TOOKE, William (1507/8-88), of Bishops Hatfield, Herts. and London.

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. 1507/8, 1st s. of Ralph Tooke of Goddington, Kent by Alice, da. of William Meggs of Canterbury, Kent. educ. I. Temple, adm. Feb. 1520. m. 1532, Alice, da. of Robert Barley of Bibbesworth Hall, Herts., 9s. 3da.1

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Kent 1539, benevolence for rebuilding St. Paul’s, Herts. 1564; auditor, ct. of wards 1544-d.; j.p. Herts. 1558/59, q. 1561-d.2


Born into a junior branch of a Kentish family, William Tooke was to marry into a Hertfordshire one and to settle in that county, where he bought the manors of Popes and Essendon near Hatfield. He spent upwards of half a century in wardship administration; his memorial brass in Essendon church records his 44 years as auditor of the court of wards, but before he became joint holder of that office with Sir John Peryent in 1544 he had served as Peryent’s clerk for at least eight years. Becoming sole auditor in 1551, he was to be succeeded by his son Walter and his grandson John, and the office was still in the family when the court was dissolved in 1646. He also began the process, continued by his descendants, of purchasing wardships himself; between 1544 and 1559 he received 14 such grants.3

Tooke’s election to the Parliament of November 1554 is of interest both because it was his only one and because it ignored the crown’s request for the return of resident Members. The borough of Horsham belonged to the Howard patrimony but in the autumn of 1554 the 4th Duke of Norfolk was himself a royal ward, a circumstance which suggests that Tooke owed his nomination to his office, as his fellow-Member John Purvey— another Hertfordshire man and one with whom Tooke was to be allied by marriage— almost certainly did to his post in the duchy of Lancaster. Such sponsorship would have enabled these two strangers to sit for Horsham, and since they did not quit the Parliament before its dissolution the government lost nothing by their intrusion. For neither of them, however, was there any future at Horsham, but whereas Purvey found seats elsewhere Tooke was not re-elected.

Although he lived to be 80, Tooke was survived by his widow and by seven of his nine sons. By his will of 15 Nov. 1588 his heir Walter, after his debts were paid and his accounts audited, was to have the manor of Popes and, subject to his wife’s life interest, the other Hertfordshire lands. Tooke died on 4 Dec. 1588.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Aged 80 at death. Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 99; Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 134, 351; CPR, 1553-4, p. 468.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiv, xix; CPR, 1560-3, p. 438; 1563-6, p. 123; H. E. Bell, Ct. of Wards, 24.
  • 3. VCH Herts. iii. 103; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 20, 64; 1550-3, p. 230; 1553-4, p. 229; 1554-5, p. 290; 1555-7, p. 486; 1558-60, pp. 1, 33; 1563-6, pp. 110, 430; 1572-5, p. 163; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xix, xxi; Bell, 24-25; J. Hurstfield, Queen’s Wards, 227; HMC Hatfield, i. 147.
  • 4. PCC 51 Leicester, 16 Kidd; C142/246/124.