GOLDWELL, John (by 1515-58/59), of Burstwick, Yorks.

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 1515, prob. s. of Roger Goldwell of Lelley by Margaret. m. Joan.1

Offices Held

Sewer of chamber in 1544.2


The John Goldwell returned for Hedon to Mary’s last Parliament could have been either a local man or one from the distant county of Kent. The first, John Goldwell of Burstwick (some two miles from Hedon), had been granted in 1536 a 33-year lease of the rectory there by Kirkstall abbey. In 1538 he took part in the investigation of a case of witchcraft in Holderness and in the following year he was mustered at Burstwick. In 1544, as a gentleman sewer of the chamber, he was granted a 40-year lease of lands in Burstwick on the surrender of one given by the Duke of Buckingham to Roger Goldwell of Lelley. As Lelley lies two miles north of Burstwick, Roger Goldwell, who had died in 1517 or 1518, was presumably his father; his brother Roger is mentioned in his will, and the Margaret Goldwell, widow, of Burstwick Garth, who made her will in 1531, was probably his mother. The lands in question formed part of the grant of the seignory of Holderness made in February 1558 to the 5th Earl of Westmorland. In April 1554 Goldwell sued out a pardon as of Burstwick Garth. In 1555, with John Holme, he acquired by fine from Sir Thomas Wentworth II, 2nd Baron Wentworth, messuages and lands in various places near Burstwick.3

Besides living near Hedon, Goldwell had associations which could have contributed to his election there. His place in the royal household he may well have owed to (Sir) Michael Stanhope, lieutenant and afterwards governor of Hull and himself a leading figure at court; it was Stanhope who secured the enfranchisement of Hedon, and although by 1558 he had disappeared from the scene his ex-ward Sir John Constable sat three times for the borough, in 1558 as Goldwell’s senior colleague, and influenced the choice of its other Members. Goldwell must also have had much to do with a friend of Stanhope’s, the augmentations official and monastic speculator John Bellow, who from 1549 was keeper of the north park of Burstwick; in 1547 Goldwell was a feoffee to a use of some of Bellow’s lands, in 1548 he had an augmentations lease of Fraisthorpe, and he afterwards acquired an interest in the north park, the rent for which was advanced by Thomas Aldred, who married Constable’s niece. Both Bellow and Aldred sat in the Parliament of 1558. If Goldwell was himself returned to that Parliament he may not have survived, or even attended, its second session. Describing himself as of Burstwick North Park, he made his will on 2 Nov. 1558; as this was three days before the session opened, he was either about to depart for it or—although he does not say so—perhaps too ill to travel. In either case his premonition was fulfilled, for the will was to be proved on 4 Jan. Goldwell made his wife Joan his executrix but mentioned no children.4

The possibility that it was not this Goldwell, but his namesake of Great Chart, Kent, who sat for Hedon arises from the Kentishman’s family ties and political associations. Seemingly unrelated to the Burstwick family, he was a brother of Thomas Goldwell, bishop of St. Asaph and former companion in exile of both Cardinal Pole and Richard Hilliard. Between them they could have helped him to secure the seat, for Hilliard was a member of one of the leading families in Holderness and a kinsman of the Constables, and his nephew Christopher was to sit for Hedon in 1563. Even Goldwell’s implication in Wyatt’s rebellion, for which he had been sentenced to death but reprieved, could paradoxically have counted in his favour: one of his fellow rebels, George Brooke alias Cobham, preceded him as Member for Hedon and another, his neighbour Robert Rudston, was a kinsman of the Hilliards. Goldwell’s subsequent career is not easily distinguished from those of namesakes in Kent, but he was probably the justice of the peace whom in 1564 Archbishop Parker judged fit to remain on the bench and in 1572 he was made escheator. The Elizabethan Member of Parliament for Taunton and Downton came from a different family.5

With nothing found to clinch the matter, the Member is taken to have been John Goldwell of Burstwick.

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. LP Hen. VIII, xix; Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xi. 71; York wills 15(3), f. 36.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xix.
  • 3. CPR, 1553-4. p. 467; 1557-8, p. 37; 1560-3, p. 398; LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xiv, xix; Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. ii. 189; xi. 71.
  • 4. CPR, 1547-8, pp. 200, 212; 1566-9, pp. 291-2; York wills 15(3), f. 36.
  • 5. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 10; DNB (Goldwell, Thomas); T. F. Knox, Thomas Goldwell, 5; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, i(1), 477; Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, iii. 332; CPR, 1553-4, p. 176, 266; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 77, 80, 113, 254; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 132; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 58.