Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kingston, Anthony

KINGSTON, Sir ANTHONY (1519–1556), provost-marshal in Cornwall, born in 1519, was the son of Sir William Kingston [q. v.] of Painswick, Gloucestershire, comptroller of the king's household. Anthony served at the head of a thousand Gloucestershire men under the Duke of Norfolk in the suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536–7, and fought in the defeat (13 Oct. 1536) of the rebels at Louth. He was knighted by Henry VIII, 18 Oct. 1537, probably as a reward for his services. He held small offices about the court, such as that of serjeant of the king's hawks, at 2s. a day, and received land belonging to the suppressed monasteries in Gloucestershire, including a regrant of the site of the Cistercian abbey of Flaxley.

After the death of Sir William Courtenay in 1535, Kingston married his widow, Mary, daughter of Sir John Gainsford, and left Gloucestershire to reside at Chudleigh, Devonshire, which, with Honiton, belonged to his wife's jointure. When the western rebellion broke out in 1549, under Edward VI—the rebels demanding the restoration of the old liturgy—Kingston was appointed provost-marshal of the king's army in Cornwall, and suppressed the outbreak at the expense of much bloodshed. His conduct has been compared with that of Judge Jeffreys. He is said to have entertained the mayor of Bodmin at a banquet and to have hanged him after dinner on the gallows which the mayor had himself been directed to make ready. The mayors of Clevedon and St. Ives shared a like fate. Carew defends Kingston on the score of the guilt of his victims, and says, ‘He did nothing herein as a judge by discretion, but as an officer by direction’ (Carew, Survey of Cornwall, p. 294). No other writers, however, take this view. Kingston was a member of Edward VI's council for the marches of Wales. When Lady Jane Grey succeeded Edward, she sent orders to Kingston and Sir John St. Loe to levy forces and march towards Buckinghamshire (16 July 1553), but her reign was over before they had time to obey (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. p. 153). In 1552 Kingston was cited before Hooper, bishop of Gloucester, on a charge of adultery. Burnet quotes the case as an instance of Hooper's impartial administration of affairs in his diocese. At first Kingston refused to appear, and when at length he came, he beat and abused the bishop, who sternly rebuked him, fined him 500l., and forced him to do penance (Burnet, Reformation, ed. 1829, iii. 402). He afterwards owned that Hooper had converted him from his evil life, and took a touching farewell of the bishop (8 Feb. 1555) before his martyrdom (Froude, Hist. vi. 320). Kingston sat in the House of Commons for Gloucestershire in the parliaments of 1545, 1552–3, and 1555. He was knight-marshal in the parliament of 1555 and ‘a main stickler in it’ for the protestant religion, as Burnet infers from his action against the catholic rebels in the west, under Edward (Reformation, ii. 650). It is said that he took the keys of the house away from the sergeant, with, it seems, the approval of the majority. But on 10 Dec., the day after parliament was dissolved, he was sent to the Tower on a charge of conspiring to put Elizabeth on the throne (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. pp. xvi–155). He remained there till the 23rd, when he submitted, asked pardon, and was discharged (cf. Machyn, Diary, Camd. Soc., p. 347). In the next year, 1556, however, Kingston was concerned in the plot to rob the exchequer in order to provide funds for the conspiracy devised by Sir Henry Dudley with the object of making Elizabeth queen and marrying her to Courtenay, earl of Devonshire (Froude, Hist. vi. 6–11). Six confederates were executed, but Kingston died 14 April 1556 at Cirencester, Froude says probably by his own hand from despair (Hist. vi. 442), while journeying from Devonshire to stand his trial in London. He left two illegitimate sons, Anthony and Edmund, on whom by a deed of feoffment he settled part of his estates in 1547 (cf. Lodge, Illustrations, i. 16).

[Polwhele's History of Cornwall, iv. 64, 65; Parochial History of Cornwall (Davies and Gilbert), i. 88, ii. 197; Bristol and Gloucestershire Archæol. Soc. Trans. vi. 284 sq.; Gloucestershire Notes and Queries, i. 27; Baker's Chronicle, p. 305; Cleaveland's History of the Courtenay Family, p. 29; Strype's Memorials, i. i. 15, ii. i. 9, ii. ii. 161; Fuller's Church History, iv. 49; Calendar of State Papers, Dom., Henry VIII, x. 333, 389, xi. 155, 290, 374; Rudder's Gloucestershire, pp. 140, 554; Tanner's Notitia Monastica, pp. xi, xxvii, xxviii; Metcalfe's Knights, p. 68; Nicolas's Privy Purse Expenses of Hen. VIII, pp. 226, 229.]

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