Early Origin of the Wingfields
By Tony Wingfield

"Wingfield the Saxon held honor and fee, ere William the Norman came over the sea." "Wingfield is a manor with half-ruinated castle in Suffolk which gave name and seat to a large family in these parts famous for their knighthood and nobility."

With these two quotations - one an old Suffolk rhyme and the other an extract from the register of the Garter - my grandfather, the 7th Viscount Powerscourt, began his "Wingfield Muniments" published privately in 1894.

He admitted that there was no absolute proof of our Saxon origin but added two stories in circumstantial evidence. Once is that, "When King Harold visited that part of Suffolk he stayed with the Nobel Thane of Wingfield and on his departure mounted his horse from a certain stone to which the local people pointed subsequently and called it Harold's stone." That place later became the village of Harleston that lies about four miles from the village called Wingfield.

The second story comes from a manuscript in the British museum which states, "Wingfield was sometime the estate of Richard de Brews, but more anciently belonged to a family who took their name from it and who were in great reputation there for many ages."

It was, of course, not until after the Norman Conquest that history became more accurately recorded, so one must rely on imagination to picture the arrival of my Saxon ancestors paddling their long-boats up the River Waveney, perhaps sometime between the sixth and eighth centuries to establish their mud and waddle strongholds on the flat and fertile land of East Anglia.

Fortunately most of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk have escaped the ravages of industrial development, and their land has only been altered during the following years by the demands of agricultural techniques. Furthermore, their social development has been that of villages and market-towns emerging out of the Norman Manorial system as opposed to the mines, factories and "City Centers" of other counties. Thus the early record of the Wingfield family was bound up with manorial status and affairs of the church before becoming that of warriors.

My grandfather's production of the family tree is exceptionally complex owing to the high fertility of some of his early ancestors, and it becomes difficult to correlate the generations of those of several branches that developed. However, by the time of his own generation (1834-1904) three lines had emerged and are represented by that of Powerscourt (Ireland), those of Tickencote (Rutland) and Onslow (Shropshire) in England. Other lines have spread over a wider field such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Wingfield Family Society of the USA that represents many origins.

To begin at the beginning, as far as possible at the root of the tree is Robert de Campo Venti. This "Robert of the field of the wind" was apparently alive in 1087 and may have been the Saxon Thane who bid farewell to Harold at Harleston when that Saxon King was on his way to fight the Normans in the Battle of Hastings.

There are also many deeds and grants after the Norman Conquest that have reference to the Wingfield family during the reign of Kings Stephen, Henry II, John and Henry III. In those days the Norman "de" prefaced the name but later this addition was discarded.

Three generations after Robert's great grandson Thomas Wingfield, described as Lord of Wingfield, had a son, John, who was Knighted and had the Manor of Dennington, ten miles south of Wingfield, added to that of Wingfield.

Sir John married Anne, daughter of Sir John Peche, who produced four sons. Three of these were knighted and became soldiers, while the fourth, Giles, entered the church and became parson of Earsham and was given the lordship of Stradbroke, thus adding a third manor to the family.

The third son, Sir Roger, was made guardian of the lands of the Knights Templar who were imprisoned awaiting charges against them. Neither Sir Roger nor Giles had any offspring.

The second son, Sir Richard, became lord of Dennington at his father's death; while the eldest son, Sir John, retained the manor of Wingfield. Sir Richard served as a soldier on the continent with the unfortunate and unsoldier like King Edward II in about 1315. He died in that year leaving one son, Sir William, who became Lord of Letheringham thus adding a fourth manor to the family. Sir William only produced one son, also named William, who died without progeny and ended that line.

Finally, the eldest of Sir John's and Anne's four sons - another Sir John - married Elizabeth Honeypott and produced two sons the elder of which, yet another Sir John, married Eleanor daughter of Sir Gilbert Glenvyle, Earl of Suffolk. This union only produced one child - a daughter named Katherine, who was to marry Sir Michael de la Pole to whom she brought the Wingfield stronghold on which Edward III gave permission to build a castle.

The family line now had to be transferred to Sir John's younger brother, Sir Thomas, who became Lord of Letheringham and it was from him that the three main lines descended.

