The Tudor Society

9 June – William Paget, a man who served 4 monarchs

On this day in Tudor history, 9th or 10th June 1563, William Paget, 1st Baron Paget, diplomat and administrator, died, probably at his estate of West Drayton in Middlesex.

By his death, he'd served four Tudor monarchs and even though he'd fallen from favour and been imprisoned, he kept his head and climbed back in favour.

But who was Baron Paget? Well, let me give you a few facts about this Tudor man.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 9th June 1549, at Whitsun services all over England, the Book of Common Prayer was used for the first time. A service in English, not Latin! Find out more in last year's video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1511 – Death of William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon, at Greenwich. He died of pleurisy and was buried at Blackfriars, London, with the honours due an earl, even though he hadn't been officially invested yet. Courtenay was Henry VIII's uncle, having married Katherine, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
  • 1573 – Death of William Maitland of Lethington, Scottish courtier, politician, reformer and diplomat. He died in prison in Leith, in suspicious circumstances, though it was said to be suicide. Maitland supported the restoration of Mary, Queen of Scots, and was imprisoned as a result.
  • 1583 – Death of Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and President of the Council of the North, at Bermondsey. His body was buried at Boreham in Essex, but his innards were buried at the church in Bermondsey.


On this day in Tudor history, 9th or 10th June 1563, William Paget, 1st Baron Paget, diplomat and administrator, died, probably at his estate of West Drayton in Middlesex.

But who was Baron Paget, well, let me give you a few facts…

• William Paget was born in around 1505/1506 in London and was the son of shearman and sergeant-at-mace, John Paget.
• Paget received his education under the renowned grammarian and scholar William Lily at St Paul’s School. Fellow students included Thomas Wriothesley, John Leland, and Anthony Denny. He then moved on to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he is recorded as participating in a play with Thomas Wriothesley and Stephen Gardiner.
• He went to Paris around 1526 and then joined the household of Stephen Gardiner.
• Paget survived sweating sickness in the epidemic of 1528 and was made a clerk of the signet.
• In 1529, he began serving as a Member of Parliament.
• In the 1530s, Paget was sent on a number of diplomatic missions concerning Henry VIII’s quest for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
• At some point in the early 1530s, Paget married Anne Preston, daughter of Henry Preston of Lancashire. Their eldest child, a son, Henry, was born in around 1536, and by 1555 the couple had nine surviving children – three sons and six daughters. The Pagets’ marriage was a happy and loving one, and in 1545, when his wife was seriously ill, Paget wrote of “my most obedient, wise, gentle and chaste wife, the remembrance of whom sitteth so deep in my heart that it maketh the same well near to burst for pain and anguish”. Anne survived the illness though.
• By 1536, Paget owned the estate of West Drayton in Middlesex.
• He served as secretary to Queens Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard, and was a member of the jury that indicted Cardinal Pole’s brother, Sir Geoffrey Pole, for treason in 1539. In the summer of 1540, he was appointed clerk of the privy council, and a year later he was appointed clerk of the parliament.
• He carried out a further diplomatic mission to France in 1541, regarding negotiations for the Lady Mary, Henry VIII’s daughter, to marry the Duke of Orléans, and he was also in charge of a network of spies on the Continent.
• Paget was made a principal secretary of state in 1543 and appointed to the privy council, and he was knighted in 1544. In 1545, he became joint master of the posts, and in 1544, 1545 and 1546, he carried out further diplomatic missions.
• When the king was dying in late 1546 and early 1547, Paget was one of those men close to him. One of his final jobs for the king was sitting on the commission which tried Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. When the king died in January 1547, Paget made a deal with Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, and supported him becoming Lord Protector for the boy-king, Edward VI. His rewards included being made a Knight of the Garter and High Steward of Cambridge University.
• He served as comptroller of the household and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when Somerset was campaigning in the north in the summer of 1547.
• By 1549, Paget was disillusioned with Somerset and later that year he was the man sent to arrest Somerset after the Earl of Warwick’s successful coup. However, advice he gave to Warwick was rejected and he ended up being arrested in the autumn of 1551 implicated in Somerset’s plotting. In Spring 1552, he was stripped of the Garter and accused of corruption while chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Paget signed a submission of guilt and publicly confessed to bribery, extortion and other crimes in the Star Chamber, Although he lost his chancellorship and was fined, he kept his head and was released from the Tower of London. He was pardoned in December 1552 and restored to the privy council in February 1553.
• In July 1553, after the accession of Lady Jane Grey, or Queen Jane, Paget and the Earl of Arundel persuaded the privy council to defect and proclaim Mary as queen.
• Paget was rewarded by Mary I by being appointed to her privy council and being restored to the Order of the Garter. At her coronation, he bore the sword of state before the queen. In late 1553, he was one of those negotiating the marriage match between the queen and Philip of Spain.
• In 1554, he helped put down Wyatt’s Rebellion, but some mistrusted him, believing him to be a secret heretic. He infuriated the queen when he opposed some of Bishop Gardiner’s plans for restoring the Catholic Church in England.
• In November 1554, however, he was sent to the Low Countries with Sir Edward Hastings to bring Cardinal Reginald Pole back to England.
• He first began suffering with his health in 1555 but in 1556 was appointed Lord Privy Seal and carried out a number of diplomatic missions for Mary and Philip.
• He was suffering with his health when Elizabeth came to the throne in November 1558 but he was able to advise Elizabeth’s councillors, and in late 1559 he was back at court, although he didn’t feel up to going to Spain for the queen.
• Paget made his will in November 1560, but recovered until he was taken ill again in 1563. He died on 9th or 10th June 1563, probably at his seat of West Drayton, and he was buried at West Drayton on 18th June.
• Two of his sons, Charles and Thomas were staunch Catholics who were implicated in plots against Queen Elizabeth I.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. J

    Have you seen the new book about Paget – lots of info.

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9 June – William Paget, a man who served 4 monarchs