Sir William Babthorpe, Knight of the Bath

Male 1490 - 1555  (~ 65 years)

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  • Name William Babthorpe 
    Title Sir 
    Suffix Knight of the Bath 
    Born 0___ 1490  Osgodby Hall, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Occupation 1547-1554  [2, 3, 4
    Residence London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Died 27 Feb 1555  (Yorkshire) England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 5, 6
    Person ID I35689  The Hennessee Family
    Last Modified 2 Jan 2016 

    Father William Babthorpe,   b. Abt 1465, Osgodby Hall, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Feb 1500  (Age ~ 35 years) 
    Mother Christina Sothill,   b. 1465, Stockfaston, Leicestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Apr 1540  (Age 75 years) 
    Married Y  [7, 8
    Family ID F14954  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Agnes Palmes,   b. Abt 1507, Naburn, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. (Yorkshire) England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married BY 1529  (Yorkshire) England Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 5, 9, 10
     1. Sir William Babthorpe, Knight,   b. ~ 1529, Osgodby Hall, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 May 1581, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 52 years)
    Last Modified 24 Sep 2021 
    Family ID F13134  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 0___ 1490 - Osgodby Hall, Yorkshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - BY 1529 - (Yorkshire) England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - London, Middlesex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 27 Feb 1555 - (Yorkshire) England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • Babthorpe family (per. c.1501-1635), gentry, in Yorkshire, could boast of an ancient pedigree which included a number of medieval knights who had been soldiers and courtiers. The family's principal seat was at Osgodby in the extensive East Riding parish of Hemingbrough, where they had been lords of the manor since about 1440. In addition they had residences at Babthorpe in the same parish and, from 1543, at Flotmanby in the parish of Folkton, near Filey. For many years they were nvolved in a dispute with the Plumpton family over the descent of their ancestral estates. The issue was finally resolved in 1565 when an arbitration award left them in possession of the manors of Osgodby, Babthorpe, and Brackenholme and of other property in the East Riding.

      The most notable of the Tudor Babthorpes was Sir William Babthorpe (c.1490-1555), son of William Babthorpe and Christina Sothill; succeeding his father aged eleven in 1501, he then became a ward of the crown. He was a lawyer who served as a legal member of the council in the north from 1525 until his death. He was a thrusting and ambitious man, and his steady accumulation of offices in the East Riding made him a powerful figure there. These covered a wide range of functions: commissioner for musters, justice of the peace, and custos rotulorum; steward of the lordship of Beverley; constable of Wressle Castle and steward and master forester of Wressle (offices in the gift of the earls of Northumberland who employed him as a legal adviser); and steward of Howden and Howdenshire. In April 1536 he was named as one of the commissioners for surveying the lands and goods of the dissolved religious foundations in the East Riding, but in October he joined the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, a decision which owed much to the influence of his kinsman Robert Aske, and it was no doubt with his connivance that Wressle Castle became the rebels' headquarters. When it became clear that the uprising had failed, however, Babthorpe rapidly changed sides. In January 1537 he sought to prevent another uprising in the East Riding, and in May he was appointed as one of the special commissioners who were responsible for processing the indictments against his former associates. His initial stance did him no harm: he continued as a member of the council in the north and was able to purchase a considerable amount of monastic property, including the manor of Flotmanby, and to acquire leases of the rectories of Drax and Adlingfleet.

      That Babthorpe was a politically important figure is demonstrated by his election to the parliaments of 1547 and April 1554 as one of the Yorkshire knights of the shire. At the coronation of Edward VI in 1547 he was made a knight of the Bath.

      Babthorpe married Agnes, a daughter of Brian Palmes of Naburn, and they had two sons and two daughters. He died on 27 February 1555. His heir, Sir William Babthorpe (c.1529–1581), apparently received some part of his education at the Middle Temple in London and was knighted in 1560 by the duke of Norfolk at Berwick while serving in his expeditionary force.

      Sir William was married twice, first to Barbara, daughter of Sir Robert Constable of Everingham, and then, in 1564, to Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Dawney of Sessay, and from these two marriages he had one son and four daughters.

      In a report on the Yorkshire justices of the peace which was compiled in 1564 Sir William was described as a man who was no favourer of religion as established by the Elizabethan settlement. In April 1565 Archbishop Young of York was in correspondence with Sir William Cecil about Babthorpe's unseemly talk, as he termed it, which was regarded as highly inflammatory. Cecil had already rebuked Babthorpe and his associates, and the archbishop

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      The Babthorpes took their surname from the East Riding manor of Babthorpe in the parish of Hemingbrough, which they acquired around the time of Richard I. Ralph de Hunsley, whose family could be traced back to the reign of King Stephen, assumed the surname of his new manor, which was held of the bishop of Durham. The early Babthorpes were verderers of the forest between Ouse and Derwent, having charge of the king's deer, and were never great landholders - Babthorpe being a small manor of only one carucate, and nearby Osgodby in the same parish, which they finally were awarded in 1460 after a 20-year dispute with rival claimants the Hagthorpes, not any larger. It was service, in particular legal service, which elevated the family in importance and influence.

