VAVASOUR, Sir William (1514-66), of Hazlewood, 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. 20 Nov. 1514, 1st s. of John Vavasour of Hazlewood by Anne, da. of Henry, 6th Lord Scrope of Bolton. m. by 1537, Elizabeth, da. of Anthony Calverley ?of Calverley, at least 6s. 5da. suc. fa. 11 Aug. 1524. Kntd. 11 May 1544.1

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1542-d., (E. Riding) 1561-d.; commr. benevolence, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1544/45, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, castles and enclosure of borders 1555; other commissions 1555-65; sheriff, Yorks. 1548-9, 1563-4; member, council in the north Sept. 1553-d.; capt. Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. Mar. (patent 21 May) 1555-Aug. 1556; ?master of ordnance in the north 1557.2


Of a family reputedly settled at Hazlewood, near Bolton abbey, from the time of the Conqueror, William Vavasour succeeded to his inheritance at the age of nine and was in his 25th year when he had livery. He was nominated but not pricked as sheriff in 1543, 1546 and 1547, served in the Scottish campaign of 1544 as captain of 98 men and was knighted at Leith. In the following March he was one of the captains appointed to garrison the borders, his contingent of 100 consisting of his own and Sir Nicholas Fairfax’s men. He saw service during the civil commotions of 1549, being rewarded with 100 crowns for his part in suppressing ‘the rebels of the north’, and in March 1550, during his first shrievalty, he was granted £60 ‘for certain expenses’.3

Vavasour came to the fore under Mary, being appointed to the council in the north and made captain of Berwick, although after holding the captaincy for little more than a year he surrendered it to, Thomas Wharton I 1st Baron Wharton. In expressing its pleasure that he had yielded to Wharton’s demand the Privy Council promised Vavasour a seat on the council in the north. In July 1557 he was thought fit to be master of the ordnance in the north and in September 1558 was one of those who received thanks for their exploits at Coldingham. His election as knight of the shire at the opening of the reign had doubtless been promoted by the president of the council in the north, the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, and made easier by the Catholicism which kept him, and all his fellow-Members from Yorkshire, out of the ranks of those who opposed the Marian Restoration. That he did not sit again under Mary probably reflects the competition for seats from more powerful figures like Wharton.4

Vavasour accommodated himself sufficiently to the Elizabethan regime to be retained on the council in the north and to be pricked sheriff in 1563, but as one who in the following year was judged ‘no favourer’ of the Anglican settlement he could have had little future in public life when he died on 29 May 1566. By his will of the previous 10 Dec. he had directed that he should be buried ‘without pomp’ at Hazlewood and had named as executors his wife, eldest son and brother Christopher. The son John, aged 28 and more, had licence to enter on the inheritance on 8 Nov. 1566.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: L. M. Kirk / Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth given at declaration of age, C142/57/79. Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 330; Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, ii. 226-7; Gooder, Parlty. Rep. Yorks. ii. 12-13; LP Hen. VIII, xix.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xvii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 92; 1550-3, p. 394; 1553, pp. 328, 353, 414; 1553-4, p. 26; 1554-5, p. 111, 299; 1555-7, p. 54; 1560-3, pp. 187-8, 436; 1563-6, pp. 21, 123-4; 1569-72, p. 216; R. R. Reid, King’s Council in the North, 493; APC, v. 109, 317; vi. 123. According to LP Hen. VIII, xx Vavasour was pricked sheriff in Nov. 1545 but PRO Lists, ix. 163 gives Sir Christopher Danby*.
  • 3. J. J. Cartwright, Chaps. Yorks. Hist. 367; LP Hen. VIII, iv, xiv, xviii-xxi; HMC Bath, iv. 58, 66, 70, 72; CPR, 1553, p. 316; APC, ii. 354, 407.
  • 4. APC, v. 109, 122, 124, 288, 309, 317; vi. 123, 396; Reid, 181.
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 70; Leeds Phil. and Lit. Soc. Procs. x(6), 192-3, 218, 226-7; C142/144/135; York wills 19, f. 401; CPR, 1563-6, p. 530.