John Harington, MP, of Kelston

Is your surname Harington?

Research the Harington family

John Harington, MP, of Kelston's Geni Profile

Records for John Harington

66,118 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


John Harington, Esq.

Also Known As: "John "The Poet" Harington"
Birthplace: Stepney, London, Middlesex, England
Death: Died in London, Middlesex, England
Place of Burial: St,Gregory's,St.Paul,London,Middlesex,England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir John Harington, MP, of Exton and Elizabeth Harington
Husband of Isabella Harrington; Ethelreda Harington and Isabella Harington
Father of Sir John Harington; Hester Harington; Robert Harrington; Elizabeth Harrington; Francis Harrington and 1 other
Brother of Alexander Harrington; Sir James Harington, MP, of Exton; Edward Harington, MP and Rev. Robert Harington

Occupation: confidential servant of Henry VIII; poet, English Official working for Henry VIII
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Harington, MP, of Kelston

John Harington (or Harrington) (c.1517-1582) was an English official working for Henry VIII.

Harrington lived at Stepney, and filled the post of treasurer to the king's camps and buildings. While holding that office Harington employed John Bradford. Accounts differ on their professional relationship: it is said by Bradford's biographers that he compelled Harington about 1549 to make a restitution to the crown of a sum of money which Harington had misappropriated. John Strype, however, represents that Bradford was himself guilty of misappropriating public moneys, which Harington made good to shield his clerk from punishment.

Harington married Etheldreda Malte (Audrey), an illegitimate daughter of John Malte by Joan Dingley, who was the king's tailor.[1] In 1546, John Malte had purchased the manor of Kelston in Somerset on behalf of himself and Etheldreda (Audrey) alias Digneley, ‘bastard daughter of the said John Digneley alias Dobson’, and on to Sept. 1546 he made Etheldreda (Audrey), ‘my bastard daughter begotten upon the body of Joan Digneley’, his chief legatee and recipient of all his property in Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Somerset.[1] Etheldreda later died around 1556, leaving behind her husband and daughter Hester. Hester died in 1568, and her lands went to Harington.

Harington entered the service of Princess Elizabeth. He was a cultivated man and a poet, who in his visits to Elizabeth at Hatfield turned his talents to the praises of her six gentlewomen, but soon singled out among them Isabella Markham, daughter of Sir John Markham of Gotham. He married her early in 1559. Five years before their marriage he was imprisoned in the Tower at the same time as the Princess Elizabeth; his first wife and Isabella, both being her Ladies-in-Waiting, had accompanied the princess. In 1561 their son John was born, and Elizabeth, who had now ascended the throne, repaid their loyalty by acting as his godmother. He later became known as a writer at her court, where he was often in trouble. Queen Elizabeth I also granted him the Stoughton Grange Estate in Leicestershire.


  • John Harrington1
  • M, #86625, b. 21 April 1525, d. 1 July 1582
  • Father Alexander Harrington1 d. 1539
  • John Harrington was born on 21 April 1525 at of Stepney, Middlesex, England.1 He married Isabella Markham, daughter of Sir John Markham, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire, Burgess of Nottingham, Lt. of the Tower of London and Anne Strelley, circa 1554 at Exton, Rutlandshire, England.1 John Harrington died on 1 July 1582 at Lambeth, London, Middlesex, England, at age 57.1
  • Family Isabella Markham b. 28 Mar 1527, d. 20 May 1579
  • Child
    • John Harrington+1 b. c 1561, d. 20 Nov 1612
  • Citations
  • 1.[S61] Unknown author, Family Group Sheets, Family History Archives, SLC.
  • From:


