EGLESTON (ECCLESTON), William (by 1528-79), of Winchelsea, Suss.
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Family and Education
Jurat, Winchelsea 6 May 1549-3 Apr. 1561, 18 Oct. 1568-76, mayor 1552-3, 1553-4, 1554-5, 1559-60, 1560-1.3
For some ten years William Egleston was the most important man in Winchelsea: during five of them he was mayor and in 1556-7, between his own two spells in that office, a Thomas Egleston filled it. His claim to gentility may help to explain why, on two of the three occasions on which he was elected by the port, the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, Sir Thomas Cheyne, allowed his name to be returned. Although this was not the case in the autumn of 1553, when after his election on 11 Sept. with (Sir) John Guildford he was evidently passed over by Cheyne while Guildford was transferred to New Romney, he nevertheless went to London to sue ‘for the relief of this town of Winchelsea’; the hundred court had agreed ‘to bear their parts of such charge as is about that suit to be had’, and Egleston duly received two payments, one of ‘£5 to be allowed out of the church money’ and another of £6 19s. For the Parliament which met in the following April the lord warden was granted both nominations, but on 30 Oct. 1554 Egleston was elected to its successor, which he attended with the warden’s nominee and kinsman John Cheyne II. He was not among the Members who quitted this Parliament before its dissolution.4
Egleston’s decade of power came to an abrupt end during his fifth year as mayor. On 3 Apr. 1561 various charges were brought against him and he was fined over £100 and disfranchised. One of the accusations was that he had taken home the town records and allowed Sir John Guildford to see them. Its truth is borne out by the survival of a copy of the Winchelsea charters and many extracts from the town records made on 17 Mar. 1561 under the title:
A certificate of William Egleston, mayor of the town and port of New Winchelsea, and his brethren, made by the commandment of William [Paulet] Lord Marquess of Winchester and Richard Sackville, knight, Sir Walter Mildmay, knight, and Gilbert Gerard, of all the writings yet found in the town of New Winchelsea that do concern and touch the title of the manor of Iham, as by our liberties do declare the bounds thereof, to the Queen’s Highness out of the Exchequer the 6th Mar. 1560/1.
The episode is explained by the fact that Guildford was a descendant of Sir Richard Guildford, to whom Henry VII had granted the manor of Iham, otherwise Higham, and the office of bailiff of New Winchelsea which had anciently been declared a part of that manor in perpetuity. To the townsmen what Egleston had done was betrayal, but higher authority took a different view and the lord warden wrote several times asking the port to reinstate Egleston. Not until 24 June 1566 did Winchelsea begin to yield by resolving that ‘upon the lord warden’s letter and request, he is readmitted as a freeman’, and a further ten months elapsed before this was confirmed on 29 Apr. 1567 ‘in consideration ... that the said William Egleston cloth submit himself and desires to be admitted as a freeman again’. Egleston was finally readmitted on 18 July and re-elected as a jurat on 18 Oct. 1568. He then served as a jurat until 1576 when he asked to be excused, being aged and infirm. During these years he appeared only twice at the Brotherhoods, in September 1570 and July 1573. He had also been admitted a freeman of Rye in 1557.5
By his will, made on 24 Jan. 1579 and proved on 4 June following, Egleston asked to be buried in St. Thomas’s churchyard. His wife was to have the residue of his goods and to occupy for six years the house where he lived, which was then to pass to his eldest son Thomas together with another house and lands and two shops under one roof in the Strand, Winchelsea. The other son John was to have a further house and to share with his brother for six years a lease of the property called Holmans. Of the three daughters, Eve was to have £50, Elizabeth £100 and Frances £100 as well as silver, a bed and household goods. Egleston’s wife and son Thomas were to be the executors, and John Ashburnham and Thomas Blechendon the overseers. Although it is likely that Egleston had influential local friends, no one of consequence is mentioned in the will, but he had himself been left a cruse of silver and gilt by William Oxenbridge in 1550.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Patricia Hyde
- 1. Add. 34150, f. 139.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 138-9.
- 3. Winchelsea hundred ct. bk. 2, f. 46; 3, f. 145; 4, ff. 9, 95; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 246, 248-9, 258, 260.
- 4. Winchelsea hundred ct. bk. 2, ff. 55, 55v, 56, 57.
- 5. Ibid. 3, ff. 144, 184-5, 187; 4, ff. 89, 95; Req. 2/5/90; Suss. Arch. Colls. viii. 26; W. D. Cooper, Winchelsea, 168-9; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 281, 291; Rye hundred ct. bk. 1556-61, f. 5v.
- 6. E. Suss. RO, Lewes archdeaconry wills A7, f. 124; PCC 9 Coode.