Kingston, William (d.1540) (DNB00)

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KINGSTON, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1540), constable of the Tower, was of a Gloucestershire family, settled at Painswick. A brother George is mentioned in the inquisition taken after his death. William appears to have been a yeoman of the guard before June 1509 (Letters and Papers Henry VIII, i. 248). In 1512 he was an under-marshal in the army; went to the Spanish coast; was with Dr. William Knight [q. v.] in October of that year at San Sebastian, and discussed with him the course to be pursued with the disheartened English forces who had come to Spain under Thomas Grey, second marquis of Dorset [q. v.] (ib. p. 3451). He fought well at Flodden, was knighted in 1513, became sewer to the king, and later (1521) was carver (ib. iii. 1899). He seems to have been with Sir Richard Wingfield, the ambassador, at the French court early in 1520, for Wingfield wrote to Henry VIII (20 April) that the dauphin ‘took a marvellous pleasure in young Kyngston, whom after he had seen once he called him beau fils, whom he would sometime have kneel down and sometime stand up’ (ib. iii. 752). Kingston took part in the tilting at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and was at the meeting with Charles V in July. Henry seems to have liked him, and presented him with a horse of very great value. For the next year or two he was a diligent country magistrate and courtier, levying men for the king's service in the west, and living when in London with the Black Friars (ib. III. ii. App. 28, III. ii. 3274). In April 1523 Kingston joined Dacre on the disturbed northern frontier, and with Sir Ralf Ellerker had the most dangerous posts assigned him (ib. pp. 2955, 2960); he was present at the capture of Cessfurd, the stronghold of the Kers, on 18 May (ib. p. 3039). He returned rather suddenly to London, and was made knight of the king's body and captain of the guard. On 30 Aug. 1523 he landed at Calais in the army of the Duke of Suffolk (ib. p. 3288). Surrey wrote from the north lamenting his absence. On 28 May 1524 he became constable of the Tower at a salary of 100l. He appears among those who signed the petition to Clement VII for the hastening of the divorce, 13 July 1530.

In November 1530 Kingston went down to Sheffield Park, Nottinghamshire, to take charge of Wolsey. The cardinal is said to have been alarmed at his coming because it had been foretold that he should meet his death at Kingston. Kingston tried to reassure him, and was with him at the time of his death, riding to London to acquaint the king with the circumstances (Cavendish, Life of Wolsey, ed. 1827, pp. 371 sq.). On 11 Oct. 1532 he landed at Calais with Henry on the way to the second interview with Francis at Boulogne, and on 29 May 1533 he took an official part in the coronation of Anne Boleyn. He is said to have been of Catherine's party, though the emperor not unreasonably distrusted him (cf. Friedmann, Anne Boleyn, ii. 61; Letters and Papers, viii. 327). On 21 Feb. 1535–1536 Kingston wrote to Lord Lisle, an old Gloucestershire neighbour, ‘I have done with play, but with my lord of Carlisle, penny gleek, this is our pastime’ (ib. x. 336). He seems to have become prematurely old, but continued to be constable. He received Anne Boleyn 2 May 1536, when committed a prisoner to the Tower, and with his wife took charge of her and reported her conversations to Cromwell. To him Anne joked about the size of her neck and the skill of the executioner (ib. pp. 793, 797–8, 910). Kingston was made controller of the household 9 March 1539, and knight of the Garter 24 April following. He had many small grants, and on the dissolution of monasteries received the site of the Cistercian abbey of Flaxley, Gloucestershire. He died at Painswick, Gloucestershire, 14 Sept. 1540, and was buried there. He married, first, Elizabeth, of whom nothing seems known, and by her had Anthony, who is separately noticed, and Bridget, married to Sir George Baynham of Clearwell, Gloucestershire; secondly, Mary, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope of Upsall, Yorkshire, and widow of Sir Edward Jerningham of Somerleyton, Suffolk.

[Metcalfe's Knights; Nicolas's Testamenta Vetusta; Lodge's Illustr. of Brit. Hist. i. 19; Chron. of Calais (Camd. Soc.), pp. 33, 41; Wriothesley's Chron. (Camd. Soc.), pp. 36, 37, 94; Fuller's Church Hist. v. 178; Trans. of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Arch. Soc. vi. 284 sq.; authorities quoted.]

W. A. J. A.