Edmund Knyvet

Sir Edmund Knyvet (c. 1508 – 1 May 1551) was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Knyvet (c. 1485 – 1512), a distinguished courtier and sea captain, and Muriel Howard (died 1512), the daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk.

Sir Edmund Knyvet
Remains of Buckenham Castle, seat of the Knyvet family
Bornc. 1508
Died1 May 1551
Spouse(s)Anne Shelton
Sir Thomas Knyvet
another son
FatherSir Thomas Knyvett
MotherMuriel Howard


Born about 1508, Edmund Knyvet was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Knyvet (c. 1485 – 1512) and Muriel Howard (died 1512), the daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, by his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney. By her first marriage to John Grey, 2nd Viscount Lisle,[1] Muriel Howard had a daughter, Elizabeth Grey, Viscountess Lisle.

Knyvet's father was slain in a naval battle near Brest on 10 August 1512, and four months later Knyvet's mother died in childbirth between 13 and 21 December 1512. According to Gunn, Knyvet and his two brothers and two sisters, Ferdinand, Henry (died c. 1546), Katherine and Anne, were at first entrusted to the care of their grandmother, Eleanor Knyvet.[2] In 1516 Knyvet's wardship was sold for £400 to his father's friend, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who had earlier been betrothed to Knyvet's half-sister, Elizabeth Grey. It appears that Suffolk resold the wardship to Sir Thomas Wyndham of Felbrigg, another friend and colleague of Knyvet's father. Wyndham died in 1522, and directed his executors to sell the wardship to Sir Anthony Wingfield.[3]


Although Knyvet reached the age of majority about 1529, he did not come into his entire inheritance at that time. Knyvet's great-grandfather, Sir William Knyvet (died 1515), had married, as his second wife Joan Stafford, daughter of Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, by Anne Neville (1414–1480), daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland,[4] and had partly disinherited Sir Edmund Knyvet (died 1504),[5] his eldest son by his first marriage, by leaving Buckenham Castle and other properties to Sir Edward Knyvet (died 1528), the eldest son of his second marriage to Joan Stafford.[6] Sir Edward Knyvet died childless in 1528, and Sir William Knyvet's lands then reverted to Sir William Knyvet's rightful heir, Edmund Knyvet, who had livery of his lands in 1533.[7]

By 1527 Knyvet had married Anne Shelton, the daughter of Sir John Shelton of Carrow, Norfolk, and his wife, Anne Boleyn. Knyvet's wife was a sister of Mary Shelton, and a first cousin of Queen Anne Boleyn. Sir Edmund Knyvet and Anne Shelton had two sons,[8] the elder of whom, Sir Thomas Knyvett (c. 1528 – 22 September 1569), married Catherine Stanley, daughter of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby,[9] and Margaret Barlow.

Through his marriage Knyvet was closely connected to the Shelton, Boleyn and Howard families. Knyvet joined his uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, in suppressing the uprising in Yorkshire in 1536 known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. He was knighted in 1538 or 1539, and was made sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in November 1539.[10]

At times Knyvet's relationship with the Duke of Norfolk was strained. According to Virgoe, Norfolk 'always wrote about Knyvet in terms which revealed small sympathy for his hotheaded, conceited and clever young kinsman'.[11] In 1539 Knyvet's hotheadedness led to an altercation over the election of Edmund Wyndham and Richard Southwell as knights of the shire for Norfolk, as a result of which the Duke bound both Knyvet and Southwell in £2000 to keep the peace and appear in the Star Chamber. In April 1541 Knyvet struck Thomas Clere, a servant of the Duke's son and heir, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in the King's tennis court. In accordance with a recent statute enacted to curb violence at court, Knyvet was sentenced to have his right hand struck off, a sentence he only narrowly escaped by a last-minute royal pardon. In February 1542 Knyvet was also bound in 500 marks to attend daily before the Privy Council, although for what reason is unknown. Knyvet contributed to the downfall of the Howards in 1546, and testified against Surrey at his treason trial in December of that year. He was rewarded with a lease of the manor of Wymondham and other Howard lands.[12] He was appointed High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk for 1539–40 and took his place on the bench as Justice of the Peace for Norfolk from 1543 to his death.[13]

The fall of the Howards paved the way for Knyvet's election as a knight of the shire (MP) for Norfolk in 1547. However, according to Virgoe, he remained 'a thorn in the flesh of authority', being bound in £1000 in February 1548 to attend before the Protector Somerset and the Privy Council to answer charges which may have been related to his alleged adultery with the Countess of Sussex.[14]

During Kett's Rebellion in the summer of 1549, Knyvet 'led his servants in a spirited attack against the Norfolk rebels', was one of those sent to parley with Kett, and served under John Dudley, Earl of Warwick in the final battle at Mousehold Heath on 27 August 1549. Two years later Knyvet died in London on 1 May 1551.[15]

It has been suggested that Knyvet was the 'E.K.' who contributed verses to an anthology compiled by his sister-in-law, Mary Shelton.[16]

Knyvet has sometimes been confused with his uncle and namesake, Edmund Knyvet, serjeant porter to King Henry VIII, who died 1 May 1539.[17]


  1. Richardson II 2011, p. 414.
  2. Gunn 2004.
  3. Virgoe 1982, p. 482; Gunn 2004.
  4. Richardson II 2011, p. 318.
  5. Sir Edmund Knyvet married Eleanor Tyrrell (died 1514), the daughter of Sir William Tyrrell of Gipping, Suffolk, and sister of Sir James Tyrrell. They had six sons and three daughters, including Edmund Knyvet (died 1 May 1539), esquire, who married Joan Bourchier, the only surviving child of John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners. Sir Edmund Knyvet was drowned at sea in 1504; Richardson II 2011, p. 322.
  6. Sir Edward Knyvet married Anne Calthorpe, widow of John Cressner, and daughter of Sir John Calthorpe by Elizabeth, daughter of Roger Wentworth, esquire. Sir Edward Knyvet died without issue in 1528. His heir was his nephew, Robert Knyvet, son of his brother, Charles Knyvet (died before 22 October 1528). Robert Knyvet was slain during the suppression of Kett's Rebellion in 1549.
  7. Virgoe 1982, p. 482; Gunn 2004.
  8. Virgoe 1982, p. 482; Lehmberg 2004.
  9. Virgoe 1982, p. 484.
  10. Virgoe 1982, p. 483; Lehmberg 2004.
  11. Virgoe 1982, p. 482.
  12. Virgoe 1982, p. 483; Lehmberg 2004.
  13. "KNYVET, Sir Edmund (by 1508–51), of Buckenham Castle, Norf. and London". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  14. Virgoe 1982, p. 483; Lehmberg 2004.
  15. Virgoe 1982, p. 483; Lehmberg 2004.
  16. Virgoe 1982, p. 483.
  17. Lehmberg 2004.


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