Sir Francis BIGOD of Settrington, Knight

Born: 4 Oct 1507, Seaton How, Yorkshire, England

Died: 2 Jun 1537, Tyburn, Warwickshire, England

Father: John BIGOD of Settrington


Married: Catherine CONYERS ABT 1527


1. Ralph BIGOD

2. Dorothy BIGOD

A member of the ancient family of Bigod, or Bigot, of Settrington, was descended from John, brother and heir of Roger Bigod, sixth earl of Norfolk.  His grandfather, Sir Ralph Bigod, died in 1515, leaving Francis, then aged seven, his heir (Inq. p.m. 7 Hen. VIII, Bigod 22 Bigod Nos. 139, 144) ; for his father, John Bigod, had fallen in the Scotch wars.

He had livery of lands by patent, 21 Dec 1529 (Pat. 21 Hen. VIII, p. i., m. 28), and was soon afterwards knighted. He spent some time at Oxford, but took no degree, though his letters show that he was a scholar. In 1527 and the following years he was in the service of Cardinal Wolsey, and under Thomas Cromwell, Wolsey's successor in the favour of Henry VIII, was engaged in advancing in Yorkshire the King's reforms in church matters. Rastell, the chronicler, in a letter to Cromwell, 17 Aug 1534 (Cal. of State Papers Hen. FZZJ, vol. vii. no. 1070), calls Bigod wise and well learned ; and Bale describes him as ' homo naturalium splendore nobilis ac doctus et evangelicse veritatis amator'. His letters to Cromwell, many of which are preserved in the Public Record Office, show him to have been deeply in debt. In particular he owed the Lord Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, money and was being pressed to pay up.

Sir Francis gained the favour of King Henry, by advocating the dissolution of the monasteries in “A Treatise on the Impropriation of Benefices”, against the impropriation of parsonages by the monasteries (London, by Tho. Godfray cum privileyio re- ffali, small 8vo). It appears to have been written after the birth of Elizabeth and before Anne Boleyn's disgrace. Afterwards Bigod changed his views with respect to the dissolution of the monasteries, becoming eventually a vehement opposer of the extreme measures of the King.

The murder of David Seignory by a group of 10 men from Settrington took place in Malton in Mar 1536. The examination of Richarde Forde, servant to Sir Francis Bigod, says that on the 4 Mar last he waited on Ralph Bigod, brother to Sir Francis, from Mulgrave castle, after they had dined with the bailiff to Pickering, 16 miles off; there bated their horses, and rode to Settrington, eight miles further, where they arrived at 7p.m. At the house of Sir Francis, where they supped. At supper, some one brought word that Percival Worme, John Bygod, Christopher Williamson, William Cornforthe, Harryson, William Dobson, Simon Arundell, Edward Fleccher, Wylfryde Fulthorpe and George Dakins had ridden to the house of Richard Reysing at Malton, two miles off, to murder one David Seignory, servant to Mr. Eure. On this Ralph Bigod ordered their horses, that they might prevent the act; but before they came to Richard Reisyng's house, where the murder was done, they met Percival Worme and his company, who informed them that they had done it. (Letters and Paper Henry VIII 1536. No.553.). After the murder Worme and his gang rode to Scotland. Sometime later they were known to be within the Bishopric of Durham all of which was sanctuary. Thomas Cromwell, on behalf of the King, tried to persuade Sir Francis Bigod that though the King could not remove them from the Bishopric he could. At which Sir Francis, though agreeing that they had committed a dreadful crime, told Cromwell that northern traditions of sanctuary were more important and he would not assist bringing the Settrington murders to trial. The Eures, Malton's leading family, complained to the King as to the attitude of Francis Bigod but also about the part played of George Dakins. Ralph Eure accused Dakins of assisting in the murder and getting off scot free because of his influence in high places. As a servant of Richard Cromwell, the nephew of Henry VIII's Vicar General, it cannot be doubted that Dakins did have influence. It also cannot be doubted that in Cromwell's record of the event that recording of the first name George then the leaving of the surname blank events is a rather crude attempt to hide or at least not to official record the obvious truth.

Bigod stood aloof from the first Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536, saying that although he approved of the rebellion, he did not wish to put himself prominently forward, as people looked upon him with jealousy on account of his superior learning. Bigod translated some Latin works, and, during the insurrec tion, wrote against the royal supremacy.

