FORTUNE, William (by 1573-1639), of ?St. James's House, Monmouth, Mon.
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Family and Education
b. by 1573,1 3rd s. of Walter Fortune, capper of Monmouth, and Blanche, da. of William Gwillim of Monmouth.2 m. 11 Sept. 1628, Joan Preece (d.1657/8);3 1s. illegit. 1da. illegit.4 bur. 23 Apr. 1639.5 sig. William Fortune.
Town clerk, Monmouth by 1594.6
Dep. recvr., Monmouth and Hadnock, Mon. by 1597.7
Fortune’s relations were prominent in Monmouth’s textile industry: two of his uncles were mercers, while his father was involved in the production of the knitted Monmouth cap.8 Fortune himself evidently received a formal education, including a legal training, as he was town clerk by 1594. He owned several burgages, although he was not in the first rank of property-holders, and was associated with the 1589 borough Member, Philip Jones, witnessing his will in 1603.9 Through his mother he was related to Moore Gwillim, who sat for the borough in 1584 and 1586, as well as to William Jones II, Monmouthshire’s knight of the shire in 1614.
Although one of his older brothers was also named William, there seems little doubt that it was Fortune who was elected to Parliament in 1626. Not only was he town clerk, but he also leased properties from the county’s greatest landowner, the 4th earl of Worcester. During the 1590s Fortune and his father, along with Moore Gwillim, attempted to obtain burgess status for one of Worcester’s retainers, a non-resident.10
Fortune left no trace in the parliamentary record. He made his will on 2 Jan. 1639. Describing himself as being in ‘reasonable health’, he left lands in Wyebridge to his wife and directed that properties in Osbaston, to which she was entitled as dower, should be used instead to provide legacies. He left moderate bequests to two ‘reputed’ children, as well as to nephews and godchildren. His nephew, Walter Fortune, who later served as a member of Monmouth’s common council, was named as executor.11 William Fortune’s involvement in borough politics is indicated by his decision to bequeath £20 as a stock for the repair of Monmouth church and the relief of its poor on condition that within six months of his demise the mayor and bailiffs elect Walter Fortune as town clerk.12 Fortune was buried in the town church on 23 Apr. 1639. His family continued to be prominent inhabitants of Monmouth down to the nineteenth century, but none sat in Parliament.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Lloyd Bowen
J.A. Bradney, Hist. Mon. i. 18.
- 1. Assuming he was 21 when town clerk.
- 2. NLW, Badminton (manorial) 2455, f. 26v.
- 3. Gwent RO, D/Pa58/1, f. 59; PROB 11/281, f. 470.
- 4. PROB 11/180, f. 119v.
- 5. Gwent RO, D/Pa58/1, f. 49.
- 6. DL1/166/420.
- 7. Gwent RO, D583.92; E40/5538; NLW, Badminton (manorial) 2455.
- 8. NLW, Badminton (manorial) 2455, f. 26v.
- 9. Survey Duchy of Lancast. Lordships ed. W. Rees (Univ. Wales, Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xii), 14-15, 18; Bradney, i. 302.
- 10. PROB 11/180, f. 119.
- 11. DL4/103/2.
- 12. PROB 11/180, ff. 119-20v.