Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Benolt, Thomas

BENOLT, THOMAS (d. 1534), herald, was Berwick pursuivant in the reign of Edward IV, Rougecroix pursuivant in the reign of Richard III, and Windsor herald under Henry VII. His further promotions were as follows: Norroy king-at-arms 20 Nov. 1510, and Clarencieux king-at-arms 30 Jan. 1511. The date of this last appointment is erroneously given in Noble's ‘College of Arms’ as 1516. His life was a much more active one than falls to the lot of most heralds, as he was almost constantly employed in missions to foreign courts, either alone or attached to embassies. In 1514 he went to France to be present at the marriage of Henry VIII's sister Mary with Louis XII, and stayed there till the following spring. He visited the French court again in 1520, when he published the challenges for the tournaments at the Field of the Cloth of Gold at the principal courts of Europe. Two years later (May 1522) he carried to Francis I Henry's defiance for real, not mimic, war, and in 1528 (Jan. 22) he acted a similar part towards the Emperor Charles V at Burgos, in company with the French herald Guyenne. An account of this ceremony is extant in a letter from him preserved in the British Museum (Vesp. c. iv. 231). The embassy of Sir Francis Poyntz, which was a preliminary to this declaration, was not in 1526, as Noble states in his life of Benolt, but in June 1527. Clarencieux was also frequently sent to Scotland. His first journey there was in August 1516, when the Duke of Albany was ruling the kingdom in the name of the infant King James V during his mother's absence in England. His instructions were to obtain a ratification of the truce between the two countries, and to arrange for Albany's passing through England on his way to France. These negotiations took a long time to settle, and Benolt went to and fro three times before the following spring. Having gained the confidence of Queen Margaret, he was employed again at her desire to treat for a truce in November 1522, when Albany had just left Scotland, after an abortive invasion of England. The Scotch lords, however, had not the same confidence in him that the queen had, and the terms proposed by him not being accepted, war was renewed on the expiry of a short abstinence. In 1524 and 1526 he is again found passing to and fro between England and Scotland, and in 1527 he made the journey to Spain before referred to. His last journey was to carry the insignia of the Garter to Anne de Montmorency, grand master of France, and Philip de Chabot, lord of Brion, the admiral. This was in April 1533. The office of Garter king-at-arms was held at this time by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, who considered that a privy seal granted to Benolt, on April 1530, infringed upon his rights as sovereign. The dispute between the two heralds came before the court of the earl marshal. A full account of Garter's grievances and Clarencieux's answers will be found in the 'Calendar of State Papers of Henry VIII,' vol. v. app. 38.

As a reward for his services, Henry VIII granted him the reversion of the office of bailiff of Boston, and the surveyorship of all the lands appointed for the payment of the garrison of Berwick. Noble suggests that he was a foreigner by birth; and this is probable, as his brother John (whose name is usually spelt Bunolte) was parson of Marke and Calkwelle, in the Marches of Calais, and held the offices of king's secretary and commissary to the archbishop of Canterbury. Thomas Benolt died on 8 May 1534, his will being dated 24 April and proved 18 May. He was buried in the Nun's choir of St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate, under the effigies of himself and his two wives, one of whom was Mary, daughter of Lawrence Richards, alias Fermour, of Minster Lovel, ancestor of the earls of Pomfret, by whom he had two daughters, Eleanor, who married — Jones, of Caerleon, and Anne, who married Sir John Radcliffe and Ric. Buckland. The name of the other wife is not known. Heraldic visitations by him are preserved at the British Museum in Harleian MSS. 1544, 1561, 1562, and 2076, and in Addit. MSS. 12479 and 14315, besides others in the College of Arms.

[Noble's College of Arms, 111; Pinkerton's Scotland, ii. 158, 192, &c.; Cal. of State Papers Henry VIII, vols, i.-vi.; Cox's Annals of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate.]

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