William Paget, 1st Baron Paget

William Paget, 1st Baron Paget of Beaudesert KG PC (1506 – 9 June 1563), was an English statesman and accountant who held prominent positions in the service of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I.

The Lord Paget
Painting of William Paget, attributed to Master of the Stätthalterin Madonna
Died9 June 1563
EducationSt Paul's School, Trinity Hall, Cambridge and University of Paris
Occupationseveral diplomatic missions
Spouse(s)Anne Preston
ChildrenHenry Paget, 2nd Baron Paget
Thomas Paget, 3rd Baron Paget
Charles Paget
Edward Paget
Etheldreda Paget
Eleanor Paget
Grisold Paget
Joan Paget
Dorothy Paget
Anne Paget
Parent(s)John Paget
Anne Paget

Early life

He was the son of John Pachett or Paget, one of the serjeants-at-mace of the city of London.[1] He was born in Staffordshire in 1506, and was educated at St Paul's School when William Lily was its headmaster, and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, proceeding afterwards to the University of Paris.[2] At St Paul's, he befriended the future antiquary John Leland and later acted as one of his benefactors.[3]

Political career

He served as Member of Parliament for Lichfield in 1529 and for Middlesex in 1545.

Probably through the influence of Stephen Gardiner, who had early befriended Paget, he was employed by King Henry VIII in several important diplomatic missions; in 1532 he was appointed Clerk of the Signet and soon afterwards of the privy council. He became secretary to Anne of Cleves in 1539. In April 1543 he was sworn of the privy council and appointed secretary of state, in which position Henry VIII relied on his advice, at last appointing him one of the council to act during the minority of King Edward VI.

Paget at first vigorously supported the protector Somerset, while counselling a moderation which Somerset did not always observe. Paget would go on to become increasingly alienated from the Duke, reaching out to him in a series of letters from February 1548 in which he tried to persuade Somerset to take others' opinions into consideration. He blamed Somerset's dictatorial style and foolish attempts to help the poor for the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549. In 1547 he was made controller of the king's household, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, elected knight of the shire (MP) for Staffordshire and made a knight of the Garter; and in 1549 he was summoned by writ to the House of Lords as Baron Paget de Beaudesert. About the same time he obtained extensive grants of lands, including Cannock Chase and Burton Abbey in Staffordshire, in London the residence of the bishops of Exeter, afterwards known successively as Lincoln House and Essex House, on the site now occupied by the Outer Temple in the London, and also in 1547 he was granted the lordship and manor of Harmondsworth.[4] He obtained Beaudesert in Staffordshire, which remained the chief seat of the Paget family.

Paget shared Somerset's disgrace, being committed to the Tower in 1551 and degraded from the Order of the Garter in the following year, besides suffering a heavy fine by the Star Chamber for having profited at the expense of the Crown in his administration of the duchy of Lancaster. He was, however, restored to the king's favour in 1553, and was one of the twenty-six peers who signed Edward's settlement of the crown on Lady Jane Grey in June of that year. He made his peace with Queen Mary I, who reinstated him as a knight of the Garter and in the privy council in 1553, and appointed him Lord Privy Seal in 1556. On the accession of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558 Paget retired from public life.


By his wife Anne Preston, Paget had four sons and six daughters.


  1. Henry
  2. Thomas
  3. Charles
  4. Edward (died young),


  1. Etheldreda, who married Sir Christopher Allen
  2. Eleanor, who married firstly, Jerome Palmer, esquire, and secondly, Sir Rowland Clarke
  3. Grisold, who married firstly, Sir Thomas Rivett, and secondly, Sir William Waldegrave
  4. Joan (or Jane), who married Sir Thomas Kitson
  5. Dorothy, who married Sir Thomas Willoughby (d.1559)
  6. Anne (d.1590), who married Sir Henry Lee.[5]

Paget's two eldest sons, Henry and Thomas, succeeded in turn to the peerage. A younger son, Charles Paget, was a well-known Catholic conspirator during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Thomas Paget, 3rd Baron Paget (c. 1540-1589), a zealous Roman Catholic, was-suspected of complicity in Charles's plots and was attainted in 1587. The peerage was restored in 1604 to his son William, 4th Lord Paget (1572–1629), whose son William, the 5th lord (1609–1678), fought for Charles I at the Battle of Edgehill. William, the 6th lord (1637–1713), a supporter of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, was ambassador at Vienna from 1689 to 1693, and later at Constantinople, having much to do with bringing about the important treaty of Carlowitz in 1699.

Henry, the 7th baron (c.1665-1743), was raised to the peerage during his father's lifetime as Baron Burton in 1712, being one of the twelve peers created by the Tory ministry to secure a majority in the House of Lords, and was created Earl of Uxbridge in 1714. His only son, Thomas Catesby Paget, the author of an Essay on Human Life (1735) and other writings, died in January 1742 before his father, leaving a son Henry (1719–1769), who became 2nd Earl of Uxbridge.

At the latter's death the earldom of Uxbridge and barony of Burton became extinct, the older barony of Paget of Beaudesert passing to his cousin Henry Bayly (1744–1812), heir general of the first baron, who in 1784 was created earl of Uxbridge. His second son, Sir Arthur Paget (1771–1840), was an eminent diplomat during the Napoleonic wars, Sir Edward Paget (1775–1849), the fourth son, served under Sir John Moore in the Peninsula, and was afterwards second in command under Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington; the fifth, Sir Charles Paget (1778–1839), served with distinction in the navy, and rose to the rank of vice-admiral. The eldest son Henry William, 2nd Earl of Uxbridge (1768–1854), was in 1815 created Marquess of Anglesey.



    1. Jack, Sybil M. "Paget, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21121.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
    2. "Paget, William (PGT506W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
    3. Carley, "Leland, John (c.1503–1552)"
    4. 16. Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 45., via VCH, aka A History of the County of Middlesex, Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner, published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.
    5. Banks 1808, p. 414; Chambers 1936, p. 248.
    Honorary titles
    Preceded by
    William Whorwood
    Custos Rotulorum of Staffordshire
    bef. 1547–1563
    Succeeded by
    The Earl of Essex
    Political offices
    Preceded by
    Sir Brian Tuke
    Clerk of the Signet
    Succeeded by
    Preceded by
    Sir Thomas Wriothesley
    Sir Ralph Sadler
    Secretary of State
    With: Sir Thomas Wriothesley 1543–1544
    Sir William Petre 1544–1548
    Succeeded by
    Sir Thomas Smith
    Sir William Petre
    Preceded by
    Sir John Gage
    Comptroller of the Household
    Succeeded by
    Sir John Gage
    Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
    Succeeded by
    Sir John Gates
    Preceded by
    The Earl of Bedford
    Lord Privy Seal
    Succeeded by
    Sir Nicholas Bacon
    Government offices
    Preceded by
    Clerk of the Privy Council
    Succeeded by
    John Mason
    William Honnyng
    Peerage of England
    New title Baron Paget
    Succeeded by
    Henry Paget
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