DAMSELL, Sir William (by 1521-82), of St. Mary Aldermanbury, London and Wye, Kent.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1521, s. of one Damsell of Devon. educ. Oxf. m. Margaret (d.1563), da. of John Berney of Reedham, Norf.; ?1da. illegit. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553.

Offices Held

Kings factor in the Netherlands 1546-52; gov. Merchant Adventurers, Antwerp by 1550-2; receiver-gen. ct. of wards from 27 Dec. 1550; founder member of Russia Co. 1555; j.p. Kent by 1561, q. by 1569, commr. musters 1573.


Damsell’s return for Hastings in 1563 was presumably secured through his neighbour the 10th Lord Cobham, warden of the Cinque Ports. On 13 Mar. 1563 he sat, as ‘Mr.’ Damsell, on a committee for a bankruptcy bill. He was one of six leading parishioners of St. Mary Aldermanbury who in May 1568 leased the rectory, paying £11 annual rent, providing a suitable minister, and taking responsibility for his salary and the upkeep of the church. He had also acquired a certain amount of land in Kent by the purchase, in November 1553, of Wye college and its possessions. In addition he probably had a house at Beckenham, where his wife was buried. He left his ‘base daughter’ an income of £12 p.a. in his will, dated He 1 June 1582. He divided his land into three parts, one entailed on his heirs male, while the other two were divided between his two nieces and the daughter of a third niece. He left £20 to the poor of St. Mary Aldermanbury, £20 to each of three London hospitals, and £100 for poor scholars at Oxford, where he himself was ‘a scholar in times past’. To each of his nieces he bequeathed £100, to his great-niece 100 marks, and considerable legacies to his servants. To the Mercers’ Company he left £200. The residue of his goods was to go to various charities and the poor. Damsell died 16 June 1582, and was buried at St. Mary Aldermanbury on 30 July. His will was challenged by a nephew, Thomas Poole, but judgment was given for the executors, four of Damsell’s friends and servants, who obtained probate on 18 Aug. 1582.

Lansd. 109, f. 192; PCC 34 Tirwhite; Kent Mon. Brasses, ed. Griffin and Stephenson, 58; APC, ii. 153; CPR, 1549-50, p. 311; 1553-4, p. 363; 1566-9, pp. 186-7; J. Hurstfield, Queen’s Wards, 115, 203, 205, 212, 227; T. S. Willan, Muscovy Merchants of 1555, p. 90; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 461; CJ, i. 69; C142/200/25; Regs. of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury (Harl. Soc. Regs. lxi), 47.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe