Sir John Gates, Kt, MP

Is your surname Gates?

Research the Gates family

Sir John Gates, Kt, MP's Geni Profile

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!

Sir John Gates, Kt, MP

Birthplace: Beauchamp Roding, Essex, England, United Kingdom
Death: August 22, 1553 (45-53)
St Katharine's & Wapping, Tower of London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom (Beheaded (with three blows of the axe) for treason)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Geoffrey Gates, Kt. and Elizabeth Gates
Husband of Mary Gates
Brother of Sir Henry Gates, Kt., MP; Sir Geoffrey Gates, Kt.; Dorothy Josselyn; Albert Gates; Alice Gates and 2 others

Occupation: Chancellor of Duchy
Managed by: Carole (Erickson) Pomeroy,Vol. C...
Last Updated:

About Sir John Gates, Kt, MP

John Gates (courtier)

  • Born 1504
  • Died 22 August 1553 Tower Hill, London
  • Cause of death Decapitation
  • Resting place St. Peter ad Vincula, London
  • Nationality English
  • Known for Soldier and courtier
  • Spouse(s) Mary Denny
  • Parents
  • Sir Geoffrey Gates
  • Elizabeth Clopton

Sir John Gates KB[1] (1504–1553)[2] was an English courtier and soldier, holding influential household positions in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. One of the Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber under Edward VI, he became a follower of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and was a principal participant in the attempt to establish Lady Jane Grey on the English throne. For this he was executed for high treason under Queen Mary I.

Originating from an ancient Essex gentry family going back to King Edward III, John Gates had a thorough training as a lawyer at Lincoln's Inn.[2] He married Mary Denny, sister of Sir Anthony Denny,[3] and served Queen Catherine Parr from 1543–1545.[4] He was a member of King Henry VIII's Privy Chamber, first as a groom, from 1542. From 1546 he was in charge, with his brother-in-law, of the King's personal finances and his "dry stamp", a substitute, to the King's convenience, for Henry's "sign manual" or personal signature. These positions of trust implied considerable influence.[5]

Under King Edward VI Gates became a Chief Gentleman of the Privy Chamber after the fall of Protector Somerset in the autumn of 1549.[6] He rose to Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household on 8 April 1551;[4] a few days later he was admitted to the Privy Council under the leadership of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.[7] In these positions Gates was a significant channel of communications between the Duke and the young King[8] and was granted custody of the King's signet in December 1551.[9] In July 1552 he was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.[4]

He was a Justice of the Peace for Essex from 1532 until his execution and served as High Sheriff of Essex for 1549–50. Gates was also a soldier and as Sheriff went several times into Essex to arrest rioters and carry through the official destruction of "superstitious altars".[10] He was also Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners (the royal guard) from April 1551.[11]

Gates was elected MP for Wycombe in 1542, for New Shoreham in 1545, for Southwark in 1547 and for Essex in 1547 and 1553.

John Gates was deeply involved in the succession crisis of 1553, and Lady Jane Grey claimed that he had confessed to have been the first to have induced King Edward to name her his successor.[12] Notwithstanding Gates' commitment to Edward's will,[13] his putative role in its conception has been questioned by Narasingha P. Sil on the grounds that he probably was not as close to the young King as traditionally believed.[14] On 14 July 1553 Gates led the troops of the royal household to East Anglia in the campaign against Mary Tudor.[15] He was arrested with Northumberland at Cambridge and tried at Westminster Hall on 19 August 1553.[16] On 22 August 1553 he took the Catholic communion, recanting his Protestant faith in a ceremony at St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower precincts.[17] Immediately afterwards he was executed together with the Duke of Northumberland and Sir Thomas Palmer on Tower Hill.[18] According to one chronicle the following scene had taken place shortly before at the Lieutenant of the Tower's garden gate:

  • "Sir John," sayeth the duke, "God have mercy upon us, for this day shall end both our lives. And I pray you forgive me whatsoever I have offended; and I forgive you with all my heart, although you and your counsel was a great occasion hereof." "Well, my lord," sayeth Sir John Gates, "I forgive you as I would be forgiven; and yet you and your authority was the only original cause of all together; but the Lord pardon you, and I pray you forgive me." So, either making obeisance to [each] other, the duke proceeded [towards the scaffold].[19]