(The author Brigadier A. D. R. Wingfield DSO, MC a World War II veteran and grandson of the 7th Viscount Powerscourt wrote many articles for the Wingfield Family Society. He died in 1995.)

Cromwell-Wingfield Connection

Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith, was born in 1485 and entered the service of Cardinal Wolsey, King Henry VIIIs Lord Chancellor, rapidly becoming one of Wolsey's chief agents. In 1530 Wolsey fell out of favor with Henry VIII and was executed, whereupon Cromwell, then aged 45, entered Henry VIII's service and soon emerged to become one of the most powerful men in the Kingdom. Note this is Thomas, not Oliver Cromwell who became Lord Protector of England from 1653 to 1658. More on Oliver later.

It was Thomas Cromwell who masterminded the dissolution of the monasteries and established the absolute authority of the monarchy and the protestantisation of the English church. But in 1540 he lost the support of Henry VIII and, like Wolsey and many others before, was executed, thus losing all of his titles as well as his head.

The Barony of Oakham was, however, returned to the Cromwell family later that same year by way of a grant to Gregory, Thomas Cromwell's son. Gregory became the 1st Baron Cromwell and the title then passed through six further generation, the last holder being Vere, the 7th Baron who died without male children in 1682.

The Wingfield connection comes through the original Thomas Cromwell's great-great grandson the 4th Baron Cromwell, confusingly also called Thomas, two of whose sisters married Wingfields.

Frances, the elder of the two, married Sir John Wingfield of Tickencote (1592-1631) in January 1619. Since Oakham, where the Barons Cromwell had their manor (until 1596) and lands (until 1606), and Tickencote, the Wingfield home, as less than 10 miles apart, this match is not altogether surprising. Frances and Sir John were buried at Tickencote, as were France's parents the 3rd Baron Cromwell and his wife Elizabeth. A full length portrait of this Cromwell hung at Tickencote until is was sold in 1947.

Ann, the younger daughter of the 3rd Baron Cromwell married Sir John Wingfield's cousin, Sir Edward Wingfield of Carnew County in Ireland on 9 May 1619, only four months after the Tickencote marriage to her sister Frances. This too may not be surprising since Elizabeth the mother of the two sisters, had, on Cromwell's death, married Sir Richard Wingfield, Marshal of Ireland, who on 1st February 1619 had been made 1st Viscount Powerscourt. Sir Richard was Sir Edward Wingfield's first cousin once removed and also Sir John Wingfield's godfather. These three Cromwell/Wingfield marriages at about the same time indicate that the Cromwells, the Powerscourt Wingfields and the Tickencote Wingfields were closely associated at this time. Possibly the marriages were part of some family arrangement. But this in not quite the end of the story, since subsequent generations of Tickencote Wingfields were ambitious to make more of the connection.

As was mentioned above, the Cromwell Barony was extinguished when the 7th Baron died without male issue in 1682. During the following 150 years, however, the Tickencote Wingfields endeavored to establish their claims to this Barony, but were unsuccessful.

Finally, what relationship is there with Oliver Cromwell, who was Lord Protector of England between the reigns of Charles I and Charles II and the Wingfields. Oliver Cromwell was the grandson of Richard Williams, a Welshman, who had changed his name from Williams to Cromwell in honor of his uncle and patron, the original Thomas (beheaded by Henry VIII). By an interesting coincidence Richard Williams was the guardian in the 1540s of Thomas Wingfield (born 1539) and later the 4th Baron Cromwell. Oliver Cromwell's favorite daughter, Elizabeth ("Betty"), married John Claypole, grandson of Dorothy Wingfield of Upton. This made Lady Frances Wingfield (wife of Sir John Wingfield of Tickencote) the 4th cousin once removed of Oliver Cromwell.

Many USA Wingfields trace their ancestry to Sir John Wingfield of Tickencote and so also to the Cromwells through his wife Frances.

Edward-Maria Wingfield
Jamestown's First President - 1607

Edward Maria Wingfield was the true founder of the first successful English colony in America in 1607. History with few exceptions, ignores this fact. Nevertheless it is for this accomplishment he is best known, although he was also a valiant soldier in prior years for England.

Wingfield an active leader in getting the Jamestown expedition up and running, was one of the Big Eight Virginia Company stockholders and the only venturer representing the London company in Virginia.

