On this day in Tudor history, 14th September 1540, Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, Knight of the Garter and comptroller of the King's household, died at his home in Painswick in Gloucestershire.
Sir William Kingston was Constable of the Tower of London while Queen Anne Boleyn was imprisoned there in May 1536, and his letters to Thomas Cromwell are an excellent primary source for historians, but there's much more to this royal servant than that. He had a wonderful career in service to the king and benefited as a result.
Find out more about Kingston...
Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, Knight of the Garter and comptroller of the King’s household, was born around 1476. His origins are unknown but historian Stanford Lehmberg believes that he was from a Gloucestershire family who were related to the barons Berkeley of Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, and also to Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. Kingston had a brother named George.
In 1497, Kingston was appointed as a yeoman of the chamber to Henry VII and served in this position until 1509. In 1506, he became a Justice of the Peace for Gloucestershire. At Henry VII’s funeral in 1509, he served as a gentleman usher. In 1511 and 1512, he served in the army of Henry VIII and in September 1513 he fought at the Battle of Flodden against the Scots. He was knighted in October 1513.
In 1514, Kingston was made a king’s sewer and a sheriff of Gloucestershire, and in 1519, Cardinal Wolsey chose him to be a knight of the body in the privy chamber following Wolsey’s purge of the privy chamber in the Eltham Ordinances. He continued to serve the king as keeper of the king’s jewels and plate and then as a carver in 1521.
On 2 May 1536, Anne Boleyn was ordered to present herself to the Privy Council. Standing before the Duke of Norfolk, Sir William Fitzwilliam and Sir William Paulet, Anne Boleyn was arrested for committing adultery with three men: Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris and an unnamed man.
After lunch, Anne was escorted from Greenwich to the Tower of London. Popular myth tells of how Anne entered the Tower of London from the Thames through ‘Traitors Gate’. However, researchers and historians suggest that she would have arrived through the Court Gate near the Byward Tower – which was the common entrance for people of nobility and royalty. Here she was met by Sir Edmund Walsingham, the Lieutenant of the Tower, and escorted inside.