LAWRENCE, William II (by 1511-71/72), of St. Ives, Hunts.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1511, s. of John Lawrence of Ramsey by Margaret. m. (1) by 1543, Frances, ?da. of Henry or Richard Hunston of Walpole St. Peter, Norf., 2s. 2da.; (2) Margery, da. of Edward Kaye of Woodsome, Yorks., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. by Mar. 1537.1

Offices Held

Escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 1539-40, 1552-3; commr. subsidy, Hunts. 1543-5, 1563, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; other commissions 1543-69; j.p. Hunts. 1544-d., q. by 1561; sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1558-9; custos rot. Hunts. 1561-?d.2


The Lawrence family appears to have originated in Bedfordshire and to have settled in Huntingdonshire early in the 16th century when John Lawrence became the last abbot of Ramsey. William Lawrence’s father was probably a tenant of the abbey, for he was assessed at Ramsey for the subsidy of 1524 at £6 14s.4d. on £204 in goods but nothing in land. The abbot favoured his great-nephew William in more than one way, leasing him the manor of Slepe at St. Ives in 1532 and bequeathing him a quantity of plate. On the dissolution of the abbey in 1539 Slepe passed to the crown, but Lawrence remained in residence and five years later he bought the manor, with other lands, for £828. He was assessed for the subsidy of 1543-5 at 50s. on £50 in lands at Slepe, but the figures may have been affected by the fact that he was one of the commissioners.3

During the next ten years Lawrence bought and sold numerous parcels of land, some substantial but mostly quite small and in the neighbourhood of St. Ives. In 1556 he and Thomas Cotton jointly purchased one of the manors at Wood Walton, including upwards of 1,500 acres of land, and in 1568 they bought a still larger manor there. These manors, together with some other lands, Lawrence conveyed to his eldest son Henry as a marriage gift in 1570. His will suggests that Lawrence had been a considerable sheepfarmer. His name was too common to warrant his identification with the wool-man of whom John Johnson, the Northamptonshire dealer, took an unfavourable view: on the other hand, he can be readily distinguished from Cromwell’s agent who spirited images out of Suffolk churches and later became a receiver for the court of general surveyors, or the namesake who was a Middle Templar.4

Lawrence’s election for the shire to two Parliaments was a measure of his upward progress, even if he achieved the honour at a time when more important men seemed to avoid it. He was by then a substantial landowner, a brother-in-law of the influential Thomas Maria Wingfield and a relative by marriage of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt I, joint lord lieutenant of the county and the sheriff who returned him on the second occasion. Unlike his fellow-Member and neighbour Henry Mannock, Lawrence did not depart early and without licence from the Parliament of November 1554. In 1564 his bishop was to rate Lawrence ‘indifferent’ in religion.5

Lawrence made his will on 7 Nov. 1571 and died during the winter. His wife was given ewes, rams, kine, a bull, cart horses, agricultural and household goods, half of Abbot John’s silver plate and the use of Slepe manor during her lifetime; the eldest son had his ambling and trotting horses, his armour and the rest of the plate, and the youngest daughter was left a marriage portion of 400 marks.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. M. Hofmann


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 98; Vis. Hunts. (Cam. Soc. xliii), 33; PCC 15 Dyngeley, 10 Alen; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 523.
  • 2. E179/122/128, 133; Lansd. 8, ff. 77-82; LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 85; 1550-3, p. 394; 1553, pp. 354, 414; 1553-4, pp. 20, 34-35; 1554-5, p. 109; 1560-3, p. 438; 1563-6, pp. 23, 41; 1569-72, pp. 220, 225.
  • 3. VCH Hunts. i. 384; ii. 218; E179/122/91, 128; PCC 1 Peter; SC6/Hen. VIII, 7287, mm. 65, 66v; LP Hen. VIII, xix.
  • 4. VCH Hunts. ii. 26, 161, 200, 306, 382; iii. 46, 236, 238-9; Cal. Feet of Fines, Hunts. ed. Turner, 136, 146-8, 151, 153-4, 157-8, 160-1, 163; CPR, 1563-6, p. 426; C1/1138/20; LP Hen. VIII, v-vii, ix, xii-xiv, xx; SP1/212/214v-15; M.T. Recs. i. 82-147 passim.
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 29.
  • 6. PCC 1 Peter.