Most of the accepted history of Jamestown was written by the better known, John Smith himself, who became an adversary of Capt. Wingfield. Smith's enormous ego basically denied merit to anyone but himself. Therefore history of the event is unfairly slanted with many inaccuracies.

Smith describes Wingfield as a weak person, who misappropriated rations, held Smith in custody without cause, tried to escape from Jamestown, did not build temporary defense works or even unpack the arms. Each and every one of these accusations were disproved by chapter and verse in a 1993 book ("Virginia's True Founder: Edward-Maria Wingfield") by Jocelyn Wingfield of London, England. The simple undeniable fact is Smith was not in charge of building the fort, did not initiate bartering with the Indians or keeping peace with them. He was not the founder of Jamestown as most people tend to believe.

John Smith was a brave and daring individual with many accomplishments at Jamestown to his credit. Unfortunately telling the truth was not one of them. History has vastly exaggerated Smith's role and ignores that Wingfield was the true founder of the Jamestown colony.

Wingfield and his cousin, Bartholomew Gosnold were responsible for recruiting around half the settlers from their ancestral homes in Suffolk, England area. Wingfield was the only stockholder and charter grantee to sail with the one hundred and five colonists on three ships into Virginia. He had been chosen president of the council and took complete charge upon arrival. Incidentally, John Smith arrived in chains for promoting mutiny inroute.

Wingfield was not popular as the responsibility was staggering, nevertheless the 57 year old military man was extremely experienced in defense works, constructed the fort in an incredibly short time of a month and a day. It was indeed a dismal, fledging colony in the early days. To add to the overwhelming problems, many of the colonists were "gentlemen" and did not take well to "labor." It was working, watching and warding, so much so that Wingfield's cousin, Gosnold advised him to ease up a bit as he was working the men too hard.

After arrival to promote harmony Smith was released from his incarceration and allowed to take his seat on the council. After Gosnold died, Smith led a drive for the council to depose it's president, his adversary, Wingfield.

As the going got especially tough, with starvation, disease, a high percentage of deaths as well as Indian attacks, Wingfield was deposed. History often overlooks that John Smith was also deposed as was his two predecessors as president of the council.

When Christopher Newport's ship returned from England with supplies, he (Newport) dismissed all charges against Wingfield as ludicrous, except one and that was he was an atheist. This was also untrue, as he was a Protestant. The fact remains that Wingfield led the colony from selection of a brilliant defense position on the James River, building the fort, establishing contact with the Indians during a tenuous and a most dismay period between arrival in April until September, 1607. His leadership established the colony on a foundation to become a permanent settlement in the new world. So it was Capt. Edward Maria Wingfield, the first president of Jamestown who was the true founder.

There are a few copies of "Virginia's True Founder - Edward-Maria Wingfield, by Jocelyn Wingfield" still available. See Wingfield Store page under books, on this site.

George Wingfield
Known as the King of Nevada

It was hard to just survive in the early days of Nevada, let alone to thrive. But a Wingfield did this and rose to unbelievable heights.

George Wingfield left his birthplace in Arkansas in the late 1880s as a young man and ultimately arrived in Nevada by way of Oregon and California. At first he worked as a cowhand and a jockey but along the way found he had an uncanny ability to win at gambling. He moved to Tonopah in 1901.

In 1902, he became associated with George S. Nixon, a Winnemucca, Nevada banker. By 1904 a new mining town of Goldfield was booming and Wingfield and Nixon formed Goldfield Consolidated Mines.

Shortly thereafter George underwent a miraculous metamorphosis from rough and a boisterous cowhand and faro dealer to a dignified multimillionaire businessman. Wingfield and Nixon, now a U. S. Senator, extended their banking empire throughout the state. In 1909, the two men amicably split their holdings.

Upon Senator Nixon's demise in 1912, Wingfield refused an appointment to fill Nixon's senate seat, but assumed the financial leadership of Nevada's Republican Party. He also purchased from the Nixon estate all of their former banking interests, and established other banks throughout the state. By 1932, Wingfield's 12 banks controlled up to 65% of the loans outstanding in Nevada. In addition he now owned two of Reno's largest hotels. Though not yet legal, there was gambling in both. He remained an insider in politics for both parties. He died in 1959.