His Essex estates at Rivenhall and Shalford were confiscated by the Crown. [20]



  • Sir John Gates, Chancellor of the Duchy & Captain of the Guard1
  • M, #58941, b. circa 1504, d. 22 August 1553
  • Father Sir Geoffrey Gates2 b. c 1484, d. 7 May 1526
  • Mother Elizabeth Clopton2 b. c 1483
  • Sir John Gates, Chancellor of the Duchy & Captain of the Guard was born circa 1504 at of Roding Beauchamp, Essex, England.1 He married Mary Denny, daughter of Sir Edmund Denny, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, King's Remembrancer and Mary Troutbeck, circa 1534.1 Sir John Gates, Chancellor of the Duchy & Captain of the Guard died on 22 August 1553 at London, Middlesex, England.1
  • Family Mary Denny b. 20 Sep 1497
  • Citations
  • 1.[S147] Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage, 1938 ed., by Sir Bernard Burke, p., 777.
  • 2.[S61] Unknown author, Family Group Sheets, Family History Archives, SLC.
  • From:


  • Rt. Hon. Sir John Gates1
  • M, #357265
  • Last Edited=15 May 2009
  • Rt. Hon. Sir John Gates married Mary Denny, daughter of Sir Edmund Denny.1
  • He held the office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.1 He was Captain of the Guard to King Edward VI.1 He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Bath (K.B.).1 He was invested as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.).1
  • Citations
  • 1.[S37] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 1094. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.
  • From:


  • Beauchamp Roding Manors
  • Sir Geoffrey Gate (d. 1477) had married Agnes, probably the heir of Thomas Mewes. (fn. 49) After Geoffrey's death Agnes married William Brown. She died in 1481 leaving Beauchamp Roding to her son William Gate. (fn. 50) The latter died in 1485 leaving Geoffrey Gate, an infant, his son and heir. (fn. 51) Geoffrey, later knighted, died in 1526 and was succeeded by his son (Sir) John Gate or Gates (1504 ?-1553) who was executed for his support of Lady Jane Grey. (fn. 52) In 1553, soon after Sir John's death, the Crown granted the site of the manor of Beauchamp Roding to Rowland Scurlocke. (fn. 53) The Crown retained the manorial rights. It undertook to bear the cost of repairs to the houses of the manor in timber and tile, while Scurlocke was to bear those in thatching and daubing and was to have fireboot, ploughboot, harrowboot, and hedgeboot. In 1554 the manor was granted for life to Mary, widow of Sir John Gate. (fn. 54) She was still alive in 1570, when she presented to the rectory.
  • From: 'Beauchamp Roding: Manors', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4: Ongar Hundred (1956), pp. 198-200. URL: Date accessed: 08 July 2013.


  • Mary DENNY
  • Born: ABT 1504
  • Father: Edmund DENNY of Cheshunt (Sir Knight)
  • Mother: Mary TROUTBECK
  • Married: John GATES (Sir Knight) (See his Biography) ABT 1534, Cheshunt, Hetfordshire, England
  • From: DENNY1


  • Stephen Gates of Hingham and Lancaster, Massachusetts, and his descendents : a preliminary work subject to addition and correction
  • compiled by Charles Otis Gates, New York, Willis McDonald & Co., Publishers, 1898 (presented to the Colorado State Library by Mr. C. O. Gates, New York, NY, February 26, 1904) (See vol. XIV, Harleian Society, p. 574.)
  • Pg. 6
  • f. WILLIAM GATES (Sir Geoffrey c, William b, Thomas a), of Essex, England m. Mabel, daughter and heiress of Thomas Capdow of Higheaster, Essex, and his wife Ann, daughter and heiress of Thomas Fleming of Essex, England.
  • Children of William Gates f. Fifth generation. .... etc.
  • g. SIR GEOFFREY GATES (William f, Sir Geoffrey e, William b, Thomas a). m. Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Clapton, Knight, of Kentwell, Sussex, England.
  • Children of Sir Geoffrey Gates g. Sixth generation.
    • i. Sir John. m. Mary, daughter of Sir Edward Denny. Sir John Gates was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Henry VIII, and was remembered in the Will of the King (See Strypes' Annals). He became Master of the Horse to King Edward VI, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and of the Privy Council. He lost his head (dying sine prole) for High Treason in the matter of Lady Jane Grey.
    • j. Geoffrey. m. Pascall of Essex, England.
    • k. Henry. He was of Semer, County York, England, and from him the Gates of Yorshire are derived.
    • l. William. He left no children.
    • m. Dorothy. m. Sir Thomas Josselyn, of Josselyn Hall
  • j. GEOFFREY GATES (Sir Geoffrey g, William f, Sir Geoffrey c, William b, Thomas a), of Higheaster, Essex, England m. Pascall of Essex, England.
  • Children of Geoffrey Gates j. Seventh generation. .... etc.


