Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Guthlac Overton

Male Abt 1478 - 1536  (~ 58 years)

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  • Name Guthlac Overton  [1
    Alternate birth Bef 1478  of Clerkenwell, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3, 4
    Birth Abt 1478  [5
    Gender Male 
    Alternate death 1536  Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Death 20 Apr 1536  Clerkenwell, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 5, 6
    Alternate death 20 Apr 1537  [7
    Person ID I2150  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of DDB, Ancestor of DK, Ancestor of JTS, Ancestor of TNH, Ancestor of TSW, Ancestor of TWK, Ancestor of UKL, Ancestor of XYZ
    Last Modified 9 Jun 2020 

    Father William Overton,   b. Bef 1432, of Swineshead, Lincolnshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 2 Jun 1487 (Age > 55 years) 
    Mother Rose   d. Bef 1522 
    Marriage Abt 1459  [8
    Family ID F1771  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Olive Browne,   b. Between 1490 and 1494, Bernake, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Between 19 Dec 1545 and 7 Jun 1546 (Age ~ 55 years) 
    Marriage Abt 1510  [8
    +1. Rose Overton,   b. Abt 1527   d. Aft 30 Apr 1579 (Age ~ 52 years)
    +2. Richard Overton,   b. Abt 1533, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Bef 25 Jun 1581 (Age ~ 48 years)
    Family ID F5059  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 8 Dec 2018 

  • Notes 
    • Member of Parliament for Wallingford, Berkshire in 1529 and 1536. Holder of several royal offices, most notably auditor.

      Also called Cutler Overton; Cuthbert Overton -- but both of these are probably apocryphal and wrong. "Guthlac" was sometimes spelled "Guthlake". His History of Parliament entry says "His unusual Christian name may indicate that he was born in a parish connected with Crowland abbey, whose patron was the Mercian St. Guthlac."

      "In 1519 Overton was styled farmer of Temple Rokeley, Wilts., probably a manor of the order of St. John of Jerusalem. His wife was sister to Edward Browne, preceptor of the cell of that order at Swingfield, Kent, perhaps by whose influence Overton became auditor to Sir William Weston, the last prior in England of that order, who was buried in its headquarters priory church of St. Johns, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, in 1540, a native of Boston, Lincs. In a letter dated in Nov. 1534 Weston referred to his auditor, Guthlac Overton. In another letter, dated in Sept. 1536, Weston told Cromwell that his auditor, Guthlac, was dead." [Hunt, "The Overton Family of Swineshead, Lincolnshire," citation details below]

      From the History of Parliament, by T. F. T. Baker:

      Offices Held

      Jt. auditor, duchy of Cornw. 1508-d.; feodary or dep. to feodary, duchy of Lancaster, south parts 1508-9; commr. and assessor for duchy of Cornw. lands in Cornw. and Devon 1521, 1525, 1528, 1535; commr. to collect subsidy from nobility 1524, stannaries 1532, tenths of spiritualities, Berks. 1535; auditor for order of St. John of Jerusalem by 1533; gent. usher extraordinary by 1533.


      The father and grandfather of Guthlac Overton are both described as 'generosus' in their inquisitions, although their family is not given a pedigree in any of the heralds' visitations of Lincolnshire. William Overton, who died in 1522, and his son Thomas both left property at Swineshead and elsewhere in Holland, Lincolnshire, which they held of Thomas Holland, Sir John Hussey, Sir William Willoughby and other local magnates, as well as of the royal honor of Richmond: as nearly all these lands are also included in Guthlac Overton's inquisition, he was probably the only surviving son when he succeeded in 1533. His unusual christian name may indicate that he was born in a parish connected with Crowland abbey, whose patron was the Mercian St. Guthlac.

      Nothing is known of Overton's life before his appointment as joint auditor of the duchy of Cornwall, in survivorship, with effect from Michaelmas 1508. His colleague Robert Coorte had held that office alone since 1484 and was dead by May 1514, when it was regranted, again in survivorship, to Overton and John Turner: after this the two auditors were normally named together in commissions for assessing the lands and revenues of the duchy until Overton's death left Turner in sole occupation. In 1514 Overton and Sir John Sharp were granted, in survivorship, the 'tribulage' or poll-tax on tin-miners in the Cornish hundreds of Kirrier and Penwith and in the stannary there, and nine years later Overton acquired a 21-year lease of the toll of tin in the manor of Tywarnhaile, Cornwall. In February 1522 he also became tenant of the demesne lands of the manor of Mere in Wiltshire, another property of the duchy.

