SLINGSBY, William (1563-1634), of Kippax, Yorks. and Gray's Inn, London.

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. 29 Jan. 1563, 7th but 3rd surv. s. of Francis Slingsby by his 2nd w. and bro. of Henry. educ. Barnard’s Inn, G. Inn 1582. m. 1617, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Stephen Broad of Broadshill, Suss., at least 2s. 1da. Kntd. 1603.

Offices Held

Commissary of munitions 1596; honorary carver to Queen Anne 1603; j.p. Mdx., dep. lt. 1617, commr. to inquire into fees and offices 1627, 1630, for compounding with recusants 1628.


Slingsby was trained as a lawyer, showed an early taste for soldiering and foreign adventures, and, in the Stuart period, was much at court. As a young man he was evidently known to (Sir) Robert Cecil, and on at least one occasion is known to have been with (Sir) Thomas Cecil at Bath.

From 1589 until at least 1591 there was a controversy, which came to the notice of the Privy Council, between the brothers William and Guildford Slingsby on the one hand and Edward Beesley on the other about the clerkship of York castle. By 1594 Slingsby was travelling on the Continent when, ‘by others’ faults’, he and his friends were put in ‘several vile dungeons and base prisons’ of the castle at Como, then under Spanish rule. He managed to obtain his release by persuading the governor that he was ‘a Scottish man and a scholar’. He reached England a few weeks later in July 1594, wondering whether to return in search of new adventures, ‘or else to come and do my duty in Yorkshire’. Instead he went to court, where he had ‘many honourable entertainments’ from ‘divers of the Council’, and where he hoped, with the help of his ‘dearest friend’ Sir George Carew, to obtain an office which would take him on the proposed expedition to Brittany. In 1596 Slingsby served on the Cadiz expedition, and again in 1597 in the fleet equipped against Spain. In August or September that year he travelled home overland from La Rochelle, with letters from Carew to Cecil, claiming the distinction of having been ‘the sickest of six hundred’ in his ship. While waiting at Plymouth that August, delayed by adverse winds, Slingsby wrote to his brother Henry:

We have news here of a Parliament to begin 12 October next; if it be so, good brother, put my father in mind to make me a burgess of the Parliament, for it is [a] thing I do exceedingly desire,

and he was duly returned for the family borough of Knaresborough. He sat again, with Henry as his colleague, in 1601. Very likely one of them was the ‘Mr. Singy’ who, on 11 Dec. 1601, thought the author of the bill for the maintenance of good and profitable arts and trades ‘was a sugar man, for he used the word refiner of arts’.

During the Stuart period Slingsby held a patent for furnaces used in the production of glass from sea coal. He died in August 1634 and was buried in the family chapel in the church at Knaresborough.

Foster, Yorks. Peds. W. Riding; Calvert, Hist. Knaresborough, 58, 133; Mem. Francis Slingsby, 204; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 625; 1611-18, pp. 13, 425; 1619-23, p. 4; 1627-8, pp. 168, 232; 1628-9, p. 205; 1629-31, pp. 179, 236-7; Parsons, Diary of Sir Henry Slingsby, 243-7, 249-53; APC, xvii. 139; xxi. 162; HMC Hatfield, vii. 382; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 311.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.