GRESLEY, William, of Nottingham.

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



Sept. 1397

Family and Education


Offices Held


In 1354 two men of this name, but called senior and junior, served on the jury at an inquest at Nottingham. The MP was probably related to them, and he may have been the William Gresley who acted similarly in 1373. As a burgess, Gresley was involved in suits in the borough courts from 1378.1 He never held office in the town, and his election to Parliament may well be attributed to his having been retained for life at Nottingham castle on 20 Aug. 1385 as one of the archers of the Crown. He regularly received a daily salary of 6d. (£9 2s.6d. p.a.) from the sheriff of Nottingham for the remainder of Richard II’s reign, which suggests that he spent little time attached to the royal household, for while in residence his wage was to be only 3d. per day. However, in the meantime, in October 1385 he had entered into recognizances with Sir Bernard Brocas*, a prominent member of the Household, for £20. Gresley’s activities during the crisis of 1399 are not recorded, but Henry IV confirmed his appointment as a royal archer only five days after his accession. Nevertheless, it was not until February 1404 that the sheriff was instructed to pay his wages and arrears, and his receipts indicate payment only from March to September 1407.2

In Nottingham in 1392 Gresley went surety before the justices of the King’s bench for John Plumptre*, while a coroner’s inquest presented in the same court accused Gresley himself of having murdered, at Nottingham 15 years earlier, one John de Derby ‘taper’. He was acquitted. Less important presentments in the borough courts alleged against him the minor offences of selling ale against the assize, placing dung on the highway and causing an affray; although in 1402 he was brought before the j.p.s of Nottinghamshire, along with a fellow royal archer, Robert Eyton, for assaulting the bailiff of Lord Roos’s manor of Eakring.3

Gresley witnessed a conveyance in Nottingham in 1411 1 and three years later found £10 as sureties of the peace there. He is last heard of in May 1418 when he accused John Swillington of stealing various goods of his worth £3, including a bed, tapestries, knives and a purse.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Notts. IPM (Thoroton Soc. xvii), 28, 39; Nottingham Archs. ct. roll 1280 m. 2.
  • 2. CPR, 1385-9, p. 19; 1399-1401, p. 13; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 87, 369; 1402-5, p. 246; E101/581/19, 20.
  • 3. KB27/525 fines m. 1, 526 fines m. 1, rex. m. 1; Nottingham Recs. ed. Stevenson, i. 313; ii. 41; JUST 1/1514 m. 4; Nottingham Archs. ct. roll 3943 m. 2.
  • 4. Nottingham Archs. ct. roll 1312 m. 16d; mayor’s roll 3944 m. 1; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Middleton ms, D788. John Gresley, bailiff of Nottingham 1410-11, may have been his son.