  • GATES, John (by 1504-53), of Great Garnetts, High Easter and Havering-atte-Bower, Essex; London, and Syon, Mdx.
  • Family and Education
  • b. by 1504, 1st s. of Sir Geoffrey Gates, and bro. of Henry. educ. L. Inn, adm. 2 Aug. 1523. m. Mary, da. of Sir Edmund Denny of Cheshunt, Herts., s.p. suc. fa. 7 May 1526. KB 20 Feb. 1547.4
  • Offices Held
    • J.p. Essex 1532-d.; page of the robes by 1537, groom 1540; feodary, duchy of Lancaster, Essex, Herts., London, Mdx., Surr. 1538-d.; butler, port of Poole, Dorset 1540-d.; groom, privy chamber 1542, gent. 1544; keeper, site and possessions of Syon abbey, Mdx. 1542, St. Thomas’s hospital, Southwark 1546, Eltham park, Kent 1551; servant of Queen Catherine Parr 1543-5 or later; King’s bailiff, Southwark Dec. 1546; commr. chantries, Essex 1548, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; other commissions 1549-52; sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1549-50; v.-chamberlain, Househould 8 Apr. 1551-d.; capt. of the guard 8 Apr. 1551-d. PC 1551-d.; jt. dep. lt. Essex May 1552-d.; chancellor, duchy of Lancaster 7 July 1552-d., surveyor, Tutbury honor 1552.5
  • Biography
  • John Gates’s father was a man of standing in Essex, an associate of the 13th Earl of Oxford and a regular attendant at court and upon the King until his death. He may have died too early to secure his son a place in the royal household, and it was probably to the King’s favourite Anthony Denny, whose sister he married, that Gates owed his early advancement. His services during the rebellion of 1536, when he was instructed to keep order in Essex, may have earned him the King’s gratitude, for he soon became a royal confidant. The numerous letters during the 1540s asking Gates to intervene with senior courtiers and officials, and even with the King, testify to his influence. It is also clear that he used his position to his own advantage and that he cultivated his even more successful kinsmen, such as Sir Wymond Carew, to promote his own interests. For the last six years of the reign he was entrusted with large sums of crown money. In 1546 he and Denny were employed to affix the dry stamp of the King’s signature to documents, several of which were signed ‘at the suit of Master Gates’. He witnessed the King’s will, under which he received £200, and he rode beside the King’s corpse in the funeral procession at Windsor.6
  • In 1537 Gates had obtained the lease of Beeleigh abbey in Essex and three years later he bought it for £300, about half of its market value. He made regular purchases, sometimes alone, sometimes in partnership, often to resell at a profit, occasionally to exchange. Together with royal grants, these transactions gave him wide estates in Essex and Suffolk, with a yield in the former county of over £440 a year at his death. After 1540 he rarely stayed at his family’s seat, preferring Syon and Havering-atte-Bower, the first close to Hampton Court and the residence successively of the dukes of Somerset and Northumberland, the second near the childhood home of Edward VI. His duties at court did not curtail his interest in local government nor prevent him from playing a leading role in East Anglia.7
  • Knighted at the coronation of Edward VI, Gates only gained a strategic position at court after the overthrow of the Protector Somerset in 1549, when he became right-hand man to the Earl of Warwick, the future Duke of Northumberland. As sheriff of Essex he took 30 men there in July 1550 to thwart plans for Princess Mary’s escape abroad. In the following spring he became vice-chamberlain and captain of the guard in succession to Sir Thomas Darcy, Baron Darcy of Chiche, and in September he was given lands worth £145 a year, part of the spoils of the bishopric of Winchester. Two months later he began to exercise some of Sir William Paget’s duties as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, in anticipation of his formal appointment to the post.8
  • It was Gates whom Northumberland was to reproach as having been behind the device to make Jane Grey Queen. The relationship was thus described by a French observer:
  • From fear of exciting jealousy should it be known how much he [Northumberland] interfered in everything, he caused all affairs in which he would not be seen to meddle to be set going by one Gates, a chamberlain, who also brought him information of all conversations which passed about the King. For this Gates was always in the royal chamber, and was believed to be one of those who mainly instigated the King to make a will against his sister.
  • Gates was also the duke’s agent in the Commons to engineer the passage of a bill altering the succession laid down by the Act of 1544 (35 Hen. VIII, c.1), and the late King’s will, which had also been embodied in the Treasons Act of 1547 (1 Edw. VI, c.12).9
  • Gates had probably been the junior Member for Chipping Wycombe in the Parliament of 1542, although the indenture is so damaged that only the surname remains. He is not known to have had any standing in Buckinghamshire, but he could have obtained the seat there by royal nomination. Three years later, after serving in the French war, Gates and his brother Henry were returned for the 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s borough of New Shoreham: the fact that both their names were inserted in a different hand over an erasure indicates a royal, rather than a ducal, nomination, this time almost certainly by Catherine Parr, to whose household Gates belonged and from whom he had already twice received New Year’s gifts. On Norfolk’s arrest Gates was employed by the Council to search Framlingham and Kenninghall for evidence to lay against the duke.10
