SPICER, William (c.1565-c.1612), of Warwick.

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.1565, s. of William Spicer, surveyor gen. of works, by his w. Margaret Griffin of London. educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 1579, BA 1583, MA 1586. m. Philippa, 4s. 3da.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Warwick 1592-3, ?dep. recorder.


Spicer’s grandfather died in 1554 seised of lands in Crewkerne, Somerset. His father had some connexion with the Earl of Leicester, who obtained him a job as surveyor of the works at Berwick, from which he rose to be comptroller, and finally surveyor of the Queen’s works. He died about 1605.

Spicer himself, after leaving Oxford, may have had some legal training; his parliamentary speeches suggest this, and the heralds’ visitation describes him as deputy recorder of Warwick, but no confirmation of this has been found. In his first Parliament Spicer may have served on committees concerned with a hospital at Warwick (18 Nov.), Norwich diocese (30 Nov.) and maltsters (12 Jan. 1598). An unsuccessful application to be joined with his ‘aged father’ as surveyor of works may perhaps explain his taking a surprisingly prominent part in the debates on monopolies in the 1601 Parliament. On 20 Nov. the Commons were ‘libera gens, and therefore I hope there is both libera mensand libera lingua’. Monopolists were ‘the whirlpool of the prince’s profits’, who lacked the last of a man’s ‘three especial friends, his goods, his kinsfolk and his good name’. ‘The town wherein I serve’ was ‘pestered and continually vexed with the substitutes or vice regents of these monopolitans’. Francis Bacon thought little of Spicer’s speech saying that he ‘coasted so for and against the bill that for my own part not well hearing him, I did not fully understand him’. On 23 Nov. Spicer thought that to attempt to bind the prince’s prerogative would be ‘nec gratum, nec tutum’ and they should proceed by way of petition, ‘for it is to no purpose to offer to tie her Majesty’s hands by way of Act of Parliament, when she may loose herself at her pleasure’. Over the painters and plasterers dispute, 1 Dec., he wished ‘that no trade should meddle one with another’s’. On 10 Dec. he was again in a dilemma about procedure: ‘if I should not agree to the substance of the bill I were no good commonwealth man, and if I should agree to the form I should scarce think myself a good Christian’.

Spicer ‘of the borough of Warwick, gent.’ made his will when sick 3 Aug. 1611, bequeathing his soul ‘to the hands of my Creator with full assurance of salvation [through the] merits of my Redeemer Christ Jesus’. He asked to be buried in the parish church (where his wife had in 1595 disputed the seating arrangements). She received his house, and provision was made for the children and Spicer’s ‘dear aged mother’. Servants and the poor were remembered. The date of Spicer’s death has not been found. The will was proved by the widow 31 Jan. 1614.

Vis. Worcs. 1682-3 ed. Metcalfe, 89; Black Bk. of Warwick, 401, 426; Egerton Pprs. (Cam. Soc. xi), 101; pat. rolls 17-30 Eliz. PRO 27(7) p. 9; 31-7 Eliz. PRO 37(2), p. 3; E351/3234, 3237, 3238, 3239, 3240, 3241; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 439; HMC Hatfield, x. 181; xiii. 534; xiv. 16, 34; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 230, 241, 270-1, 304; D’Ewes, 559, 565, 578, 644, 649; PCC 21 More, 122 Capell.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. M. Thorpe