WOODHOUSE, Sir William (by 1517-64), of Hickling, Norf.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1517, 2nd s. of John Woodhouse of Waxham by Alice, da. of William Croftes of Wyston; bro. of Sir Thomas. m. (1) Anne, da. of Henry Repps of Thorpe Market, 2s. inc. Henry 2da.; (2) settlement 11 Nov. 1552, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Philip Calthrope of Erwarton, Suff., wid. of Sir Henry Parker, 2s. 2da. Kntd. 13 May 1544.

Offices Held

Escheator, Norf. and Suff. 1538-9; master of naval ordnance 1545-52; lt.-adm. from Dec. 1552; v.-adm. Norf., Suff. 1543-63; keeper of Queenborough castle, Kent c.1546-50; j.p. Norf. from Feb. 1554, custos rot. 1561.


Of a minor gentry family, Woodhouse did well out of the Henrician reconstruction of the navy, and he became a distinguished naval officer. He received his first command by 1542, and served in French and Scottish waters. He became a member of the newly-formed Admiralty Board in 1546 and remained in office under Edward VI and Mary. There is no evidence of his attitude to religion or politics: he was loyal to the government of the day.2

Woodhouse obtained considerable, though not extravagant, rewards for his 20 years in the royal service. His post of lieutenant-admiral brought him a salary of £100, together with allowances and, doubtless, perquisites; and he had other gifts and licences. From grants and by judicious dealing after the dissolution of the monasteries, he acquired valuable estates in north-east Norfolk. Also, it is unlikely that his membership of the Russia Company was his only commercial venture.3

Woodhouse was returned to Elizabeth’s first Parliament for Norwich, where he had some property. He was sworn a citizen on 18 Jan. 1559, a few days before the session began. Either he or his brother must have been the ‘Mr. Woodhouse’ to whom a leather bill was committed 14 Mar. 1559. In 1563 he secured election as senior knight of the shire, his colleague being Sir Edward Warner, whose ward was married to one of his daughters. Before the second session of Parliament Woodhouse died in London on 22 Nov. 1564. By his will, made a week earlier, he left bequests of money and plate to his children, and his ‘best furred black gown’ to his brother. He had already settled most of his estates on his second wife, and he now left her, as sole executrix, the lands not previously disposed of. The will was proved 23 Feb. 1565.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 320; CPR, 1549-51, p. 308; 1550-3, pp. 272, 329, 403; 1557-8, p. 193; 1558-60, p. 176; 1560-3, p. 440; PCC 6 Morrison; LP Hen. VIII, xviii(1), pp. 120-1; (2), pp. 397, 401; xix(1), p. 328; xx(2), p. 2; xxi(1), pp. 52, 275, 296, 305, 356; (2), pp. 448-9; Norf. Antiq. Misc. (1906), 160 seq.; APC, i. 60; ii. 415; iii. 37, 77; CSP Scot. i. 14; Mariner’s Mirror, xiv. 30, 42-3, 51; EHR, xxiii. 747.
  • 3. APC, iv. 250; LP Hen. VIII, xvii. 260, 699; xx(1), p. 302; CPR, 1547-8, p. 373; 1548-9, p. 86; 1550-3, p. 29; 1554-5, p. 56.
  • 4. Norwich ass. procs. 3, f. 47; CJ, i. 57; PCC 6 Morrison.