Lord Deputy of Ireland
Born 1459 Died 1521

Sir Edward Poynings was the only son of Robert Poynings, second son of the 4th Baron Poynings (*). His mother was a daughter of Sir William Paston, and some of her correspondence is to be found in the Paston Letters. Robert Poynings was implicated in Jack Cade's rebellion, and Edward was himself concerned in a Kentish rising against Richard III, which compelled him to escape to the Continent. He attached himself to Henry, Earl of Richmond, afterwards King Henry VII, with whom he returned to England in 1485. By Henry VII. Poynings was employed in the wars on the Continent, and in 1493 he was made governor of Calais. In the following year he went to Ireland as lord deputy under the vice-royalty of Prince Henry, afterwards King Henry VIII.

Poynings immediately set about Anglicizing the government of Ireland, which he thoroughly accomplished, after inflicting punishment on the powerful Irish clans who supported the imposture of Perkin Warbeck. He then summoned the celebrated parliament of Drogheda, which met in December 1494, and enacted the 'Statutes of Drogheda,' famous in Irish history as 'Poynings's law' (see Statute: Ireland), which made the Irish legislature subordinate to, and completely dependent on, that of England, till its repeal in 1782. After defeating Perkin Warbeck at Waterford and driving him out of Ireland, Poynings returned to England in 1496, and was appointed warden of the Cinque Ports. He was employed both in military commands and in diplomatic missions abroad by Henry VII., and later by Henry VIII, his most important achievement being the successful negotiation of the 'holy league' between England, Spain, the emperor, and the pope, in 1513. In 1520 he was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, in the arrangement of which he had taken an active part. He died in 1521.

By his wife, Elizabeth Scot, Poynings left no surviving issue, and his estates passed through a collateral female line to the Earl of Northumberland. He had several illegitimate children, one of whom, Thomas Poynings, was created Baron Poynings in 1545, but died in the same year without heirs.

See Sir Francis Bacon, The History of the Reign of King Henry VII. (London, 1641); Richard Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors (2 vols., London, 1885); J. T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin, 1865); J. A. Froude, The English in Ireland (3 vols., London, 1872-1874); Wilhelm Busch, England under the Tudors, ed. by James Gairdner (London, 1895).

(* Editor: The original text says the 5th Baron; this has been corrected to read the 4th Baron, see Baron Poynings)

Being the entry for POYNINGS, SIR EDWARD in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.