HULCOTE, William (1513/14-75), of Barcote, Berks. and London.

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. 1513/14, 1st s. of John Hulcote of Barcote by Catherine, da. of Thomas Essex of Lambourn. educ. ?Oxf. m. Elizabeth, da. of Brian Newcomen of Saltfleetby, Lincs., wid. of Robert Taverner (d.1556) of Lambourne, Essex, s.p. suc. fa. 19 Aug. 1558.1

Offices Held


William Hulcote’s father, a member of the lesser Berkshire gentry and a servant of Anne, dowager Countess of Derby, married into the more prominent Essex family. It may have been to his uncle Sir William Essex that Hulcote owed his return to the Parliament of 1545; Essex was a friend of Sir Anthony Hungerford, the sheriff who returned Hulcote, and Hungerford was himself a distant relative of Lady Derby. If Hulcote had already attracted attention as a Protestant scholar he could also have enjoyed the support of Archbishop Cranmer, whom he was to champion under Mary; Cranmer was an overseer of the will of Sir Edward Baynton, the keeper of the borough of Old Sarum who had died on 27 Nov. 1544.2

Hulcote came into prominence in April 1554 at Cranmer’s disputation in Oxford. A ‘sojourner’ at University College, he has been traced only once in the university records—as a benefactor of Queen’s College library—but he may have spent some years there. He was enough of a scholar in 1554 to establish that a passage from St. Hilary which Cranmer was accused of mistranslating had been used in the same form both by one of the Catholic disputants, Richard Smith (as Cranmer had alleged), and by Bishop Gardiner. On trying to convey his findings to Cranmer in prison, Hulcote was arrested by the bailiffs and himself imprisoned after being questioned by the commissioners sent to examine Cranmer. Four days later he subscribed to the articles of faith in dispute and was released, although the commissioners refused to return his books and tried to have him expelled from University College; the attempt was blocked at the time by the vice-chancellor John Warner but perhaps succeeded when Richard Smith became vice-chancellor in the following year. Hulcote may then have returned to Barcote or perhaps have fled overseas, where he could have made the acquaintance of John Jewell, later bishop of Salisbury, at whose funeral in September 1571 he was to preach. It is not clear whether Hulcote took orders or, like Richard Taverner whose brother’s widow he married, remained a layman: he seems never to have held any church living.3

Hulcote took great pains in drawing up his will on 24 Aug. 1573 and 14 May 1575. Describing himself as ‘God’s meanest minister and simplest servant, yea the vilest and wickedest worm of this western world and island of England’, he gave strict instructions that his burial in the south aisle of Buckland church, near the forefathers for whom he had erected a marble tomb, should follow the form prescribed in certain works of John Carion and Peter of Ravenna; this form, mentioned in Foxe, was sewn into the shroud which Hulcote had had ready for five years. He distributed various books, especially Bibles which he called his ‘hawks and hounds’, to friends at Oxford and elsewhere, especially to Queen’s and University colleges ‘where I was wont to learn to hawk and hunt’, and to the bishop or chancellor of Salisbury and the archdeacon of Wiltshire. He also left £20 to each of the two colleges for the maintenance of a poor scholar, £10 and a house in London to the children of Christ’s Hospital, London, on condition that they sang a psalm around Cheapside in his memory, and books and money to Buckland church, together with small bequests and much advice to his numerous relatives and godchildren, some of whom he seems to have prepared for confirmation. He named his wife executrix and his overseers included his nephew Thomas Hotchenson of the Middle Temple who was to inherit Barcote. Hulcote was apparently in London when he completed his will and he probably died there, his heart being returned (according to his instructions) to Buckland. The will was proved on 6 June 1575.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Elizabeth McIntyre


  • 1. Aged 61 on completing will in May 1575, PCC 25 Pyckering. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 7; The Gen. iv. 260; C142/35/92, 150/193.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, iv, v, xv, xix; PCC 28 Pynnyng.
  • 3. Magrath, Queen’s Coll. ii. 272; Foxe, Acts and Mons., viii. 708-9; Cranmer, Works (Parker Soc.), i. 428; Jewel, Works (ibid.), p. xxv; J. Ridley, Cranmer, 363; Strype, Parker, ii. 49; Lysons, Magna Britannia, i(2), 252; VCH Berks. iv. 457.
  • 4. PCC 25 Pyckering; VCH Berks. iv. 458.