Sir Richard "Fill Sack" SACKVILLE, Knight

Born: 1516, Chiddingleigh, England

Died: 21 Apr 1566

Father: John SACKVILLE (Esq.)

Mother: Margaret BOLEYN

Winifred BRYDGES (M. Winchester) ABT 1531, Dymock, Gloucestershire, England


1. Thomas SACKVILLE (1 E. Dorset)

2. Anne SACKVILLE (B. Dacre of the South)

The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Richard Sackville of Ashburnham and Buckhurst, Sussex and Westenhanger, Kent. Member of Parliament for Chichester 1547, Sussex? Mar. 1553, Portsmouth Apr 1554, Sussex 1559, 1563. Born by 1507, 1st son of John Sackville, Esq. by his first wife, Margaret Boleyn, and brother of Christopher and John. Educated Cambridge; Inner Temple. Married by 1536, Winifred, daughter of Sir John Brydges of London, and had 3 sons, including Thomas, and 1 daughter. Knighted by 17 Feb 1549; Succeeded father 27 Sep 1557. Governor Inner Temple 1558-death. Escheator, Surrey and Sussex 1541-1542; steward to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Sussex manors 1544, duchy of Lancaster lands in Sussex 1549-1553, 1561-death; commissioner chantries, Sussex 1546, 1548, relief 1550; justice of the peace Sussex 1547, Essex, Kent, Surrey, Sussex 1558/1559- death; chancellor, court of augmentations Aug 1548-Oct 1553, 20-23 Jan 1554; custos rot., Sussex 1549-death; lord Lieutenant Sussex 1550; PC 20 Nov 1558-death; under treasurer, the Exchequer Feb 1559-death.

Richard Sackville was nicknamed "Fill-Sack" by reason of his great wealth and the vast patrimony which he left to his son', On his own showing his success owed little to education, for he told Roger Ascham that before he was 14 his schoolmaster drove him 'with fear of beating from all love of learning', and although he went up to Cambridge he left without taking a degree to enter an inn of court. It was as a lawyer that he began his career and entered local administration, but as most of the references to a Richard Sackville active in Sussex during the 1530s and early 1540s are to his uncle and namesake, Sir Richard Sackville, a servant of the Earls of Arundel, little can be established about his early progress. His hard-headednees is perhaps to be discerned in the manumission of a bondman by his father and himself in 1541, as in their subsequent exploitation of their claim to knight's service; and their joint purchase in 1544 of over 900 pounds worth of property in London, Surrey, Sussex and elsewhere, some of which they disposed of profitably in the following two years, was certainly a portentous operation, for the younger man was to make his career and fortune in the administration and disposal of ex-monastic lands.

Sackville was rising 40 when he was returned as the senior Member for Chichester to the first Parliament of Edward VI's reign. Although from east Sussex, his family was well known at Chichester, where his uncle had been prominent at the local sessions, and it is possible that he had sat for the city before the death of Henry VIII; but in 1547 he enjoyed the great advantage of being the son of the sheriff, who was also a follower of Henry Fitzalan, 18th Earl of Arundel. Nothing has come to light about his part in the first two sessions of this Parliament, but it was presumably as a client of Arundel's that in 1548 he was chosen to replace Sir Edward North as chancellor of augmentations and about the same time given a knighthood. He did not go to the Protector Somerset assistance during the coup d' etat in the autumn of 1549, and was rewarded by the Earl of Warwick with increased powers in his court with lands and a lord Lieutenancy: he had probably been disturbed by the unrest in Sussex which Arundel had pacified, and it may not be without significance that it was to him as 'Mr. Chancellor' that during the next session of Parliament the bill for repressing unlawful assemblies and risings was committed after its second reading. On the arrest of the ex-Protector and the Earl of Arundel for treason in 1551, the custody of Arundel's heir, Lord Maltravers, with his schoolmasters and servants was entrusted to Sackville.

In Jul 1552 Edward VI noted in his diary that Sackville had been asked to 'surcease' his chancellorship of augmentations, but the request was evidently withdrawn as he kept the office until the court was dissolved under Mary. The decision may have been the Duke of Northumberland as part of his quest for support in his political manoeuvring. Sackville seems to have been a member of the Parliament which Northumberland caused to meet in Mar 1553, for 'Mr. Chancellor' again had a bill committed to him, this time the bill that clothiers and handicraftmen should dwell in boroughs and towns, which went to him after its second reading on 17 Mar 1553. He cannot have sat for Chichester, or for any Sussex borough, as the names of their Members are known, but as Lieutenant for the county he would have been a likely choice as one of the knights of the shire whose names are lost.

Sackville was prepared to follow Northumberland to the point of signing the device for the alteration of the succession, and it was probably this political misjudgement, rather than the allegations of corruption against him, which accounted for his dismissal from office in Oct 1553. He was compensated with an annuity of 300 pounds. Early in the following year he was briefly recalled to supervise the winding-up of the court, but this summons did not indicate a return to favour. He was, however, returned to the Parliament of Apr 1554 for Portsmouth, where he presumably owed his election to William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, whose son Chidiock, captain-designate of the garrison there, had been a receiver under Sackville in augmentations. Winchester was to be one of the overseers of Sackville's will and his heir, John, 2nd marquess of Winchester would marry Sackville's widow, Winifred. How Sackville conducted himself in this Parliament has not come to light: it was to be his only appearance there during the reign, but in 1558 he was to have a son sitting in the House.

Sackville was to resume his political career under Elizabeth: appointed a Privy Councillor before the new Queen set out for London, he figured prominently in her administration until his death on 21 Apr 1566.
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