BULL, Gilbert (by 1523-89 or later), of Peterborough, Northants.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1523. m. Alice, at least 1da.2

Offices Held

Churchwarden, Peterborough 1546-7, in 1549, 1572-3.3


Described indifferently as yeoman or gentleman, Gilbert Bull was one of the more important citizens of Peterborough and he contributed to subsidies and benevolences at the highest rates for the city. None the less, his discharge of his only public office, his churchwardenship, was not beyond reproach, for there was later some question of his having embezzled church plate during the Edwardian survey of church goods.4

Bull was evidently adept at acquiring and exploiting land. By 1544 he had obtained the abbey of Peterborough’s lease of the home rectory of Sexton Barns: in that year he was fined 40s. in the dean and chapter’s court leet, a large sum for such a court, for failing to remove a fence around ten acres of the rectory land. This lease he surrendered in 1550 for a new one for 40 years. He also held a house it Market Street and land nearby, and was repeatedly in trouble with the dean and chapter for his failure to maintain his part of the fen banks. Despite these occasions of conflict, it was as a nominee of the dean and chapter, lords of Peterborough since the dissolution of the abbey, that Bull was returned to the third Parliament of Mary’s reign with another of their tenants, William Liveley. The choice of two residents may have been made in compliance with the Queen’s circular letter asking for such Members.5

Late in Mary’s reign Bull was involved in litigation with executors who refused to fulfil a testator’s promise to buy Bull’s corn at the price current in Peterborough market, and he was again troubled with a lawsuit early in the following reign when Robert Mallory claimed Sexton Barns under the lease supposedly surrendered in 1550. It may have been the costs incurred in this case which obliged Bull to raise a loan of £14 by mortgaging his property in Market Street. Two years later he was able to obtain a lease of the city’s ‘common ovens’ and thereafter he was to be regularly amerced for breach of the assize of bread and ale and once for aggravating his offence by the use of insulting language. He was also still being penalized for such infringements of manorial law as allowing his property to fall into disrepair, and between 1575 and 1580 he granted it all away except for Sexton Barns and the bakehouse. His surrender of the bakehouse to Thomas Hake in 1589 is the last reference found to him.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs. supplies the christian name missing from the indenture, C219/23/93.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Northants. Rec. Soc. xviii. 167.
  • 3. Ibid. ix. 163, 174.
  • 4. Ibid. ix. 1, 167; xviii. 170; C3/126/2.
  • 5. Northants. Rec. Soc. xii. 67, 71, 78, 79; Peterborough cath. lib. Dean Cosens’ pprs.
  • 6. C1/1407/77-79; 3/126/2; Northants. Rec. Soc. xviii, pp. xxxi, 66-174 passim.