ACWORTH, George (by 1482-1530), of Toddington, Beds.
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Family and Education
b. by 1482, 1st s. of John Acworth of Luton by 3rd w. Elizabeth, da. of John Broughton of Toddington. m. (1) by 1503, ?Eleanor, da. of John Niter, at least 2s. 2da.; (2) by 1519, Margaret, da. and h. of Christopher Wilberfoss of Egglestone, co. Dur., wid. of Richard Radcliffe ?of co. Dur., 1da. suc. fa. 17 Mar. 1514.2
J.p. Beds. 1515-?d.; commr. subsidy 1523, 1524; servant of Cardinal Wolsey in 1523.3
The Acworths, possibly of Yorkshire origin, had been settled in Bedfordshire since the early 15th century. John Acworth’s third marriage gave his son George an assured place in county society, but although there is much later information about the family, and especially about the scholar George Acworth, little has come to light about the older man. His second wife was a north country heiress but Acworth was forced to bring a lawsuit over her inheritance in 1525, the result of which is unknown.4
Acworth carried out the usual duties of a country gentleman, but was never a prominent official in a county rich in local magnates. There are several peculiarities about his membership of local commissions. In 1521 his name appears tenth on the commission of the peace, but by February 1524 it had dropped to the end of the list, where it remained until December 1529. Since Acworth’s elder son and namesake came of age about 1524, and since local commissions issued in November 1530 and in September 1531—after the Member’s death—retain the name, it might appear that the father had become incapacitated or for some other reason had been replaced by the son. Yet no Acworth appears on these lists after 1531, although the younger George lived on into Elizabeth’s reign, so that it is more likely that the commissions continued to include the name in error for some time after the elder Acworth’s death.5
In 1529 Bedfordshire was one of the counties for which the King ordered that the writs should be sent to him for despatch by the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Acworth was distantly related to his fellow-Member, Sir William Gascoigne, and like him had been in the service of Wolsey, being assessed as one of the cardinal’s household in 1523, but he was also connected with the duke. His daughter Joan, the only child of his second marriage, was for a time in the household of the dowager duchess, who reprimanded her for abetting Catherine Howard’s liaison with Francis Dereham. He was also related by marriage to Sir John Russell, later Earl of Bedford, who was elected for Buckinghamshire in 1529. Acworth was to sit in the Commons for only the first session of the Parliament, which ended before Christmas 1529. When and by whom he was replaced are not certainly known, but the by-election probably did not take place until late 1532 or early 1533 and the new knight of the shire is likely to have been Sir John St. John, with John Gostwick a remoter possibility.6
Acworth made his will at Toddington on 31 May 1530, providing for his wife and children and remembering other relatives and servants. He asked to be buried near his father in the church at Luton, and appointed his wife sole executrix and Sir Henry Grey, de jure 4th Earl of Kent, supervisor. Although he did not describe himself as a sick man he was dead by the middle of the following month. The will was proved by 31 Mar. 1531.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from marriage. E150/25/3; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 120, 309 where he is described as of Lawford, Essex, possibly an error arising out of his daughter’s marriage to a Lawford man; Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 14; Beds. Mag. iv. 203-4; x. 101-4; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 4), i. 57-59, 98-102; C1/463/4, 33.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, ii-v; E179/281.
- 4. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 4), i. 57, 97-99; VCH Beds. ii. 360, 362; W. Austin, Luton, i. 236; ii. 257-8; C1/463/33.
- 5. LP Hen. VIII, ii-v.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, iv; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 4), i. 99, 100; A. Strickland, Queens of England, ii. 345 seq.
- 7. Beds. RO, archdeaconry ct. Bedford wills 1530; C1/603/5; E150/25/3 where the date of death is given in error as 17 May 1530.