MAN, William (c.1571-1635), of the Little Sanctuary, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1571,1 s. of William Man. m. Ann (d.1635),2 s.p. d. 1 Dec. 1635. sig. Will[ia]m Man.

Offices Held

Collector of poor, St. Margaret’s, Westminster 1590-1, overseer of poor 1591-2,3 churchwarden 1598-1600,4 vestryman by 1603,5 assessor, subsidy 1603,6 trustee of poor by 1605-at least 1607;7 burgess, Westminster by 1610-d., chief burgess (jt.) 1613-14;8 recvr. for Westminster Abbey, Westminster and Knightsbridge, Mdx. 1598 (jt.),9 surveyor of Works 1598-d. (jt.),10 recvr. London 1613-d.,11 register of Chapter House 1628-d. (jt.);12 commr. sewers Westminster 1604, 1611,13 houses belonging to kpr. of Westminster Palace 1611,14 subsidy, Westminster 1621, 1624, 1625, 1628-9;15 j.p. Westminster 1619-d.16


This Member’s origins are obscure, but he should not be confused with the Canterbury lawyer bearing his name who served as prothonotary of King’s Bench and receiver of its fines under James I.17 He was evidently related to William Man of Cheshire, an Elizabethan groom of the chamber who settled in St. Margaret’s, Westminster. The groom died in 1574, and bequeathed to Man, ‘the son of William Man’, the leases of three properties, including Westminster’s Castle tavern, plus £40, payable on Man’s eighteenth birthday. Before attaining his majority, however, Man was to be ‘conveniently kept and maintained at school’ by the testator’s widow, Agnes, on whose death Man was to inherit a stock of timber worth a further £40.18

Man had begun adding to his properties by 1594, and by 1608 leased around 31 tenements in Westminster from the former Abbey, including the Castle tavern and a brewhouse in Tothill Street.19 He also hired barns, stables and ground in Tothill Street from Christ’s Hospital.20 By the 1630s his tenants included his fellow Westminster magistrate (Sir) William Pitt*.21 Outside the capital, Man leased meadowland in Huntingdonshire and the manor of Westbury in Wiltshire (in 1617 and 1624 respectively).22 He was not merely a landlord, however, but also served as a rent collector. From 1598 he mainly acted for the former Abbey of Westminster, then known as the collegiate church of St. Peter, but in 1620 one Meller of Henley authorized him to enter Lady Croft’s Westminster house and distrain her goods if she failed to pay her half-year’s rent.23 Other sources of income included a toll on Westminster’s market, which he enjoyed from at least 1625,24 and the timber business formerly owned by Agnes Man and her late husband, which allowed him to supply boards and rafters to the churchwardens of St. Margaret’s in 1593-3.25 Man’s knowledge of the building trade perhaps explains his appointment as the former Abbey’s surveyor of the Works in 1598.

By the time he was returned for Westminster to the third Jacobean Parliament, Man was a leading member of Westminster’s city government as well as the vestry of St. Margaret’s. The electors’ initial choice fell on Edmund Doubleday, but before the writ could be returned Doubleday died and a second election was hastily held. However, 60 irate voters were unhappy with this arrangement, and in a petition to the Commons alleged that Man, ‘who is ... one that receiveth fee and wages from the College’, had been foisted on the borough by Bishop John Williams, the dean of Westminster, whom they accused of packing the hall with ‘women, children and other people ... who had no voice’. Williams was also charged with having notified only the parishioners of St. Margaret’s of the time of the election.26 For many Members, however, the main objection to Man’s election was the fact that he had been returned on the same writ that had been issued to elect Doubleday.27 The matter was eventually resolved by a division, which Man won by 13 votes.28 In the meantime the House instructed him, as a Westminster magistrate, to help search for the monopolists (Sir) Giles Mompesson* and Matthias Fowles.29

Man, who was evidently noticeable in the Commons for wearing ‘a great set ruff’,30 served for Westminster again in 1624 and 1625. However, in none of the parliaments in which he sat did he make a speech, and he was named to only a few legislative committees. These dealt with Hollyman (8 May 1621), the relief of creditors (17 Apr. 1624) and the estates of the Sackville earls of Dorset (8 July 1625).31 A fourth measure, concerning the London brewers’ composition for purveyance (19 May 1624), doubtless reflected Man’s interests as the lessee of a tavern and brewhouse.32 Man was not re-elected in 1626, his place as the dean’s nominee being taken by his fellow magistrate, Peter Heywood. Neither Heywood nor Man were considered acceptable by Westminster’s electors in 1628, ‘because, as is said, they had discontented their neighbours in urging the payment of the Loan’.33

