Born: 1518

Died: 21 Mar 1575

Buried: 24 Mar 1575

Father: John SULYARD

Mother: Margaret BAKER

Married 1: Elizabeth BEDINGFIELD (dau. of Sir Edmund Bedingfield and Grace Marney)


1. Frances SULYARD

Married 2: Elizabeth JERNINGHAM 1537



3. Edward SULYARD (Sir)

4. Margaret SULYARD

5. Thomas SULYARD

Married 3: Alice KERVILLE (dau. of Humphrey Kervill) (w. of John Bedingfield) 1560

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

John Sulyard was educated as a lawyer at Clifford’s Inn. He married three times. His first wife was Elizabeth Bedingfield, daughter of the younger Sir Edmund Bedingfield (b. 1479 - d. 1553) of Oxborough, Norfolk, by whom he had one daughter. He succeeded his father in 1540, and by the following year he had married his second wife, Elizabeth Jerningham, daughter of Sir John Jerningham of Somerleyton, Suffolk and his wife Bridget, daughter of Sir Robert Drury of Hawstead; they had two sons and two daughters. (Elizabeth's sister Anne Jerningham was the wife of Sir Thomas Cornwallis, whose mother was the daughter of Edward Sulyard of High Laver.) His third wife was Alice Kerville, daughter of Humphrey Carvell (Kervill) of Wiggenhall St. Mary, Norfolk. Alice was the widow of John Bedingfield of Quidenham (d. 1546/47), son of Peter Bedingfield, a son of the elder Sir Edmund Bedingfield K.B. (d. 1496/97), the builder of Oxburgh Hall.

Sulyard was with the Marquess of Northampton and others, including Henry Bedingfield, William Waldegrave, Sir John Cutts and Sir Thomas Cornwallis, to attack and suppress the rebels at Norwich during Kett's Rebellion in 1549. He maintained his allegiance to the Roman Catholic faith and to the succession of Queen Mary, and this was the foundation of his public career, which was mostly encompassed within Mary's reign. He was with John Bourchier, Earl of Bath; Sir Henry BedingfieldHenry JerninghamClement Higham and others who rallied to Mary's support in Kenninghall, Norfolk on 12 Jul 1553, during the succession crisis surrounding Lady Jane Grey, in preparation for Mary's journey to London: their swift loyalty to her was decisive in bringing her to the throne. A family tradition alleged that Mary had rested one night at Wetherden Hall on her way from Kenninghall to Framlingham.

Sulyard was elected a Member of Parliament for Ipswich in Oct 1553, in the parliament for which Henry Bedingfield and Henry Jerningham were Knights of the Shire, and Thomas Cornwallis the sheriff of Ipswich. He was appointed gentleman pensioner and standard bearer late in 1553, in which he remained until the end of Mary's reign. In the parliament of Spring 1554, following Wyatt's rebellion, Sir Clement Higham replaced him at Ipswich, and Sulyard sat for Bodmin, and for Preston in Nov 1554. From that year he served as a Justice of the Peace in Suffolk until 1561.

The manor and park of Haughley, with lands and liberties in Haughley, Stowmarket, Newton, Bacton, Wetherden, Shelland and Harleston, and all park liberties, were granted or confirmed to him in fee in Jun 1554 by Queen Mary in gratitude for his loyalty towards her. This manor was anciently associated with Haughley Castle and the lordship of Hugh de Montfort.

He sat again for parliament representing Ipswich in 1555, and was appointed High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk for 1555–56. Various accounts of his judgements and actions in that year are recorded. John Foxe reported (in his 1563 edition) that Sir John Sulyard and Sir John Tyrrell of Gipping Hall stirred up a persecution in the towns of Winston and Mendlesham. They commanded Thomas Spicer to attend Mass and to receive the sacrament, and at his refusal had imprisoned him at Eye. On 21 May 1556 he, with two men of Beccles, John Denny and William Poole, all having been condemned the previous day, were burned there as heretics by Sir John Sulyard:

"Wherat many murmured, and thought he went beyond his commission, in that he put them to death without a writte from the lord Chauncelor of England, for his warraunt, which in so short time could not be obteyned, the said Chauncelour being then at London, which is at least lxxx myle from that place. As they were at the stake, and had prayde, they sayd their beliefe: and when they cam to the reciting of the catholick church, sir Iohn Silliard spake to them: that is well sayd sirs, quod he. I am glad to heare you saye, you do beleve the Catholick church. That is the beast word I hard of you yet: to which his saings William Pole answered, that though they beleve the Catholike church, yet do they not beleve in theyr Popish church, which is no parte of christes Catholick church, and therfore no parte of ther belefe".

At Preston in Nov 1554 his patron was probably the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Robert Rochester, and at Chippenham in 1558 it was perhaps the sheriff of Wiltshire, Sir Walter Hungerford, a former gentleman pensioner to whom the lordship of Chippenham had recently been restored and who himself sat for Bodmin in this Parliament. Sulyard must also have been known in the area through his kinship with Sir Edward Baynton, and as standard-bearer of the gentlemen pensioners he had doubtless gone to France in 1557 with the Wiltshire magnate William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke; it may have been during the St. Quentin campaign that he received his knighthood. Although the Journal throws no light on his part in the business of the House, he is not surprisingly missing from the ranks of the opposition in 1553 and 1555.

Knighted in 1558, Sulyard's final term in parliament was for Chippenham in 1558.

With Elizabeth's accession, and the reversal of religious policy, his maintenance of Roman Catholic worship took on the character of recusancy. He served as a commissioner of the sewers for Norfolk and Suffolk in 1566. His name appears high in a list of English Catholics, along with his kinsmen Sir Thomas Cornwallis of Brome and Sir Henry Bedingfield, and Sir Ralph Chamberlain of Gedding, among the senior knights of Suffolk, compiled in 1574 probably for use in connection with the cause of Mary, Queen of Scots. He made his will as from Quidenham in 1569, requesting burial among his ancestors at Wetherden church, and granting his estates to his sons Edward and Thomas. For executors he appointed his widow Alice and her son Humphrey Bedingfield, his son Edward Sulyard and his son-in-law Thomas Tyrrell, requiring them to enter into bonds.

Sir John Sulyard's will was proved by his son Edward Sulyard on 1 Nov 1575. He was survived by his widow Alice, who left Haughley Hall to live with her son Humphrey Bedingfield at Quidenham, where she died in 1577.

Sir John was buried with his ancestors in the south aisle of Wetherden church. His monument, somewhat mutilated by William Dowsing, takes the form of an altar-tomb of pale veined marble, the frontal divided into three panel sections, each displaying a large shield with heraldic quarterings, framed by four fluted pilasters, with an entablature with projecting cornice above. This supports a table top of dark figured marble with a Latin inscription on the chamfered edge. Above this, the wallpiece contains in the lower register a frieze of Sir John Sulyard (sinister) and his three wives, kneeling, in bas-relief, all facing to sinister, flanked at either end by a pair of square plinths with mouldings set forwards. These support two tall pale and reddish-veined marble columns with capitals of the Corinthian order, which frame a central panel containing an escutcheon and crest with foliate surrounds, in carved relief in polychrome. This surmounts four smaller escutcheons similarly carved and painted and bearing impalements or quarterings, presented in a row. Above the main armorial feature, which is set within its own frame of scrolled strapwork terminals, is an upper horizontal entablature of veined marble with a deeply projecting cornice moulding supporting a pediment above.


Goring, J. J.: SULYARD, John (by 1518-75), of Wetherden, Suff.

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