SOULBY, William (d.1393/4), of Knock in Long Marton, Westmld.

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



May 1382
Feb. 1388

Family and Education

m. at least 1s.1

Offices Held


In common with several other of the men who represented Appleby during our period, Soulby was a lawyer. He first appears in June 1371, when he and his professional colleague, Adam Crosby*—who later sat with him in the Parliaments of 1382 (May), 1385 and 1388 (Feb.)—went surety for Thomas† and Katherine Warcop as farmers of the estates of the late John Halton. Soulby often acted as a mainpernor in Chancery or at the Exchequer; and it is evident that legal business constantly took him to Westminster. Between July 1374 and 1392 he stood bail or offered financial guarantees for northern landowners with business there on at least 14 occasions, being named by such influential local figures as Sir Robert Kendal, Sir Peter Tilliol* and the lawyer, William Hornby. Although usually described as coming from either Cumberland or Westmorland, it seems that Soulby owned some property in Yorkshire as well; and the Exchequer records refer to him on one occasion as having (unspecified) interests in the county. His acquisition, in 1387, of a messuage in Newcastle-upon-Tyne may well have been undertaken as a trustee, but he was certainly rich enough to purchase holdings there had he wished.2

Soulby was sometimes able to exploit his professional dealings with the government for his own benefit. By 1376 he had not only acquired the farm of certain land on the banks of the river Eden which had belonged to Sir Robert Parving, a former chancellor of England, but had also negotiated with the Crown for the lease of the royal demesne lands at Carlisle. His tenancy was fixed for a term of ten years, at a rent of £43 p.a., but in July 1376, just a few months after he had taken possession, the grant was rescinded and given to Sir John Derwentwater*, the then sheriff of Cumberland. By the time that he first entered Parliament, in May 1382, Soulby had also represented a number of clients in the court of common pleas. In 1378, for example, Agnes Lowther of Great Strickland retained him to prosecute an action for theft; shortly afterwards he brought three lawsuits on behalf of the vicar of Kirkby Stephen; and in 1380 he appeared for Sir Thomas Musgrave* in an action of account. Soulby had personal matters to attend to, as well, by way of a collusive suit brought by his son, Thomas (who named Adam Crosby as his attorney), and one Agnes, widow of Thomas Garth, whom he himself defended in court over a claim to land in Winton. Agnes may possibly have been Soulby’s wife, whose identity otherwise remains unknown.3

Soulby came to a violent end, in, or shortly before, February 1394, being allegedly murdered by the Yorkshire landowner, Sir Thomas Rokeby*, who set upon him with a gang of malefactors. Their quarrel may well have concerned the ownership of the manor of Knock in Long Marton, which was occupied by the Rokeby family in 1369, but which passed into Soulby’s hands at some point over the next 22 years. Sir Thomas and his heirs eventually reasserted their title, so it looks very much as if the struggle for possession cost Soulby his life. Interestingly enough, his erstwhile client, Sir Thomas Musgrave, was himself indicted on a charge of ‘counselling and aiding in the manslaughter’, although neither he nor Rokeby were ever called fully to account for their part in the crime.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant: Souleby.

  • 1. Later Recs. N. Westmld. ed. Curwen, 137.
  • 2. CFR, viii. 255, 314; ix. 32, 47-48, 135, 184; x. 196-7, 335; CPR, 1370-4, p. 97; CCR, 1377-81, p. 218; 1381-5, p. 207; 1385-9, pp. 306, 467; 1392-6, p. 103; CP25(1)181/14/23.
  • 3. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xix. 71; CFR, viii. 337, 356; Later Recs. N. Westmld. ed. Curwen, 78, 137, 139, 350.
  • 4. CCR, 1392-6, p. 272; J. Nicolson and R. Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. i. 363.