SHIRLEY, Walter (d.1425), of Salisbury, Wilts.

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. 1413
May 1413
Apr. 1414
Nov. 1414
Mar. 1416
Oct. 1416
May 1421
Dec. 1421

Family and Education

m. by 1412, Joan, 1s.

Offices Held

Reeve, Salisbury 1 Nov. 1406-7; mayor 1408-9, 1416-17; auditor 1420-1.1

Commr. of array, Salisbury Aug. 1415.

Verderer, Clarendon forest, Wilts. bef. Feb. 1424.


Between 1405 and 1425 Shirley was numbered among the most important of the citizens of Salisbury, a fact which is confirmed by his frequent employment in the city’s negotiations with external bodies, and above all by his election to every single one of the 15 Parliaments which met between Shirley 1411 and his death. He was a member of the convocation of the city throughout this period.2

Shirley first appears in the records in March 1404 when, with a merchant from Bordeaux, he stood surety for John Montagu of Salisbury, undertaking that the latter would deliver his ship, the Katherine of Salisbury, to Southampton for use in royal service following repairs. In February 1408 he was ordered, under pain of as much as £500, to appear before the royal council to answer certain accusations, but their tenor is not revealed. Three years later he was one of the chief of those involved in negotiations on behalf of Salisbury in the city’s dispute with Southampton about tolls: on 14 Jan. 1411 he and William Waryn* were ordered by the convocation to prosecute the city’s case in the court of common pleas, and on 2 Apr. following the two men were among those authorized to meet the burgesses representing Southampton. It was perhaps because of this affair that Shirley was returned to Parliament, for the first time, in November that year. During the session he stood surety in Chancery for a Salisbury draper accused of manslaughter. The dispute between Salisbury and Southampton was still going on in February 1412, when Shirley and others were again sent to London as the city’s attorneys in the lawcourts.Not long afterwards he leased from Mark le Faire, the prominent merchant of Winchester who had also sat in the Commons in the previous year, a messuage in Salisbury, agreeing to pay le Faire and his wife eight marks a year for their lives.3

During the next few years Shirley was almost continually employed in the service of the city. Some time during Henry V’s first Parliament in 1413 the convocation of Salisbury received a demand from the King for a loan of £100 towards the cost of his projected invasion of France, and on 9 June, the very day the Commons were dismissed, Shirley was sent a message ordering him to negotiate with the royal council with a view to having this sum reduced to 100 marks. His efforts were evidently unsuccessful but although the original amount continued to be demanded, nothing was done about it until March 1415 when (in response to a royal reminder) the required loan was raised by means of a tallage, Shirley himself contributing £2. Soon afterwards he was entrusted with the whole £100, but instructed not to hand it over until he had obtained from the royal council pledges for repayment. On 17 June 1415, he reported back to the convocation that no such pledges would be produced until the King visited the area, which he was to do shortly. Three days later the Court arrived at Winchester, and Shirley went there to seek an interview with the chancellor, Bishop Beaufort. The latter then promised that the loan would be repaid by a temporary assignment on the wool customs of Southampton and, when he threatened royal displeasure if the money was not immediately forthcoming, Shirley had no choice but to hand over the full amount demanded. He reported to convocation accordingly on 5 July.4

Meanwhile, in December 1413, Shirley (with two others) had been given a royal grant of pontage for seven years, being specifically made responsible for the repair of ‘Aylswaterbrigg’, which carried the main Southampton road out of Salisbury. The following year saw him engaged in a dispute with Walter Gawtron* of London, regarding the freighting of a consignment of wine in a ship of Gawtron’s; and he was bound in £16 to accept the award of the mayor of London, but otherwise little is known about his mercantile dealings. On 8 Dec. 1414, the day after the dissolution of the second Parliament of that year, he and Thomas Bonham, then knight of the shire for Wiltshire, gave surety in £4 that they would produce one John Lake in Chancery in the following January. It was while Shirley was attending Parliament for the eighth time that, on 1 Nov. 1416, he entered officially upon his second term as mayor; and although this session ended on 18 Nov. he remained absent from Salisbury, no doubt engaged on civic business, a month later, when William Waryn was still acting as his deputy. He contributed comparatively large sums towards tallages levied in the city in 1417, 1418 and 1420, and in this last year he was elected to the newly established office of auditor of the commonalty’s property. When he came to occupy the office of verderer of the forest of Clarendon is not known, but on 25 Feb. 1424 he was removed, the alleged reason being that he was not a fit person for the post. Perhaps he was too old or ill. Certainly, he did not long survive this demotion.5

On 17 Jan 1425 Shirley made his will, and he died a few days later. Requesting burial at St. Edmund’s church, Salisbury, he left various sums of money, totalling over £30, to local religious institutions and to the city’s poor, asking that prayers be said for him and his relations and friends, the latter including John Moner* and his former master, John Canmell, a grocer. Other notable beneficiaries were the monastery of St. Swithin, Winchester, and the parish church of Iwerne, Dorset; and among many personal legacies were gifts to William Lord, the town clerk of Salisbury. All his property was to be divided between his widow, Joan, and his son, Richard, who were also to be his executors, along with Thomas Hayne of Winchester. Appointed supervisor of the will was John Frank, the former clerk of the Parliaments and then master of the rolls. The will was proved on 30 Jan.6

Several payments by the Salisbury corporation of Shirley’s expenses attending the Lower House are recorded in the local ledger book. Thus he was paid 30s. for 15 days’ attendance in 1415, £3 3s. for 31 days’ service in March 1416 (when the Parliament sat for 44 days), £4 12s. for 46 days’ service in 1422 and £11 6s. for 113 days’ service in 1423: Salisbury RO, ledger bk. A, ff. 56, 60, 84, 86.

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: Charles Kightly


  • 1. Salisbury RO, ‘Domesday bk.’ 2, ff. 67, 80; 3, f. 27; ledger bk. A, ff. 34, 83.
  • 2. Ledger bk. A, ff. 41, 50, 54, 56, 62, 67, 68, 83, 84.
  • 3. CCR, 1402-5, pp. 259-60; 1409-13, p. 306; Wilts. Feet of Fines (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xli), 325; CIMisc. vii. 377; ledger bk. A, ff. 42, 43.
  • 4. Ledger bk. A, ff. 43-44, 54-55; J.H. Wylie, Hen. V, i. 477-8, 485. In point of fact the loan had still not been repaid in 1428: R. Benson and H. Hatcher, Old and New Sarum, 117.
  • 5. CPR, 1413-16, p. 161; CCR, 1413-19, p. 200; 1422-9, p. 91; ledger bk. A, ff. 60, 62, 68; Cal. P. and M. London 1413-37, p. 2.
  • 6. PCC 3 Luffenham.