Portman, William (d.1557) (DNB00)

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PORTMAN, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1557), judge, was the son of John Portman, who was buried in the Middle Temple Church on 5 June 1521, by Alice, daughter of William Knoell of Samford Orcas, Dorset. His family belonged to Somerset, and he was in the commission of the peace for that county from time to time. He was a barrister who was successful enough to be personally known to the king. In 1533 Henry gave him a wardship, and he was one of the administrators of the will of Catherine of Aragon. He was made a judge in 1547, and knighted by Edward VI. When Richard (afterwards Lord) Rich [q. v.] was ill, Portman was one of those who, by patent of 26 Oct. 1551, were commissioned to despatch chancery matters; and in the following January he was commissioned to aid the lord-keeper, the bishop of Ely, in similar affairs. He seems to have been of the old way of thinking in religious matters. He found no difficulty in keeping office under Mary; and he followed Day, the bishop of Chichester, in persuading Sir James Hales [q. v.] to abjure protestantism in 1554. The same year he was made chief justice. He died early in 1556–7, and was buried, with a stately funeral, on 10 Feb. 1556–7 at St. Dunstan's in the West, London. He married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Gilbert, and connected by descent with the legal family of Fitzjames. By her he had a son Sir Henry, who died in 1590, and a daughter Mary, who married John Stowell.

[Visitation of Somerset (Harl. Soc. 127); Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, v. 1694, XIII. i. 1023; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of Engl. iii. 230; Hooper's Works (Parker Soc.), ii. 378; Acts of the Privy Council, 1547–50, pp. 42, 265, 1552–4 p. 21, 1554–6 pp. 22, &c.; Strype's Eccles. Mem. I. ii. 253, II. i. 24, 521, ii. 205, 207, 253, III., i. 274, 511, ii. 261.]

W. A. J. A.