TANCRED (TANKERD), William (by 1508-73), of Boroughbridge, Yorks.

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



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1508, s. of Hugh Tancred of Boroughbridge. educ. L. Inn, adm. 31 Jan. 1522, called 1527. m. by 1530, Anne, da. of John Pulleyn of Killinghall, 3s. 1da.2

Offices Held

Bencher, L. Inn 1537.

Recorder, York 1537-d.; j.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1538-47 or later, (N. Riding) 1547, 1569, (E. Riding) 1569, q. (W. Riding) 1554-72, Cumb. 1569; commr. relief, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1550; ?bailiff, Boroughbridge in 1555; member, council in the north 1566-72.3


William Tancred was born at Boroughbridge and made that town his home, but the greater part of his career was spent in the service of the city of York. First appearing in the York records in 1533, when as a ‘learned man’ he was sent to London on civic business, he may have got his start there through his father-in-law John Pulleyn, whom he succeeded as recorder in 1537, or his brother-in-law Miles Newton, for over 40 years the city’s common clerk. It was with Newton that Tancred lodged when he was in York.4

Although Tancred is said to have been involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace as a Percy retainer, his only known action appears to have been the summoning of a meeting at Topcliffe ‘about certain matters in variance among the townsmen’, and his appointment to one of the Yorkshire benches in 1538 implies that he was not seriously compromised. His election as second Member for York in the Parliament of 1539 is easier to understand than the fact that it was not to be repeated throughout the remaining 34 years of his recordership. It may be that his non-residence told against his re-election; in 1550 his fee as recorder was withheld until he paid a promised visit to view the bounds of the city. In general, however, he appears to have carried out his duties to the city’s satisfaction: they included acting as its spokesman on Henry VIII’s arrival there in 1541 and spending considerable time in London on civic business between 1547 and 1549. (He was there in January 1549 when Thomas Jolye mentioned him in a letter to the 2nd Earl of Cumberland.) Until 1548 his remuneration was limited by Sir Richard Page’s retention of an annuity of £12 out of the recorder’s annual fee of £13 6s.8d. and clothing; when he was first given the full amount the corporation acknowledged the ‘great charges’ he had sustained, and during his later years of office he received additional rewards such as the hogshead of claret given him in 1567.5

Tancred’s election as one of the first two Members for Boroughbridge in the autumn of 1553 answered to his standing as a leading resident and legal officer of the honor of Knaresborough, but as at York it was not to be repeated, whereas his fellow-Member, and colleague at Lincoln’s Inn, Christopher Wray was to retain his seat throughout Mary’s reign. Tancred’s acceptance of the Catholic restoration is not implied by his omission from the Members of this Parliament noted as having opposed it, since Boroughbridge is one of the three boroughs missing from the list concerned, but he remained on the Marian bench and although sufficiently conformable under Elizabeth to be retained on it, and at Archbishop Young’s suggestion even brought on to the council in the north, his restoration to the commission, after he was put off it in 1572 when ‘aged and sickly’, was opposed by the president of the council, the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, in terms which leave no doubt that he remained a Catholic.6

Tancred died on 13 Aug. 1573 at Boroughbridge and was buried there. He died intestate but the inquisition post mortem taken on 26 Oct. at Wetherby shows him as owning the manors of Farnham, Hornby and Newsholme, the reversion of a moiety of Hewick, and many scattered properties in the North and West Ridings. His heir was his eldest son Thomas, then aged 43.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. M. Palliser


  • 1. York archs. B14, f. 6; E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r.[1-2].
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from education. York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife ms civic officials, iii. 729.
  • 3. York archs. B13-25; LP Hen. VIII, xiii-xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 92; 1553, p. 353; 1553-4, p. 26; 1560-3, p. 436; 1563-6, p. 21; 1569-72, p. 224; C219/24/62; R. R. Reid, King’s Council in the North, 210-11.
  • 4. York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife ms civic officials, iii. 729; York Civic Recs. iii (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cvi), 163; York archs. B13, f. 100; N. Country Wills, i (Surtees Soc. cxvi), 210.
  • 5. Reid, 196; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xvi; York Civic Recs. iv (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cviii), 68-70, 85, 157, 167, 170-1, 174; v (ibid. cx), 3, 9, 48, 119; vi (ibid. cxii), 38, 121, 130, 143; vi (ibid. cxv), 6; York archs. B14, f. 6; Clifford Letters (Surtees Soc. clxxii), 33-34.
  • 6. Somerville, Duchy, i. 525; Reid, 184 n. 75, 196, 198, 210, 211 n. 9; Lansd. 10(2), f. 4; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 70, 72; J. T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 242; T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. Yorks. Manor, 174.
  • 7. York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife ms civic officials, iii. 729; E150/260/24; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 199; ii. 28, 314.