  • HARINGTON (HERYNTON), John II (by 1517-82), of Stepney, Mdx.; Kelston, Som. and Cheshunt, Herts.
  • Family and Education
  • b. by 1517, s. of Alexander Harington (d.1539) of Stepney m. (1) by 1554, Audrey (d. by 1559), illegit. da. of John Malte of London by Joan, da. of one Digneley, 1da.; (2) 1559/60, Isabella (d. 20 May 1579), da. of Sir John Markham of Cotham, Notts., 2s.1
  • John Harington came from a branch of a Lancashire family favoured by the last two Plantagenet kings and was a distant kinsman of John Harington I of Exton with whom he is sometimes confused. His great-grandfather, Sir Robert Harington Of Badsworth, Yorkshire, was attainted twice by Henry VII and probably died at the battle of Stoke in 1487. Sir Robert Harington’s attainder was reversed in 1504 at the suit of his son James, dean of York, but his lands were not restored and his family pressed unsuccessfully for them until the end of the 16th century. The family’s pedigrees differ as to whether the dean of York had any children, but one of the earliest gives him two sons, Alexander and James. Whether these were born before he took orders or were his illegitimate offspring or were the children of an untraced brother is not known. Little has come to light about Alexander, who settled at Stepney where the family had long owned property and who died in 1539. Harington was later to recall his father’s poverty.3
  • Harington had joined the court before his father’s death, perhaps as a member of the chapel royal. In 1538 he and a gentleman of the chapel shared in survivorship an annuity worth 20 marks out of the lordship of Denbigh. He studied composition under Thomas Tallis after Tallis became organist to the chapel in 1540. None of Harington’s musical work survives, but his song ‘Black Sanctus or the monk’s hymn to Satan’, of which he wrote both words and music, pleased Henry VIII. His mastery of verse drew him into the circle around Sir Thomas Wyatt I and the Earl of Surrey, and his modern fame rests on his collection of their poetry. He has sometimes been linked with the publication of some of Wyatt’s poems but the man associated with this project was a namesake, a London bookseller active until 1549.4
  • In September 1547 Harington bought two manors in Gloucestershire in part exchange for the surrender of his annuity. It is possible that this purchase was influenced by his marriage or betrothal to the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII’s tailor John Malte. In the previous year Malte had purchased the manor of Kelston in Somerset on behalf of himself and Audrey Malte alias Digneley, ‘bastard daughter of the said John Digneley alias Dobson’, and on to Sept. 1546 he made Audrey, ‘my bastard daughter begotten upon the body of Joan Digneley’, his chief legatee and recipient of all his property in Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Somerset. At the time that Malte made his will Audrey was not yet 15 and engaged to an illegitimate son of (Sir) Richard Southwell, perhaps Richard Southwell alias Darcy. Harington’s marriage to Audrey Malte gave him wealth and position in the west country, as well as in the home counties: she was still alive in early 1556. The first reference to her as Henry VIII’s illegitimate daughter comes in the not altogether reliable Nugae Antiquae compiled largely by her stepson but as evidently neither John Malte nor Harington was aware of her august paternity it is doubtless a myth. Harington’s second marriage took place in 1559 or 1560 when Sir John Markham provided for his unmarried daughter Isabella.5
  • Harington had entered the service of Sir Thomas Seymour by the spring of 1546 when he delivered to the Earl of Hertford the plans of some proposed fortification at Boulogne. It is possible that as joint chancellor of North Wales the earl had obtained for him his annuity out of the lordship of Denbigh: as the Protector Somerset the earl favoured his purchase of two Gloucestershire manors. This connexion with Seymour and the Protector doubtless explains Harington’s first known appearance in Parliament, at the beginning of Edward VI’s reign. As a port Pembroke was presumably amenable to Seymour’s influence as admiral: Harington’s friend Thomas Phaer was to procure his election for Carmarthen Boroughs and perhaps his links with the locality also assisted Harington’s return for Pembroke. As his name appears as ‘Robert Herynton’ on the indenture it is clear that Harington did not attend the election: the mis-spelling is not repeated on the list of Members of the Parliament. The Journal makes no mention of him in this Parliament, but as one close to Seymour he probably supported bills in which the admiral was interested: during interrogation he denied that the admiral had asked him ‘to speak anything in the Parliament to any bill’ but admitted that another of the admiral’s servants, William Wightman, had suggested to him the possibility of parliamentary arbitration in the dispute between the admiral and the Protector over the ownership of Catherine Parr’s jewels. Harington was imprisoned with the admiral in the Tower on 17 Jan. 1549 and thus missed the second half of the second session when Seymour was attainted. His answers about presents given by his master to Edward VI and about the proposal to marry the King to Lady Jane Grey were used in evidence against Seymour, but his receipt of one of his master’s poems written while awaiting execution shows that Seymour did not blame him. He was to remember the admiral with affection and always upheld his innocence. While a prisoner Harington taught himself French and translated Cicero’s De Amicitia from that language into English; his translation was published in 1550 as The booke of freendeship with a dedication to Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk. His discharge was ordered on 22 Oct. 1549, a week after the Protector had entered the Tower, and presumably he took his place in the Commons on the opening of the third session on the following 4 Nov. He held the Protector responsible for his master’s death and his appointment as constable of Caernarvon castle may have been a reward for his support of Somerset’s victorious rival Northumberland. In 1551 he attended the discussions at Cecil’s house on the nature of the eucharist and in May 1552 Lady Jane Grey’s father transferred the possession of the Minories to several kinsmen and to him. Despite this connexion with the Greys, and possibly with Northumberland, he is not known to have reappeared in the following Parliament summoned in March 1553 under the duke’s aegis.6
  • Although Harington had known Jane Grey since 1548 nothing has come to light about his role in the succession crisis in 1553. In January 1554 he was arrested in the Minories and sent to the Tower after the Duke of Suffolk’s flight on the discovery of Wyatt’s conspiracy. When Princess Elizabeth was brought to the Tower he commented, ‘My wife is her servant, and doth but rejoice in this our misery, when we look with whom we are holden in bondage’. He protested that he had done no more than carry a letter from Suffolk to Elizabeth, but Gardiner was convinced that a letter found in the Minories proved his guilt. A rumour about his release in March led (Sir) John Cheke on going into exile to ask him and his wife to look after Cheke’s family. Harington was transferred to the Fleet in June but it was as a prisoner in the Tower that in January 1555 he was bound over in £100 and set free. After his release he transferred much of his wife’s property to feoffees for her use and his, and perhaps to meet his expenses as a prisoner (£1,000 according to his son) he sold a living to the dean and chapter of Oxford. In 1557 some of his poems were published in The Songes and Sonettes written by Henry Haward late Earle of Surrey and others.7
  • It was the advent of Elizabeth and his marriage to another of her servants which heralded his recovery. During her reign he reappeared twice in Parliament, obtained two lucrative posts in the Exchequer and became a member of the bench in two counties. Harington died at Stepney on 1 July 1582 and was buried beside his second wife in St. Gregory’s by St. Paul, London. He was succeeded by his son, the godson of Queen Elizabeth and translator of Orlando Furioso. Harington helped his son in this task and several of his proposed renderings survive.8
  • From:


