AUBREY, William II (1528/29-95), of Cantreff, Brec.; Doctors' Commons, London Sydenham, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. 1528/29, 2nd s. of Thomas Aubrey of Cantreff by Agnes, da. of Thomas Vaughan. educ. at Brecon; Oxf. c.1543, fellow, All Souls 1547, BCL 1549, DCL 1554/55; adv. Doctors’ Commons 14 Jan. 1556. m. by 1558, Wilgiford, da. of John Williams of Taynton, Oxon., 3s. 6da.1

Offices Held

Principal, New Inn Hall, Oxf. c.1550; jt. (with John Story), later sole prof. of civil law, Oxf. 7 Oct. 1553-22 Feb. 1559; jt. (with William Clerke) vicar-gen. province of Canterbury Jan. 1578; j.p.q. Welsh counties and Glos., Herefs., Mon., Salop 1579-d.; member, council in the marches of Wales by 1579; master in Chancery; member, ct. high commission by 1593; master of requests 20 Jan. 1590.2


William Aubrey came of a well-established family of Breconshire. According to his great-grandson John Aubrey he ‘learned the first grounds of grammar in the College of Brecon’, whence he proceeded to Oxford at the age of 14, where

in a few years he so much profited in humanity and other recommendable knowledge, especially in rhetoric and histories, as that he was found to be fit for the study of the civil law, and thereupon was also elected unto the fellowship of All Souls College.

We also have it on John Aubrey’s authority that his ancestor was as when he received his doctorate: he had certainly not yet done so when on 7 Oct. 1553 he was appointed joint professor of civil law at Oxford. The post had previously been held by John Story, first alone and later with Robert Weston, but as Story had not had the last grant sealed it was again at the crown’s disposal. Of the stipend of £40 a year Aubrey presumably received half, but at some time during his tenure he acquired Story’s interest and it was he alone who surrendered the office on 22 Feb. 1559. He appears to have discharged its duties by deputy: in 1554 the lectures were given by William Mowse and in 1557 Aubrey went to France as judge-marshal of the army led by William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.3

Aubrey’s patronage by Pembroke, to which John Aubrey bore testimony, went back at least to the first year of Mary’s reign, for it was to the earl that he must have owed his election to the Parliament of April 1554: Pembroke was constable of Carmarthen castle and wielded much influence in the borough. By January 1558, when Aubrey was next returned to the House, the connexion had been strengthened by their wartime service together, and it was as the hero of St. Quentin, as well as chancellor and chamberlain of Brecon and constable of the castle, that Pembroke could procure Aubrey’s return in his native shire. The evidence for Aubrey’s Membership of this Parliament is the entry of his name for Brecon Boroughs on the original Crown Office list; its omission (with 16 others) from a copy of this list apparently made in preparation for the second session is a peculiarity which has yet to be explained but which hardly casts doubt upon his election. What part Aubrey played in the proceedings of either Parliament is unknown.4

In 1558 Aubrey had most of his life and career still ahead of him: he was to rise high as a civil lawyer and ecclesiastical administrator and to be a Member of three Elizabethan Parliaments, the last of them separated by nearly 40 years from the one in which he had first sat. He died on 25 June 1595 and was buried in St. Paul’s cathedral.

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Aged 66 at death according to MI, Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. Clark, i. 54-56, 66; Dwnn, Vis. Wales, i. 39; C142/246/99; DNB; DWB; C. Coote, Civilians, 41.
  • 2. CPR , 1553-4, p. 395; 1558-60, p. 57; Aubrey, i. 55, 61; P. H. Williams, Council in Marches of Wales, 342-3; APC, x. 148; xviii. 18; HMC Hatfield, iv. 280-4.
  • 3. Aubrey, i. 54, 61; CPR, 1553-4, p. 395; 1563-6, p. 387.
  • 4. Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264.