ROSE, William II, of Canterbury, Kent.

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

m. bef. Nov. 1410, Alice, da. of Reynold St. Cler, 1s.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Canterbury Mich. 1478-9, 1431-2, 1439-41; jurat 1432-4, 1447-9.1

Commr. of array, Canterbury Nov. 1435.

Bailiff of the liberty of Christ Church priory, Canterbury by Aug. 1444.2


Rose was admitted a freeman of Canterbury on 9 Jan. 1410 by special favour, being, although a stranger to the community, exonerated from payment of the normal fee out of the respect which the jurats held for the prior of Christ Church. What his connexion with the then prior, Thomas Chillenden, can have been is now a mystery, but that the association between him and the priory was to be long maintained is evident from his service over 30 years later as bailiff of its liberty. In the following year, despite his lack of experience in the affairs of the city, he was chosen as one of its representatives in Parliament. Rose’s wife was heir to some property in Herne, which she and her husband sold in reversion to Thomas Ickham* by a transaction completed in January 1411, a few months before Rose and Ickham’s son, William, travelled up to Westminster together to sit in the Commons. In 1413 the Roses acquired three messuages in Canterbury itself.3 At Michaelmas 1418 Rose was named one of the 36 ‘honourable men’ of Canterbury, a body which assisted in the administration of the city, but he was not to be elected as a bailiff until ten more years had elapsed. At the end of his term of office in September 1429 the citizens elected him to Parliament for the third time, but after spending five days at Westminster he was recalled when the sheriff of Kent, overriding his election, returned in his place John Bonnington, a servant of Bishop Langdon of Rochester.4

Rose was assessed for the subsidy of 1431 on property in Canterbury and land to the east of the city, together valued at £3 a year. He attested the electoral indentures for Kent and its two boroughs for the Parliaments of 1432 and 1437, and in the meantime was among those of the shire who in May 1434 were ordered to take the generally prescribed oath not to maintain malefactors. Nevertheless, in one of a number of suits to which he was party in Chancery, he himself was accused of maintenance while holding office as bailiff of Canterbury. He was also charged on the same occasion, in December 1439, with false imprisonment and contempt of the chancellor’s writ, the plaintiff making the allegation that he ‘hath be ayens your saide bisecher in the saide acion [as] bothe party and juge’. Another charge of false imprisonment (this time relating to his first bailiffship of ten years earlier) was presented before the chancellor in July 1440. But whatever the truth of these allegations, his shortcomings did not prevent his re-election as bailiff for a fourth term that Michaelmas.5

Rose himself was not immune to adverse treatment by the civic authorities: he brought a legal action against the bailiffs of 1441-3, claiming in a petition to the chancellor that they had hindered his recovery of a debt of £20 following a suit successfully prosecuted in the city court by his late father-in-law, Reynold St. Cler, having done so by wrongfully discharging the debtor from prison before he had made satisfaction. He also claimed that in another case, although the court had awarded him £40 together with damages of £1, one of the bailiffs had maliciously created a deliberate error in the proceedings, thus preventing him from obtaining the money. These disputes among the rulers of Canterbury, perhaps indicative of political factions within the city, may account for the fact that Rose was never re-elected to the Commons, although he did serve as a jurat for two more terms. In October 1450 he was indicted before the justices sitting at Dartford on a charge that while bailiff of the liberty of Christ Church priory six years earlier he had forcibly assaulted one William Bury when arresting him by colour of his office, led him to Canterbury with his feet firmly bound with irons under his horse’s belly, and kept him a prisoner until he paid a substantial fine. However, he was found not guilty.6

The date of Rose’s death is not known. Some time between 1460 and 1465 his widow, Alice, and her co-executor of his will were sued in Chancery for having maintained vexatious actions concerning a marriage contract drawn up between Florence Bettenham and Rose’s son, William. Florence’s brother, Harry, had agreed to pay the MP £20 for the match, handing over £4 immediately, but owing to Rose’s refusal to fulfil various covenants the marriage had not taken place, and, despite Bettenham’s recovery of his £4 in the ecclesiastical courts, the executors persisted in suing him for the £16 residue.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variant: Roose.

  • 1. List of Canterbury Officials comp. Urry and Bunce, 49-50; Canterbury Cathedral, City and Diocesan RO, accts. FA1, ff. 214, 220, 2 ff. 16d, 22d.
  • 2. Med. Kentish Soc. (Kent Rec. Ser. xviii), 242.
  • 3. FA1, f. 89d; CP25(1)112/275/536, 113/279/9.
  • 4. Canterbury A/C/1, f. 1; FA1, f. 198.
  • 5. Feudal Aids, iii. 57, 63; C219/14/3, 15/1; CPR, 1429-36, p. 389; C1/9/412, 473, 11/348.
  • 6. C1/15/195, 73/86; Med. Kentish Soc. 242.
  • 7. C1/27/366. The William Rose of the parish of St. Cross, Canterbury, who made his will on 27 Apr. 1465 was presumably the son, for although that William had had a wife named Alice, his widow was called Eliza. He was survived by two sons, William and John, and four grandsons (Canterbury archdeaconry ct. wills, 1, f. 154).