GOLAFRE, William, of Abingdon, Berks.

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



Feb. 1383
Sept. 1388

Family and Education

3rd s. of Sir John Golafre (d.1363) of Sarsden, Oxon. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir John Fyfield of Fyfield, Berks.; uncle of John*. m. bef. June 1372, Alice, da. and h. of John Bishop (d.1360) of Abingdon, s.p.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Oxon. and Berks. 20 July-Nov. 1386.

Commr. of arrest, Berks. Oct. 1389.


William, being a younger brother of the Sir John Golafre who died in 1379, and of Thomas Golafre through whom the family estates eventually descended, had to make his own way without benefit of patrimony.1 That he succeeded in becoming an esquire of adequate means was an outcome of his marriage to Alice Bishop, the heiress of a number of properties in Abingdon, including the manor of ‘Bishops’. In 1372 settlement was made on the couple of two messuages, eight shops and annual rents of £10 in the town, and to these holdings they added more in a series of transactions carried out over the next few years. Some of their land was situated beside the causeway from Marcham.2

Golafre also sought to improve his position by military service. From June to September 1377 he received wages as a member of the retinue of Thomas of Woodstock, earl of Buckingham, taking part in naval engagements against the Spaniards and French in the Channel. That July, before putting to sea, he secured at the Exchequer a share in a seven-year lease of the manor of Seacourt, which was held of Abingdon abbey. His involvement in local administration was restricted to just a few months service as sheriff in 1386 and to a single royal commission, and despite continuing links with Thomas of Woodstock, now duke of Gloucester, preferment was denied him. In May 1388, when Gloucester, as one of the Lords Appellant, was sharing control of the government, Golafre stood surety at the Exchequer for one of the duke’s retainers, John Corbet of Essex, then granted the marriage of Thomas Chalers*, agreeing to be bound in recognizances in £40 in case Corbet should default in his payments. His election to the Parliament summoned to Cambridge that September may even have been carried through in the knowledge that he was acquainted with the duke’s followers, although there is no further evidence of such a connexion. In 1391 Golafre twice appeared in Chancery as a mainpernor: in August as guarantor that the vicar of Abingdon would not, while travelling overseas, make any suit in the papal curia at Rome prejudicial to the King’s and in October that Edmund* and James Sparsholt would keep the peace in their quarrel with Sir Thomas de la Mare. By that date William’s bastard nephew, Sir John Golafre, had risen high in the King’s favour as a knight of the chamber and constable of Wallingford castle (1387-96), and his other nephew, ‘Janyn’ Golafre, entered the Household as an esquire in 1395. But although he enjoyed amicable relations with both these younger men (the former left him £10 in his will in 1394, and he acted as mainpernor on the occasion of the election of the latter to the Parliament of September 1397), their contacts at court led to no direct advantage for him. Perhaps William’s earlier association with Gloucester had not passed entirely unnoticed; indeed, the last record we have of him shows that in June 1398 he took out a royal pardon covering his participation, as a Member of the Commons, in the acts of the Lords Appellant of 1387-8. He died not long afterwards. By 1410 ‘Bishops’ was in the possession of Thomas Beek and his wife Alice, who most likely was Golafre’s widow.3

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. J. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 2-3; G. Lipscomb,; Bucks. i. 394-5.
  • 2. CIPM, xi. 30; VCH Berks. iv. 442; CP25(1)12/71/14, 72/5, 74/3, 75/17, 76/7, 78/10; Public Works in Med. Law (Seldon Soc. xxxii), 13.
  • 3. E101/38/2; CFR, ix. 2; CPR, 1385-9, p. 441; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 493, 499; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Arundel, f. 155; C67/30 m. 15; C219/9/13.