      Overton's work was not restricted to the duchy of Cornwall. He was fortunate to start his career when a growing number of revenues were being withdrawn from the Exchequer and placed under the control of the chamber; their auditing then fell to the King's general surveyors, whose powers were legalized by the establishment of a court of audit in 1512, the forerunner of the court of general surveyors. The number of crown auditors rose and under Henry VIII special commissions were often set up to audit important accounts. While remaining a duchy official, Overton became concerned with expenditure in many fields: in 1513 he made a declaration of the accounts of the deputy serjeant of the King's tents, in 1523 he audited the expenses of the vice-admiral Sir Nicholas Poyntz and in 1526 he took the accounts of the subsidy collectors. Like other men who enjoyed a successful career in administration, he secured an appointment in the privy chamber.

      Overton also had a long association with the order of St. John of Jerusalem. He had dealings with it as early as 1510 and in October 1519 he became lessee of its manor of Temple Rockley, Wiltshire. Shortly afterwards he conveyed most of his rights there to a local man, John Goddard, whom he later accused of breaking the terms of their agreement. There were closer ties than this with the order. By June 1533, when he was admitted to the freedom of London, he was its auditor and in the following year the prior refused a request by Viscount Lisle for a lease of the preceptory or manor of Swingfield in Kent, after consulting both Overton and the commander there, Sir Edward Browne, who was Overton's brother-in-law.

      Neither Overton nor Sir Edward Chamberlain, his fellow-Member for Wallingford in the Parliament of 1529, is mentioned in the corporation minute book and neither seems to have owned any property in the area. The honor of Wallingford was part of the duchy of Cornwall but the borough was not the parliamentary preserve of any particular set of officials and in 1523 a royal letter had ordered the return of local men. In 1529 the Members may have been nominated by or on behalf of the King, who was at Woodstock on 25 Aug. and again on 4 Sept. Chamberlain promised to serve without wages and his successor Thomas Denton signed a similar agreement in 1536, but there are no such quittances by Overton. He could have afforded to give one, to judge from his endowment of a chantry in 1510 and his presentation of a doe and a hogshead of wine to Lincoln's Inn, on his special admission in August of the same year: moreover, when a subsidy was levied on all members of the inns of court in November 1523 his goods were assessed at £100, a figure matched by one and exceeded by only three of his 24 fellows at Lincoln's Inn who appear on the list concerned. Yet he was not above demanding 40 marks in a chancery suit against the executors of Sir John Sharp to pay for the board of Sharp's nephew, Robert Browne. Overton's description of himself in this case as Sharp's 'solicitor in all his causes' presumably means that he practised law as well as auditing accounts.

      Overton died on 20 Apr 1537. Besides his lands in Lincolnshire, he appears to have occupied property in St. John's Street, in the parish of St. Sepulchre, Holborn, which had belonged to the order of St. John. He left no will, and his widow was given the administration of the estate, to which the heir was a 15 year-old son Edmund. This was perhaps the 'Mr. Overton' who was buried at St. Michael Cornhill on 30 Mar 1559.

      From Clifford L. Stott, "In Search of 'Mr.' Overton: The Ancestry of Rev. Valentine Overton and His Connections to New England Immigrants," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 172:222, Summer 2018:

      The earliest known record of Guthlac Overton was his confirmation as one of two auditors of the Duchy of Cornwall on 17 November 1508. Guthlac had a long career as a royal auditor, whose charge was to examine the accounts of the Crown. He seems to have been highly favored and held numerous positions of trust both inside and outside of government. In 1509 he was appointed deputy auditor for the Duchy of Lancaster south region. He was also versed in the law. While serving as a Duchy official, he was also solicitor to Sir John Sharpe, his wife's uncle. He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn on 20 August 1510. In the 1523 lay subsidy for members of the inn, Guthlac was assessed at £100, one of the wealthiest of the fellows.

