LAWRENCE, William I (1513/14-79/80), of Winchester, Hants.

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



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1513/14, s. of Gilbert Lawrence of Winchester by Joan, da. of Richard Ladye. m. Helen, da. of John Cartwright of Staffs., wid., 1da.2

Offices Held

Subsidy collector, Winchester 1542; bailiff 1541-3; mayor 1548-9, 1553-5, 1574-5; bailiff of bp.’s liberty 1556-79; escheator, Hants and Wilts. 1569-70.3


William Lawrence was born in Winchester, where his father was mayor in 1527-8. William was a freeman of the city by 1540; he may have set up initially as a weaver, but later in his career he was a grocer and haberdasher, occupations which brought him moderate wealth. He owned at least one tenement in Winchester, purchased in 1543, and leased another from the dean and chapter, and he bought a meadow outside the city wall from Richard Bethell.4

Lawrence’s father had leased the manor of Marwell, Hampshire, from Bishops Fox, Wolsey and Gardiner between 1512 and 1535. He was succeeded as lessee by John Lawrence, perhaps William’s brother, from 1535 to 1537, and William then held the manor from 1537 until it was granted by the crown to Sir Henry Seymour in 1559. Lawrence’s family therefore had strong connexions with the bishopric, and he was called as a witness at the trial of Gardiner in 1551. He testified that Gardiner had stressed the importance of obedience in a sermon which he preached in the cathedral after his release from the Fleet. Lawrence admitted that he had a patent from the bishop worth 15s. a year for keeping his court for the soke, but declared that he gave the whole fee to the man who actually performed this duty. Finally Lawrence stated his own standpoint: ‘the bishop, being a true man to the King, he wished him to prevail; and if not, not to prevail’. Despite his support for Gardiner, Lawrence was present on 3 June 1551 at the enthronement of his successor, John Ponet, and he also attended the enthronement of John White in 1556. Like many of Gardiner’s officials, Lawrence remained conservative in religion. In 1564 he was listed among the ‘mislikers of religion of the chief authority’ at Winchester, and he was presented as a papist in 1572. His Membership of eight successive Parliaments must have made him an experienced Commons man, but all that is known of his activity in the House is that he and his fellow-Member Robert Hodson were found to be absent at the call early in January 1555. For this dereliction the pair were prosecuted in the King’s bench: they, having appeared in court at Michaelmas term 1555 and been given until the following term to make their answer, submitted in the following term and were fined 53s.4d., each standing surety for the other’s payment of the fine.5

Lawrence made his will on 28 Aug. 1573, but it was not proved until 10 May 1583. In May 1579 he was forgiven further terms as mayor on account of his age and long service to the city, and Helen Lawrence was a widow by December 1580.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: Patricia Hyde / A. B. Rosen


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Aged 37 in 1551, Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 209. E321/39/25; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 113.
  • 3. E179/281/7, f. 68; Stowe 846, f. 4v; Eccles. 2/155895-914.
  • 4. Foxe, vi. 209; Black Bk. of Winchester, ed. Bird, 142, 165; E179/174/313, 358; Stowe 846, f. 176; Hants RO, Winchester 1st bk. ordinances, f. 139.
  • 5. Eccles. 2/155860-97; Foxe, vi. 209; Canterbury and York Soc. xvi. 9; xxxvii. 98; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 56; KB27/1176, 1177.
  • 6. PCC 13 Rowe; Hants RO, Winchester 1st bk. ordinances, f. 200; Winchester town ct. roll 1579-81, f. 45.