WINGFIELD, Sir John (d.1596), of Withcall, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

2nd or 3rd s. of Richard Wingfield of Wantisden, Suff. by Mary, da. and coh. of John Hardwick of Derbys.; bro. of Anthony II and ?Henry m. 30 Sept. 1581, Susan, da. of Richard Bertie and wid. of Reginald Grey, de jure 5th Earl of Kent, 1s. Kntd. 1586.

Offices Held

Capt. of ft. under Leicester in Netherlands Dec. 1585; dep. gov. Bergen-op-Zoom June 1587-8; gov. Gertrudenberg July 1588-9; master of the ordnance in Brittany 1591-2; commanded reg. at Cadiz 1596.

J.p.q. Lincs. (Lindsey) from c.1583.


Wingfield was a soldier, wounded in action before Zutphen in September 1586, and subsequently knighted by Leicester for bravery. He was among the 12 knights ‘of his kindred and friends’, who walked in the funeral procession of Sir Philip Sidney.1

Wingfield’s marriage to the widow of the Earl of Kent aroused the Queen’s temporary displeasure, but provided him with a powerful patron in her brother, Peregrine, Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who succeeded Leicester as general of the English forces in the Netherlands. His brother-in-law soon made him his deputy governor, and it was in this capacity that Wingfield wrote to the States in March 1588 asking for more supplies to withstand an attack by Parma. At the end of April he was among those sent to Gertrudenberg to treat with the mutinous garrison, and in July, after the States had agreed to pay the garrison’s arrears of pay, Willoughby left him there as governor. It was an appointment satisfactory only to the garrison. The States having opposed the appointment, and desiring a governor who would have made their own control of the town evident, now produced a steady stream of complaints against Wingfield, culminating in the charge that captured supplies were being sold by the garrison to the Spaniards. The Queen urged Willoughby to investigate this charge with ‘all partiality of alliance laid aside’. Finally, when the garrison went over to the Spaniards and Parma allowed Wingfield and his family to leave, they were imprisoned for treason by the States at Breda.2

In 1591 Wingfield, as well as commanding a company of 150 footmen, was master of the ordnance under Sir John Norris, in Brittany. He was relieved of his post in 1592. By 1593 he had become associated with the Earl of Essex, who gained him his only seat in Parliament—for Lichfield in that year. He served on the subsidy committee and that for the relief of poor, maimed soldiers and mariners.3

Wingfield’s last military venture was also undertaken in company with Essex. In the Cadiz expedition of 1596 he was camp master and in command of a regiment, which included his own company of 150 men and seven other companies, each of 100 men. He was the only person of note to be killed in the taking of Cadiz, being struck down by a shot in the market place, at the moment when all resistance was ceasing. He was buried with military honours in the chief church of Cadiz.4

Wingfield died intestate. His widow renounced the administration of his estate, which was granted to a creditor, William Browne of London. Lady Wingfield told Cecil in September 1596 that she owed tradesmen £900, as she and her husband had lived on credit for the past seven years, and when she heard the news of her husband’s death she had ‘not one penny in the house to buy meat ... till her Majesty, most like a gracious sovereign, hearing of my misery, sent me £40’. She begged for an annuity, now ‘it hath pleased the Lord to lay his heavy cross upon me in taking my husband from me, who hath not only lost all his worldly substance in her Majesty’s service, but confirmed his faith and great desire he had to serve her Majesty with ending his life therein’. She got £100 p.a. for her own life, and that of her son Peregrine.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. DNB; CP, vii. 171; CSP For. 1586-7, p. 214; July-Dec. 1588, p. 140; Lansd. 737, f. 145v; Suff. Green Bks. xii. 200.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1587-90, p. 95; HMC Ancaster, 46, 105-6; CSP For. Jan.-July 1588, p. 357; July-Dec. 1588, pp. xiv. 66, 67, 140, 250, 397; Jan.-July 1589, pp. xviii. 169, 187, 194-6, 200, 272.
  • 3. DNB; Lansd. 149, f. 49; APC, xxii. 329; Neale, Commons, 238; D’Ewes, 474; HMC Hatfield, iv. 295.
  • 4. HMC Hatfield, vi. 361; DNB; Strype, Annals, iv. 286.
  • 5. PCC admon. act bk. 1596, f. 189; HMC Hatfield, vi. 366; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 454.