CONINGSBY, Humphrey (1516-59), of Hampton Court, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. 1 Mar. 1516, 1st s. of Thomas Coningsby (d.1527) of Hampton Court by Cecilia, da. and coh. of John Salwey of Stanford, Worcs. m. Anne, da. of Sir Thomas Englefield of Englefield, Berks., 2s. inc. Sir Thomas† 3da.; 1s. illegit. suc. gd.-fa. 2 June 1535, mother 1541.3
Servant of Cromwell by 1538; gent. pens. by 1542-d.; steward, lordship and manor of Leominster 7 Oct. 1553; j.p. Herefs. 1554-d.4
The original return for Herefordshire to the Parliament of October 1553 is damaged and the name of the first knight only partially legible, but on a copy of the official list of Members it appears as Sir Humphrey Coningsby. Although the name is doubtless correct, the style is not, for Humphrey Coningsby was never knighted and when re-elected in 1559 he was to be styled ‘esquire’. The error, which was repeated when the Herefordshire commission of the peace was issued in February 1554 (but, so far as is known, nowhere else), may reflect the fame of Coningsby’s grandfather and namesake the lord chief justice, who had been a knight for a quarter of a century when he died in 1535.5
It was Coningsby who succeeded at the age of 19 to the judge’s lands in Herefordshire and Worcestershire; he sued out livery of the inheritance in May 1537. By that time he was probably a servant of Cromwell, for in the following year he was considered one of the ‘gentlemen of my lord privy seal’s meet to be preferred unto the King’s Majesty’s service’. The transfer was evidently made, although whether before or after Cromwell’s fall is not known, for it was as a gentleman pensioner that in April 1542 Coningsby was granted, with George Newport (probably the Marian Member for Droitwich), a passport for them both to go overseas for ‘their affairs there’. What took them abroad, and for how long, is unknown, although Coningsby had recently been prosecuted in the Star Chamber for an assault on Edmund Foxe, but in 1544 Coningsby went with the King on the French campaign; he also appears to have fought in Scotland. Little is heard of him in Edward VI’s reign; he was nominated as sheriff of Herefordshire in 1551 and 1552 but was passed over. In February 1553 he purchased former monastic lands in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire for £700.6
Coningsby’s election as a knight of the shire to the first Marian Parliament appears natural enough and his role in it predictable. Himself a gentleman pensioner to the new Queen, as he had been to her father and brother, he was also brother-in-law to Sir Francis Englefield, who stood in high favour with Mary and was to sit in all but one of her Parliaments for Berkshire. Grants made to Coningsby confirm the impression of him as one who stood well at court. Two days after the opening of Parliament he was made steward of the lordship of Leominster, and six weeks after its dissolution he was given an annuity of £46 13s.4d. for his 12 years of service as a gentleman pensioner and discharged from further attendance save at his own pleasure: a few weeks later he was put on the commission of the peace. Yet, on the evidence of the list which establishes his Membership of this Parliament, Coningsby was one of those who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, voted against the restoration of Catholicism. As nothing is known about him, apart from his recent purchase of monastic lands, which would explain such an aberration, the probability is that his name was wrongly marked on the list, perhaps by mistake for the immediately preceding name, that of Thomas Johnson, an avowed Protestant.7
Besides augmenting his landed interests by acquiring the manor of Bodenham and the reversion of a lease of Leominster priory (which, however, he did not live to enjoy), Coningsby played a part in developing local industry: in 1557 he received a licence to keep 40 looms and to make and weave all kinds of broad woollen cloths, the Act of 1555 (2 and 3 Phil. and Mary, c.11) notwithstanding, in consideration of the losses and charges which he had sustained in erecting two woollen mills in Hope under Dinmore, Herefordshire.8
Coningsby was re-elected to the Parliament of 1559 but died on 4 Apr., before its dissolution and shortly after making his will. His widow and sole executrix married John Huband†. His elder son Edward died in the year following the grant of his wardship to Sir Edward Rogers and the inheritance passed to the second son Thomas.9
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: P. S. Edwards
- 1. Bodl. e Museo 17.
- 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 3. Date of birth given at grandfather’s i.p.m., C142/57/1, 82/1. C. J. Robinson, Mansions and Manors of Herefs. 148; LP Hen. VIII, xvi.
- 4. M. L. Robertson ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. D. thesis, 1975), 467; LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xix; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 20, 84, 200.
- 5. C219/21/70; Bodl. e Museo 17.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiii, xvi, xvii, xix, xxi; St. Ch.2/15/250-66; CPR, 1553, pp. 53, 375, 387; 1553-4, p. 84; Stowe 571, f. 31v.
- 7. CPR, 1553-4, pp. 84, 200.
- 8. Ibid. 1557-8, pp. 270-1, 487, 491.
- 9. Ibid. 1558-60, p. 339; PCC 45 Chaynay.