BARBER, William II, of Dunwich, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



May 1421

Family and Education

poss. s. of Andrew Barber, of ‘Southtown’ (Little Yarmouth), Suff. m. bef. May 1422, Isabel.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Dunwich Sept. 1408-11, 1412-13, 1415-16, 1419-22, 1424-7, 1429-31, 1433-8, 1441-2, 1443-4.2


In January 1403 Barber, then living in St. Leonard’s parish in Dunwich, contributed 14d. to the first part of the subsidy granted by the Parliament of the previous year. He served on the Dunwich court leet jury in 1407, and is mentioned in petty disputes recorded in the court rolls between then and 1436.3 In 1408 he acquired a plot of land called ‘Valencz’ in St. Martin’s parish, and he also held property in St. John’s parish, where he lived subsequently. From 1427 to 1436 he was assessed for 8s. 10d. rent annually for various properties including a windmill, a house in the market, a garden next to St. Peter’s cemetery, and two shops. He owned a ‘Fischouse’, but was on occasion described as ‘brewer’ or ‘husbandman’.4

Barber was elected bailiff of Dunwich some 20 times, and in his official capacity he made the parliamentary returns of 1410, 1413 (May), 1419, 1426, 1431, 1435 and 1437. He attended other elections, doing so in 1411, 1414 (Nov.) — when he was mainpernor for those selected — 1423 (mainpernor for John Luke*), 1427 (for John Pollard), 1429 and 1433. Although in 1410 Barber had returned himself, on the occasion of his election to the Parliament of 1421 (May) his fellow bailiff alone made the return. The burgesses of Dunwich having ‘accidentally’ lost the charter granted to them by King John, Barber was now delegated to obtain a new copy from Chancery, where he took oath on 28 May (five days after the parliamentary session had ended) that the copy would be surrendered if the original was ever found. In February 1429 he sued out a pardon for not appearing in the King’s bench to answer the prior of Ely for a debt of £17.5

He may have been the William Barber, son of Andrew Barber of Little Yarmouth, who with Isabel his wife sold land in Somerleyton, Suffolk, in December 1427; certainly the Dunwich man’s wife was called Isabel.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: K.N. Houghton


  • 1. Add. Ch. 40722.
  • 2. E368/183-94; SC11/886; Add. Chs. 40675, 40717; T. Gardner, Hist. Dunwich, 78-79. Gardner also says, probably erroneously, that Barber was bailiff 1406-8.
  • 3. Add. Chs. 40704, 40709, 40710, 40714-15; SC11/886.
  • 4. Add. Chs. 40674, 40722, 40728-9; SC11/886-7.
  • 5. C219/10/5, 6, 11/1, 4, 12/3, 5, 13/2, 4, 5, 14/1, 2, 4, 5, 15/1; CPR, 1416-22, p. 363; 1422-9, p. 509.
  • 6. Bodl. Suff. Ch. 1093.