Perhaps his greatest legacy is the modern tourist economy in Nevada is based on legalized gambling. It is probably accurate to say George Wingfield was more than an early and significant force in shaping the very magnet that draws millions of visitors to the state each year, gambling.

Sir John Wingfield
with Black Prince at the Battle of Poitiers

Sir John Wingfield, father of Katherine who married Michael de la Pole and together built Wingfield Castle in Suffolk, was a friend of Edward III. Sir John Wingfield was appointed by the king as High Steward and Councilor to the Prince of Wales, known as the Black Prince. He accompanied the Prince throughout most, if not all of his campaigns in France.

The Black Prince was renown for his military brilliance and is perhaps most famous for his success at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. The Black Prince at 25 years of age had an army of 3500 mounted gentlemen-at-arms, 2500 archers and 1000 lightly armed infantry. The fighting at Poitiers was fierce and there was much slaughter of French nobles. Sir John Wingfield participated in the capture of the French King, who was later ransomed by Edward III for 1,666, a vast fortune in those days. In early times ransoms for enemy kings and great nobles captured in battle were looked upon as prize money. There was tremendous financial reward in these ransoms, and hence the term, "A king's ransom." The ransom in this case was so high there is a story that says a French princess was sold to a spurious Duke of Milan to raise the necessary funds.

Sir John received a share of the ransom making him a wealthy man and not only gave dowries to his widow and only child, Katherine but financed the establishment of an ecclesiastical college in the Manor of Wingfield and the Wingfield Castle.

Sir John died of the plague in 1361. The Black Prince attended his funeral.

John Wingfield, York Herald
17th Century England

Heraldry is the science of coats of arms and hereditary and nowhere is the refinement of the procedure more evident than in England. Identification symbols came into prominence all over Europe in the early 12th century. A crest on his armor made a soldier instantly recognizable in battle. And on his shield was displayed his personal coat of arms. No two people, then nor now can have the same arms - it has to have differences on the main coat.

Arms can be obtained in two ways; either by proving to the college one's descent in the male line one from someone who was legally entitled to bear arms, or by applying for a grant. The College of Arms is adamant in its approval. Heraldry and genealogy go hand in hand. From 1484 the College of has regulated arms in England and Wales. Its earliest rolls of arms date back to 1275. Today it still flourishes with the college continuing the rolls, genealogical records and arms.

John Wingfield of the Tickencote line, who had been captain of horse in the Royal Army, 1641-48, first became Portcuillis Poursuivant - a junior herald at the College of arms - at the restoration of the monarchy - in 1660. Then as now, you had to be someone of importance to get the job, and to be approved by the Earl Marshal (the Duke of Norfolk). Then, both these provisos permitting, one could purchase the post. Then as now, the officers at the College of Arms number about 14 - including 3 kings of arms (Garter, Clarenceux, Norroy); 6 heralds (Windsor, Somerset, York, Lancaster, Chester and Richmond) and 4 Poursuivants (Rouge Dragon, Rouge Croix, Bluemantle and Portcullis).

In the 17th century they were given the extra duty of certifying pedigrees (family trees). John Wingfield, father of Thomas who emigrated to Virginia's York River in 1680, was promoted to York Herald in 1663, a post he held until 1674, when he sold it. Wingfield's father in law, George Owen and his first cousin (St. George family) were also officers of the college at that time. Heralds still wear medieval jacket (a tabard) trews, garters, a beret and carry a wand of office. The York Herald's wand is black with, at the top end a rose with the sun's rays bursting from behind it, and a crown. Today's heralds are responsible for ceremonial occasions such as coronations, royal weddings, funerals of royals and and opening of Parliament.

In 1991 the Wingfield Family Society members that toured family sites in England also visited the College of Arms in London. The last tour to England in 1995 they members met with the current York Herald, Sir Paston-Bedingfield at St. Benet's.

The Reverend Wingfield Sweeps the Streets of Norfolk as Punishment

"Spoon" Butler prowled the streets of Portsmouth, Virginia during the American Civil War. "Spoon Butler," as he became know was the town bully, made possible because he was a Union general and Portsmouth was occupied after the Civil War. When he would appear to "inspect" the local homes, household items disappeared including silverware. "Spoon" got his just desserts - if not the desert spoons when one family "accidentally" tripped him and he went rolling downstairs, with spoons bouncing out of his pockets.

