DORMER, William (by 1514-75), of Eythrope in Waddesdon, Bucks.

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

Family and Education

b. by 1514, o. s. of (Sir) Robert Dormer of West Wycombe, Wing and London by Jane, da. of John Newdigate of Harefield, Mdx. educ. ?I. Temple. m. (1) lic. Jan. 1535, Mary (d.1542), da. of Sir William Sidney of Penshurst, Kent, 2s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) by 1551, Dorothy, da. of Anthony Catesby of Whiston Northants., 1s. Robert 6da. suc. fa. July 1552. KB 29 Sept. 1553.1

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. 1547-d.; commr. relief 1550, musters 1570-4; sheriff, Beds and Bucks. 1553-4, 1568-9; marshal and keeper of the falcons July 1552-d., chief steward, Ampthill honor 15 Oct. 1553-d.2


William was a baptismal name much favoured by the Dormer family and the career of the only son of Sir Robert Dormer before the 1540s is all but impossible to disentangle from those of his numerous kinsmen. One of the bearers of his name was a gentleman in the household of Cromwell considered for transfer to the royal service in 1538. If Dormer was Cromwell’s servant, his marriage to a daughter of Sir William Sidney, later chamberlain of the household to Prince Edward, may have been the minister’s work. He served under his father in the French campaign of 1544 and is probably the ‘young Dormer’ who two years later was mustered in Buckinghamshire as a captain with 100 men. In 1546 also, with his father, he attended the reception at court for the French ambassador. From 1535 until his mother’s self-imposed exile in 1559 he lived at Eythrope.3

Dormer gained his first experience of Parliament as a young man when he was returned in 1542 as second Member for Chipping Wycombe with John Gates, who had no known connexion with the county but was a groom of the privy chamber. Dormer probably also benefited from his court connexions both then and at his later returns for the shire. Nothing is known about his part in the succession crisis in 1553, but when in May 1554 Mary confirmed him in his post as falconer she did so in recognition of his support against the Duke of Northumberland. His selection as her first sheriff for Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire probably reflects the Queen’s friendship with his daughter Jane, and her promotion of Jane’s match with the Count of Feria may have influenced Dormer’s return to the Parliament of 1558.4

The death of Mary and the departure of Jane and his mother soon after for the Continent did not harm Dormer although he shared their dislike for the Anglican settlement. Re-elected to Parliament in 1571, he remained active in local management until his death on 17 May 1575.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Bucks. ed. Metcalfe, 11; PCC 26 Powell; Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 530, 532; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 45; Fac. Off. Reg. 1534-49, ed. Chambers, 18; H. Clifford, Jane Dormer, ed. Stevenson, 11-14; Mon. Brass Soc. Trans. vi. 59.
  • 2. CPR, 1547-8, p. 81; 1553, p. 351; 1553-4, pp. 29, 211; 1558-60, p. 108; 1560-3, p. 434; 1563-6, pp. 20, 41; 1569-72, p. 223; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 366, 483; Lansd. 156(28), f. 103.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xix, xxi.
  • 4. CPR, 1553-4, pp. 181, 211; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 39; DNB (Dormer, Jane).
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 32; C142/170/2.