Following the Pilgrimage of Grace, the King had made promises which had not been kept, and in Jan 1537 a new rising began to take shape, although Robert Aske tried to prevent it. An undated letter from Aske to the Commons, probably early in 1537, tells them: "Neighbours, I do much [marvel] that ye would assemble yourselves with Bigod [seeing how] earnestly the King's highness extendeth general pardon to all this North". He goes on that the King intends to hold a parliament at York and to have the new Queen crowned. Bigod had intended to destroy the effect of previous petitions, but "as I hear you were forced to assemble by his threats and menaces, I shall declare this to the King, and fear not but that you shall have his Grace's pardon notwithstanding".

Lord Darcy wrote to Aske and Robert Constable on 17 Jan:

' Of Sir Fras. Bigott I heard, this day at dinner, as you wrote; and more, that Hallum was taken at Hull yesterday with a letter in his purse from Sir Francis Bigott promising that he and all the West Countries would rise and come forward. This day with my servant, Alan Gefreyson, I sent you my news which are of such bruits, rages, and furies as the like I have not read nor heard of. I sent to my cousin Ellerker and Whartton for the premises concerning Hull. My advice is that you stay the people till the coming of my lord of Norfolk, which, I hear, shall be shortly, and all the gentlemen that is above of the North with him. He brings gracious answers of the Parliament and petitions. Good Mr. Aske, where you write desiring me to stay my quarters; there has yet been no stir in my rooms and lands, but what was caused by other wild countries and dales. I shall do my duty, and play my part therein, though I lie in my bed. I hear my lord of Cumberland is likely to have business for two prisoners he keeps...'

Bigod himself wrote to Constable on 18 Jan:

'Though the commons at first had me in suspicion for my learning and conversation with such a lewd one as they judged were enemies both to Christ's Church and the commonwealth, and I was even in danger of my life at Pountefrett, they have now the greatest confidence in me. Now messengers come from Bishopric, Richmondshire, and the West, for me to go forward with the commons, especially to bring John Halom, whom the mayor of Hull has imprisoned, to their great offence. I have sworn to go with the commons having good reason to doubt the duke of Norfolk is coming rather to bring them to captivity like those of Lincolnshire than to fulfil our petitions. There is no man they trust so much as Constable whom Bygott would gladly join and follow his advice, if he will be true to them." He begs an answer and sends a copy of their oath...'

The second rash outbreak was organised at Settrington, Bigod´s house, by an assembly of monks, priests, and laymen, to protest against the King’s violation of his promises. Bigod became the leader, along with Hallam, of Cawkill, who raised their banner and were soon surrounded by an undisciplined mob of rustics and expelled monks, enthusiastic in their cause, but lacking every other requisite of successful operations.

It was arranged that Beverley and Hull should be seized as preliminary to further advances.  Beverley was taken by Bigod, whilst Hallam and others, disguised as market people, attempted to take Hull, but were captured by the authorities, and Hallam hung.

William Todde, prior of Malton, in Ryedale, later gave evidence that on the Tuesday before the uprising, Bigod had dined with him at Malton on his way to York. Bigod had showed him part of the King's pardon, saying it would enrage the Scots, known in the North as "our old ancient enemies", while Todde showed Bigod a copy of the articles given at Doncaster, Bigod asked for a copy, and one was sent after him. On leaving, Bigod said he had to go to Settrington to meet his brother Ralph.

Bigod marched to Hull to resuce his fellow captain, but finding the gates shut, laid siege to the town, burning some windmills outside the walls; but finding the attempt hopeless, he retreated towards Beverley, pursued by Sir Ralph Ellerker, Sir John Constable and Harrison, the Mayor of Hull, with an armed force, at sight of whom his followers fled in every direction, and he was captured, sent to London, tried for High Treason and executed at Tyburn. Aske and several other rebels, such as Darcy and Constable, and all were convicted of treason and executed.

By his wife Catherine, daughter of William, Lord Conyers, he left a son, Ralph, who was restored in blood by act of parliament ( 3 Edward VI), but died without issue; and a daughter, Dorothy, through whom the estates passed to the family of Radcliffe.

Bigod's Settrington was mortgagued and the Eures aspired to stretch there land holdings over the Derwent and include Settrington. The murderers of Seignory appear to have been the better off tenant farmers of Settrington who may well have feared a Eure take over. Dakins prospered and was to be granted the lease of Settrington. Worme came back to live in Settrington, living the life of a yeoman farmer and surviving to old age. The fate of the others is unknown.

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