WILLIAMS, Edward (d.c.1594), of the Inner Temple, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

Surveyor of the stable by 1583-d.; surveyor of Tutbury honour, duchy of Lancaster 1583; ?an official in the ct. of wards.

Offices Held


Williams was admitted to the Inner Temple (1567) at the suit of Edward Anderson, later chief justice of common pleas. During the early years of Elizabeth’s reign he was busy as a servant of Sir Ambrose Cave, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, whose books, reckonings and inventories he was responsible for keeping. First in association with Brian Cave, and later with Ralph Browne I, he purchased extensive lands in Leicestershire and Warwickshire, probably as his master’s agent. In 1562, presumably on Cave’s initiative, he was granted the stewardship of several manors formerly belonging to the monastery of Basingwerk. Sir Ambrose Cave’s will, besides thanking Williams for his excellent book-keeping, left him £20, a gelding and a mare. Henceforth Williams seems to have attached himself to the Knollys family, particularly Henry Knollys II who, in his will, advised his wife to consult Williams, ‘whose counsel I have always used in my business’.

Williams’s return for two Cornish boroughs is not easy to explain. The 2nd Earl of Bedford received letters from the Privy Council in 1571 and 1572, asking him to supervise the choice of Members in Cornwall, and it is possible that Bedford secured Williams’s return at Camelford just as, in the following year, he probably obtained the return of William Knollys at Tregony. In that year, 1572, Williams sat for St. Ives, jointly owned by the Marquess of Winchester and Lord Mountjoy. Once again it can only be presumed that some member of the Knollys family acted as intermediary.

Few other facts emerge about Williams’s career. In 1580 he was paid £10, on Sir Francis Walsingham’s warrant, for taking a letter to Sir William Wynter in Ireland. In 1583 he acted for a few months as steward of Tutbury honour. By this time he was surveyor of the stable, and it was probably in connexion with this post that he received an annuity of £65 out of the Exchequer.

He died between 6 Dec. 1593, when he made his will, and 1593, when he made his will, and 13 Aug. 1594, the date of probate. He forbade his friends to wear black at the funeral, ‘for my desire is that all my friends shall rejoice and give God thanks for my deliverance out of this miserable world’; he trusted that Alexander Nowell, dean of St. Paul’s, might preach the sermon. He left £40 to a cousin, ‘if she be not a recusant at the time of my death, or if she do reconcile herself to the Church of England and come to hear divine service according to the Queen’s Majesty’s proceeding’. Small legacies were made to ‘my very good friend’ Sir Francis Knollys, Henry Knollys’s widow Margaret, and to Elizabeth and Lettice Knollys. Other bequests included a ring to his ‘loving friend’, Marmaduke Darrell, and plate to his ‘old friend’, George Mainwaring. Part of his wardrobe was left to his ‘loving cousin’ Anthony Martin, sewer of the chamber and keeper of the Queen’s library. Charitable bequests were made to parishes in London and Flintshire, to the prisoners of Ludgate and Newgate, and to the poor of the hospital of the Savoy. As executor he appointed his nephew Thomas Hughes. The overseers were his ‘dear and best kinsman’ Sir Randall Brereton, Anthony Martin and Richard Johns.

I.T. Recs. i. 241, 375; Somerville, Duchy, i. 545; SP12/20/28; PCC 60 Dixy, 9 Daper, 20 Rowe; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 43, 290; E315/309, 351/542, f. 10; Lansd. 83, f. 215.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.