In 1866 the infamous general caused a problem for another Portsmouth resident, The Rev. John Henry Ducachet Wingfield, the rector at Trinity Church. As a southerner, it seems Rev. Wingfield refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the U. S. for which the penalty was not only personal punishment but confiscation and dale of home and possessions.

Rev. Wingfield was forbidden by military order to officiate at any church, se he began to worship at a parish church in nearby Norfolk where its rector had taken the oath. It was here that Rev. Wingfield "defiantly" raised his head during the prayer for President Lincoln. General Butler saw to it that he was arrested, thrown in jail without a hearing and sentenced without a trial to a chain gang to sweep the streets of Norfolk for three months. And he was required to wear the garb of a criminal.

A public outcry finally caused General Butler to lift the sentence after a month with Rev. Wingfield coerced into signing the oath. The Rev. Wingfield was later proven to be an innovative and benevolent man of God and loved by his parishioners.

Today one can see the controversial stained glass window in Trinity Church in Portsmouth, VA dedicated to The Rev. Wingfield, placed there in 1870. The original inscription was removed when the Secretary of Navy threaten to close the Navy Shipyard in Norfolk shortly after installation.

Visitors can now see the reworded inscription in the window and also the original but disputed wording that was re-installed in 1954 in a stand directly below the window. It merely states "In memory of the ten Virginians that died between 1861 and 1865." This innocuous sentence was offensive because they were southerners.

In 1874, The Reverend John Henry Ducachet Wingfield was consecrated as the Missionary Bishop of Northern California..

Lady Jane Grey
A Wingfield descendant
Queen of England for 9 Days

The politics of succession to the English throne was frequently full of intrigue and too often bloody. To win was to kill your opponents. History's many examples makes one wonder, is the prize go grand as to be worth losing one's head over it?

When Henry VIII wanted to marry Anne Boleyn and was refused and annulment from Queen Catherine by the Pope, he merely took over the Church and accomplished it anyway. This incited a conflict with Rome which led to the dissolution of the monasteries (1536-9) and the establishment of a national State Church.

No single episode is more important in the whole of English history. but it teetered badly and created some truly bloody events before settling down.

In his quest for a male heir Henry had six marriages that included a daughter, Mary by Catherine, another daughter, Elizabeth by Anne and finally a son by Jane Seymour.

An act of Parliament in 1533 declared Mary, his first daughter illegitimate and thus deprived her the right of succession and was ordered to abandon her title as princess.

Henry's only male heir was Edward born to Jane Seymour in 1537. There was relentless pressure placed on Mary to acknowledge her illegitimacy and her father's supremacy over the church. Her agony brought only grudging toleration as she was profoundly devout Catholic. Later Henry relented and in 1544 she was reinstated in succession rights to the throne after Edward.

By the will of Henry VII the descendants of his eldest sister, Margaret, widow of James IV of Scotland had been set aside, but those succession rights of his (Henry's) younger sister Mary had been specifically recognized. This sister had married into Wingfield blood and this will be the basis of this report.

After Henry's sister Mary's brief marriage to Louis XII of France and upon Louis' death, she (Mary) without permission married Charles Brandon who was the grandson of William Brandon and Elizabeth Wingfield. Henry reluctantly accepted the marriage and Charles was made Duke of Suffolk. Charles and Mary had a daughter Frances, born in 1515.

In 1538, Frances married Henry Grey son of the Marquees of Dorset who later became Duke of Suffolk. Frances and Henry had a daughter, born 1537. This daughter wad Lady Jane Grey.

Henry died in 1547 and his son age 9 became Edward VI.

Lady Jane Grey was 16 years of age in 1553 when her marriage to Guildford Dudley, Duke of Suffolk was solemnized by King Edward VI only weeks before he died. Guildford Dudley was the son of John Dudley the Duke of Northumberland who was Lord President of the Council and the real power in England in these days. John Dudley held a close and favorable relationship with the fiercely Protestant young king, Edward VI. Clearly the plan was to thwart any restoration of the Catholic religion and the king bequeathed the succession Crown to Lady Jane Grey the granddaughter of Charles Brandon, and incidentally Northumberland's daughter-in-law. Edward VI was seventeen when he died.