  • HARINGTON, John I (by 1517-82), of Stepney, Mdx.; Kelston, Som.; Cheshunt, Herts. and of London.
  • b. by 1517, s. of Alexander Harington (d.1539) of Stepney. m. (1) by 1554, Audrey (d. by 1559), illegit. da. of John Malte of London, Henry VIII’s tailor, by Joan, da. of Digneley, w. of one Dobson, 1da.; (2) 1559/60, Isabella (d. 20 May 1579), da. of Sir John Markham of Cotham, Notts., 2s.1
  • From:


  • Visitation of England and Wales - Notes Vol. 9
  • Pg.121
    • Pedigree of Harington.
  • John Harington of Kelston, co. Somerset, esquire (son of Alexander Harington); imprisoned in the Tower 1554; received a grant of arms (as descended from the Haringtons of Brierley, co York) 12 February 1567/8; died 1 July 1582, bur. at St. Gregory by St. Paul's, London. Administration granted 26 July 1582 (P.C.C.) Inq. p. m. taken at Wells 18 March 1582/3 (C. Vol. 202, No. 155), Portrait in the possession of John E. Musgrave Harington. = Ethelreda Malte, natural daughter of King Henry VIII., adopted by John Malte, Citizen and Merchant Taylor of London. Portrait by Holbein in the possession of John E. Musgrave Harington. 1st wife.; ch: Hester, living in 1568.; = Isabella Markham, dau. of Sir John Markham of Cotham, co. Nottingtham, Lieutenant of the Tower of London, by Anne his 3rd Wife, dau. and heir of John Strelley of Strelley, co Nottingham, esquire; Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth; died 20 May, bur. at St. Gregory by St. Paul's, London, 20 May 1579; 2nd wife.; ch: Sir John (m. Mary Rogers), Francis (m. Mary Weekes & Joan Baylie) Harington.


