DALISON, William (by 1520-59), of Lincoln and Laughton, Lincs. and Gray's Inn, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1520, 2nd s. of William Dalison of Laughton by Anne, da. of George Wastneys of Haddon, Notts. educ. Camb.; G. Inn, adm. 1535, called 1537. m. by 23 Mar. 1545, Elizabeth, da. of Robert Dighton of Little Sturton, Lincs., 4s. 5da. Kntd. 1556.2

Offices Held

Autumn reader, G. Inn 1548, 1552.

J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 1547, q. 1554, Cumb., Northumb., Westmld., Yorks (E. Riding) q. 1554-d.; commr. relief Lincs. (Lindsey) 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Lincoln 1553; other commissions 1547-57; serjeant-at-law 17 Oct. 1552; 2nd justice co. palatine of Lancaster 13 Feb. 1554; j. K.B. 2 Nov. 1555.3


William Dalison came of a family of moderate estate in north-east Lincolnshire. His father, who served as sheriff and escheator, was closely associated with the influential family of Tyrwhitt, being entrusted by Sir William Tyrwhitt of Scotter with the care of his widow and children, and marrying a daughter Anne to Philip Tyrwhitt’s son Edward.4

Trained to the law, Dalison rose rapidly in his profession. He was called to the bar after only three years of study, became an ‘ancient’ within another five and delivered his first reading in the autumn vacation of 1548. When in May 1552 he received his call as serjeant it was in the distinguished company of Robert Broke, William Stanford and James Dyer, all soon to become judges: his own inn provided the feast on this occasion. In the following autumn Dalison gave his second reading, taking for subject the Act on wrongful disseisin (32 Hen. VIII, c.33); the lecture was to be approved by the judges, after ‘a diligent review’, in 1562. Made a justice of Lancaster in February 1554, Dalison had little more than a year to wait before William Portman’s promotion to the lord chief justiceship created the vacancy in the King’s bench which he filled in November 1555: he was to remain a puisne judge until his death shortly before the ‘purge’ of 1559 which might have meant his demotion. He is chiefly remembered as the compiler of a set of cases and legal discussions which survives in manuscript and as the reputed author of a printed collection of reports not all of which, however, derive from him: his own collection is noteworthy because of its inclusion of a large number of conferences held at the two Serjeants’ Inns.5

It was doubtless in one of these inns that Dalison lived after becoming a serjeant, but he kept his quarters in Gray’s Inn and these were to pass to his son and grandson. In his native county he lived at or near Lincoln, where in 1548 he took a long lease of the prebendal manor of Greetwell. From his father, who died in 1546, he had received £40 as an executor and a share of the goods, and on his elder brother’s death three years later he obtained the wardship of the young heir and the custody of the inheritance. To these qualifications for the knighthood of the shire in the first Marian Parliament he could add his connexions with local families, some of whom he doubtless also served professionally, but his most influential supporter was probably his fellow member of Gray’s Inn, William Cecil, who had himself almost certainly sat for Lincolnshire in the previous Parliament and whose follower Thomas Hussey I was returned with Dalison. What view Dalison took of the religious changes of the time it is hard to say. As one of the commission charged with listing church goods in Lincoln he was given 40s.‘reward’ by the mayor and aldermen for signing a certificate which enabled them to retain the bells and ornaments of disused churches, but whether in this he was more than merely accommodating is not clear, especially as the transaction followed the accession of Mary. Of his part in the proceedings of the Commons all that is known is that he was not among those noted as having ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism.6

Dalison made his will on 8 Jan. 1559 and died ten days later. He wished to be buried in Lincoln cathedral or in the chapel at Laughton (where he had a chamber) near to his father and his brother George. He left sums of money towards the repair of Gray’s Inn and Serjeants’ Inn and made many personal bequests to servants and friends. To his heir William, aged about 14, Dalison bequeathed Greetwell parsonage and all his plate, books and law books. He made ample provision for the marriages of his daughters and left parsonages to his two younger sons. The will was proved on 15 Apr. 1559 on behalf of his executors, two of whom were his friend Sir Edward Saunders and his uncle Dr. Roger Dalison, chanter of Lincoln cathedral. Dalison was buried in the cathedral under a tomb which bears a picture of him wearing his robes of justice, according to the detailed instructions in his will.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from education. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. 1), 286-8; PCC 9 Chaynay; DNB.
  • 3. Foss, Judges, v. 478; Somerville, Duchy, i. 473; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 78, 86; 1550-3, p. 355; 1553, pp. 355, 416; 1553-4, pp. 18-33 passim; 1554-5, pp. 105-6, 109; 1555-7, pp. 114, 140, 144, 454; 1557-8, p. 350.
  • 4. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), ii-v passim; E150/564/22; PCC 27 Alen; Lincs. Wills 1500-1600, ed. Maddison, 150.
  • 5. Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 26, 327; Dyer, Reps. ed. Vaillant, 219a; L. W. Abbott, Law Reporting in Eng. 113-41.
  • 6. CPR, 1549-51, p. 317; 1553-4, p. 436; Lincoln Rec. Soc. xv. pp. xxix, 51; PCC 27 Alen; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 46; NRA 5789, p. 483.
  • 7. PCC 9 Chaynay; C142/118/94.