Thame Local History
The Early Life of John Williams
The father of John Williams was also called John Williams,
and he too was knighted.
Sir John Williams the elder married Elizabeth More, the daughter of Richard More of Burghfield in Berkshire. It is thought that the young John Williams was born at Burghfield in 1500.
The family of the elder John Williams can apparently be traced back twelve generations to a Lord of Glamorganshire in the twelfth century.
In 1526 the young John Williams appears on the list of servants of Cardinal Wolsey at the newly completed Hampton Court Palace, built by Wolsey, and presented to King Henry VIII in 1525.
In 1521 Sir John Heron, Treasurer of the Household to both King Henry VIII and his father King Henry VII, had bought the Rycote estate, seemingly after its former owner, Richard Fowler, had bankrupted himself building Rycote Palace, which had many striking resemblances to Hampton Court Palace.
A rising star at the court of King Henry VIII and already familiar with the grand surroundings of Hampton Court, John Williams perhaps determined whilst in his twenties to secure for himself the almost look-alike Rycote Palace.
In 1530 John Williams became the Clerk of King's Jewels to King Henry VIII, having attracted the monarch's attention whilst at Hampton Court.
He later became Master of the King's Jewels, and at first shared this office with Thomas Cromwell, to whom he was distantly related through marriage.
In 1537, at the age of 37, John Williams was knighted by King Henry VIII.