FOSSE, William, of Grimsby, Lincs.

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

Offices Held

Bailiff, Grimsby Mich. 1404-5; mayor 1409-12, 1414-16, 1420-1.1


Fosse, a local lawyer, is particularly notable for the fact that he served no less than six terms as mayor of Grimsby over a period of just 11 years. Even when not in office he was closely involved in municipal affairs, as, for example, in 1409, when he discharged various items of legal business for the authorities. The chamberlain’s account for this year describes him as an apprentice-at-law, and he certainly put his legal training to good use where his own interests were concerned. At some point during Henry IV’s reign he is known to have sued Alice, the widow of Robert Tyler of Beverley in Yorkshire, for a debt of eight marks, although she failed to appear in court and was duly outlawed. Fosse himself owed money at this time, for the accounts of the churchwardens of St. Mary’s, Grimsby, show that by 1411 he had allowed arrears of 21s. in rent to accumulate over the previous decade. He was much in demand as a mainpernor when parliamentary elections were held; and he stood surety for burgesses returned by the borough on at least six occasions between the spring of 1413 and 1427.2 It was in June 1413 that he himself, together with eight other local men, was bound over to keep the peace towards a clerk named John Wathe. He had by then begun another lawsuit, this time against a fisherman from Sowerby in Yorkshire whom he accused of trespass, albeit with no more success than before. It seems unlikely that the William Fosse of Bilsby who served as alnager of Lindsey for a two-year period ending in 1425 was the same man as this MP, but the two may well have been related.3

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. E368/178, 182-4, 187-8, 193.
  • 2. CCR, 1416-22, p. 432; C219/11/1, 12/4, 5, 6, 13/1, 5; South Humberside RO, 1/600, 980/1.
  • 3. CCR, 1413-19, pp. 74-75; 1436-41, p. 436; CFR, xv. 17, 87.