Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Compton, William (1482?-1528)

COMPTON, Sir WILLIAM (1482?–1528), soldier, only son of Edmund Compton of Compton in Warwickshire, must have been born about 1482, as his age was eleven years 'and more' when his father died in 1493. Henry VII, whose ward he then became, appointed him page to Prince Henry, duke of York. In 1509 Prince Henry became King Henry VIII, and Compton was rapidly appointed groom of the bedchamber, chief gentleman of the bedchamber, groom of the stole, constable of Sudeley and Gloucester castles, and to many other offices. On 7 Nov. 1512 he received 'honourable augmentation of arms,' viz.: 'a lion passant gardant or,' with the crest' a demi dragon crazed gules within a coronet of gold upon a torse argent and vert.' On 4 Feb. 1512-13 he was appointed usher of the black rod in Windsor Castle (Pat. 4 Hen. VIII, ii. 11). In the French campaign of 1513 he seems to have been in the main body or ' middle warde ' of the army (Calendar Hen. VIII, i. 4314); Hall, however, says he commanded the rear guard (Chron. f. 26). He and forty-four others were rewarded for their exertions by the honour of knighthood, conferred on them by the king at Tournay on 25 Sept. The chancellorship of Ireland with power to act by deputy was given him on 6 Nov. 1513; but he did not keep it long, for it went to the archbishop of Dublin on 24 March 1516 (Pat. 5 Hen. VIII, ii. 2, and 7 Hen. VIII, iii. 24). The university of Cambridge, on 5 Feb. 1513-14, granted ' letters of confraternity ' to him and his wife. He attended the king to the Field of the Cloth of Gold and to the subsequent interview with the emperor at Gravelines in 1520. Compton served on the borders under the Earl of Surrey in the Scotch war of 1523, and this seems to have been the only time he ever removed far from the court. Some thought that his rival Wolsey contrived his being sent thither, hoping in his absence to injure his credit with the king (Polydor Vergil, ed. 1557, p. 1714) . A fragment of a grant, dated 22 Feb. 18 Henry VIII, enrolled on the 'Patent Roll' of that year (1526-7), gives him leave to wear his hat in the king's presence; the enrolment, however, is cancelled. He died on 30 June 1528 (Escheators' Inquisitions) of the sweating sickness, leaving an only son, Peter, aged six, who became the ward of Cardinal Wolsey. Peter died a minor, leaving a son who was created Baron Compton by Queen Elizabeth, and whose son was made Earl of Northampton by King James. Compton married Werburga, daughter and heiress of Sir John Brereton, and widow of Sir Francis Cheyney, and she, the year after his death, had license to marry Walter Walsh of the privy chamber (Pat. 21 Hen. VIII, ii. 24, in which she is called 'Elizabeth') . Compton had apparently made unsuccessful suit for leave to marry the Countess of Salisbury after her lands were restored to her in 1513 (Calendar Hen. VIII, iv. 4654). He died immensely rich, leaving property in eighteen counties. He was sheriff of Worcestershire for life by a grant in 1516, and before that had been sheriff of Hampshire, 1512-13, and of Somersetshire and Dorsetshire, 1513-14. Portraits of him on glass were at Compton Hall and in Balliol College, Oxford.

[Escheators' Inquisitions; Cal. of Henry VIII; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 401; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab.; Kippis's Biog. Brit.; Testaments Vetusta, p. 591; State Papers Henry VIII; Report of Deputy-Keeper of Public Records, ii. App. ii. 196, x. App. ii. 220; Hall's Chronicle; Strype's Memorials, i. i. 112.]

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