STALLENGE, William (b.c.1545), of Plymouth, Devon.

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.1545, prob. 1st s. of John Stallenge of Taunton, Som. by his w. Thomasine.

Offices Held

Freeman, Plymouth 1595, sequestrator in customer’s office 1602.1


Stallenge was a Plymouth merchant, grandson of a Taunton clothier. When he was appointed by Sir Francis Drake to assist the carrack commissioners at Saltash, he was found ‘both honest and discreet’, and gave ‘great help to understand the Spanish’. In 1588 Drake sent him to court with news about the Armada, and in the following year Stallenge sent the lord admiral a scheme ‘for the keeping of the accounts of the prize goods’, to be effected by a careful entry, by one person appointed in every port, of all incoming and outgoing pieces of gold, silver and merchandise, so that

his Lordship may at all times, with an hour’s warning, be informed sufficiently how the things do pass ... a far better course than to be troubled in the end with many disordered accounts as in other the like affairs I fear his lordship daily is.

In 1594 Plymouth gave him a silver-gilt basin and ewer in return for his work on behalf of the town over the pilchard tax. He concerned himself with the new Plymouth haven, and collected intelligence for Cecil from Brittany, Spain and Portugal. From time to time he sent Cecil reports about Spanish fleet movements. Though Stallenge twice represented Plymouth in Parliament no record has been found of any activities there, and in 1601 he can have made but a fleeting appearance as his presence there was delayed by the arrival of Sir John Gilbert’s prizes (about which he was still writing to Cecil from Plymouth on 6 Nov.) and he was home again by 5 Dec.2

Stallenge’s letters to Cecil mentioned personal debts he owed in Spain, presumably as a result of his trading activities, and on one occasion he was granted ten years’ protection of his person by privy seal against all creditors. On the other hand he once offered to pay the Plymouth garrison himself, to be repaid through a London merchant with a charge of 1% for the exchange. He spent £1,627 1s.5d. on the fort at Plymouth between 1592 and 1595, presumably not unconnected with the determined efforts he made in 1596 to have Sir Ferdinando Gorges removed from the captaincy. Sometimes Stallenge reminded Cecil that he had not been paid, adding ‘I am a very bad beggar’. The last recorded reference found to him is in 1604, when he was given permission to keep silk worms and a mulberry garden.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Som. Medieval Wills, 1531-58 (Som. Rec. Soc. xxi), 202; Plymouth black bk. f. 301; HMC Hatfield, iv. 240; xi. 457.
  • 2. Copy Bk. of Sir Amias Paulet (Roxburghe Club), 313; Lansd. 115, ff. 253, 263; Armada State Pprs. ed. Laughton (Navy Recs. Soc. i), 165; Plymouth Recs. 141; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xiv. 541; Roberts thesis, 285; HMC Hatfield, xi. 446, 480, 512.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, vi. 457; viii. 2; ix. 92, 307; xi. 480; xii. 36, 456-7; 469, 471; xvi. 348; PRO Index 6800, f. 477; R. N. Worth, Hist. Plymouth (1890), p. 411; R. A. Preston, Gorges of Plymouth, 87, 93; Add. 33378, f. 74.