Henxmen Highlights

Henxmen Highlights
A Timeline of Selected Highlights regarding the Henxmen

Are you descended from a HINXMAN?

If so, one of your ancestors was a Henxman – and this is your heritage too:

Illustration 1:  Jousting, 1450.  Published 1813.  For picture details, see footnotes.

Note on Names
The post of Henxman appears to have been unique to England.  This timeline of their era includes examples of the original spellings of their job title, in the languages then used in official English records: Mediaeval Latin, Court French, and Middle English.  All original quotations are shown here ‘thus’.

Spelling was not standardized at that time, so writers were free to invent their own ways of representing sounds.  As a result, an astonishing 75 different spellings of Henxman have been discovered so far.  The most common version was in fact ‘Henxman’, which is also used here as the generic modern spelling of our predecessors’ ancient title.


1327 - 1377   EDWARD III  (Plantagenet)

24 May 1337  King Edward III claims the throne of France, starting the Hundred Years War (to 1453).

Circa    1345  Edward III creates the Henxmen, a select team of highly trusted and able attendants.  The exact date is not known, but can be estimated from various circumstantial evidence.

Circa    1347  First known record of Henxmen: Cloth for cloaks, etc. purchased for 3 ‘Hengsmannis’.

c. Jul    1348  Edward III creates the Noble Order of the Garter, and adopts St George as patron saint.  The Henxmen thereafter participate in annual festivities on St George’s Day, 23 April.

21 Mar 1351  Royal princes, the Black Prince & John of Gaunt, each now have a personal Henxman.

1355 - 1356   First known record of a Henxman on military campaign, with the Black Prince in France.

19 Sep 1356  The Black Prince’s army (including Nicholas, his ‘Henxteman’) wins the Battle of Poitiers.

06 Apr 1360   5 ‘Hengestmannis’ with Edward III & the Black Prince survive ‘Black Monday’ in France.

Spring 1368   ‘Hans Henxstman’ rides 805 miles from Italy to London, bearing messages for the King.

1377 - 1399   RICHARD II  (Plantagenet)

1390 - 1391   The Earl of Derby (future King Henry IV) takes his 4 ‘Henksmen’ on crusade in Prussia.

1392 - 1393   The Earl of Derby next takes Henry Tylman, his ‘Henksman’ on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

1393 - 1394   The King’s Wardrobe provides a complete and expensive outfit for ‘Nikill Henxtman’.

1399 - 1413   HENRY IV  (Plantagenet)

            1400   First known mention of a ‘Master of the Henxtmen’ (sometimes Sergeant or Yeoman)

    May 1401   The Welsh leader Owain Glyn Dŵr’s armour & ‘son henxman’ is captured by the English.

c. Jun  1402   Two of the King’s ‘Henxtmen’ escort Princess Blanche to Germany for her wedding.

1413 - 1422   HENRY V  (Plantagenet)

    Nov 1419   Thomas Beaufort, first Duke of Clarence & brother of King Henry V, has 3 Henxmen.

            1420  ‘Henry Henxman’ is listed as an Archer in John, Duke of Bedford’s expedition to France.

22 Feb 1421  1st known records of Queen’s Henxmen (5), and Henxmen in the Riding from the Tower.

1422 - 1461   HENRY VI  (House of Lancaster) – First Reign

23 Apr 1424   12 Henxmen ‘drest rich and gay’ attend the annual Garter Feast at Windsor Castle.

30 Sep 1435   4 ‘Henxmen’ of the Duke of Bedford, dressed richly in black, attend his funeral in Rouen.

1452 -  1453  Sumptuous finery (clothes & spurs) bought by the King’s Wardrobe for his 5 ‘Henxemen’.

19 Oct  1453  The end of the Hundred Years War between England & France (1337-1453).  But . . .

22 May 1455  Start of the Wars of the Roses (to 1485): the Houses of York & Lancaster battle for power.  Both sides employ Henxmen throughout the wars, as recognised symbols of monarchy.

1461 - 1470   EDWARD IV  (House of York) – First Reign

16 May 1463  ‘Henshmen’ (as with Heralds) are excluded from an Act regulating social grades of apparel.

11 Nov 1463  3 longbows are purchased for the ‘Heynsmen’ of John Howard, later Duke of Norfolk.

14 May 1464  A Henxman at the Battle of Hexham impersonates Henry VI, allowing the King to escape.

1465 - 1468   Richard, Duke of Gloucester & future king, acts as Henxman to Warwick the Kingmaker.

