DENE, William atte, of Wycombe, Bucks.

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

Family and Education

s. of William atte Dene (d. by 1346) of Wycombe by his w. Emma.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Wycombe 25 Mar. 1354-5; mayor Mich. 1365-6, 1370-1.2

Commr. to enforce the Statute of Labourers, Wycombe Mar. 1356; of arrest, Bucks. July 1384.


One of the most important burgesses of Wycombe in the second half of the 14th century, William was a member of an old local family and a descendant of John atte Dene, MP in 1327 and 1328. He himself is first mentioned in 1346 when, along with his mother, he was granted a plot of land by the wardens of the guild of St. Mary. In 1356 he was appointed to a royal commission for enforcing the Statute of Labourers in the Wycombe area, and in the following year he stood surety for John Asshebourne, archdeacon of Buckinghamshire, regarding payment of a debt to Edward, prince of Wales (then lord of the honour of Wallingford, of which Wycombe was a parcel). In 1358 atte Dene was given by the French abbey of Grestain a power of attorney, the object of which was to convey the advowson of Bledlow (near Wycombe) to John Talworth, another prominent burgess.3

In 1368 atte Dene was elected to Parliament for the first time, and he subsequently sat in at least 17 of the 29 Parliaments which met between then and 1395, including the Good Parliament of 1376. He served in the Commons in 1371 while acting as mayor, and it was later in the same year that he was summoned to attend a further assembly at Winchester, which was called together to advise the King on the best means of raising a loan of £50,000, to subsidize the war with France. He stood surety for the attendance of Stephen Watford* at the Parliament of 1385.

It is not surprising that atte Dene had close links with some of his fellow MPs and members of the corporation. He was present at a meeting of the authorities in 1388 when a tenement in Crendon Lane was granted to William Depham*. In 1390 he bought a house in the town from John Dene, probably a relation, and in 1394 he joined Depham in the purchase of a small farm in Wycombe from Isabel, wife of William atte Halle*. In the following year, he went surety for another important burgess, John Peytevyn†, when the latter obtained custody of a forfeited tenement in Sandwich, Kent. It was probably at about this time, also, that he became a feoffee of Thomas atte Lude, a local landowner, with regard to an estate in and near Wycombe. His own holdings included a meadow on the outskirts of the town.4

Still alive in 1408, when he witnessed a local deed, William had died by October 1412.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: Charles Kightly


  • 1. First Ledger Bk. High Wycombe (Bucks. Rec. Soc. xi), 14-15.
  • 2. CAD, ii. C2073; HMC 5th Rep. 562; Ledger Bk. 17.
  • 3. Ledger Bk. 14-15; Reg. Black Prince, iv. 202-3; CCR, 1354-60, p. 541.
  • 4. Ledger Bk. 37-38; C219/8/12; CP25(1)21/107/17, 109/5; HMC 5th Rep. 561-2; CFR, xi. 134; JUST 1/1/79/5.
  • 5. CCR, 1405-9, p. 467; JUST 1/1/79/5.