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Paston, William (1479?-1554) (DNB00)

PASTON, Sir WILLIAM (1479?–1554), lawyer and courtier, born about 1479, was son of Sir John Paston the younger of Paston in Norfolk, by Margery, daughter of Sir Thomas Brews of Sturton Hall in Sall, Norfolk. The father was a soldier, and had been brought up in the family of the Duke of Norfolk, with whom his family had much dispute; but, like his elder brother, also called Sir John Paston [q. v.], who is separately noticed, and from whom he must be carefully distinguished, he took the Lancastrian side in the war of the Roses. With his brother he fought at Barnet in 1471, and had to secure a pardon to meet the new turn of affairs. He served in the army of 1475, and, on his elder brother's death in 1479, he succeeded to the estates. He was high sheriff of Norfolk in 1485, and evidently was much trusted by the new king, who gave him a reward of 160l. in the same year. He behaved well in the rebellion of Lambert Simnel, was knighted at the battle of Stoke in 1487, was made a knight of the king's body, and took part in the reception of Catherine of Arragon in 1501. He died in 1503.

William Paston was educated at Cambridge, and a letter from him to his father, written about 1495, has been printed among the ‘Paston Letters.’ It shows that at the time he had been forced to leave the university on account of the ravages of the sweating sickness. He was bred to the law, the borough of Yarmouth acknowledging his services on one occasion by giving him a present; but he is chiefly known as a courtier. In 1511 he was a commissioner of array for Norfolk. In 1513 he secured a grant of part of the Pole estates. On 7 July 1517 he attended on the king at a banquet at Greenwich. The same year he was sheriff of Norfolk. It seems uncertain when he was knighted, but probably he was dubbed early in Henry VIII's reign. He was certainly a knight in 1520. He was present at the reception of the emperor, Charles V, and the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and in 1522 seems to have been employed as a treasurer for the army on the Scottish border. He was often in the commission of the peace for Norfolk, and secured various grants. In 1523 he was again serving on the northern border, and his family connection with the Lovell family secured him the executorship to Sir Thomas Lovell [q. v.], who died in 1524. He was a commissioner to collect the subsidy of 1524; the same year, on 1 Sept., he was one of those who rode to Blackheath to meet the papal ambassador bearing the golden rose to Henry. He seems to have been high-handed as a landlord, and had disputes with the men of Yarmouth about his estate of Caistor. In 1528 he was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. He went on the expedition of 1532, took some part, as an augmentation commissioner for Norfolk, in the suppression of the monasteries, was present at the reception of Anne of Cleves in 1539, and died in September 1554. He was buried at Paston on 26 Sept., and his will (P.P.C. More 15) was proved on 4 Dec. of the same year. He married Bridget, daughter of Sir Henry Heydon of Baconsthorpe, Norfolk. By her he left two sons, of whom the second, Clement, is separately noticed.

The eldest son, Erasmus Paston, died in his father's lifetime, in 1540, and was buried at Paston on 6 Nov. of that year. He had married Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Wyndham of Felbrigg, Norfolk; she lived until 1596, and by her he had a son, Sir William Paston (1528–1610), who was knighted on 22 Aug. 1578, and is famous as the founder of North Walsham grammar school. He succeeded to the property of his grandfather in 1540, and of his uncle Clement in 1597. In the latter year he removed to the new house which Sir Clement Paston had built at Oxnead; and Caistor, which the Paston family had had such difficulty to keep in the fifteenth century, was suffered to fall into ruin. He died on 20 Oct. 1610, and was buried in the church at North Walsham. A portrait is at North Walsham, and another, said to be by Zucchero, was at Empingham Rectory, Rutland. He settled 40l. per annum on the school, with 10l. for a weekly lecturer; he was also a benefactor to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He had married, on 5 May 1551, Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Clere of Stokesby, Norfolk, and by her he left, with other issue, Christopher, his heir, who became insane in 1611, and who was great-grandfather of Robert Paston, first earl of Yarmouth [q. v.]

[For Sir John Paston the introduction to the third volume of Gairdner's Paston Letters supplies full information; see also Dawson Turner's Hist. Sketch of Caistor; Letters, &c., Richard III and Henry VII, ed. Gairdner (Rolls Ser.) i. 410; Campbell's Materials for the Hist. of Henry VII (Rolls Ser.) i. 158, &c. (the William Paston referred to in this authority is Sir John Paston's uncle, not his son), ii. 135, &c. For the others, Letters and Papers of Henry VIII; Chron. of Calais (Camd. Soc.), pp. 22, 42, 174; Ordinances of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, vii. 49; Sharp's Royal Descent, &c., pp. 11–13; Blomefield's Norfolk, iv. 491.]

W. A. J. A.