09 Dec 1469  George, Duke of Clarence’s household includes 5 ‘Henxmen’ and 1 ‘Maister of them’.

1470 - 1471   HENRY VI  (House of Lancaster) – Second Reign

Circa    1470  The mediaeval poem ‘Floure & Leafe’ mentions ‘Three Henshemen, on him awaiting’.

1471 - 1483   EDWARD IV  (House of York) – Second Reign

Circa    1471  The ‘Black Book’ of the King’s household records many details of the Henxmen’s lives.

22 Jan 1478   ‘Henshmens’ attend a joust celebrating the marriage of Prince Richard, Duke of York.

            1478   Sir John Cheney appointed Master of the Henchmen: his effigy is in Salisbury Cathedral.

Circa    1480   Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward V), aged 9, has 7 ‘Hengemen’ in his household.

Apr-Jun 1483  EDWARD V  (House of York)

17 Apr 1483  4 ‘Henshemen’ ride beside the King’s carriage, in the funeral procession of Edward IV.

     Jun 1483  Edward IV’s sons Edward & Richard, heirs to the throne, are locked away in the Tower.

1483 - 1485  RICHARD III  (House of York)

05 Jul  1483  7 King’s ‘Henxemen’ in the Riding from the Tower, before the coronation of Richard III.

05 Jul  1483  ‘Five Hengemen of our lady the queen’ in the Riding before Queen Anne’s coronation.

1485 - 1509  HENRY VII  (House of Tudor)

26 Sep 1486  Henxmen attend the royal christening of Prince Arthur, in Winchester Cathedral, Hants.

Circa    1489  Thomas Crosborough (not a Henxman) is praised by Henry VII, and adopts the surname of HENCHMAN. 
                      This spelling also enters English as a common noun, but loses much of its original meaning through use in other contexts, especially in American crime fiction.

07 Dec 1490  The Earl of Surrey, a former Henxman, employs 2 ‘henchemen’ in his own household.

            1494  The King ‘would suffer noe lord’s servant to awaite there, but onely the henchmen’.

03-21 Aug 1501  2 Henxmen have 15 shirts washed in 11 weeks, averaging 10¼ days per change of shirt!

c.  Apr  1502  Sir James Tyrrell, Henxman, admits under torture to murdering the Princes in the Tower.

1509 - 1547   HENRY VIII  (House of Tudor)

06 Jan 1511   Henxmen act in pageants ‘and dansed a morice’ to celebrate the birth of Prince Henry.

30 Jun 1513   Henry VIII invades France with an army including 21 Henxmen: the biggest number ever.

11 Aug 1513  Henry VIII, with 9 richly dressed & equipped Henxmen, meets the Holy Roman Emperor.

09 Sep 1513  Thomas Howard, former Henxman & later Duke of Norfolk, wins the Battle of Flodden.

13 Sep 1513  ‘Hencheman’ Henry Norace’s horse bolts, taking him right into the French army & back.

1513 - 1517  Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, maintains 3 ‘Haunshemen’ in his household.

            1515  One of many Statutes of Apparel exempting ‘Hensmen’ from regulations on dress codes.

07 Jun 1520  The Henxmen attend Henry VIII, meeting Francis I of France at the Field of Cloth of Gold.

11 Feb 1524  Frances Philip, ‘scholemaster to the Henxmen’, is hung, drawn & quartered for treason.

            1526  Draft Ordinances for the King’s Household include regulations regarding his ‘Henxmen’.

            1526  Sir Francis Bryan, ‘Master of the Henchmen’, is named ‘The Vicar of Hell’ by Henry VIII.

03 Jan 1540  ‘Henxemen’ attend Henry VIII as he greets his new wife, Anne of Cleeves, at Greenwich.

1547 - 1553  EDWARD VI  (House of Tudor)

19 Feb 1547  Henxmen are pictured in the Riding from the Tower, prior to Edward VI’s coronation.

24 Apr 1549  ‘Edward de Henxmen’ receives a grant of arms.  Its design implies a link to Titchfield, and the arms are later used by members of the HINXMAN family from Hampshire.
                      But so far no clear evidence of descent (giving a right for descendants to bear these arms) has been discovered.

10-19 Jul 1553  Lady JANE GREY  (House of Tudor)

                      No record of Henxman involvement has been found from her 9 days of attempted rule.

1553 - 1558  MARY I  (House of Tudor)

08 Aug 1553  9 ‘Henchemen’ ride coursers (warhorses) dressed in black velvet, at Edward VI’s funeral.

23 Jul  1554  ‘Henchemen’ meet Philip I of Spain & bring him to Winchester, to marry Queen Mary I.

            1555  ‘That lerned young man, Clement Adams, scol mayster to the Queenes Henshemen’.

