CROMER, William (c.1531-98), of Tunstall, nr. Sittingbourne, Kent.

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

b. c.1531, o.s. of James Cromer by Anne, da. of Sir Edward Wotton of Boughton Place, Boughton Malherbe, Kent. educ. Furnival’s Inn; G. Inn 1552. m. (1) Margaret, da. of Sir Thomas Kempe, 1da.; (2) 1 Oct. 1561, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Guildford, 1 surv. s., 3da.; (3) Catherine, s.p. suc. fa. 1541.1

Offices Held

J.p. Kent by 1559, q. by 1577, sheriff 1567-8, 1585-6, commr. musters by 1576.2


Cromer’s ancestor William Cromer, lord mayor of London at the time of Jack Cade’s rebellion, purchased Tunstall from Sir Robert Knollys. Cromer himself may still have been a law student when he joined Sir Thomas Wyattt early in 1554. Sent to the Tower and attainted, he was soon pardoned, though he had to pay heavily to obtain possession of his lands and he was not restored in blood until 1563. By the time he died he had added to his estates by buying land at Borden, Edenbridge and elsewhere in Kent. In September 1573 the Queen spent a night at his home at Grove End, Tunstall.3

Cromer was returned to the 1571 House of Commons by the lord warden of the Cinque Ports after the Hythe corporation had withstood demands for several other ‘foreigners’ as members. The only reference to him in the journals is to his membership of the large committee which dealt with a bill for the maintenance of navigation on 8 May 1571.4

Cromer had a long career in county administration. In 1588 when invasion was expected he was appointed one of the two captains of petronels (horse soldiers armed with pistols) to operate in Kent, and he was apparently still acting as a captain of light horse as late as 1595. The archbishop of Canterbury considering him sound in religion, he was employed, among his other duties as a justice, in arresting and examining suspected papists. There are other references to him as a piracy commissioner (1565), an investigator of ‘libels and slanderous bills’ posted up in Canterbury (February 1573), and a supervisor of grain prices in Kent. In November 1573 the Privy Council commended his ‘diligence and good discretion’ over preventing the illegal transportation of grain and food-stuffs. He also played an active part in inspecting Kent forts and harbours, and in helping to victual and equip the Queen’s ships at Chatham. In December 1588 he investigated the ploughing up of the Sittingbourne archery ground, and about 1588-90, he inquired into affairs at New Romney. John Fyneux brought an unimportant Chancery case (undated) against him about money matters, and another lawsuit developed over the title to some property which he apparently leased in St. Michael Paternoster, London. He was at loggerheads with the wardens of Rochester bridge, probably about 1591, in connexion with a rent-charge, but he does not appear to have been as litigious as many Elizabethan country gentlemen. He died 12 May 1598. Letters of administration were granted to his son James 26 May 1598.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 43-4; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 390-1, E. R. Mores, Hist. Tunstall ed. Nichols, 29; PCC admon. act bk. 1598, f. 249; E150/494/2.
  • 2. Lansd. 56, f. 168 seq.
  • 3. Arch. Cant. xli. 107; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 81, 109-10, 117, 119-20, 127, 254; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 317, 390-1; 1554-5, p. 271; Statutes, iv. 402; C142/252/63; Hasted Kent, i. 462; vi. 70; A. A. Midwinter, Church and Village of Tunstall, 67.
  • 4. CJ, i. 88.
  • 5. Harl. 168, f. 168; Lansd. 28, f. 57; 78, ff. 138-9; 106, f. 215; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 58; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 160; APC, vii. 282; viii. 85, 145; ix. 111-12, 205; x. 64; xi. 124; xiii. 293; xv. 421-2; xix. 5-6; C3/66/121; 252/97; PCC admon. act bk. 1598, f. 249.