GATACRE, William (by 1499-1577), of Gatacre, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1499, 1st s. of Robert Gatacre by Joan, da. of John Horde of Bridgnorth. educ. I. Temple, adm. 9 May 1522. m. by 1520, Eleanor, da. of William Mytton of Shrewsbury, 5s. inc. Thomas 5da. 1 other ch. suc. fa. by 1544.1

Offices Held

J.p. Salop 1536-64, q. by 1554; ?escheator 1541-2; alderman, Bridgnorth by 1543; commr. relief, Salop 1550, musters 1562, 1563.2


Although not a leading family in Shropshire, the Gatacres were influential at Bridgnorth, five miles from their home. They held property there, and William Gatacre’s name stands first in lists of aldermen of the borough in 1543 and 1565. His mother’s family furnished two Members for Bridgnorth in Marian Parliaments but his own single appearance in the Commons was as a knight of the shire. This was a tribute less to his own standing than to his connexions. A justice of the peace for nearly 30 years, he was never pricked sheriff despite frequent nomination. He made modest increases in the family lands, partly by leasing chantry property in Bridgnorth, and in 1552 he was granted for 21 years the stewardship of part of the nearby forest of Morfe. His most notable achievement was the marriage, in the autumn of 1544, of his daughter Dorothy to Robert Broke, who was to be Speaker in the Parliament of April 1554. The connexion can hardly have failed to promote Gatacre’s election to its successor, which coincided with Broke’s appointment as chief justice of common pleas, and may also have assisted his son Thomas Gatacre’s earlier return for Gatton. More powerful patronage is perhaps to be inferred from Gatacre’s association with the 12th Earl of Arundel: in May 1545 he had joined his brother-in-law Richard Mytton and Richard Sackville II in standing surety for a debt of £850 incurred by the earl on taking livery of his lands. The most pertinent fact relating to Gatacre’s election was, however, that he and Richard Mytton were returned by Mytton’s uncle (Sir) Adam Mytton, who was sheriff of Shropshire at the time.3

The accession of Elizabeth did not bring about Gatacre’s immediate exclusion from public life, but after his denunciation as an ‘adversary of religion’ by the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield in 1564 he was probably removed from the bench. He had perhaps helped to invite this by accompanying his refusal in April 1563 to contribute to a loan to the Queen by a reference to his services in connexion with a loan to her predecessor. He made his will in March 1575, leaving money to be distributed to the poor of Bridgnorth, Claverley and neighbouring parishes, and died on 22 Dec. 1577. He was succeeded by his eldest son Francis.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 197-8; (xxix), 362; Al. Ox. i(2), 552; Gent. Mag. xcii(2), 491; C1/1080/37-40.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xiii-xvi, xviii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 75, 77, 88; 1553, p. 358; 1553-4, p. 23; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), ii. 221, 232.
  • 3. Bridgnorth mss 9(1), ff. 117, 168; 9(2), ff. 14, 150; LP Hen. VIII, ix, xvii, xxi; CPR, 1553, pp. 301, 375, 380; 1555-7, p. 297; 1566-9, pp. 285, 437; VCH Salop, viii. 88; E150/1053/4.
  • 4. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 45; HMC Hatfield, i. 273; PCC 3 Langley.