GIFFORD (JEFFARD), William (by 1489-1538 or later), of Reading, Berks.

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. by 1489.2

Offices Held

Member of guild, Reading 1510, on inner council of burgesses 1511, mayor 1511-12, 1520-1, 1524-5.3


William Gifford’s name is variously spelt in the Reading records but all the entries seem to refer to the same man. In October 1510 as William Gifford, gentleman, he paid the full fee for entry into the merchant guild. He was the only man to be styled ‘generosus’ on a list of burgesses drawn up that year and at once began to take a leading part in the town’s affairs, for in the following January he became one of the inner council of 24 burgesses which had been set up to advise the mayor. Soon afterwards he travelled with the mayor and others to Oxford, where the royal charter of the liberties of their guild was confirmed by the justices of assize. He was named as mayor by the abbot of Reading later that year, after being a burgess for only 11 months.4

During his first term of office Gifford agreed that the name of a successful candidate for the mayoralty should not be submitted to the abbot for a further term until three years had elapsed, and that no new admissions to the guild should be made without the consent of the mayor and 12 other burgesses. This might have been a reflection on his own rapid rise but he was returned to the Parliament of 1512 summoned soon after he had been made mayor, taking precedence over his fellow-Member Richard Smith I. Neither he nor Smith was re-elected in 1515, despite Henry VIII’s call for the return of the previous Members, but shortly after the assembly of the Parliament of that year Gifford received 40s. for his own parliamentary expenses. He was to be chosen mayor twice more and figures on lists of burgesses until 1538. In the absence of a will or any reference to a profession, it is not known how he made his living.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Reading Recs. i. 124.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman.
  • 3. Reading Recs. i. 116, 121, 122. 142, 147.
  • 4. Ibid. i. 116, 119, 121, 122.
  • 5. Ibid. i. 122, 124, 131, 142, 147, 171.