wingfield, Humphrey

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WINGFIELD, Sir HUMPHREY (d. 1545), speaker of the House of Commons, was the twelfth son of Sir John Wingfield of Letheringham, Suffolk, by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John FitzLewis of West Horndon, Essex. Sir John Wingfield, the father of four daughters and twelve sons, of whom Sir Richard (1469?–1525) and Sir Robert are noticed separately, had been sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1443–4 and again in 1461. He was knighted by Edward IV in 1461, and made a privy councillor. In 1477 he was appointed a commissioner to treat with the French ambassadors at Amiens. He died on 10 May 1481. His wife's will, dated 14 July 1497, was proved on 22 Dec. 1500.

Humphrey was educated at Gray's Inn, where he was elected Lent reader in 1517. He had been on the commission of the peace both for Essex and Suffolk since 1509 at least. Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk [q. v.], was a cousin of the Wingfields [see Wingfield, Sir Richard], Humphrey being one of his trustees and probably through his influence Wingfield was introduced at court. In 1515 he was appointed chamberlain to Suffolk's wife Mary, queen of France, and was apparently resident in her house. On 28 May 1517 he was nominated upon the royal commission for inquiring into illegal inclosures in Suffolk (see Leadam, Domesday of Inclosures, 1897, i. 3). He appears to have acted in 1518, together with his eldest brother, Sir John Wingfield [see under Wingfield, Sir Anthony], as a financial agent between the government and the Duke of Suffolk. On 6 Nov. 1620 he was pricked high sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and on 14 Nov. was appointed a commissioner of gaol delivery for Essex. In 1523 and 1524 he was a commissioner of subsidy for Suffolk and for the town of Ipswich. On 26 June 1525 he was appointed a commissioner of assize for Suffolk, On 5 Feb. 1526 he was a legal member of the king's council. He is mentioned in a letter dated 25 March 1527 as 'in great favour with the cardinal' and he took an active part in the establishment of the 'cardinal's college' at Ipswich in September 1528. On 11 June 1529 he was nominated by Wolsey one of a commission of twenty-one lawyers presided over by John Taylor (d. 1534) [q. v.] to hear cases in chancery, and on the following 3 Nov. he was returned to parliament for Great Yarmouth.

In 1530 the fall of Wolsey brought with it the forfeiture of his college at Ipswich, and Wingfield was consulted as one of 'the best counsel,' with a view to securing the exemption of the college from the penalties of Wolsey's praemunire. On the other hand, he was nominated by the crown on 14 July 1530 a commissioner to inquire into Wolsey's possessions in Suffolk. In this capacity he, sitting with three other commissioners at Woodbridge, Suffolk, returned a verdict on 19 Sept. that the college and its lands were forfeited to the king. He was at the same time high steward of St. Mary Mettingham, another Suffolk college, and under-steward in Suffolk of the estates of St. Osyth, Essex.

On 9 Feb. 1533 the commons presented Wingfield to the king as their speaker. According to Chapuys, the king 'conferred on him the order of knighthood' on this occasion. He is styled 'Sir' in a petition of this year, and frequently afterwards, though, according to the list in Metcalfe's 'Book of Knights' (p. 71), he was not dubbed before 1537. During his speakership were passed the acts severing the church of England from the .Roman obedience and affirming the royal supremacy. There can be little doubt that Wingfield was in full sympathy with Henry's policy. He appears to have received from the crown a salary of 100l. a year 'for attendance,' an addition, doubtless, to the 'wages' found by his constituency.

Parliament was dissolved on 4 April 1536. On the outbreak of the northern rebellion in 1536 Wingfield was one of the Suffolk gentry upon whom the government relied for aid. He justified Cromwell's opinion of him by his zeal to suppress the seditious incitements of the friars and other disaffected ecclesiastics. He was nominated in 1536 a commissioner for the valuation of the lands and goods of religious houses in Norfolk and Suffolk. For these services he was rewarded by a grant in tail male, dated 29 June 1537, of the manors of Netherhall and Overhall in Dedham, Essex, and all the lands in Dedham belonging to the suppressed nunnery of Campsie, Suffolk, also of the manor of Crepinghall in Stutton, Suffolk, and all lands there belonging to the late priory of Colne Comitis (Earls Colne) in Essex. According to a letter written by him to Cromwell soon after this grant he could, but for it, 'have had to begin the world again,' having 'lost half his living by his wife's death.' On 4 July 1538 he was nominated upon a special commission of oyer and terminer for treasons in six of the eastern counties. He was also commissioned to survey the defensive points of the coast when in 1539 there were apprehensions of an invasion. He was among the knights appointed to receive Anne of Cleves in January 1540. After the conviction of the Marquis of Exeter he received a grant of a lease of his lands in Lalford Says, Ardelegh, Colchester, and Mile-End, in Essex and Suffolk.

Wingfield died on 23 Oct. 1545 (Inq. port mortem, 16 Jan. 1546). He married between 1502 and 1512 Anne, daughter and heiress of Sir John Wiseman of Essex, and widow of Gregory Adgore, Edgore, or Edgar, serjeant-at-law. His son and heir, Robert, married Bridget, daughter of Sir Thomas Partiger, knt., alderman and lord mayor of London in 1530. His daughter Anne married Sir Alexander Newton. Wingfield's arms are still in the fourth window on the north side of Gray's Inn Hall.

[Brewer and Gardner's Cal. of Lettens and Papers, For. and Dom. Hen. VIII, vols. i-xvi.; Metcalfe's Visitation of Suffolk (1882), 1561 p. 80, 1612 p. 176; Visitation of Huntingdonshire, 1613 (Camden Soc. 1849); Anstis's Register of the Garter (1724), ii. 230; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, 1789, v. 268; Manning's Lives of the Speakers (1850), pp. 177-82; Douthwaite's Gray's Inn (1886), pp. 47, 127, 131; Official Return Memb. Parl.; Powerscourt's Wingfield Muniments.]

I. S. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.282
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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185 i 4f.e. Wingfield, Sir Humphrey: for Partiger read Pargiter