ASKEW (AYSCOUGH), Sir William (by 1486-1540), of Nuthall, Notts. and Stallingborough, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1486, 1st s. of Sir William Askew of Stallingborough by 1st w. Margery, da. of Sir Robert Hilliard of Winestead, Yorks. m. (1) by 1508, Elizabeth (d.1521), da. of Thomas Wrottesley of Wrottesley, Staffs., 2s. 3da.; (2) da. of one Struxley or Streichley of Notts., s.p.; (3) settlement 2 May 1522, Elizabeth (d.1550), da. of John Hutton of Tudhoe, co. Dur., wid. of Sir William Hansard of South Kelsey, Lincs., 2s. suc. fa. 26 Mar. 1510. Kntd. 24 Sept. 1513.1

Offices Held

J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 1510-d.; commr. Subsidy 1512, 1515, 1523, 1524. musters 1539; sheriff, Lincs. 1520-1; other commissions 1530-d.2


Sir William Askew is best remembered as the father of Anne Askew, the Protestant martyr burned in 1546, whose resolute disposition, great learning and doctrinal radicalism all reflect her parentage and upbringing.3

After a career which had included service in the French wars, knighthood at Tournai in 1513 and attendance at the Field of Cloth of Gold, Sir William Askew was returned as senior Member for Grimsby to the Parliament of 1529. Economic decline had long since cost the borough its electoral independence and from his neighbouring seat at Stallingborough Askew was well placed to join the ranks of local gentlemen who preponderated in its representation: his expectation that the town would do his bidding is reflected in a letter he wrote to the mayor making demands on behalf of one of his servants. He was probably returned again in 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the reelection of the previous Members, and may have sat for a third time in 1539, when the names of the Members for Grimsby are again lost. Nothing is known of his role in the Commons.4

In September 1527 Askew had been the subject of a royal inquiry in respect of rights at South Kelsey which he was alleged to have usurped for four years. In May 1533 he is recorded as dining in Princess Mary’s household at Otford, Kent. The outbreak of the Lincolnshire rebellion in 1536 found Askew among the first targets of the commonalty. He was taken prisoner by Nicholas Melton (‘Captain Cobbler’), and with three other captives was forced to write a letter to the King begging for a general pardon for the rebels. Askew then gained his freedom, and thereafter played little part in pacifying the county. He was one of the grand jury which found a true bill against Sir John Hussey, Lord Hussey, for treason.5

To what extent Askew shared his daughter Anne’s radicalism is not known. The traditional story—if it is to be accepted—of her marriage to her dead sister’s husband-to-be, in obedience to her father’s will but against her own, is not suggestive of a close bond between them, and she perhaps arrived at her final convictions only after his death. His placing of her brother Edward in Cranmer’s household may also have owed less to reformist zeal than to the archbishop’s ancestral origin in Lincolnshire. We do not know whether the summons which Askew received in January 1540 to appear before the Privy Council related to matters secular or religious, but it took two pleas of extreme infirmity from him to Cromwell to spare him the journey. He was, indeed, a dying man, although death when it came must have struck suddenly, for he died on the same day that he made his will, 6 Aug. 1540. He asked to be buried at Stallingborough. He was survived by his third wife and several children and stepchildren, but none of his daughters is mentioned in the will. He named as his executors his wife and his eldest son Francis, but with the proviso that if his wife was not willing to act she should have the £100 which she had brought to the marriage, and her room in the house: what came of this is unknown, but his widow survived him by ten years, dying in May or June 1550, and Francis by 24. Besides his lands in Lincolnshire Askew left property in Nottinghamshire: the inquisition post mortem on this was not held until 1543 after the widow had petitioned in Chancery over the failure of the escheator to hold it, despite the 4 marks she had paid him to do so.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/25/71. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. 1), 60-63.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, i, iii-vi, viii, xiii, xiv; Statutes, iii. 89, 172.
  • 3. D. Wilson, A Tudor Tapestry, passim.
  • 4. Rutland Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xxi), 32, 46; E. Gillett, Grimsby (1961 ed.), 48; G. Oliver, Grimsby, 118.
  • 5. E150/561/28; LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi, xii; M. H. and R. Dodds, Pilgrimage of Grace, i. 97-100, 110, 126.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xiv; PCC 29 Alenger, 16 Coode, 1 Morrison; C1/1096/59; 142/68/61; Pevsner and Harris, Lincs. 377.