MASTER, Sir William (1600-1662), of Cirencester Abbey, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 3 Sept. 1600,1 1st s. of George Master† of Cirencester Abbey and Bridget, da. and h. of John Cornwall† of Marlborough, Wilts.2 ?educ. I. Temple 1612.3 m. 24 Dec. 1622, Alice (d. 5 Sept. 1660), da. of Sir Edward Estcourt of St. Edmund’s Coll., Salisbury, Wilts., 6s. 6da. (1 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. 1604;5 kntd. 1622.6 d. 3 Mar. 1662.7 sig. Will[iam] Master.

Offices Held

J.p. Glos. 1624-42, 1643-?6, 1660-d.;8 commr. subsidy, Glos. 1624, 1641-2,9 forced loan 1627,10 sheriff 1627-8;11 commr. repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Glos. 1632;12 capt. militia ft. Glos. by 1635;13 commr. sewers, Glos. and Wilts. 1635,14 array, Glos. 1642;15 dep. lt. Glos. 1642;16 commr. inquiry into rebels’ estates (roy.) 1643, imprest (roy.) 1643.17


Master’s grandfather, of Kentish origin, became physician to Queen Elizabeth,18 purchased the reversion of Cirencester Abbey in 1565,19 and built ‘a fine seat, with handsome gardens’ on the site.20 His father sat for the borough in 1586 and 1589. Master himself was returned to the last Jacobean Parliament in 1624. He defeated (Sir) Maurice Berkeley*, whose petition was rejected by the committee for privileges under the chairmanship of Lady Master’s uncle John Glanville.21 Master’s only committee appointment was for a bill to prevent the conversion of arable land into pasture (24 March).22 He received a discharge from a Privy Seal loan in April 1626,23 and in February 1627 was one of the commissioners who refused either to implement or pay the Forced Loan, whereupon he was bound over bound over to appear before the Privy Council.24 There is no evidence of further proceedings against him, which suggests that he subsequently paid. During his shrieval year his brother-in-law Sir Giles Estcourt was elected for Cirencester. He was involved in a dispute over the advowson of the Gloucestershire rectory of North Cerney in the 1630s, and purchased Coln St. Dennis, six miles from Cirencester, in 1637.25

Appointed a commissioner of array by the king and a deputy lieutenant by Parliament, Master helped to save the 6th Lord Chandos from the Cirencester rioters in 1642 and supported the king in the Civil War,26 entertaining Charles at his house in 1643 and 1644.27 Before compounding at £1,482 as a delinquent, however, he pleaded that he had at first maintained a horseman for Parliament, and had been forced to sign royalist warrants when Rupert captured Cirencester.28 Following the execution of Charles I he ‘lived a long while grieving for his martyred king’. A ‘paralytic disease’ threatened to cut his own life short, but his faith that the monarchy would eventually be restored is said to have enabled him to withstand his illness.29 He made his will on 31 Oct. 1661 and was buried at Cirencester on 13 Mar. 1662. His eldest son Thomas, to whom he left ‘my great book of statutes’ and his copy of Camden’s Britannia, proved his will in February 1663 and sat for Cirencester in the Convention Parliament.30

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. C142/285/149.
  • 2. Vis. Glos. ed. Fenwick and Metcalfe, 120-1.
  • 3. I. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. Vis. Glos. 120-1; W. Symonds, ‘Estcourt of Salisbury, Rollestone, and Long Newnton’, Wilts. N and Q, v. 325; S. Rudder, New Hist. of Glos. 364.
  • 5. C142/285/149.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. 180.
  • 7. Rudder, 364.
  • 8. C231/4, f. 168; 231/5, p. 528; Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 14; C220/9/4, f. 32.
  • 9. C212/22/23; SR, v. 62, 84, 151.
  • 10. C193/12/2, f. 20v.
  • 11. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 51
  • 12. Glos. RO, TBR A1/1, f. 80.
  • 13. Glos. RO, TBR A1/1, f. 80; GBR H2/2, p. 201.
  • 14. C181/5, f. 42.
  • 15. Northants. RO, FH133; LJ, v. 291.
  • 16. LJ, v. 291.
  • 17. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6, pp. 70, 102.
  • 18. Oxford DNB sub Master, Richard.
  • 19. CPR, 1563-6, p. 201.
  • 20. Rudder, 356.
  • 21. J. Glanville, Reports (1775), pp. 104-11
  • 22. CJ, i. 748b.
  • 23. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 723.
  • 24. SP16/54/28i, viii.
  • 25. VCH Glos. vii. 160; viii. 29.
  • 26. W. St. Clair Baddeley, Cirencester, 247.
  • 27. J. Gutch, Collectanea Curiosa, ii. 431, 438.
  • 28. CCC, 85, 1143-4; CSP Dom. 1645-7, p. 532.
  • 29. J. Maclean, ‘Armory and merchants marks in the ancient church of Cirencester’, Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xvii. 313.
  • 30. PROB 11/310, ff. 96-7; Cirencester par. reg. (Soc. Gen. mic. 451).