BORDE (BOORDE), William, of Taunton, Som. and Wantage, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



May 1421

Family and Education

m. Alice (d.1466), 1s. d.v.p.

Offices Held

Clerk of Taunton castle by Oct. 1421.1

Dep. to Thomas Chaucer*, chief butler of England, in the ports of Topsham and Bridgwater, by Dec. 1422-Nov. 1435.

Feodary, honour of Wallingford by Apr. 1431.2

Commr. of inquiry, Oxon., Berks., Bucks. Feb. 1436 (concealments).

Royal approver of the manors of Stanton St. John and Glympton, Oxon. 7 June-1 Nov. 1437.

Dep. justiciar S. Wales, 28 July 1438-c. Feb. 1440; marshal of the great and petty sessions 30 Dec. 1438-May 1440.3

Escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 4 Nov. 1443-6 Nov. 1444.

Collector of customs and subsidies, Bristol 5 Nov. 1446-Apr. 1451.


There is no indication that Borde was born in Taunton, but he married a local heiress possibly around 1417 when he was first connected with the town (as a participant in its parliamentary election). He later, in 1419, assisted John Rydon* in a conveyance whereby the latter purchased the manor of Knightsley, Somerset, and in association with Rydon he presented to Knightsley parish church. In April in that year he had witnessed a quitclaim of a tenement in ‘Northton’ near Taunton.4

Borde owed the rapid advancement of his career to the support of Thomas Chaucer, who had been constable of Taunton castle since 1406 (by appointment of his cousin, Bishop Beaufort of Winchester). Before October 1421 Borde had been made clerk of the castle, a position immediately subordinate to the constable, and may well have already been ensconced there by 1420 when first elected to Parliament for Taunton. At the beginning of Henry VI’s reign he was nominated as Chaucer’s deputy in his office of chief butler, in the ports of Topsham and Bridgwater. Furthermore, it was through his superior that he became involved in Oxfordshire affairs. In 1421 he had been a witness to a deed in which Chaucer appeared as feoffee to the grantor, Richard Wyot*, of manors in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Gloucestershire, and he similarly acted in 1428 when his patron acquired property in Berkshire from Thomas Poynings, Lord St. John. The prominence of the Beaufort party in the King’s Council gave Borde an entry into royal service: by the spring of 1431 he was acting as feodary for Queen Katherine in her honour of Wallingford (where Chaucer held sway as steward). His association with the former Speaker remained close: when, six years later, he received a general pardon, he was described as a gentleman ‘of Ewelme’ Chaucer’s own home. Before Chaucer died, in 1434, he named Borde among the feoffees of his Oxfordshire estates and of certain of his lands in Hampshire, which they continued to hold in association with Chaucer’s widow, Maud, until her death in 1437, then obtaining a royal licence to grant the estates to his daughter Alice, wife of William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk.5 The latter was then justiciar of South Wales and it was during his absence overseas in July 1438 that Borde was appointed as his deputy. Moreover, in December of the same year he was granted the office of marshal at the judicial sessions and the shire courts of Cardigan and Carmarthen.

Previously, Borde had secured election as MP for Wallingford three times, on the first of these occasions most likely through Chaucer’s influence, the latter having been constable of the castle there since 1399. (In this, Borde may be compared with Lewis John* who was similarly elected for Taunton and Wallingford — only both these elections were to the very same Parliament, that of May 1413.) Borde appears to have taken up residence in Wallingford or somewhere in its neighbourhood, and certainly witnessed a conveyance in the town in 1431. Five years later he was said to own lands in Oxfordshire and Berkshire worth £10 a year, and although he was generally described as ‘of Wantage’ he evidently divided his time between the two counties for it was among the gentry of Oxfordshire that, in 1434, he took the oath not to maintain malefactors. He attested the Oxfordshire elections in 1433 but those for Berkshire in 1442. Acting as a feoffee, he sold certain estates called ‘Walyngforde Londes’ to Richard Quatremaynes† before 1444.6

Borde had meantime retained interests in Somerset, where he had been appointed collector of customs at Bristol in November 1446; and it was in this capacity that he was granted £100 in the following month and, in 1449, paid out various sums for the duke of York’s passage to Ireland. But his fellow customer, Robert Skelton, later accused him of malpractice and appealed for a hearing in Chancery regarding two offences: the first involved Borde’s alleged failure to honour bonds entered into by the two customers, each in the sum of £100, their object being to protect themselves regarding the payment of royal creditors; the other arose out of his refusal to give Skelton his share of their official rewards, namely £7 4s.7 Perhaps as a consequence of prolonged litigation, by 1453 Borde was deeply in debt. On 11 May his pardon of outlawry for non-appearance before the justices acknowledged that he owed the sum of £83 13s.7d. (50 marks of it to Sir Thomas Tuddenham†). His only son, Richard, had died before February that year, when William had arranged the settlement for the remarriage of his daughter-in-law, Margaret, daughter of Richard Pavele of Fairoak, Somerset, with Richard Chalcote† of Winkton, Hampshire. Borde himself died before 11 Feb. 1466, when his widow made her will at Wantage. The heir to various silver vessels and to her lands, tenements and rents in Taunton and ‘Northton’ was her kinsman John Grobham.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


See R.A. Griffiths, Principality of Wales, i. 146, for a summary of Borde’s career.

  • 1. Goring Chs. (Oxon. Rec. Soc. xiv), 214-15.
  • 2. Boarstall Cart. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. lxxxviii), 167.
  • 3. Griffiths, i. 34, 146, 553; CPR, 1436-41, pp. 201, 233.
  • 4. Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 54; Reg. Bubwith (ibid. xxx), 376; Add. 30289, f. 72; C219/12/2.
  • 5. CCR, 1422-9, p. 446; 1429-35, pp. 335, 337; 1435-41, pp. 91, 92; CPR, 1429-36, pp. 448-9; 1436-41, p. 166; C67/38 m. 9.
  • 6. Med. Archs. Christ Church (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xcii), 149; CPR, 1429-36, p. 395; CCR, 1441-7, p. 216; E163/7/31 (pt. 1); C219/14/4, 15/2.
  • 7. E404/65/93, 66/166; C1/19/160, 402; CCR, 1447-54, pp. 168-9.
  • 8. CPR, 1452-61, p. 10; Add. 30289, ff. 86, 87.