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

This page offers an overview of the career of Edward/Giles Henxman (c.1523->1549). 

This Henxman has long been known to the HINXMAN family as the recipient of a grant of arms by Edward VI (1537-1553) in 1549.  But so far, this is the only hard evidence we have about him at all.

Although the grant of arms is confirmed by various authors, there even remains some doubt on whether his first name was Edward or Giles.  The authority who made the original grant of arms is the College of Arms - but they confirm they do not possess a copy of this original grant.  For the purposes of this article, the grantee is therefore provisionally known as 'Edward/Giles'.

Despite the lack of hard evidence, we can deduce a lot about his career from a general knowledge of the Henxmen.  There is also evidence indicating that Edward/Giles became the founding father of the HINXMAN family.  And Edward/Giles has a good claim to be one of the best, and one of the last, of our illustrious predecessors: the Henxmen of the Royal Household.

c. 1523:  Edward/Giles WAYTE(?)
Edward/Giles Henxman was probably born in about 1523.

Edward/Giles's last name of Henxman (English), or Le Henchman (Norman French; then still the official court language), was stated in his grant of arms.  This was the title of his occupation, and when he was first appointed as a Henxman this was not used as an inherited family name. 

But surnames were already very common by then, so he would have had a separate, inherited family surname.  Recent research indicates he started life as Edward/Giles WAYTE, from Hampshire.  The WAYTE family were landed gentry aspiring to the aristocracy, and connected to the royal Plantagenet family through King Edward IV.  This also made them relatives of the later, Tudor dynasty.  The WAYTEs owned a number of properties across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, including at Andover, Barton Stacey and Titchfield - points of origin for three of the oldest HINXMAN family branches.

Circa 1547:  Edward/Giles Henxman

When granted arms in 1549, Edward/Giles 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/Giles 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 had another advantage too: his family were related to the Tudor royal family and loyal to the crown, so they probably used their contacts at court to request this special position for him.  He was possibly 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 his family's influence.

1547: The Lord Protector
King Henry VIII 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/Giles 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/Giles Henxman would have been at least 21 years old when appointed, and probably less than 25.  On that basis, his 23rd birthday was most likely sometime in the year preceding the February 1547 coronation, making his birth year circa 1523.

1547:  Riding from the Tower
Edward/Giles 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/Giles 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.

1549:  Grant of Arms

Two years later, on 24 April 1549, Edward/Giles Henxman was awarded a distinctive coat of arms, containing clues about him and his service to the Crown.  At this time Edward Henxman was aged 26, while the young King Edward VI was still only 11 years old.

The design of Edward/Giles's shield is identical to that of the WAYTE family, giving a clear indication of his family origin.  His newly granted crest (a forearm clothed in green and gold, holding aloft a deer's antler) suggests that Edward/Giles and the young King enjoyed hunting together. 

Hunting deer for food and sport was a common pastime among the upper classes.  Green was colour frequently worn by a huntsmen, and here perhaps commemorates an incident when hunting, possibly in the royal Great Park at Windsor (illustrated here), which was kept well stocked with deer for that purpose.

A male deer (probably a red deer stag, or possibly a fallow buck) seems to have been involved.  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/Giles Henxman. 

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

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

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

It is interesting that the main colours selected for Edward/Giles's coat of arms reflect the scarlet and gold, with black trim, of the Henxmen's uniform at that time.  They also appear to have been the favourite colours of Edward VI, and the young King is shown wearing these colours in most of his contemporary portraits (see illustration below). 

The use of the royal colours on Edward Henxman's personal arms, granted to him for life, would have been seen as highly significant.  It emphasises that the arms were granted as a sign of personal royal favour and regard, and not merely for general services to the state.  So it seems clear that King Edward VI liked Edward/Giles Henxman personally.

Later that year, on 11 October 1549, Somerset was indicted by the Regency Council and arrested, bringing his autocratic rule to an end.  But Edward/Giles Henxman had been lucky: his grant of arms was secure, as it had been completed more than 6 months earlier. 

It was the powerful Somerset who had authorised firstly the appointment of Edward Henxman, and later Edward Henxman's highest reward: his own coat of arms, signifying royal favour, gratitude and approval to him and his descendants.  But now Somerset was sent to the Tower of London, and after a brief spell of freedom was beheaded in Jan 1552.  Edward Henxman had lost a powerful ally, and would need to tread carefully.

King Edward VI

The post of Henxman required fit, strong, young men - so this was not a job for life. 

