HEATH, William (by 1533-68/70), of Alvechurch, Worcs.

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




Family and Education

b. by 1533, bro. of Nicholas Heath, abp. of York and chancellor. m. Dorothy, da. of Sir Thomas Blount of Sodington, Worcs., 2s. 2da.; 1s. illegit.1

Offices Held


The brothers Nicholas and William Heath are said to have sprung from the family settled at Apsley in Tamworth on the borders of Staffordshire and Warwickshire. According to Anthony Wood’s friend and patron Ralph Sheldon, who shared the same forbears, their great-grandfather was the Thomas Heath of Apsley whose granddaughter Philippa became the mother of Thomas Sheldon and William Sheldon. Their branch of the family presumably moved to London, where Nicholas Heath was born about 1501.2

William Heath’s career and peregrinations were to be shaped by his brother’s. In August 1554 he received from Nicholas, then bishop of Worcester, a 76-year lease of the episcopal manor of Alvechurch; he also seems to have acquired an interest in Grimley, an episcopal manor where William Sheldon held the advowson, for it was as of Alvechurch alias late of Grimley that he sued out a pardon in 1559. His elections to Parliament he likewise owed to his brother, first as president of the council in the marches and then as archbishop of York and chancellor. As president it fell to Nicholas Heath to send out the circular letters of 1554 and 1555 prescribing the return of Catholics, a criterion clearly satisfied by his brother, who in 1564 was to be adjudged an ‘adversary of true religion’ and whose name does not appear on the list of Sir Anthony Kingston’s followers in the Parliament of 1555. At Ripon, Heath’s nomination, with the archbishop’s servant Thomas Lewknor, followed the restoration of the borough to the see of York shortly after the archbishop’s translation. He does not appear to have benefited otherwise from his brother’s patronage, his only known grant from the crown being a licence of 1557 for his servants to use crossbows.3

In July 1558 the archbishop purchased Chobham park in Surrey from the crown, and it was there that he retired after his deprivation. He was joined by his brother, to whom he made over part of the property. Since he was not without some residual favour from Elizabeth it is possible that his brother was the William Heath, described as the Queen’s servant, who in 1566 was appointed bailiff and collector of lands in Nottinghamshire late of Blyth priory.4

William Heath made his will on 1 July 1568, styling himself of Chobham. He left his land there to his elder son Thomas, who was later to be granted administration of his uncle’s estate, and his lease of Alvechurch first to his wife and then to his younger son William. He made elaborate arrangements for the execution of the will: failing his widow’s acceptance of the duty within three months it was to pass successively to her brother Walter Blount, her cousin Thomas Walshe of the Inner Temple, John Middlemore of Hawkesley in Kings Norton, Worcestershire (a friend of Thomas Lewknor) and finally Thomas Heath. The date of Heath’s death is unknown but the will was proved on 3 Feb. 1570, His widow and his younger son were later recusants in Worcestershire and his elder son became a Catholic exile in the service of Spain.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Wood, Ath. Ox. ed. Bliss, ii. 817-19; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 52; PCC 3 Lyon.
  • 2. Wood, ii. 819; DNB (Heath, Nicholas); Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 127-9.
  • 3. PCC 3 Lyon; CPR, 1555-7, p. 452; 1558-60, p. 238; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 319-20; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 6.
  • 4. CPR, 1557-8, pp. 377-8; 1563-6, pp. 314-15, 357; 1569-72, p. 363; Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 193-5.
  • 5. PCC 3 Lyon; Cath. Rec. Soc. v. 345 seq.; xviii. 357; xxii. 66, 125; lvii. 189; lxi. 108-9, 241; A. J. Loomie, Spanish Elizabethans, 250-1.