      In the early 15th-century, Sir Robert Babthorpe (d. 1436) fought at Agincourt, was the first of the family to be knighted, and served as comptroller of the Household to Henry V,and was one of the executors of that monarch's will. His son Ralph Babthorpe was an esquire of the body to Henry VI, and was killed in 1455 fighting for the Lancastrian cause at the first battle of St. Albans.

      His son Sir Robert Babthorpe (d. 1466) had four sons, Ralph, Robert, William and Thomas. The eldest son Ralph Babthorpe (d. 1490) left an only daughter and heiress Isabel, who was married to Lord Hastings, but died without issue. The second son Robert Babthorpe also left an only daughter, another Isabel (d. 1552), who was arranged in marriage in 1496 to William, son and heir of Sir Robert Plumpton.

      It was the third son William Babthorpe (d. 1501) who had arranged his niece's marriage, securing to himself and his heirs the entail of Babthorpe and other family lands in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, but the Plumptons dishonored the agreement and laid claim to those exempted estates, which resulted in a 60-year ongoing feud between the two families.

      Though confined to a single manor, Osgodby, due to the Plumpton feud, the Babthorpes continued to pursue legal careers in the 16th-century, and became part of the Yorkshire attorney-gentry class, which distinguished itself through administrative service and local influence rather than great estates. Included were such families as the Sothills, the Fairfaxes, the Middletons, and the Palmeses, with whom the Babthorpes intermarried.

      The family reached a peak with attorney Sir William Babthorpe (1493-1555) who, thanks to the influence of his Palmes in-laws, was appointed to the council of the Duke of Richmond in June 1525, and was made a justice of the peace for the East Riding. In 1536, he was appointed to the council of the North, serving alongside Sir Marmaduke Constable of Everingham (d. 1545), and together they became involved in the first stages of the Pilgrimage of Grace the following year, though they were able to escape the executions of its leaders. It was probably by 1541 that Babthorpe's son and heir William was arranged in marriage to Constable's granddaughter Barbara, for Sir Marmaduke made Babthorpe one of the supervisors of his will in that year. Through her mother, Barbara Constable was descended from Edward III, and the Babthorpes and Constables of Everingham would remain closely associated through the remainder of the century.

      Sir William Babthorpe obtained the East Riding manor of Flotmanby in 1543, was elected M.P. in 1547 and again in 1554, while Barbara's father, Sir Robert Constable of Everingham, was elected M.P. in 1553 and 1555.

      The next Sir William Babthorpe (1528-1581) and Barbara Constable had one son (Ralph) and two daughters (Katherine, married to George Vavasour, and Margaret, married to Henry Cholmley) before her untimely death, likely by 1558 (as her father made provision for only three married daughters in his will that year).

      William took a second wife Frances Dawnay (not descended from Edward I) and had a third daughter (Christian, married to John Girlington).

      It was this Sir William who was awarded the manors of Babthorpe and adjoining Brackenholme when the long-standing dispute with the Plumptons was finally settled in1565.

      Sir William was also an attorney, appointed to the East Riding bench in 1562, and knighted by 1575. But he and his second wife were amongst the earliest Yorkshire gentry to fall back to the original Catholic faith, and the family would later pay dearly for their devotion to it.

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      Sir William's 6-generation pedigree...

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      1547 - YORKSHIRE 1

      Apr. 1554 - YORKSHIRE

      Family and Education

      b. 1489/90, 1st s. of William Babthorpe of Osgodby by Christina, da. of John Sothill of Stockfaston, Leics. educ. ?M. Temple. m. by 1529, Agnes, da. of Brian Palmes of Naburn, Yorks., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 10 Feb. 1501. KB 20 Feb. 1547.2

      Offices Held

      Member, council of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, July 1525-36, council of Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, 1533-7, council in the north 1536-d., council of Thomas Lord Darcy by 1537; j.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1525-d., (W. Riding) 1528-47, (N. Riding) 1538-47, liberty of Ripon 1538, liberty of dean and chapter of St. Peter’s, York 1538; steward, Beverley, Yorks. in Feb. 1532; constable, Wressle castle, Yorks. 1535; commr. tenths of spiritualities, Yorks. 1535, monasteries 1536, musters 1539, benevolence, Yorks. (E. and W. Riding) 1544/45, chantries, Yorks. 1546, 1548, relief, 1550, goods of churches and fraternities Yorks. (E. Riding) 1553; steward, Howden and Howdenshire Nov. 1547; custos rot. Yorks. (E. Riding) c.1547.3


