c.1523->1549:  Best of Henxmen
Edward Henxman or Le Henchman, granted a Coat of Arms by Edward VI

This page offers an overview of the notable career of Edward Henxman (c.1523->1549): one of the best, and last, of our Henxmen predecessors in the Royal Household.

We know - and can deduce - more about Edward Henxman than any other Henxman.  This is because in 1549 he was awarded a distinctive coat of arms, containing clues about him and his service to King Edward VI.  The information below is based on these, supplemented by other sources on the period.

Edward's last name of Henxman (English), or Le Henchman (Norman French; still then the official court language), was stated in his grant of arms.  This was the name of his occupation, and was not at that point an inherited family name.  He would have had a separate, inherited family surname.  That surname has not yet been positively identified, but there are some indications that Edward came from a land-owning family near Titchfield, in Hampshire, England.


When granted arms in 1549, Edward was already a serving Henxman in the Royal Household.  Documentary evidence from that period shows the King then was served by a Master of Henxmen, 6 Henxmen (including Edward), and
a Teacher of Henxmen.

To be appointed to this elite position was not easy.  Like all Henxmen, Edward would have come from a respected, land-owning family, and would have already received at least basic schooling.  To be selected for the post, above all else he had to be totally trustworthy.  In addition he had to be presentable, well mannered, loyal, trustworthy, young, strong, fit, intelligent, a good swordsman, a proficient horseman, and (at that time) a demonstrably devout member of the Church of England. 

Edward was probably a member of the aristocracy, or possibly gentry.  He was probably a younger son, excluded from inheriting the family estates, and using this post as an opportunity to establish influential contacts and to seek his fortune.  He would have needed a confident, competitive and aspiring nature, but would have been much aided by family influence in obtaining his post.

Early Chronology

King Henry VIII had died on 28 January 1547.  His only male heir was his son Edward Tudor, aged 9, so Henry VIII left a Will creating a Regency Council to govern the country.  Within days this became dominated by the boy king's uncle, Edward SEYMOUR, 1st Duke of Somerset (c.1500-1552; illustrated here), who had himself appointed Lord Protector of England on 04 February 1547.

Illustration 1.  Edward SEYMOUR, 1st Duke of Somerset & Lord Protector.  Circa 1537.  For picture details, see footnotes.

New Henxmen were usually appointed for each coronation, and in this case their selection and appointment would have been subject to the approval of the Lord Protector Somerset.  Both Prince Edward and Somerset were staunchly Protestant, so the new Henxmen would have been selected on that basis, to guard against the risk of any Catholic plots against the new king.

Edward Henxman is unlikely to have been granted his coat of arms soon after joining the Henxmen: he probably had a few years' experience before gaining such a significant reward.  He may even have been a Henxman under King Henry VIII, retained for young King Edward VI because of his experience and proven commitment.  But he was most probably one of the new intake appointed by Somerset, just prior to the coronation of King Edward VI on 20 February 1547.  If so, Edward Henxman would have been at least 21 years old when appointed, and probably less than 25.  On that basis, he was about 23 years old at the 1547 coronation, making his birth year circa 1523.

Riding from the Tower
Edward therefore very likely took part in the ceremony of Riding from the Tower, on 19 February 1547. 
This grand state event was an enormous, pre-coronation procession through London, with thousands of people taking part and taking several hours to pass by.  Edward is probably one of the 5 Henxmen shown at the centre of the surviving picture of this event
(6 were actually present), so we may even have a picture of him, although he cannot be individually distinguished from his colleagues.

As the Henxmen were in the King's personal service, they were required to wear uniforms bearing the royal colours while on ceremonial duties.  During this Riding from the Tower in 1547, and the ensuing coronation, the Henxmen were dressed in a uniform of scarlet tunics and hose, cloaks of cloth of gold with scarlet collars, and black caps and shoes.  An indication of their status is that in the entire procession only the King, Lord Protector Somerset, and the Henxmen were allowed to wear the royal cloth of gold.

Grant of Arms

Two years later, on 24 April 1549, Edward Henxman received a grant of arms.  This was awarded for a special service to the young King Edward VI, but we do not know the full details. 

Judging from the design, the reason was an incident whilst deer hunting, possibly in the royal Great Park at Windsor (illustrated here), involving both Edward and the King. 

