Sir William Sharington
William Sharington was the son of Thomas Sharington and his wife Katherine Pyrton. Little is known of his early life. His family was wealthy and owned several manors. They came from Norfolk.
He married three times: first to Ursula, the illegitimate daughter of John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners. His father in law was influential and it is probably because of him that Sharington became well placed in the King’s court: in 1538, he was in the retinue of the diplomat and Chief Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, Sir Francis Bryan, who was a nephew of Lord Berners. He then became a Page of the Robes and a Groom by 1540. In 1541 he was elevated to the Privy Chamber.
Sharington bought Lacock from the King in 1540 for the sum of £783.10.10¼. He then transformed it into a home, retaining much of the original fabric, although the infirmary and abbey church had been demolished.
By the time he had bought Lacock, he was married to his second wife Eleanor Walsingham, the sister of Francis Walsingham who became Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I.
By 1548, he owned no fewer than 14 manors and estates in Wiltshire and neighbouring counties, according to a survey. Through his purchases of ex-monastic lands he became extremely wealthy and therefore very powerful.
He was a successful merchant and moneylender, owning several ships. However, in 1549 he was arrested along with Sir Thomas Seymour of Sudeley for debasing the coinage at the Bristol Mint, where he was vice treasurer. Seymour was beheaded for treason; Sharington had his lands forfeited but, blaming Seymour for the worst crimes, escaped greater punishment. A few months later he publicly confessed and was pardoned. He was restored to royal favour and paid a debt to the Crown. He also paid £8000 for the restoration of his lands and estates.
By 1542 he had married his third wife, Grace Paget nee Farrington, the widow of Robert Paget. This was the first of three marriages between the Paget and Sharington families, the other two being William’s brother Henry to Grace’s daughter Anne, and his sister Olive to Grace’s son James.
He was knighted in 1547 at Edward VI’s coronation. He was also MP for Heytesbury in 1545, MP for Wiltshire in 1547, and High Sheriff of Wiltshire from 1552 until his death.
Despite marrying three times, he died without issue in 1553 and was succeeded by his brother Henry.