After much pressure by Northumberland the Council recognized Lady Jane Grey's claim and instructions were issued for proclaiming her Queen throughout the kingdom which was done. Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer's signature was first on the document proclaiming Jane Queen.

Upon the news of the death of her brother, Mary, (Henry's daughter) fled to Framlingham and was proclaimed rival queen. Northumberland gathered his troops to apprehend her, but it soon became apparent that her position was too strong and he bowed to the inevitable, disbanded his men and pledged himself to Mary.

Lady Jane Grey had been officially queen for 9 days. Many history books omit this succession and show the Crown passing directly to Mary from Edward.

On the last of September 1553, Mary was borne to the throne on a tide of loyalty and was crowned in Westminster with great solemnity. It is not surprising that when she came to the throne she devoted herself to the restoration of what she saw as the true religion. Northumberland and others were found guilty of treason and were soon dead. Cranmer, the Archbishop was also found guilty, but his fate was reserved for later.

When the Lord Chancellor notified the Council concerning the proposed marriage of Mary to Prince Philip of Spain the word was not received well by the people.

Sir Thomas Wyatt published and open proclamation against the marriage, gathered a number of troops in an open rebellion. He was forced to yield, taken to the tower and executed.

After the rebellion had quieted, Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley were taken to the tower. Guildford was executed first, then Lady Jane Grey beheaded to prevent any further claim to Mary's Crown. Lady Jane Grey was just seventeen, and innocent pawn in a dangerous game.

Two Protestant bishops were burnt at the stake at Oxford in 1555 with Cranmer forced to watch. They were his best friends. He too, was burnt at the stake the following year after he renounced his conversion to Catholicism. Altogether there were some 300 other victims that lost their lives over the solidification of her title, and earned Mary the title "Bloody Mary." These persecutions, no doubt prepared the way for the final acceptance of England to the Protestant religion.

Lewis Wingfield and the Hangman's Rope

The Hon. Lewis S. Wingfield (husband of Cecilia Wingfield, who in 1862, six years before her marriage, had seen the Giant Ghost of 1486 at Glamis Castle in Scotland) was a fascinating man. He was soldier, actor, artist, author, traveler, raconteur, and apparently a most morbid man. He studied world wide torture as a hobby and was quite interested in hangings performed at Newgate Prison, London. In the 1870s before dinner at his London house, he used to show his guests pictures of trials by torture. Then when showing off the sword of the Great Executioner of Japan, suddenly the Japanese panels of the drawing room would spring open to reveal, not a torture chamber, but a charming London dining room. On the dining room table, curiously winding in and out amongst the flowers, Lewis kept a long rope, here and there bound with tape. It was the rope that a retired hangman named Harwood, used for several years. The names and dates and length of drop for each hanging in that time were meticulously recorded on the pieces of tape. When he explained what it was, many guests suddenly remembered they had friends to meet at the opera.

One day Lewis invited Harwood the hangman to lunch at his home, not telling the others who Harwood was. During lunch, Harwood kept looking at his watch and eventually murmured: "They should be giving it to them about now!" Lewis was most excited and said he did not know that there was a hanging that day. Soon he could not contain himself any longer and asked the names of those being hanged... "or is it only floggings today?," Lewis asked the former hangman.

"No, no", said Harwood, "it's my two daughters, who are being given prizes at school this afternoon!"

Sir Richard Wingfield, Henry VIII's Uncle
One of three Wingfields at the Field of the Cloth of Gold

The Field of the Cloth of Gold took place in June 1520, near Guisnes which was close to English held Calais on the continent. The jousting and feasting, the color and glitter, the tents and trappings dazzled all of Europe. It was described as a display of medieval chivalry at which King Henry VIII of England crossed the Channel to joust with the new French king, Frances I. Henry attempted to out do Francis both by the splendor of his equipment, the cunning of his diplomacy and even his physical strength.