      About 1510 Guthlac was appointed auditor general and later solicitor for the Priory of the Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The order was originally established to provide money, support, and manpower for the crusading armies in the Holy Land, financing its efforts with its extensive estates in England. The order, which was headquartered in Clerkenwell, Middlesex, played a significant political role in royal affairs. Guthlac soon moved to the priory. On 10 July 1511, the priory leased a garden to him, and by April 1516 he also held a lease on a stable there. Guthlac remained associated with the order for the rest of his life. He died in Clerkenwell owning a house on St. John Street.

      In 1519 he became Auditor General of the English Priory, and in the same year he leased the manor of Temple Rockley, Wiltshire, from the order. "Goodlake" Overton was called a farmer of Temple Rokeley manor on 20 October 1519, but he soon conveyed his rights there to John Goddard. In 1512 he was appointed general senechal of the English Priory, a position that put him in charge of ceremonies and feasts.

      In 1515 Guthlac Overton and John Turnour, his wife's stepfather, were confirmed as auditors in survivorship of the Duchy of Cornwall. The same year, Guthlac and Sir John Sharpe were granted the tribulage (poll tax on the tin miners) in the hundreds of Penrith and Kerr in Cornwall. In 1522 Guthlac Overton, "gentleman of the chamber doors and king's auditor," obtained a twenty-one-year lease on the toll of tin on Crown lands in the manor of Tywarnayle Ties, Cornwall. Besides the family estates in Lincolnshire inherited from his brother Thomas, Guthlac acquired an interest in a messuage called "le Shippe over the Hope" with a garden in the parish St. Clement Danes, Middlesex, in 1514. In 1522 he became a tenant of the demesne lands of the manor of Mere, Wiltshire, which was owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. In 1525 he leased the manor of Kingsbury, Middlesex, from the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

      Guthlac's service as solicitor to Sir John Sharpe obligated Sir John to pay Guthlac's costs in all causes. After Sir John's death in 1518, Guthlac brought suit against Sharpe's executors, alleging that Sir John had put his nephew Robert Browne, a younger brother of Guthlac's wife, to board and lodge with Guthlac and to teach him the faculty of auditorship. Robert remained with Guthlac for two years. Sir John promised to pay him ten marks a year but died before payment was made, and the executors now refused to pay the debt. The executors, John Turnour, George Quarles, and Hugh Edwards, were all royal servants and were well known to Guthlac Overton. Quarles was married to Isabel Browne, sister of Guthlac's wife Olive. Edwards was married to Anne Sharpe, Olive's aunt. Turnour was Olive's stepfather.

      In 1529 and again in 1536, Guthlac represented Wallingford, Berkshire, in the House of Commons. It appears that he held no land in Wallingford or vicinity. Many of the small boroughs were represented in the House of Commons by royal servants nominated by the Crown. In June 1533 he was admitted to the freedom of London and was its auditor.

  • Sources 
    1. [S4235] Rosie Bevan, "The Medieval Origins of the Quarles Family of Norfolk." Foundations 10:25, 2018.

    2. [S240] Kay Allen, 27 Dec 2000, post to soc.genealogy.medieval.

    3. [S442] Kay Allen, 3 Apr 2002, post to soc.genealogy.medieval.

    4. [S549] John G. Hunt, "The Overton Family of Swineshead, Lincolnshire." The American Genealogist 36:160, July 1960., date only.

    5. [S2148] Clifford L. Stott, "In Search of 'Mr.' Overton: The Ancestry of Rev. Valentine Overton and His Connections to New England Immigrants." The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 172:222, Summer 2018; 172:323, Fall 2018; 173:82, Winter 2019.

    6. [S977] The Blackmans of Knight's Creek: Ancestors and Descendants of George and Maria (Smith) Blackman by Henry James Young. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: 1980.

    7. [S47] The History of Parliament. Some citations point to entries from the printed volumes not yet added to the online site.

    8. [S549] John G. Hunt, "The Overton Family of Swineshead, Lincolnshire." The American Genealogist 36:160, July 1960.