1558 - 1603  ELIZABETH I  (House of Tudor)

08 Dec 1558  Death of Sir Thomas Cheney, a Henxman of Henry VII who served all 5 Tudor monarchs.

14 Jan 1559   Henxmen in cloth of gold ride behind Elizabeth I in her Riding from the Tower ceremony.

c.01 Dec 1565  After 220 years, Elizabeth I abolishes the Henxmen to cut costs: ‘Her highness hathe of late, wherat some doo much marvell, dissolved the auncient office of the henchmen’.

          1565+  At least 2 former Henxmen adopted the job title as inherited surnames: HINKSMAN (in the Welsh Marches), & HINXMAN (in Hampshire).
                      Precise details of the founders’ names and dates are not yet known.  Both families and surnames survive to the present day.

Illustration 2:  Shield from the Coat of Arms granted to Edward Henxman, 1549.  Published 1915.  For picture details, see footnotes.

Henxmen Sources
These are some of the highlights, but we now know so much more than this about the Henxmen. 

Research to date has discovered nearly 250 surviving contemporary records of them, from the Henxman era (c.1345-1565).  Later mentions of the Henxmen, especially those from within living memory of them, add further data.  Together, these records provide a series of random glimpses informing our understanding of the Henxmen’s lives.

Henxmen & History
It was central to the Henxmen’s duty to be close to the sovereign.  Some were even on such close terms with their king, that he gave them humorous nicknames.  So we know the Henxmen were present at many of the significant events in English history, throughout the 220 years of their existence.

They witnessed ceremonial processions, great battles, coronations, expeditions, jousting tournaments, royal funerals, meetings of heads of state, and court intrigues.  In the Royal Household they rubbed shoulders with many famous names: the royal family, aristocrats, churchmen, artists, military leaders, politicians, and writers.  They visited great palaces, royal warships, mighty castles, grand homes of the nobility, and sometimes travelled far across Europe on royal business.

Wherever the English monarch was, and English history made, the Henxmen were generally there too.

Henxman Heritage
The Henxmen were chosen from young men (and sometimes youths) of the nobility and gentry who supported the crown.  It appears they were carefully selected for trustworthiness, physical fitness, and the ability to operate both independently and as a team.  They also received training in martial skills and courtly behaviour. 

It was in the monarchs’ interest to ensure their bodyguards were superlative, and that they were known for their impressive prowess.  Thus even during their existence, the Henxmen’s name became famous: a byword for total loyalty and impressive capability.  They created a legend, that survived in folk memory long after they passed.

One of the surviving variants of the Henxman title, over 450 years later, is the surname of the HINXMAN family: a proud memory, preserved through 18 generations of descendants.

It is a rare and special heritage, from a dramatic period of English history.

These highlights were selected from the large number of contemporary references to the Henxmen which have been collected over several decades.  It is intended that full details of all known references to the Henxmen will be published on a series of companion websites.

A version of this webpage may be freely downloaded from the foot of this page.  It is a MS Word document, in .pdf format, and occupies 4 sides of A4 paper in portrait orientation.

Webpage version 2019.1.  First version 2019.
Webpage copyright © Richard HINXMAN, 2019.


1:  Jousting, 1450.  Published 1813.
Hand-tinted steel engraving.  Drawn by C. H. S.  Etched by I. A. ATKINSON.  Aquatinted by HILL.  Published 01 Jul 1813.  A Tournament as practised in the XV Century, 1450.  COLNAGHI & Co.  23 Cockspur Street, London, England.  A gift from Lt-Colonel Anthony S. BULLIVANT (1915-1993) to Derek Ernest HINXMAN (1924-1981; Titchfield branch), in commemoration of their involvement in the first jousting tournament in the world since the Renaissance period.  Collection of Richard HINXMAN. 
Public domain.  See Terms of Use.

2.  Shield from the Coat of Arms granted to Edward Henxman, 1549.  Published 1915.
Colour lithographic print.  Frank 'Bert' Sisson RINGHAM (1862-1941).  16 Aug 1915.  Hinxman (Little Durnford, Wilts).  Published privately, as celebratory gifts to the family of his wife, Alice HINXMAN (1856-1941), on the occasion of their wedding.  Bristol, England.  Collection of Richard HINXMAN.  Public domain.  See Terms of Use.

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Richard Hinxman,
17 Sep 2019, 14:44