Attendance included an array of noblemen and a large accompaniment of followers from both countries. Sir Richard Wingfield was English ambassador to France at the time and made all the preliminary contacts with King Francis of France. There were members of the Wingfield family living in the Calais area, and Henry had several attending him at the Cloth of Gold. They were: Sir Richard Wingfield K. G. (Knight of the Garter), Sir Anthony Wingfield K. G., with his wife Elizabeth Vere, Sir Robert Wingfield K. B. (Knight of the Bath) with wife Jane Clinton. Two of these were brothers and one was a nephew. Sir Richard's wife did not attend the ceremony. The three Wingfields were descendants of Sir John of Letheringham and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Lewis of Essex. Sir Richard Wingfield, K. G. was of Kimbolton Castle and married to Catherine, youngest daughter of Richard, Earl of Rivers, and sister of Elizabeth, wife of King Edward IV making Henry VIII, by marriage, a nephew of Sir Richard Wingfield.

Sir Richard had been made Marshal of the town of Marches (surrounding country) of Calais together with his brother Robert. This appointment was to carry on with whichever lived the longest.

At the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Henry suddenly challenged Francis to a wrestling match. Francis seized Henry in a lightning grip and threw him to ground. Henry went white with embarrassment, but held back his temper. The ceremonies continued, but Henry could not forgive such a personal humiliation. Any chance for cooperative friendship dissipated with the incident. Indeed, Henry had already began negotiations with Francis's enemy (Holy Roman) Emperor Charles V. Within a month, Charles declared war on France, thus forfeiting any French tribute.

Not only was the Field of Cloth of Gold expensive, but Henry further squandered feverishly on an expedition to Boulogne and subsidies to mercenary contingents serving with the Emperor.

Sir Richard Wingfield
1st Viscount Powerscourt in Ireland

Louis Wingfield the ninth son of Sir John Wingfield of Letheringham married the daughter of Henry Noone, Esq., a gentlemen of a very ancient family, by whom he had three sons, Richard, the oldest, later became the 1st Viscount Powerscourt.

Richard Wingfield had a distinguished career during the civil wars in Ireland where he distinguished himself against the Irish Rebels. He later performed many serviced in France and Portugal, later returning to Ireland in 1595 where he so proved himself in suppressing the insurrections of the Irish that he was knighted at Christ Church in Dublin.

After being knighted, Sir Richard Wingfield went to Calais with the rank of colonel an expedition there. Here his bravery was conspicuous and he again returned to Ireland and quell their insurrections. He had been wounded several times in various battles and acquired great honors, in exchange for which the Queen bestowed upon him in 1600 the office of Marshall of Ireland. She also named him to her Privy Council.

Sir Richard went into Leix to pursue Tyrrell and his adherents and then to Kilkenny to draw forces from the Pale and to assist in the siege of Kinsale. This was an extremely arduous charge but successfully carried out. In 1602 the Articles of Capitulation were signed effectively banishing the Spaniards, driving Tyrone back to Ulster, forcing O'Donnell the rebel leader to flee into Spain, dispersing his followers and establishing peace in the land.

New commotions stirred in Ulster by Sir Cahir O'Deghertie in 1608. Sir Richard and Sir Oliver Lambart were dispatched to suppress this uprising. Sir Richard slew O'Deghertie and captured his followers.

On the 29th of June, 1609, this exemplary service was rewarded by a grant to Sir Richard Wingfield and his heirs the lands of Powerscourt south of Dublin, and all lands, tenements and possessions lying within the whole province of Fercullen, comprising a district five miles by four miles together with all their appurtenances in the county of Wicklow.

In 1611 Sir Richard, now 1st Viscount Powerscourt erected a manor there. He had also received 800 acres for a demesne in the county of Wexford and in 1610 a grant of the castle and lands of Benburb in the county of Tyrone (now Northern Ireland) containing 2000 acres.

The gardens of Powerscourt were and still are, reputed to be some to the most beautiful in all of Europe. The manor is not longer owned by the Wingfield, although title of Viscount Powerscourt exists today.

Robert Wingfield
witness to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots

In the 15th century, the Wingfields occupied a leading position in the county of Northampshire and were connected by kindred and social ties to Lord Burleigh. Robert Wingfield's father married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Cecil of Burleigh and sister of William, Lord Burleigh. It was through Lord Burleigh that Robert was chosen as correspondent and witness at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

Following is from Robert Wingfield's detailed description of the execution of Mary Queen (Report edited from old English for clarity and brevity):

Mary was executed on the morning of 8th February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle. She was informed of her execution the evening before by the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent. They denied her the services of a priest. She then prepared herself to die as a martyr for the Catholic faith.

