The King’s Champion – Sir John Dymoke

Born by 1508, first son of Sir Robert Dymoke of Scrivelsby by Anne, dau. and heiress of John Sparrow of London. Educ. ?I. Temple. Married by 1 Apr 1529, Anne, dau. of Sir George Tailboys, de jure 9th Lord Kyme. Suc. family 13 Apr 1544. Kntd. Mar/Sep 1546. Hereditary champion of England. Sheriff, Lincs. 1535-6, 1547-8, 1555-6, j.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 1538-d., (Holland and Kesteven) 1554, 1561-d.; commr. musters, Lincs. (Lindsey) 1539, 1546, benevolence 1544/45, chantries, Lincs. 1548, relief, Lincs. (Lindsey) 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, to impose Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy, Lincs. 1559; other commissions 1537-65; treasurer, Boulogne 1546-7; jt. (with Sir Robert Tyrwhitt and Sir William Willoughby, Baron Willoughby of Parham) ld. lt. Lincs. May 1559.

The first Dymoke of Scrivelsby, Sir John, established his right to act as champion of England at the coronation of Richard II on the ground that the office was attached to the manor of Scrivelsby. Sir Edward Dymoke carried out his hereditary duty at the coronations of Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. He sued out a pardon in Oct 1553 as Sir Edward Dymoke of Scrivelsby alias the ‘King’s champion‘.

Dymoke’s status had earlier been put to a more than symbolic test. It was during his first shrievalty of Lincolnshire that there took place the rising of 1536. The rebels came to Scrivelsby on 3 Oct and forced the sheriff to assume the leadership of their host; moreover, until the banner of the Five Wounds was prepared one belonging to the Dymoke family was used. It was while Dymoke was nominally at the head of the insurgents that the chancellor of Lincoln was murdered at Horncastle, but a week later he and three of his kinsmen joined the royal forces under the Duke of Suffolk at Stamford. Many of those examined after the rising claimed that the gentry, and in particular the sheriff, might have (as one of them put it) ‘stayed the rebels with a white rod‘, but whatever was thought of his conduct he suffered no punishment or disgrace.

Dymoke’s brief tenure of the treasurership of Boulogne lasted from the autumn of 1546 until the following spring. His appointment was mentioned by Sir Phillip Draycott in a letter of 4 Sep 1546, on 30 Sep his precursor Sir Hugh Paulet spoke of expecting him by 1 Nov, and the Privy Council began sending him instructions in Oct; his successor, Sir Richard Cotton, was appointed on 17 Mar 1547. It is not clear why Dymoke was appointed to the office, the only one of its kind which he was to hold, or why he relinquished it so speedily. If he went to Boulogne he must have returned before the coronation on 20 Feb. Both the lustre of this occasion and his recent knighthood may help to account for his election in the following autumn as senior knight of the shire in the first Parliament of the reign. He was, in any case, well qualified by birth, fortune and experience, while his marriage linked him with the governing group in the county which was headed by Edward, 9th Lord Clinton<, who married his sister-in-law, and included his fellow-knight Sir William Skipwith.

Dymoke was to be re-elected to two Marian Parliaments when he sat with another kinsman-by-marriage, Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, but there is no indication of the part which he played in the House or of his attitude towards the religious changes in which he became involved there. He was to remain in favour and employment under Elizabeth, and his appointment to a commission to impose the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity shows that he must have conformed to this further settlement. In 1564, however, he was described as ‘indifferent‘ and his eldest son, Robert, as a ‘hinderer‘:Robert became an open recusant and died in prison for his religion in 1580.

Dymoke made his will on 8 Jun 1566. Provided he accepted certain conditions, Robert was to be executor; if he refused them, his place was to be taken by his mother. Sir Edward Saunders, a man of Catholic sympathies, was overseer. Lord Clinton and Lord Willoughby of Parham received bequests: Willoughby’s mother, Elizabeth Tailboys, was Dymoke’s sister-in-law and the two men had shared in a lease of Tailboys land in 1555. Clinton wrote to Sir William Cecil on 30 Sep 1567, a fortnight after his kinsman’s death, to announce the event, which he described as a great loss to the country and to his friends. He gave details of the will and asked to be good to Robert, who had married Clinton’s daughter Bridget, when he came to sue for his livery, and trusted that Robert would soon reform himself in those things which both his father and father-in-law disliked. He also commended Robert’s son, another Edward, to Cecil. Robert had licence to enter on his father’s lands on 5 Jul Dymoke’s widow married Robert Carr of Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

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About Carla Gade

Carla is a historical fiction novelist and webmaster. She is also a family historian and has been an adult education instructor of HTML and Genealogy Online. She lives in New England with her family.
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