CLERKE, William II (d.c.1586), of Hackney, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

educ. Peterhouse, Camb. 1548, Gonville and Caius, BA 1551-2, MA 1555, fellow 1557, LLD 1569. m. wid. of Thomas Blackwell, at least 1s. 1da.

Offices Held

Regius prof. of civil law, Camb. 1563; jt. (with William Aubrey) vicar gen. province of Canterbury Jan. 1578.


Clerke left Peterhouse for Gonville and Caius, where he was a tutor and one of the original fellows. Next he became a fellow of Clare after he and two others had been expelled and accused of perjury by Dr. Caius. They appealed to the chancellor, Archbishop Parker, who blamed the master. Scholars’ controversies, he commented to William Cecil, were many and troublous, because their delight was to go before men of authority to show their wit. In 1579 John Aylmer, bishop of London, described Clerke in a letter to Burghley as ‘upright and wise and of great experience’, and it may have been Burghley who obtained Clerke’s return to Parliament for Saltash, which is otherwise difficult to explain. In this Parliament he was one of the receivers of petitions for England, Ireland and Wales.

In his will, dated 7 Dec. 1585, Clerke described himself as of Hackney. To his anonymous wife he left a life interest in his household stuff, plate, jewels, bedding, pewter, brass and linen; also the lands, tenements and houses which he had recently purchased. Upon her death, they were all to go to their son Thomas. Their daughter Martha received 500 marks for her marriage, and a servant, Robert Fielding, £10. Two cousins, Francis Clerke and Alexander Tottye, were the executors, and Alexander and Thomas Averey overseers. The will was proved 7 Mar. 1587.

T. A. Walker, Peterhouse Biog. Reg. i. 158; J. Venn, Gonville and Caius Biog. Hist. i. 43; Cooper, Ath. Cant. i. 382; PCC 12 Spencer, 21 Drury; Strype, Parker, i. 396, Grindal, 344, 355; Parker Corresp. (Parker Soc.) 248; Lansd. 28, f. 159; I. J. Churchill, Canterbury Administration (Church Hist. Soc. n.s. xv), 594, 605 n; D'Ewes, 312.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.