Man was more energetic as a magistrate than as an MP. In 1625 the Council ordered him to help resolve a dispute concerning a newly erected bridge over the Mill Ditch which involved the brewer Joseph Bradshawe*.34 Four years later Lord Houghton (John Holles*) suggested that Man be asked to investigate the verbal abuse of the disgraced earl of Somerset by a resident of Tothill Street.35 In March 1627 a Frenchman was committed to Man’s custody, presumably because the Council feared that he would alert the French government of Buckingham’s war preparations.36 The following year Man and Heywood were ordered to clear King Street of the stalls which hindered the passage of courtiers and government officials, a task which they evidently carried out very satisfactorily.37

Man’s financial probity was sometimes questioned. In 1626 he denied that he had been offered a bribe by someone who had hoped to buy a tavern in King’s Street from the former Abbey.38 During the early 1630s Edmund Doubleday’s surviving children accused Man, their father’s sole executor, of swindling them by valuing Doubeday’s estate at less than half its true worth.39 However, none of these charges were ever proved, and by his death Man had amassed an enormous fortune. One gossip reckoned that he was ‘worth near £14,000’; others considered that the true figure was £16,000.40

Man made out a will on 1 Dec. 1635 and died later the same day.41 He was buried in St. Margaret’s, Westminster, probably in the south chapel alongside his wife.42 In 1639 several relatives alleged that the will was the work of its principal beneficiary and sole executor, John Ingham.43 However, Ingham, Man’s former household servant and kinsman, was unable to refute the charges, as he had died just two days after his master, having first gone mad at the shock of inheriting so much money.44

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


WCA, E151, unfol. (1618 acct.).

  • 1. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 571.
  • 2. C24/526/8.
  • 3. WCA, E147 unfol. (1590-2 accts.).
  • 4. WCA, E6 unfol. (1598-1600 accts.).
  • 5. WCA, E2413 unfol.
  • 6. E179/142/245.
  • 7. C54/1826; WAM, 36446.
  • 8. WCA, WCB1, pp. 1, 256; WCB2, p. 24; Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 572.
  • 9. WAM, lease bk. viii. f. 25.
  • 10. Ibid. ff. 27v-28.
  • 11. WAM, 13216.
  • 12. WAM, lease bk. xiii. f. 226.
  • 13. C181/1, ff. 88, 10; 181/2, f. 141.
  • 14. E178/4192.
  • 15. E115/296/86, 103, 115/298/70, 115/299/130.
  • 16. C181/2, f. 331; C193/13/2.
  • 17. For this figure, see MTR, ii. 442-3; APC, 1599-1600, p. 29; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 397, 422, 425; Harl. 6811, ff. 34-7; Lansd. 273, f. 12; IND1/1357, rot. 28Av; E403/2732, f. 41; Reps. of Judge Thomas Owen (1650), p. 151.
  • 18. PROB 11/56, ff. 229-30; Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 427.
  • 19. J.F. Merritt, Religion, Government and Soc. in Early Modern Westminster, c.1525-1625 (Univ. of London Ph.D. thesis, 1992), p. 202; WAM, Chapter Act bk. i. ff. 296v-97; lease bk. vii. f. 206; viii. ff. 66-67.
  • 20. GL, ms 12806/4, p. 417; London Surveys of Ralph Treswell ed. J. Schofield (London Top. Soc. 1987), p. 145.
  • 21. Add. 29974, f. 212.
  • 22. UCNW, Mostyn ms 5372-3; WAM, 20946.
  • 23. WAM, 6012.
  • 24. WCA, F352-5.
  • 25. WCA, E6 unfol. (1592-3 acct.).
  • 26. Surr. Hist. Cent. LM 1989.
  • 27. CD 1621, ii. 126-7; v. 485; vi. 254-5; CJ, i. 528a, 529b.
  • 28. CJ, i. 569a.
  • 29. Ibid. 536a.
  • 30. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 505.
  • 31. CJ, i. 615a, 769b; Procs. 1625, p. 350.
  • 32. CJ, i. 705b.
  • 33. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 327.
  • 34. APC, 1623-5, p. 460.
  • 35. Holles Letters ed. P. Seddon (Thorton Rec. Soc. xxxvi), iii. 391.
  • 36. APC, 1627, p. 128.
  • 37. Ibid. 1628-9, p. 129; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 347.
  • 38. C24/526/45.
  • 39. C78/471/18.
  • 40. Strafforde Letters, i. 505.
  • 41. PROB 11/169, ff. 287v-8.
  • 42. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 572.
  • 43. CSP Dom. 1639-40, p. 146.
  • 44. Strafforde Letters, i. 505.