Edward would have expected to serve for no more than 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 one 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 routine work and training of the Henxmen continued as normal for a while.
  For instance, on 09 July 1550 (the year after Edward/Giles 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 Buckley’s teaching, but Edward/Giles and the other Henxmen were clearly receiving an education of sorts, as part of their employment training.

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

1553:  Turmoil
Then, in February 1553, his lord the young King fell ill with tuberculosis (TB).  Everything was done to save him, but it became clear Edward VI was going to die.

The succession was disputed between political groupings, whose prime differences were religious.  Tensions still ran high between various Christian groups vying for supremacy, 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 the Duke of Northumberland, leader of the Council.  Edward VI later named this Jane GREY as his heir, bypassing his step-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, who had been born to other mothers. 

On 06 July Edward VI died aged 15, and on 10 July the Duke of Northumberland proclaimed Lady Jane as Queen - but she failed to gain public support.  The Duke of Northumberland next attempted to seize Princess Mary, who had much popular support, but she evaded capture.  Meanwhile the Council changed allegiance in his absence on 19 July, proclaiming Mary as Queen amid public rejoicing. 

Lady Jane had ruled (in name at least) for just 9 days, never leaving the safety of the Tower of London.  So far as we can tell, she never appointed any Henxmen for her household.  Northumberland was arrested soon afterwards, and executed for high treason on 22 Aug 1553.  Lady Jane and her husband were held in prison, and then executed on 12 February 1554. 

Queen Mary I
Mary I, staunchly Catholic like her mother Catherine of Aragon, was victorious.  She consolidated her power rapidly and worked throughout her reign to restore and strengthen Catholic faith.  She burned over 280 Protestants at the stake, and married the Catholic King Philip II of Spain, who became co-ruler of England during their marriage.  There is no doubt Mary I would have dismissed all of Edward VI's Henxmen, being viewed as tainted by their loyalty to a Protestant king.  So at the latest, Edward/Giles Henxman left his job at her coronation on 01 October 1553.

Given Edward Henxman's loyal service to the Protestant Edward VI, he undoubtedly kept a low profile during Catholic Mary I's reign.  But he was still a relative of the new Queen, so he avoided the need to change his name and seek total anonymity.  Nevertheless, at this point we lose track of Edward/Giles's life and nothing more is known of him with any certainty, except the details of the first generation of the HINXMAN family, who appear to be his children.  These will be detailed in a separate webpage.

Meanwhile, Mary I's reign was to last only 5 years.  On 17 November 1558 she died without having produced children.

Elizabeth I
Mary's younger sister the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I then followed her to the throne.  It is possible that Edward/Giles (as a former Henxman and a Protestant) could have 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/Giles - 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. 

We have no definite date for Edward/Giles's death, but general life expectancy figures offer a clue.  The average life expectancy at birth for English people in the late 16th and early 17th centuries was just under 40 years (39.7 to be exact).  However, this low figure was mostly due to the high rate of infant and child mortality: over 12% of all children born would die in their first year.  A man or woman who reached the age of 30 could expect to live to 59, and Edward/Giles would have reached this age in 1582.

Edward/Giles Henxman came from a well-off family, so he probably had a healthier and better-fed upbringing than most people.  Certainly his appointment as a Henxman implies he was strong, fit and healthy in his late teens and twenties.  If he remained relatively well-to-do (and therefore able to afford good food and healthcare), and avoided diseases, and injury or death in jousts or battles, he could well have survived well into his sixties or later - so Edward/Giles might have lived to the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada in 1588 (aged 65), or even beyond.  A date of circa 1585 is a reasonable estimate, but the actual date is not known.

Did Edward/Giles 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?  These now appear highly likely, and he had better reason than most Henxmen to claim that honour.  Further research is continuing into this topic.

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

  • Unattributed.  Accessed Feb 2020.  Raising Children in the Early 17th Century: DemographicsA collaboration between Plimoth Plantation and the New England Historic Genealogical Society® supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  USA.  URL:  https://www.plimoth.org/sites/default/files/media/pdf/edmaterials_demographics.pdf/
  • Comment:  A succint discussion of life expectancy and causes of death in childhood during the 1600s.
This page draws on content from a range of original sources, some of which are not listed here for the sake of simplicity.  These will be published on a companion website, Henxmen Sources.

Webpage version 2021.1.  First version 2015.
Webpage c
opyright © Richard HINXMAN, 2020.

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 in Victorian times 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.