In turn John and Elizabeth had a younger son whom they named John. This John Harington, of the eight generation after John of Lancaster, lived in Stepney in the eastern section of London. He was born about 1525. He was know as ÙSThe PoetÙT since he was one of the minor poets of the Elizabethan Age. He also collected and published the writings of other writers of that period. John made a very profitable marriage to Ethelreda Dingley, an illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII, and secured from this union the Manor of Kelston and four other manors in Somerset in southwestern England. These properties had been taken from Bath Priory and given to Ethelreda by her father, King Henry. John supported his natural sister-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, and was imprisoned for aiding her cause during the struggle for the throne which followed King HenryÙus death. Ethelreda died about 1555 and john then married Isabella Marham, daughter of Sir John Markham. He wooed her with love poems and recorded his attraction toward her ÙSwhen first I thought her fair as she stood at the PrincessÙu window in goodly attire, and talked with divers (persons) in the court yardÙT. With Elizabeth on the throne and JohnÙus position secured, he began the building of one of the great manor houses of that day at Kelston Manor. He died in 1582 leaving a son, another John Harington, born in 1561. 1

John was a younger son of John and Elizabeth. He was born about 1525 and lived on Stephey in the Eastern section of London. He was known as The Poet since he was a minor poet of the Elizabethan age. He also collected and published the writing of others during that period.

He made a profitable marriage to Ethelreda Dingley, an illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII. As a result, he secured the manor of Kelston and four other manors in Somerset in south western England. These properties had been taken from Bath Priory and given to Ethelreda by King Henry VIII.

Subsequent to King Henry's death, John supported his natural sister-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, and was imprisoned for aiding her attempt at securing the throne.

Ethelreda died about 1555 and John married Isabella Markham, daugther of Sir John Markham, and was the mother of his successor, John, who was born in 1561.

Once Elizabeth was secure on the throne and John had regained his position, he began building Kelston Manor, one of the great manor houses of the time. It was unfinished at his death in 1582.

Ancestry and Descendants of William Harrington or Herrington. page 3.

John Harington, acquired considerable estates by marrying Etheldreda, an illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII. After her death, he was attached to the service of the Princess Elizabeth. He married Isabella Markham, one of her ladies. On Mary's accession to the throne, he and his wife were imprisoned in the Tower of London with the princess.

He translated Cicero's "De Amicitia" and wrote poetry.

He is referred to as "the enraptured poet" in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.

Some of his work:

An elegy of a pointed diamond given by the author to his wife at the birth of his eldest son

DEAR, I to thee this diamond commend,

In which a model of thyself I send.

How just unto thy joints this circlet sitteth,

So just thy face and shape my fancy fitteth.

The touch will try this ring of purest gold,

My touch tries thee, as pure though softer mold.

That metal precious is, the stone is true,

As true, and then how much more precious you.

The gem is clear, and hath nor needs no foil,

Thy face, nay more, thy fame is free from soil.

You'll deem this dear, because from me you have it,

I deem your faith more dear, because you gave it.

This pointed diamond cuts glass and steel,

Your love's like force in my firm heart I feel.

But this, as all things else, time wastes with wearing,

Where you my jewels multiply with bearing.

Sir John Harington


Of an accident of saying grace at the Lady Rogers who used to dine exceeding late. Written to his wife from Bath

MY Mall, in your short absence from this place,

Myself here dining at your mother's board,

Your little son did thus begin his grace,

The eyes of all things look on thee O Lord,

And thou their food dost give them in due season.

Peace boy (quoth I) not more of this a word,

For in this place this grace hath little reason,

Whenas we speak to God we must speak true,

And though the meat be good in taste and season,

This season for a dinner is not due,

Then peace, I say, to lie to God is treason.

Say on my boy (saith she) your father mocks,

Clowns and not courtiers use to go by clocks.

Courtiers by clocks (said I) and clowns by cocks.

Now if your mother chide with me for this,

Then you must reconcile us with a kiss.

Sir John Harington

Christening: 21 APR 1525 England Event: Invention 1st flush toilet Note: John was a minor poet of the Elizabethan age. His first wife was an illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII. He lived in Somerset in southwestern England on a manor known as "Kelston" which came to him from Henry VIII through his first wife. This info came from M/M Henry Edward Flake of 419 Jones Ave, Waynesboro, Ga. Oct 25, 1991


  1. Visitation of England and Wales v9 p121. "Pedigree of Harington.".


view all 17

John Harington, MP, of Kelston's Timeline

London, Middlesex, England
April 21, 1535
Age 20
England, United Kingdom
Age 36
Age 40
Watchfield, Berkshire, England
Age 44
Kelston, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
August 4, 1561
Age 46
Kelston, Bath and North East Somerset, England, United Kingdom
Age 49
Kelston, Somerset, England, United Kingdom