  • It was as the King’s bailiff that Gates secured the senior place for Southwark in 1547. His election must have displeased the city of London, for he was the main adversary of the City’s efforts to assert its privileges in the borough. Gates did not sit for Southwark throughout the Parliament; he was promoted to the vacant knighthood for Essex upon Darcy’s elevation to the peerage in 1551, being replaced at Southwark by John Sayer. In the second and third sessions he was active in committee, receiving the bill ‘of pewterers and carrying tin over the seas’ and another for curriers, shoemakers, and girdlers in February 1549, sitting with Robert Broke and Richard Goodrich to examine the bill for commons, sheep and farms in December 1549, and in the following month the bill for retaining journeymen and servants. During the last session he dealt with three other bills before Northumberland’s bill ‘for reviving of treasons’ was committed to him on 29 Feb.; thereafter he kept close watch over its progress. On 2 Mar. he was ordered ‘to peruse’ the bill, and notes on it presented by Serjeant Morgan were also handed to him on 14 Mar. for further scrutiny. Two days later Gates argued for the repeal of the entail upon the Duke of Somerset’s lands. On several other occasions he bore bills up to the Lords. After his labours in this session Gates received the house and site of St. Stephen’s college, Westminster, furs and materials which had belonged to Somerset, goods from Sir Ralph Vane’s house at Westminster, and an annuity of £100 out of the duchy of Lancaster above his fee as chancellor.11
  • As captain of the guard Gates played a leading role in the brief reign of Queen Jane. On 9 July 1553 he told his subordinates of the dead King’s wishes, and the next day he took possession of the Tower. He followed Northumberland to Cambridge at the head of the guard, amid rumour that he had been killed and that his men supported Mary. He re-entered the Tower on 25 July as Mary’s prisoner and remained there until 19 Aug., when he was tried and sentenced to death for treason. Three days later he was brought out to Tower Hill, ‘where at three blows his head was stricken off’. An Act confirming his attainder (1 Mary st. 2, c.16) was passed later in the year.12
  • Gates’s efforts in Northumberland’s cause were almost certainly inspired by personal and political, not religious, motives. He may have been a Protestant but it is more likely that he was indifferent to doctrine. Praised by Ridley as a God-fearing man, when sheriff he had enforced the injunctions for the removal of altars and he was a notorious despoiler of churches. When asked in the Tower whether he would accept the mass he replied: ‘I confess we have been out of the way a long time, and therefore we are worthily punished ... this is the true religion.’13
  • Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
  • Author: R. J.W. Swales
  • Notes
  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Ibid; Hatfield 207.
  • 3. C219/20/47; OR gives ‘Johannes Gale, miles’.
  • 4. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/45/11. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 572; DNB.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, iii, viii, xii-xxi; CPR, 1553, pp. 234, 339; APC, iii. 254; iv. 50-51, 64, 277; Somerville, Duchy, i. 394-5, 545, 611; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 312, 383, 414; E101/423, 12 pt. ii, ff. 8, 12; 315/479, f. 31.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, i, ii, xii-xxi; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 358; Archaeologia, lxvi. 319; SP10/1, f. 72; Wealth and Power, ed. Ives, Knecht and Scarisbrick, 88, 91, 92, 100.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xv-xxi, add; CPR, 1548-9, p. 161; 1549-51, p. 351; SP124, f. 63v; E315/473, f. 61.
  • 8. SP10/8/24, 19, f. 39; APC, ii. 313; iii. 254; Burnet, Hist. Ref. 24, 34; CSP Span. 1550-2, p. 136; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 284.
  • 9. Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 21; A. F. Pollard, Pol. Hist. Eng. 1547-1603, pp. 59-60; W. J. Fitzgerald, ‘Treason legislation in Eng. 1547-1603’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1963), 35-45.
  • 10. C219/18B/10, 18C/121; Index 16763; E101/423/12, pt. ii, ff. 8, 12, 620/28; LR2/115, 116; Richardson, 359.
  • 11. City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 11, f. 468, 12, f. 133v; jnl. 15, f. 365v; D. J. Johnson, Southwark and the City, 97, 99, 110; CJ, i. 8, 13-14, 16-22; CPR, 1553, p. 325; SP10/19, f. 53.
  • 12. CSP Span. 1553, p. 78; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary, 8, 13, 19-22; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 37; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 389.
  • 13. Tudor Studies, ed. Watson, 146; Burnet, 22; HMC Wells, ii. 274; E315/167; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 280; Morant, Essex, ii. 450, 454.
  • From:


