BASSETT, William II (1551-1601), of Blore, Staffs. and Langley Meynell, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 18 Aug. 1551, 1st s. of William Bassett of Blore by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Anthony Fitzherbert. educ. St. John’s, Oxf. c.1566; M. Temple, sp. adm. 1571. m. Judith, da. of Thomas Ostern of Oxley, Staffs., wid. of William Boothby, 1da. suc. fa. 1562.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Derbys. 1577-8, 1592-3, j.p., commr. musters from c.1584, subsidy 1594, 1595; j.p. Staffs. from c.1582 (temp. rem. 1595), sheriff 1587-8.2


Bassett’s family had been seated at Blore since the fourteenth century, and later acquired estates in Derbyshire. He was brought up by his maternal uncles, the Fitzherberts, and served with the Earl of Leicester in the Netherlands. From here he returned, prematurely, according to an unfriendly source, in time to be elected knight of the shire for Staffordshire. His neighbour Philip Okeover, who was then sheriff, may have given him any support he needed.3

It was Bassett, in his capacity as sheriff of Derbyshire, who arrested for debt his cousin and old enemy Thomas Fitzherbert on the day Fitzherbert was returned MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme. For this, Bassett was brought to the bar of the House of Commons, where he was allowed counsel. He produced evidence under the corporation seal of Newcastle-under-Lyme that Fitzherbert’s election had taken place three hours after his arrest, and in the upshot Fitzherbert failed to obtain privilege. Next, Fitzherbert submitted to the Queen a series of ‘articles’ against Bassett, alleging necromancy, cowardice, treason and Catholicism, backed up by a collusive letter from his friend Richard Topcliffe to Burghley containing further allegations of Bassett’s treason and Catholicism. Bassett was examined on the matter and temporarily removed from the Staffordshire commission of the peace. He died at Blore on 9 Dec. 1601, leaving as sole heiress his daughter Elizabeth, then aged two, who later married first the Hon. Henry Howard and secondly William Cavendish, eventually 1st Duke of Newcastle.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: J.E.M. / P. W. Hasler


  • 1. J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), i. 385; Topographer, ii. 322; Lysons, Magna Brittania, v. 197; C142/137/49.
  • 2. Harl. 474, ff. 7v, 72v; HMC Rutland, i. 168, 322, 329; Lansd. 35, f. 135.
  • 3. Erdeswick’s Surv. Staffs. 486; Wards 7/9/26; R. C. Strong and J. A. Van Dorsten, Leicester’s Triumph, 110; Harl. 7042, f. 227.
  • 4. Neale, Parlts. ii. 313-18; Harl. 7042, f. 225v seq.; CSP Dom. 1591-4, pp. 372, 379-81; Wards 7/26/3.