Sir Edmund Walsingham (c. 1480 – 10 February 1550) of Scadbury Hall, Chislehurst in Kent, was a soldier, Member of Parliament, and Lieutenant of the Tower of London during the reign of King Henry VIII.
He was the eldest son and heir of James Walsingham (1462-1540) of Scadbury by his wife Eleanor Writtle (pre-1465 - post-1540), the daughter and heiress of Walter Writtle of Bobbingworth in Essex.Sir Edmund, according to a monumental brass formerly in the church at Scadbury, had three brothers and seven sisters, including:
Although the Walsingham pedigree is said to date to the thirteenth century, the family is first recorded in the County of Kent in 1424, when Thomas I Walsingham purchased the manor of Scadbury. The descent was as follows:
Walsingham entered the service of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (later 3rd Duke of Norfolk), and was knighted by him on 13 September 1513, four days after the decisive English victory over the Scots at the Battle of Flodden, in which the English army was commanded by Surrey's father Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. In 1520 he was part of the Kent contingent accompanying King Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in Calais in June, and at the King's meeting with the Emperor Charles V at Gravelines in July.
In 1521 he was appointed a sewer in the royal household, was made a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Mercers, was on the jury which tried and convicted Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham,and succeeded Sir Richard Cholmondeley as Lieutenant of the Tower of London at a salary of £100 a year. He held the office until Henry VIII's death in 1547, residing in a house at the Tower, and taking personal charge of prisoners of state, among them Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, Catherine Howard, Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter, Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu, Agnes Howard, Duchess of Norfolk, Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, Anne Boleyn, Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More. It was to Walsingham that More made his jest on ascending the scaffold, "I pray you, Master Lieutenant, see me safe up, and for my coming down, let me shift for myself".
In the 1530s Walsingham acquired long-term leases of the manors of Tyting in Surrey and Stanground in Huntingdonshire, and in 1543 purchased the manors of Swanton Court, West Peckham and Yokes near Scadbury from Sir Robert Southwell. In 1539, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the king granted him nine houses in London, former monastic property.
In 1544 he became vice-chamberlain to Henry VIII's sixth wife, Katherine Parr.He was elected to Parliament as a Knight of the Shire for Surrey in 1545.
Walsingham married twice:
Firstly he married Katherine Gounter (or Gunter) (before 1495 – c. 1526), widow of Henry Morgan of Pencoed, Monmouthshire, and a daughter of John Gounter of Chilworth, Surrey, by his wife Elizabeth Attworth (or Utworth), a daughter and heiress of William Attworth, by whom he had four sons and four daughters:
He married secondly, Anne Jerningham, a daughter of Sir Edward Jerningham (died 6 January 1515) of Somerleyton, Suffolk, by his wife Margaret Bedingfield (died 24 March 1504). At the time of her marriage to Sir Edmund Walsingham, Anne Jerningham was the widow of three successive husbands: Lord Edward Grey (died before 1517), eldest son and heir of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, and grandson of King Edward IV's wife, Elizabeth Woodville; Henry Barley (died 12 November 1529) of Albury, Hertfordshire; and Sir Robert Drury, Speaker of the House of Commons.
Walsingham died on 9 February 1550 and was buried in "a table tomb, richly ornamented with roses, acorns and foliage gilt"in the Scadbury chapel in the church of St Nicholas at Chislehurst. His son and heir, Thomas Walsingham, erected a monument to his memory in 1581; the inscription begins:
A knight sometime of worthy fame,
Lieth buried under this stony bower,
Sir Edmund Walsingham was his name,
Lieutenant he was of London Tower.
His will, dated 8 February 1550, was proved on 8 November of that year.
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Scadbury is a historic manor in the parish of Chislehurst in Kent, England. Much of the estate is preserved today as Scadbury Park, a 300-acre Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. The manorial chapel, known as the Scadbury Chapel, survives in the church of St Nicholas at Chislehurst, and served as a burial place for owners of the estate, including members of the Walsingham family.