Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bigod, Francis

BIGOD or BYGOD, Sir FRANCIS (1508–1637), rebel, of Settrington and Mulgrave Castle in Yorkshire, 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, 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), 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 Cromwell, Wolsey’s successor in the favour of Henry VIII, was engaged in advancing in Yorkshire the king’s reforms in church matters. Nevertheless in 1536 we find him implicated (though unwillingly) in the Pilgrimage for Grace, an insurrection produced by these reforms. In January 1537 he headed anunsuccessful rising at Beverley, and for this was hanged at Tyburn on 2 June 1537. By his wife Katharine, 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 Radclyffe. Rastell (the chronicler) in a letter to Cromwell, 17 Aug. [1534] (Cal. Of State Papers Hen. VIII, vol. viii. No. 1070), calls Bigod wise and well learned; and Bale describes him as ‘homo naturalium splendore nobilis ac doctus et evangelicæ veritatis amator.’ His letters to Cromwell, many of which are preserved in the Public Record Office, show him to have been deeply in debt. He wrote a treatise on ‘Impropriations,’ against the impropriation of parsonages by the monasteries (London, by Tho. Godfray cum privilegio regali, small 8vo). It appears to have been written after the birth of Elizabeth and before Anne Boleyn’s disgrace, i.e. between September 1533 and April 1536. Copies are in the British Museum and in Lambeth library, and the preface is reprinted at the end of Sir Henry Spelman’s ‘Larger work of Tithes’ (1647 edition). Bigod also translated some Latin works, and, during the insurrection, wrote against the royal supremacy.

[Calendar of State Papers, Henry VIII. vols. iv. and onwards; Tanner’s Bibliotheca; Bale; Fuller’s Worthies, ii. 209; Wood’s Athen. Oxon. i. 101; Wriothesley’s Chronicle, i. 64; Blomefield’s Norfolk, v. 228.]

R. H. B.