Sir William Weston

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Sir William Weston (1470-1540), was last Prior of the Knights Hospitallers in England. He was the younger son of Sir Edmund Weston and Catherine, widow of Renaud Lempriere, and brother of Sir Richard Weston. The Jersey Chronicler wrote:

"A gentleman of Harliston's company, named Weston, after the death of the Seigneur of Rosel married the Lady of Rosel. To Weston and this lady two sons were born, one named William, the other Richard. They were both Knights. William was a Knight of Rhodes, and afterward Grand Prior of the Order in England. Richard was Captain of the Isle of Guernsey, and also a member of the King's Privy Council. Both were born in Rosel Manor".

Birthplace

Sir William confirmed his birth in Jersey in a letter written in 1530:

"I, Sir Wm Weston, do declare for matter of treweth that Nicholas Villiard, berer hereof, was borne in the parishe of St Saviour in the Isle of Jersey, in the which Isle I myselfe was borne".

He joined the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, an Order in which two of his uncles had been Turcopoliers (second in command to the Grand Master) and a third Lord Prior in England.

We first hear of Sir William in 1508, when be arrived in Calais on a diplomatic mission. In 1510 he was at the headquarters of the Order in Rhodes. In 1520 he was Admiral of the fleet of the Knights of Rhodes, and commanded the first ironclad on record, the Great Carrack, which carried a crew of 500, and was provisioned for six months. She was sheathed in metal, and said to be perfectly cannon-proof.

He was wounded in the famous defence of Rhodes (May-December 1522), when 1,000 knights kept at bay the forces of Solyman the Magnificent at the height of his power. In 1527, through his brother's influence with Wolsey, he was appointed Lord Prior of the Order in England. Their chief house was St John's, Clerkenwell, and the Prior ranked as first of the lay barons in the Roll of Peers.

Sir William took his seat in the House of Lords, and unlike his brother opposed the King's anti-papal policy. In 1540 his Order was dissolved in England. He was granted a pension of £1,000, an enormous sum in those days, five times the salary of the Lord Chancellor, but he did not live to enjoy it.

"Upon 7 May 1540, being Ascension Day, the same day as the dissolution of the House, he was dissolved by death, which strook him at the heart at the first time he heard of the dissolution of the Order"

He was buried in a "fair marble tomb" in St James' Church, Clerkenwell.

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