MASON, William (c.1572-c.1627), of Gray's Inn, London and Bury St. Edmunds, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1572,1 1st s. of Thomas Mason, yeoman, of Monkton in Thanet, Kent and Thomasine, da. of John Dowfell (Duffield) of Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks. educ. ?St. John’s, Camb. 1588; Staple Inn; G. Inn 1595, called 1600. m. by 1599, Anne, da. of Robert Cannon, yeoman, of Swaffham, Norf., 10s. suc. fa. 1576.2 d. by 2 Nov. 1628.3

Offices Held

Ancient, G. Inn 1613-d.;4 custos brevium, k.b. (jt.) by 1619-d.5

J.p. Suff. 1618-d.,6 commr. sewers 1619-d.,7 subsidy, Bury St. Edmunds, Suff. 1622, 1624.8


Mason’s father was a Kent yeoman, who bequeathed his son £100 and left instructions for him to be brought up ‘in learning’.9 Mason went on to become a Gray’s Inn barrister and joint custos brevium, or keeper of the writs, in King’s Bench. It was possibly through his work in that court that Mason came into contact with Robert Heath*, the deputy prothonotary of King’s Bench, whom Mason described as his ‘loving and dear friend’.10 Having married the daughter of an East Anglian yeoman, Mason purchased the manor of Barningham, in north-west Suffolk, probably by 1618, in which year he was appointed to the Suffolk bench. He was certainly resident in Bury St. Edmunds, in the same county, by the following year.11

Mason drew up his will on 20 June 1625, in good health but conscious that ‘the care of a man’s debts is a thing of principal regard’.12 He was elected for Aldeburgh in the following year, possibly as the nominee of Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, who also secured the election of another friend of Heath’s, Nicholas Jordan*, at Arundel.13 He is easily confused with Robert Mason I, who sat for Christchurch in the same Parliament, but both seem to have been appointed to consider legislation to prevent the abuse of Exchequer procedure by private creditors. A ‘Mr. Mason’ was among those to whom a bill on that subject was committed on 28 Feb. and a further measure on the same subject was referred to the same committee on 14 Mar., with a ‘Mr. Mason’ among the additional members.14 This Member was probably the ‘Mr. Mason’ named to consider a Norfolk estate bill on 4 May.15

In a codicil to his will on 10 July 1626, Mason left to his eldest son William a half-share in his office, his chamber in Gray’s Inn, his law books and his gown, all of which he hoped might suffice to raise portions of £200 apiece for his younger sons. He also bequeathed a ring to Heath, asking him to be ‘loving and kind to my children’. His date of death is unknown, but it must have taken place by 2 Nov. 1628, when his widow sold Barningham to Maurice Barrowe†. His will was proved the following April.16 His eldest son raised 400 gentlemen of the Inns of Court to guard Whitehall from the apprentices in 1641, and was knighted at Oxford as a royalist colonel of horse. A younger son, Benjamin, served in the parliamentarian forces and was returned for Herefordshire in 1656.17

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to St. John’s, Camb.
  • 2. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 191; Cent. Kent. Stud. DCb/PRC32/33, f. 15; PROB 11/39, f. 331v; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; Norf. RO, Norwich consist. ct. 45, Pecke.
  • 3. Add. 19141, f. 249v.
  • 4. PBG Inn, i. 202.
  • 5. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 191; PROB 11/155, f. 226.
  • 6. C231/4, f. 67; E163/18/12, f. 76v.
  • 7. C181/2, f. 350; 181/3, f. 202.
  • 8. C212/22/21, 23.
  • 9. DCb/PRC32/33, f. 15.
  • 10. PROB 11/155, f. 226.
  • 11. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 191; W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. i. 276; PROB 11/155, f. 225v.
  • 12. PROB 11/155, f. 225v.
  • 13. Arundel, Autograph Letters 1617-32, Peers to Spiller, 16 Jan. 1626.
  • 14. Procs. 1626, ii. 147, 281.
  • 15. Ibid. iii. 155.
  • 16. PROB 11/155, ff. 225v-6.
  • 17. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1660-70, p. 688; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 219.