A male deer (probably a red deer stag, or possibly a fallow buck) seems to have been involved, and possibly bugle hunting horns too (although the latter may be symbols copied from the arms of Edward's family).  Perhaps Edward VI cornered a stag at the end of a chase, and the deer turned on the young King - to be beaten back by Edward Henxman. 

Whatever happened, the grateful King - or his Lord Protector Somerset - instigated the grant of arms to Edward Henxman, as a reward for his evident loyalty and service.

Illustration 2.  Windsor Castle & Windsor Great Park.  1840.  For picture details, see footnotes.

Edward's grant of arms was drawn up by the most senior herald of the College of Arms: the Garter Principal King of Arms, who was then Sir Christopher BARKER (14??-1550). 

The main colours he selected for Edward's coat of arms reflect the scarlet and gold, with black trim, of the Henxmen's uniform of that time.  This colour mix was a particular favourite of Edward VI, and he can be seen wearing them in various portraits (see illustration below).  The use of these royal colours on Edward Henxman's arms would have been seen as highly significant, and further emphasises that the arms were granted as a sign of personal royal favour, and not merely for general services to the state.

Later that year, on 11 October 1549, Somerset was indicted and imprisoned by the Regency Council, bringing his autocratic rule to an end.  But the grant of arms to Edward Henxman was secure: it had occurred more than 6 months earlier.  King Edward VI must have liked Edward Henxman, who had clearly shown himself to be loyal and trustworthy.  But it was the powerful Somerset who had authorised the appointment of Edward Henxman, and his highest reward: Edward's own coat of arms, signifying royal favour, gratitude and approval to him and his descendants.


The post of Henxman required fit, strong, young men - so this was not a job for life.  Edward would have expected to serve for up to 10 years at the most, and then leave to take up other duties.  In the event, his career as a Henxman was to be ended after about 6 years by a major political upheaval.  There had already been a significant change in 1549, when Somerset was removed from power, but Edward Henxman probably kept his post at that time.  The Regency Council and its new leader - John DUDLEY, the 1st Duke of Northumberland (1504-1553) - remained Protestant, and Edward Henxman was already well known and trusted by Edward VI. 

So the Henxmen's routine work and training continued for a while.
  On 09 July 1550 (the year after Edward Henxman's grant of arms) King Edward VI witnessed a private writ titled: ‘Regarding the Office of teaching those Young Men of the King called Henchmen, to be granted .  .  . to our well beloved Servant William Buckley Master of Arts .  .  .’.   No detail is known of William Buckley’s teaching, but it is clear that Edward and the other Henxmen were receiving an education of sorts, as part of their employment training.

Then, in February 1553, his lord the young King fell ill with tuberculosis (TB).  The succession was disputed between political groupings, whose prime differences were religious.  Tensions still ran high following Henry VIII's rejection of the Pope and Catholicism in 1534, in favour of his new, Protestant Church of England.  Many people had embraced the new religion, but others were keen to see Catholicism return.

In May 1553, Edward VI's Protestant cousin Lady Jane GREY married the son of Northumberland, leader of the Council.  Sometime later Edward VI named this Jane GREY as his heir, bypassing his step-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, who had been born to other mothers.  Edward VI died on 06 July, aged 15, and on 10 July Northumberland proclaimed Lady Jane as Queen - but she failed to get public support.  Next he attempted to seize Princess Mary, who had popular suppport, but she evaded capture.  The Council changed allegiance in his absence on 19 July, proclaiming Mary as Queen amid public rejoicing.  Northumberland was arrested, and executed for high treason on 22 Aug 1553, while Lady Jane and her husband were executed on 12 February 1554.

Illustration 3.  King Edward VI.  Circa 1547.  For picture details, see footnotes below.

Throughout her reign, Queen Mary I worked to restore Catholicism.  She burned over 280 Protestants at the stake, and married the Catholic Philip II of Spain, who became co-ruler during their marriage,
but afterwards sent the Armada against England.  Mary I would certainly have dismissed all of Edward VI's Henxmen, as tainted by loyalty to a Protestant king - so at the latest, Edward Henxman left his job at her accession on 01 October 1553.

