PETERSON, William (by 1517-78), of London.

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 1517, s. of John Peterson of Lewes, Suss. m. by 1549, Anne (bur. 30 July 1564), ?da. of Robert Morley of Lewes, 2s. 3da.1

Offices Held


William Peterson was a brother of Robert Peterson, last prior of the Cluniac house at Lewes: the name suggests that the family was of Netherlandish origin. In 1538, after the dissolution of the priory, Robert Peterson sought Cromwell’s help for a lease of some lands near Lewes for his brother, but with what result is not known. By his will of 1555 he left the residue of his goods to his beloved brother William, ‘merchant of London’, who also acted as executor of the will after Richard Brydley, archdeacon of Lewes and late prior of the Lewes cell of Horton in Kent, had refused to do so. At the time of his own death William Peterson had two houses with lands and gardens in the barony of Lewes.2

A London haberdasher, Peterson had a house called the Bell and Checker in Fenchurch Street; he exported cloth to Antwerp and also traded with Lubeck. In 1563 he was among a group of merchants of London and Hull who petitioned the Queen to be allowed to impound goods belonging to Lubeck merchants after their own goods had been seized, as prize by men from that city. In the following year, on the incorporation of the Merchant Adventurers, Peterson was appointed one of the first assistants of the company. His election for Lewes to the last Marian Parliament answered to his combination of local standing with London residence and connexions, while his family tie with the priory suggests that he satisfied at least one of the criteria of the royal letter calling for the return of ‘men given to good order, Catholic and discreet’.3

Peterson died in London on 3 Oct. 1578 and was buried in St. Dionis Backchurch five days later. By the will which he had made on 15 July previously he left his property in Lewes to his heir Robert, then rising 27, and the Bell and Checker valued at £10 a year, to his second son Daniel; Robert was also to receive £60 within one year of the father’s death, a daughter Grace, wife of John Master gentleman, a gold chain and tablet of gold, and a friend Richard Hale, merchant taylor of London, a gold ring worth £3. Daniel Peterson was appointed executor of the will, which was proved before the end of 1578.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Suss. Arch. Colls. xcii. 24; PCC 35 Langley, 15 Morrison; C142/186/22; Regs. St. Dionis Backchurch, London (Harl. Soc. Regs. iii), 74, 75, 189, 195.
  • 2. Chartulary, Lewes Priory (Suss. Rec. Soc. lvi), 98; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxxxvi. 178-82; LP Hen. VIII, xiii; PCC 35 Langley.
  • 3. Lansd. 7(47), f. 107; SP12/6, f. 112; CPR, 1558-60, p. 191; 1563-6, p. 179.
  • 4. C142/186/22; Regs. St. Dionis Backchurch, London, 195; PCC 35 Langley.