      William Babthorpe’s father was a younger brother of Sir Ralph Babthorpe of Babthorpe in the East Riding. Sir Ralph, who died in 1490, left no male heir and the younger William was later among the claimants to Babthorpe, which eventually passed to his son. Babthorpe was 11 years old when his father died and three years later his wardship was purchased for ¹40 by his stepfather William Bedell; but it was probably his future father-in-law, Brian Palmes, a serjeant-at-law, who had most influence on his career, assisted perhaps by his brother-in-law, Palmes’s son George, a canon of York and confessor to Wolsey. Such patronage might explain Babthorpe’s early appointment to the Duke of Richmond’s council: he was to remain a member of it until the duke’s death in 1536, and afterwards became a member of the council in the north. To these crown appointments Babthorpe added service to magnates in the north. In 1533 he became one of the 5th Earl of Northumberland’s learned councillors, and between that year and 1535 constable of Wressle castle, steward of Wressle and Neasham and master forester of Wressle, with the reversion of these offices to his son; by February 1537 he was also a legal adviser to Lord Darcy. If it was through Palmes that he had become a member of York’s Corpus Christi guild in 1512, his admission may provide an approximate date for his marriage.4

      His connexions with the northern nobility would doubtless have involved Babthorpe in the Pilgrimage of Grace, but it was his kinship with its leader Robert Aske which seems to have first drawn him in. His name appeared on Aske’s first proclamation of 10 Oct. 1536 and it must have been with his permission that Wressle castle became the rebel headquarters. He was with Darcy at Pontefract and thereafter at York and Doncaster, but his early sympathy with the movement evaporated and by January 1537 he was doing his part, in Darcy’s phrase, to stay the commons. On 19 Jan. he wrote to Darcy that he had heard of the scattering of Sir Francis Bigod and his company and that if Darcy had anything for London his son would attend him, Babthorpe himself not intending to go to London that term. On 1 Feb. he wrote to Aske to say that he and Sir Marmaduke Constable I , another of his kinsmen, had spoken with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and that Aske should not be discouraged if the duke gave him an unfriendly reception: Constable had said that Aske could count on the duke’s favour and the esteem of the King and Council. Whether Babthorpe was being naive or subtle is not clear, but Aske was to pay the penalty and Babthorpe go free. Later in the year Norfolk described Babthorpe to the King as just, diligent and underpaid, and in September he used Babthorpe and another to declare his intentions to Cromwell.5

      Bills were committed to Babthorpe in both the Parliaments in which he sat: on 14 Dec. 1548 the second reading of a bill for the keeping of county days, on 7 Nov. 1549 one for sales and grants made by patentees out of patents, on 29 Jan. 1550 one for leases made out of lands in the right of the wife, and on 24 Apr. 1554 the first reading of a bill to repair the way between Bristol and Gloucester. He was also one of the Members mentioned by Thomas Jolye in a letter of 7 Jan. 1549 who spoke against Richard Musgrave’s bill to deprive the 2nd Earl of Cumberland of his hereditary shrievalty of Westmorland; another who spoke against the bill was Babthorpe’s fellow-Member for Yorkshire and kinsman, Sir Nicholas Fairfax. Later in November of the same year he was named to the four-man delegation sent to excuse ‘Mr. Palmer, burgess’ from appearing in the common pleas.6

      Babthorpe was among the first to obtain monastic property in Yorkshire, including Drax rectory, a lease in Flotmanby and, in August 1543, the manor of Flotmanby itself.

      In the early 17th century, however, the Babthorpes, as Catholics, were to lose all their landed property and another Sir William, the last of his family to reside at Osgodby, was reduced to taking service as a common soldier in the Spanish army. Sir William Babthorpe died on 27 Feb. 1555 and his eldest surviving son William, aged 26 at his father’s death, had licence to enter on his lands on 16 June.7

      Ref Volumes: 1509-1558 [3, 4, 12]

  • Sources 
    1. [S49467]

    2. [S8999] "Sir William Babthorpe (1489/90-1555)" biography,, abstracted February 2.

    3. [S5351]

    4. [S7170] "The History of Parliament",

    5. [S49365]

    6. [S49361]

    7. [S5346]

    8. [S11761] "BABTHORPE, Sir William (1489/90-1555), of Osgodby and Flotmanby, Yorks.",

    9. [S49366]

    10. [S8814] "Brian Palmes" biography,, abstracted January 1, 2016 by David A.

    11. [S49465]

    12. [S5352]