  • *Stirnet 'Gates01'
  • i. William Gates this genertation omitted by FMG
  • m. Mabell Capdow (dau/heir of Thomas Capdow of High Easter by Agne, dau/heir of (Sir) Thomas Fleming of Essex) called Mirabell by Foster
    • a. Sir Geffrey Gates 'of High Roding' of Essex
    • m. Elizabeth Clopton (dau. of Sir William Clopton of Kentwell)
      • (1) Sir John Gates (dsp, Captain of the Guard)
      • m. Mary Denny (dau of Sir Edward (sb Edmund?) Denny)
      • (2) Geffrey Gates
      • Foster identifies Geffrey's wife as _ Pasthall of Essex and shows Elizabeth Walsingham (m2. Peter Wentworth) as 2nd wife of his brother Sir John. Berry, who does not mention Elizabeth Walsingham at all, shows Geffrey's wife as _ Pascall of Essex. We are following Visitation (Gloucester) & FMG in showing Geffrey's wife as ...
      • m. Elizabeth Walsingham (dau of William Walsingham, sister of Secretary-of-State Sir Francis)
      • (3) Sir Henry Gates of Seymer or Seamer, Yorkshire (d 07.04.1589)
      • m1. Lucy Knevett (d 01.10.1577, dau. of Thomas Knevett of Buckenham Castle) .... issue etc. ....
      • m2. (sp) Catherine Vaughan (d 15.11.1594, dau. of Watkyn Vaughan of Bredwardyn, widow of James Boyle of Hereford, m3. Robert White of Aldershot)
      • (4) Dorothy Gates mentioned by FMG & Berry
      • m. Thomas Josselyn of Josselyn Hall
      • (5)+ other issue (dsp) - Alberic/Avery, William
  • Main source(s): Visitation (Gloucestershire, 1623, Gates) with some support/input as reported bove


view all

Sir John Gates, Kt, MP's Timeline

Beauchamp Roding, Essex, England, United Kingdom
August 22, 1553
Age 49
Greater London, England, United Kingdom