Francis Wyndham was the second son of Sir Edmund Wyndham and was raised in Norwich. Not much is known about Wyndham’s early life.
Wyndham was active within the city of Norwich and his relationship with the city dates back to 1563 when he was retained as their counsel to the coroporation at an annual rate of 20s and in September 1570 he was appointed steward of Norwich and his rate doubled.
Most information that is recorded about Wyndham relates to his legal career. Wyndham studied at the Lincoln Inn and held all the major offices within the Inn and in 1573 he was the keeper of the Black Book which held the records for each year.
In 1575 Wyndham was made recorder of the city for Norwich, a post he would hold for the next five years when he was succeeded by Edmund Flowerdew, who was holding the post of steward after Wyndham was promoted to recorder.
Wyndham began appearing in records at the start of his career in 1576 it was noted in the House of Commons that he was serving on committees that concerned the alehouses (17th February), dilapidations (24th February), grants by the dean and chapter of Norwich (2nd March) and taking away the benefit of clergy from rapists (7th March). Wyndham’s name continued to appear on commissions and documents in 1575 he served as arbitrator in a controversy between Yarmouth and the Cinque Ports.
In 1579 Wyndham received promotion and was selected to succeed Sir Roger Manwood as justice of the common pleas. He beat of three other contenders to the post.
At some point before 1584 Wyndham was made a judge and as a result he was a receiver of petitions in the Lords for the Parliaments of 1584, 1586 and 1589. Now he was a judge he officiated at two high profile trials where the defendants were charged with treason, John Somerville, 1583, and William Parry in 1585. Wyndham was also chosen to be consulted over the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, although he did not preside over her trial.
There is one record that shows that Wyndham ran into trouble at court. Wyndham opposed the use by the bishops’ courts of examination under the ex officio oath and openly spoke out against this procedure this angered many. At the same time, in November 1587 with the threat of invasion from Spain looming over England, Wyndham wrote to his brother in law, Nathaniel Bacon, regarding the inadequate preparations in East Anglia regarding an invasion by the Duke of Parma’s army. The following September Wyndham wrote to Lord Burghley himself asking for an inquiry into the way in which money was raised for the defence of Norfolk had been spent. Wyndham said that the people of Norfolk would be happy to pay their subsidy assessment if they were satisfied how their money was spent. Wyndham also called for those who handle the money should not be in charge of the inquiry, this would include Lord Hunsdon the Lord Chamberlain and Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.
Lord Hunsdon finally got his chance to raise his disapproval of Wyndham at a Privy Council meeting months later when judges were summoned to Hunsdon’s home and ordered to stand against anyone connected with the Martin Marprelate tracts. Due to his stance against the ex officio oath Wyndham was treated with special censure and was told by Hunsdon that his belief had ‘bred a scruple to all the bishops in England that they doubt how to proceed’. With Lord Burghley absent due to illness after the official meeting was over Hunsdon used this as his chance to berate Wyndham accusing him of attempting to discountenance him in his lietenancy and started to raise causes of their dispute. When the announcement was made for dinner Lord Hunsdon declared that he had at least 20 more charges to raise with him. Their disputes continued into 1591 when the Privy Council eventually intervened to restore a good relationship between the two.
Wyndham was employed by his relatives and other noble families to negotiate the purchases of various properties many of which were lands that were granted out during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Wyndham died on 18th June 1592. He left his widow his Norfolk properties and ensured a £400 debt was paid to his brother Dr Thomas Wyndham after the sale of his Norwich home. A monument was set up with an effigy in judge’s robes in St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich.