born abt 1430 - died 9th November 1493

  • Famous Judge who's carreer started as a lawyer for the Paston Family
  • 1454 admitted as a student of law at Lincoln's Inn in London and was later appointed Governor of that institution in 1461
  • 1466 was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Norfolk
  • 1467 M.P. for Bramber in Sussex
  • 1472 M.P. for Calne
  • 1477 Continued as a Reader at Lincoln's Inn
  • 1478 Sergent-at-Law
  • 1481 King's Sergent
  • 1485 Appointed by King Richard III as Justice of the Common Fee
  • 1486 Retained this Position with Henry VII and was knighted

Selected extract from Robert O'Connors notes:

The Townshend family can lay claim to a long and illustrious line of descent in the direct male line traceable from the fifteenth century. The real founder of the family was Sir Roger Townshend. Born about 1430, he was in September 1454 admitted as a student of law at Lincoln's Inn in London and was later appointed Governor of that institution in 1461. In 1466 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Norfolk and in April 1467 was returned to Parliament as the member for Bramber in Sussex. He continued his legal career at Lincoln's Inn where he was appointed a Reader in 1468. His legal practice was evidently considerable, and in November 1469 he enlarged his Norfolk estates by purchasing the Manor of East Beckham and other lands from Sir John Paston. He seems to have acted as legal advisor to the Paston family and in June 1470 he was counsel to John Paston who was tried on a charge of Felony at the Norwich sessions for shooting two men. Sir John Paston borrowed money from him and by 1477 owed him four hundred marks. Roger was again returned to Parliament in September 1472, this time representing Calne in Wiltshire.

Roger Townshend was a capable and distinguished lawyer. He continued as a Reader at Lincoln's Inn in 1474 and in June 1478 was made a Sergeant-at-Law, becoming King's Sergeant in 1481. In September 1485 he was elevated to the Bench as a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas by Richard III. He was retained in this position by Henry VII who knighted him at Worcester on Whitsunday in 1486. He remained a Judge of this Court until his death in 1493.

Sir Roger married Eleanor, the daughter of William Lunsford of Lunsford and Battle in Sussex. Their youngest daughter, Thomasine, married Sir Thomas Wodehouse, who was created a knight of the Bath at the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales and was ancestor of the Earls of Kimberley. Sir Roger Townshend died on 9 November 1493 and was succeeded at Raynham by his son, Roger.

1470 Letter to Roger Townshend from John Paston
found at
(e-mail error when asking to display this letter on this site)


To the ryght worschypffull and hys best betrustyd frende, Rogere Townesende.

Right worshipfull sir, I comaunde me to yow, praying yow hertly to remembre that, by the award made by-twen yow and me by Roger Townesend for a tenement in Stratton in Norffolk callid Rees, I shuld delyuer yow all the evydens apperteynyng to the said plase, and not from thens forth to chalenge ner interupte my lady your wife ner yow of the said tenement; and that for thes said causes ye shuld and therto were agreyd to geve me an horse and x li. to an harneys. And moreovir,bifore Cristemasse in the Kynges chambre ye ther ageyn promysed me that at such tyme as I send to yow home to yowre plase by any seruaunt of myne er any man from me that ye wold delyver it hym and send it me by hym. My brothir John hath send me word that he remembird yow therof on my behalfe, and that ye answerid hym that ye wold gyfe hym or me a fayre harneys at your comyng to London. I deme in yow that ye thynke par case to bye a fayre harneys here for x mark; but, cosyn, as God help me, I bowte an harneys syn that tyme for my-self which cost me xx li. But I can not desire of yow so moch; wherfore, cosyn, wyth all myn hert I pray yow acordyng to yowre promyse that it like yow to send me by my seruaunt, berer herof, the said somme of x li., as my trust is in yow and as I wolde in like case haue don to yow, and as in the premysses I delt feithfully wyth yow and evir so shall dele, wyth the grase of God, who have yow in hys kepyng wretyn at london the xij day of Feveryer.

Yowre John Paston,K.

Sir Roger Townshend (abt 1430 - 1493)
son of John Townshend (???? - 1465), of Raynham and Anne Gigges,
grandson of Charles Townshend (1674 - 1738).

He married Eleanor Lunsford (b.???? - 1500) and had children:

  • Sir Roger Townshend (1474 - 1551), M.P. for Calne
  • Thomasine Townshend (???? - 1551)
  • Thomas Townshend (???? - bef. 1501)
  • Anne Townshend (???? - ????)
  • Elizabeth Townshend (???? - ????)
  • Agnes Townshend (???? - ????)