YELVERTON, William (by 1505-86), of Rougham, Norf.

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 1505, 1st s. of William Yelverton of Rougham by Margaret, da. of one Garnon of London. educ. G. Inn. m. (1) by 1526, Anne, da. of Sir Henry Farmer of East Barsham, Norf., 5s. inc. Christopher 4da.; (2) Jane, da. of Edmund Cokett of Ampton, Suff., 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 1541.2

Offices Held

Autumn reader, G. Inn 1534.3

J.p. Norf. 1538-53, q. 1555-69, 1579-86; commr. relief 1550; other commissions 1537-86; recorder, Lynn June 1558-61.4


William Yelverton belonged to a dynasty of lawyers. Entering Gray’s Inn about 1520, he was Autumn reader in 1534 but paid a fine of £20 for not reading in Lent 1541. From 1537 he joined his father on commissions in Norfolk, and with intervals he was to serve on the county bench for nearly half-a-century. Appointed counsel to Lynn in August 1542, he appears to have been retained in that capacity, at a fee of 20s. a year, with a break between 1552 and 1556, until he succeeded Ambrose Gilberd as recorder in June 1558; when he relinquished this office in December 1561 the borough granted him a fee of 40s. a year for life in return for his counsel. One of his perquisites had been the town’s grant to him and his wife in 1551 of water into their house in St. James’s End for the term of their lives.5

Yelverton sat in only one Parliament, and then for a single brief session: on 30 Sept. 1558 he was elected to replace Gilberd in Mary’s last Parliament, which met again for 13 days before the Queen’s death. He had been elected, so it appears, as the second Member for Lynn to the Parliament of 1545, only to be superseded by Thomas Miller. This episode, and the fact that after his fleeting appearance in 1558 Yelverton was not re-elected to the succeeding Parliament suggests that some inhibition was at work to exclude him, although whether on his part or the town’s cannot be said. It may be that his marriage to the daughter of a wealthy London merchant who had settled in the county predisposed Yelverton to spend his time there and to concentrate upon acquiring property, which he did on a considerable scale. In 1564 the bishop of Norwich included him among the Norfolk justices who were ‘very well affected’ to the Anglican settlement. Of the will which he is said to have made on 30 Dec. 1582 only some indications appear in his inquisition post mortem, and it was evidently not proved, his death on 12 Aug. 1586 being followed by the issue of letters of administration to his third son Christopher, the future Speaker. His heir Henry was then a man of 59. A brass in Rougham church commemorated Yelverton and his wives and children.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 328-9; Test. Vet. ed. Nicolas, 716.
  • 3. Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales, 292-3.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiv-xvii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 75, 76, 79, 87; 1553, p. 357; 1560-3, p. 440; 1563-6, pp. 25, 199; 1569-72, pp. 216-17; Lynn congregation bk. 5, ff. 316v, 369.
  • 5. Lynn congregation bk. 4, f. 344; 5, ff. 16v-369 passim.
  • 6. Ibid. 5, ff. 24, 320v; Blomefield, Norf. viii. 444-9; x. 31-36; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 58; C142/219/91; PCC admons. act bk. 1586, f. 181; A. H. Smith, County and Ct. 356, 359; Pevsner, N.-W. and S. Norf. 296.