PALER, William (c.1532-97), of Nun Monkton, near York.

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.1532, educ. Trinity Coll., Camb. 1550; L. Inn 1556, called 1563. m. Anne, 5s. 7da.1

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1575, q. 1576; recorder, Beverley 1576-97; legal member of council in the north by 1581; j.p.q. Yorks. (all ridings) by 1594; Queen’s attorney in the north 1589-97.2


Paler presumably owed his return at Hedon to his connexion with the Constable family. A practising lawyer, he was presumably in residence at Lincoln’s Inn when the 1571 Parliament met; in February 1569 he had been granted a chamber in the new buildings. He was chosen to act as steward for the reader’s dinner in the autumn of 1571, but was discharged on condition of paying £10, £5 of which was still outstanding some 14 years later. The only other record of him at the inn is his appointment as butler in November 1572. By 1575 he had evidently settled in Yorkshire. His house at Nun Monkton was about seven miles from York. He had another in the city itself, and must also have spent part of his time at Beverley, where he was recorder from about 1576; in that year he helped the corporation to draw up new ordinances for the government of the town. Several official letters signed by him survive among the York archives. In June 1579 he was one of the ecclesiastical commissioners who wrote from Bishopthorpe to the corporation about the poor rate, and 18 months later his signature appears on a council of the north order for the city to raise 20 foot soldiers. He also served on commissions for oyer and terminer, and to put down piracy on the Yorkshire coast.3

His attorneyship in the north was a profitable office which Sir Anthony Thorold had in 1566 refused to surrender for a place as a member of the council in the north. However, the duties were arduous, and by April 1597 Paler was ‘old and indisposed’. During the summer he was still at work, but on 7 Dec. the council at York told Burghley, ‘This morning Mr. Payler, the Queen’s attorney in these parts, departed this life’ and urged the appointment of a young and healthy man as his successor. ‘It is sometimes requisite for the attorney to accompany some of this council to the furthest northern parts, which journeys require able and strong bodies.’4

Paler was buried in St. Martin’s church, Coney Street, York, where an inscription reads:

Here lieth the body of William Paler esquire, the Queen’s Majesty’s attorney in the north parts, who had by Anne his wife twelve children, viz. five sons and seven daughters, who lived till the age of sixty-five years.

His will, made in August 1596, was proved at York 17 Dec. 1597. The preamble mentions ‘that part [of St. Martin’s church] where divers of my children are buried’. Anne, the testator’s ‘most faithful and loving wife’, was bequeathed the parsonage and manor of Waghen in Holderness and the manor and prebend of Oswaldwick, together with ‘the house in which I now dwell in Coney Street’, with ‘the houses and gardens thereunto belonging’. The will contains details of legacies, usually in money or plate, to children and relatives—‘to my daughter Jane Watkinson ... whom I loved always dearly, half an ounce of angel gold’. Books were to go to a son John, co-executor with the widow and another son, Edward. One of the four overseers was William Palmer, ‘chancellor of York’; another was Robert Waterhouse.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Dugdale, Vis. Yorks. iii. 15; L. Inn Black Bks. i. 339; Drake, Eboracum, 328.
  • 2. HMC Beverley, 58; T. Gent. Rippon, 99; York Civic Recs. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cxix), 42; Reid, Council of the North, 489.
  • 3. York wills 23, ff. 539, 1000; L. Inn Black Bks. i. 364, 375, 377-8, 385, 439; Dugdale, loc. cit.; Surtees Soc. xxxviii. 142 n; G. Poulson, Beverlac, i. 322; York Civic Recs. 13, 42; SP12/121, f. 3; Lansd. 146, f. 20.
  • 4. Reid, 378-9; HMC Hatfield, vii. 162, 252, 506; Border Pprs. ii. 386.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, vii. 506; Drake, 328; York wills 26, ff. 417-18.