John BONHAM of Hazelbury

Born: ABT 1516

Died: 1555

Father: John BONHAM of Hazelbury

Mother: Anne MORE

Married: Anne WILLOUGHBY (B. Mountjoy) BEF 1551


1. John BONHAM (b. ABT 1552)

2. Dau. BONHAM

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

First son of John Bonham of Hazelbury and Anne, dau. of Robert More. Kntd. by 1553. ?Servant of Queen Catherine Parr in 1544; commr. musters, Wilts. 1546, subsidy 1546, 1549, 1552, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; ?collector of customs, Bristol 1547-9; j.p. Wilts. 1547; sheriff 1549-50; keeper, Farleigh Park, Wilts. 1550-52 or later.

He may have served Catherine Parr, and it is even possible that he started his career at court: in 1539 a royal servant of his name leased the Wiltshire manor of Marston and five years later a Mr. Bonham was paid for riding to Prince Edward at the Queen's command. As a loving friend of Richard Broke, whose widow he married, he could also have obtained the support of Sir William Herbert, to whom Broke left two horses in his will. Robert Warner sat for Herbert's borough of Wilton in 1547 and, if Bonham enjoyed the same patronage, it is difficult to account for his failure to sit again, especially if he was the collector of customs at Bristol, an appointment indicative of Seymour favour. The collector may, however, have been a different person, since a list of royal officers during 1552-3 mentions two John Bonhams but describes only the keeper of the park at Farleigh as a knight. The Wiltshire gentleman was pricked sheriff less than a month AFT the Protector Somerset's arrest and in Apr 1550 he secured a 40-year lease of the demesne lands of the castle and manor of Farleigh, forfeited a year earlier by Somerset's attainted brother Admiral Seymour.

On 19 Jul 1553 Bonham supported the proclamation of Mary at Warminster by the high steward Sir John Thynne. This action was opposed by the agent of Charles, 8th Baron Stourton, who claimed that his master had already been appointed lord lieutenant by the Queen. A furious letter from Stourton to Thynne was evidently accompanied by another to Bonham, since the two men sent almost identical replies and Bonham, the more outspoken, accused Stourton of slackness in rallying to Mary. On 20 Sep Stourton told the sheriff that the government did not want such spotted persons as Thynne and Bonham in Parliament, whereupon both his enemies sued him for slander. So strong did Stourton's position appear that in Nov 1553 Thynne's lawyer Humphrey Moseley was advising him to reach a separate settlement and leave Bonham to make his own terms, but in the event Bonham won damages of 500 marks and in Apr 1554 he was congratulated by the Privy Council for having promptly arrested a malcontent named John Smithfield. He did not, however, live to profit by Stourton's execution.

His wife, the widow of Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, brought him property in Dorset as well as the manor of Brook, near Westbury, where he died on 10 Jan 1555. He also still held the manors of Box, Hazelbury and Wick, out of which 20 marks a year were granted to the widow and her eldest son James Blount, 6th Lord Mountjoy, together with the wardship of Bonham's heir, John. Edward, Sir John's brother, claimed that there was a will but the widow declared that he had died intestate and was granted the administration of his goods in Aug 1556.

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