When Edward Henxman left his post, he was probably forbidden to use his former job title, including as a surname, to prevent potential abuse of the Henxmen's powers.  Given his loyal service to the Protestant Edward VI, he undoubtedly kept a low profile during Catholic Mary I's reign, possibly even changing his name in a bid for anonymity.  So at this point we lose track of Edward's life.  If his name was recorded at all in the subsequent years, it would have been under his family's surname - of which we are unsure.  So nothing more is known of him with any certainty.

But Mary I's reign was to last only 5 years.  On 17 November 1558 she died without having produced children, and her younger sister the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne.  It is possible that Edward (no longer a Henxman) returned to court in a new role - but by then he was probably too busy in his new life elsewhere.

One last surprise was to come.  On about 01 December 1565, Queen Elizabeth I abolished the post of Henxman, ending the embargo on the word being used as a surname.  By then Edward - if he still lived - was aged about 42.  He had been the first and only serving Henxman to be awarded a coat of arms, so he could have fairly claimed that he was among the best of Henxmen.  If he was still alive in 1565, he was now also one of the last: his former post was abolished only 16 years after he was granted his coat of arms. 

Did Edward adopt his old title again, as a surname for himself and his offspring?  Did he become the founding father of a family with a new surname - possibly HINXMAN?  It certainly appears possible, and he had better reason than most Henxmen to claim that honour.  But we simply do not know the truth of that, and maybe we never will. 

Be that as it may, nearly 470 years after his grant of arms,
Edward Henxman and his coat of arms remain widely known and honoured across the HINXMAN family.

This page draws on content from a range of original sources, which for the sake of simplicity are not listed here.  They are gradually being published in detail on a companion website, Henxmen Sources.

Next . . .
  • Click on HINXMAN Family to begin learning about the HINXMAN family: its origins, naming traditions, and branches.
Webpage version 2018.1.  First version 2015.
Webpage c
opyright © Richard HINXMAN, 2015.

1.  Edward SEYMOUR, later 1st Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England
The Latin inscription either side of his head is: 'E(dwardus) SE(mour) C(omes) HER(tfordiensis)' ('Edward SEYMOUR, Earl of Hertford').  He wears the chain of the Order of the Garter, from which hangs the Great George.  Edward SEYMOUR (1500-1552) was later created Duke of Somerset (1547), & Lord Protector (1547–49).  Somerset would have been involved in the appointment of Edward Henxman in 1547, and in authorising his grant of arms in 1549. 

Original:  Unknown artist.  Circa 1537.  Portrait of Edward SEYMOUR, 1st Earl of Hertford.  Collection of the Marquess of Bath.  Longleat House, Wiltshire, England.
Source:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bb/Edward_Seymour.jpg.
  Licence:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0.

2.  Windsor Castle & the Long Walk, Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park was a large deer park, attached to Windsor Castle, and was a private hunting ground of the English monarchs for many centuries.  Clues in Edward Henxman's coat of arms, granted at Windsor in 1549, suggest it relates to a hunting incident - possibly in the Great Park.  This view gives some idea of the great scale of the park, which even now (though much reduced) still covers 5,000 acres (20 sq.km).  Parts of the park are now open to the public.

Original:  Watercolour on paper. 
James Duffield HARDING (1798-1863).  1840.  Windsor Castle, looking down the Long Walk from the Copper Horse.  Exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club 1937; Exhibited at the Athenaeum Club 1950.  Collection of The National Trust.  Held at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire, England.
This version: 
Monochrome print, of an engraving of the above.  Found in:  Barrington J. W. HILL (1915-1985).  1957.  British Cities and Towns - Windsor & Eton.  Publisher B. T. Batsford.  London, England.  Collection of Richard HINXMAN. 
Public domain.  See Terms of Use.

3.  King Edward VI
This portrait was created during King Edward VI's coronation year.  The Henxmen's colours matched those shown here, indicating they were personal retainers of the King.
The same colours were reflected in the coat of arms which Edward VI later granted to Edward Henxman.

Original:  Workshop associated with 'Master John'.  Oil on panel.  Circa 1547.  King Edward VI.  61 1/4 in. x 32 in. (1556 mm x 813 mm).  National Portrait Gallery.  London, England.  Purchased, 1982.  Primary Collection.  NPG 5511.
Source:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AEdward_VI_swagger.jpg.  Licence:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0.