The Queen enter the place appointed for execution attended by her women and preceded by the sheriff of the county. She is next seen being disrobed by her attendants with the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent seated to her left, while the Dean of Peterborough, whose ministrations she declined, stands below.

Her two executioners knelt down and begged her to forgive them for causing her death. She answered, "I forgive you with all my heart for I hope this death will give me the end to all my troubles." And then the Queen kneeled down very resolute and without any token of fear spoke aloud a psalm in Latin. Then groping for the block she laid down her head putting he chin upon the block and quietly stretched out her arms and legs while one of the executioners held her slightly with one of his hands the other gave two (token) strokes with an axe before de did cut off her head. She made a very small noise and stirred not any part of herself from the place where she lay. Then the executioner that cut off her head lifted it up and bade God save the Queen.

Then one of the executioners spied her little dog which had crept under her clothes, came forth from the dead corpse and laid between the severed head and corpse until forcibly removed and washed clean of the Queen's blood. The block and every other item, blood stained or otherwise, connected with the execution was scrubbed clean or burnt for fear of becoming relics.

(Signed) R. Wynkfeilde

Walter Clopton Wingfield
The Father of Tennis

Wimbledon in London is tennis headquarters to the world. Indeed, Wimbledon is virtually synonymous with tennis. At Wimbledon and at the entrance to it's museum is a bust of Walter Clopton Wingfield who is often referred to as the inventor of tennis.

Major Walter Wingfield retired from the army in 1861 and moved to the Welsh border, then later to London. He began experimenting with a game that had been influenced by Badminton that he had observed in India.

He played the game, devised simple, instructions and illustrated the layout for a game to be called lawn tennis. Wingfield published the "Book of Games" in 1873 that described the erection of a net across a court and outlined the rules on how to play the game. For this he received and English patent. It was his book and the patent that established tennis as the major sport it is today. Lawn tennis and its easy to interpret rules, enabled not only the players to score and understand the object of the game and the observers to appreciate the skills, but most important of all, the standardization of play. "This simplicity was a great asset to success of the game," wrote George Alexander in his book "Wingfield, Edwardian Gentleman."

Another book published by the British Museum list Wingfield's patent among the 363 patents worldwide that has most impacted our lives.

There is dispute over allegations that Wingfield is the inventor of tennis, something he did not claim. But today's tennis is a direct result of these early efforts by Walter Clopton Wingfield. He may be casually referred to as the "Inventor of tennis," but since the game itself was not patentable, surely the title "father of Tennis" is more appropriate and certainly deserved.

Walter Leake Wingfield

Walter Wingfield was born in 1827 and was named for his uncle by marriage, Walter Leake. His aunt, Elizabeth Wingfield married Walter Leake who was a legislator in both Virginia and Mississippi and elected governor of Mississippi in 1820.

He married Elizabeth King Brock around 1847. They had 4 children. In 1861 at age 34, Walter enlisted in the 4th Virginia Calvary under the command of Lt. Col. William C. Wickham. They were the first to march into "Camp Lee" a central mustering point for and prior to the battle of Manassas. At the battle of Stevensburg in 1863 Walter's horse was shot out from under him. He was unharmed, but captured and later released to his company for paying a sum of $500, a common practice on both sides during the Civil War.

After to war, Walter returned to his family and went back to farming. In the 1880's if a public road ran across a personal farm or property, the owner was allowed to set up a "toll barrier" marking it as private property. Walter erected such a barrier and collected a toll from all strangers. Neighborhood farmers could use the road; toll free at all times. The story goes that one-day a traveling salesman in a wagon complained about having to pay the toll on what he thought was a county road. When Walter insisted that he pay the toll, the salesman became irate and tried to drive his team and wagon around the gate. At this point, Walter broke his cane over the man's head, and collected the toll. In spite of this story of his toughness, he was known as a gentle man, a good neighbor, husband and father as well as a devoted Methodist churchman as were his ancestors before him.

He died in 1905 and is buried beside his wife.

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