Thame Local History
Sir John Williams and the Reformation
Sir John Williams had a house in London, in
Cripplegate, but he developed close ties with Oxfordshire.
He was Member of Parliament for Oxfordshire for 11 years, as well as three times County Sheriff and Justice of the Peace.
Thomas Cromwell, who was related to John Williams, undertook the Dissolution of the Monastries on behalf of King Henry VIII between 1536 and 1540.
John Williams acted as Visitor to the monastries in Oxfordshire, and in 1539 both Thame Park's Cistercian Abbey and the Augustinian Notely Abbey were surrendered to him.
Through handling the Dissolution of the Oxfordshire monastries, Sir John williams became possessed of great wealth.
He was able in 1539 to buy the Rycote estate, including Rycote Palace, from Sir Giles Heron, the son of Sir John Heron who had himself acquired it from the bankrupt Richard Fowler in 1521.
In 1540 King Henry VIII spent his honeymoon with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, at Rycote Palace. On this occasion, his host was Sir John Williams, now owner of both Rycote and Thame Park.
In 1544 Sir John Williams gave up the role of Master of the King's Jewels and took up the more prestigious post of Treasurer of the Court of Augmentations.
The purpose the Court of Augmentations was to ensure that the Crown received its due share of the land and possessions previously held by the now dissolved Church houses.
King Henry VIII died in 1547, and his young son Edward VI came to the throne. It was during the reign of King Edward VI that the Bishop of Lincoln relinquished the manors of Thame to the Crown.
Through his high office, Sir John Williams managed to secure for himself the former lands of the Bishop of Lincoln in Oxfordshire.
The episcopal authority of Lincoln over Oxfordshire had ceased more or less at the Dissolution. The Diocese of Oxford had been set up in 1542.
Sir John Williams was granted the manors of Thame, to add to his already large estates at Rycote and Thame Park, as well as possessions elsewhere.
It appears that the new Lord of the Manor did not enjoy the wholehearted support of the people of Thame and the surrounding area.
In 1549 there was an outbreak of revolt, during which the deer in Sir John Williams' two parks, Rycote Park and Thame Park, were killed.