About Sir Ralph Warren, Lord Mayor of London
Born Claybury, Essex.
For familial relationship clues: "A remarkable instance of the simplifying of arms is afforded by what was done in regard to sir Ralph Warren's monument at St. Osith's. It originally bore this crowded coat: Azure, on a chevron between three lozenges argent, three eagle's heads erased of the first, on a chief checky or and gules a greyhound courant ermine. "These armes were taken downe by his sonne Ric. Warren, and these sett upp in place thereof: Or, a chevron engrailed between three eagle's heads erased sable." Arms of the Lord Mayors, by William Smith, Rouge-dragon" note the traditional Warren checky is included.
Memoirs of the protectoral-house of Cromwell;: deduced from an ..., Volume 1
By Mark Noble, G. G. J. and J. Robinson (Paternoster-Row, London, England)
Page 23 cites Thomas Warren as Ralph's father.
Oxford dictionary of National Biography:
Warren, Sir Ralph (c.1483–1553), merchant and local politician, was apprenticed to William Botary, a prominent member of the London Mercers' Company, of which he became free in 1507. He was already exporting cloth to the Low Countries in 1506, and soon became a leading member of both the Company of Merchant Adventurers and the Staplers' Company. His cloth wholesaling brought him into contact with the royal household, of which he was a major creditor by 1532. His business acumen was often placed at the service of the crown, whose servants in Flanders and Italy he and the Greshams supplied with large sums through the 1540s. Closely associated with the court, he numbered among his friends royal servants such as Thomas Cromwell, for whom he helped secure the lease of the mansion place at Stepney from the Mercers' Company in 1534, and William Paulet, marquess of Winchester, lord treasurer from 1550, whom he described in his will as ‘my very good lord’ (TNA: PRO, PROB 11/36, fol. 114v).
By 1541 Warren's subsidy assessment of £4000 suggests that, after his fellow mercer Sir John Gresham, he was the wealthiest man in the City. He acquired several manors in Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, and Cambridgeshire, as well as owning an extensive portfolio of property about the capital. At the beginning of his business career he resided in the parish of St Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, but by 1524 he was living in St Sythe's Lane in the parish of St Benet Sherehog, his London base for the rest of his life. By the time of his death he had acquired suburban residences at both Bethnal Green and Fulham.
Warren was a committed member of his livery company, serving as warden in 1521–2 and as master in 1530–31, 1542–3, and again briefly (on the death of Sir Richard Gresham in office) in 1549. After the surrender of the hospital of St Thomas Acre on the dissolution of the religious houses in 1538 he was instrumental, with Gresham and other leading mercers, in procuring the purchase by the Mercers' Company of the church and precincts for their hall. In 1542 the buildings were vested with Warren, who then surrendered his interest to the company. He was elected alderman for Aldersgate ward on 18 June 1528 and served the office of sheriff in 1528–9. On 26 October 1531 he moved to the ward of Candlewick, which he continued to serve until his death. His close connections with the court made him a more reliable agent in the troubled months surrounding the Pilgrimage of Grace than the conservative William Holles, whose turn it was to serve the office of lord mayor, and the king wrote to the City on the day of the election, 13 October 1536, to demand that Warren be elected. Although he was ‘incontynent chosen’, the City registered a formal protest with the crown. Another mark of royal favour was the elaborate procession on 22 December 1536 in which Warren accompanied the king, the queen, and the Lady Mary through the City on their way to Greenwich immediately after the mayor had been knighted in the Great Chamber of Presence. Warren, unusually, served a second term as lord mayor, being elected on 17 April 1544 to succeed Sir William Bowyer, who had died four days previously.
In spite of his close connections with Cromwell, Warren's religious sympathies seem to have been conservative. In his will, dated 4 July 1552, at the high water mark of the Reformation, he bequeathed his soul according to a conventional Catholic formula, and during his lifetime his gifts to the Mercers' Company included, in 1542, a hearse cloth embroidered with scripture and stained glass for the chapel windows, and, in 1544, a great bell to ring at mass there. He also acted as a commissioner against heretics in 1541. For a man of his wealth his charitable bequests were modest: in 1548 he had given his company a loan stock of £100 to be given to two young men, the interest from which was to pay for a dinner for the livery, but the bequests in his will (spread between St Bartholomew's Hospital, the lazar houses, the London prisons, highway repair, poor maidens' marriages, and poor scholars at the universities) amounted to only about £150.
Warren married twice. His first wife was Christiana, the daughter of Richard Warcup of Sinnington in Yorkshire, and the widow of Roger North (d. 1509), a London merchant. This first marriage appears to have been childless, but his stepchildren were a distinguished pair: Sir Edward North, by the time of Warren's death, was a privy councillor, and Joanne Wilkinson was the Marian exile. Warren's second wife was Joan, probably the daughter of John Trelake, alias Davy, a Cornish gentleman; there were two surviving children at his death, Richard (d. 1598) and Joan (d. 1572). The latter married Warren's ward Sir Henry Williams (afterwards Cromwell) of Hinchinbrooke, Huntingdonshire, the grandfather of the Lord Protector. Warren himself died of the stone on 11 July 1553 at Bethnal Green, and was buried five days later in the chancel of the church of St Benet Sherehog near the tomb of his first wife, the funeral being followed by what the London undertaker Henry Machyn described as ‘a gret dener as I have sene’ (Diary of Henry Machyn, 36). His widow married, on 25 November 1558, alderman Sir Thomas White, the founder of St John's College, Oxford, and died in 1572.
Ian W. Archer Sources will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/36, sig. 16 [see also customs accounts, subsidy assessments, inquisitions post mortem] · repertories of the court of aldermen and journals of common council, CLRO · Acts of Court, Mercers' Hall, London · LP Henry VIII · A. B. Beaven, ed., The aldermen of the City of London, temp. Henry III–, 2 vols. (1908–13) · C. Wriothesley, A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors from AD 1485 to 1559, ed. W. D. Hamilton, 2 vols., CS, new ser., 11, 20 (1875–7) · The diary of Henry Machyn, citizen and merchant-taylor of London, from AD 1550 to AD 1563, ed. J. G. Nichols, CS, 42 (1848) · GEC, Peerage, new edn · H. Ellis, ed., The visitation of the county of Huntingdon … 1613, CS, 43 (1849) · D. Keane and V. Harding, eds., Historical gazetteer of London before the great fire, rev. edn (1994) [microfiche] · will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/36, sig. 16 © Oxford University Press 2004–15 All rights reserved: see legal notice Oxford University Press
Ian W. Archer, ‘Warren, Sir Ralph (c.1483–1553)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/28787, accessed 18 March 2015]
Sir Ralph Warren (c.1483–1553): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28787
[Previous version of this biography available here: September 2004]
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