Worsley, William (DNB00)

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WORSLEY, WILLIAM (1435?−1499), dean of St. Paul's, born probably about 1435, is believed to have been the son of Sir Robert Worsley of Booths in Eccles, Lancashire, and his wife Maude, daughter of Sir John Gerard of Bryn, Lancashire. His brother Robert married Margaret, niece of William and Lawrence Booth [q. v.], both of them archbishops of York, to whose influence William owed most of his preferments. He was possibly educated at Cambridge, as no mention of him occurs in Wood; he is usually described as ‘sanctæ theologiæ’ ‘professor,’ but in his epitaph is styled ‘doctor of laws.’ On 29 April 1449 he was collated to the prebend of Tachbrook in Lichfield Cathedral, on 30 March 1453 to Norwell Overall in Southwell, and in 1457 to South Cave in York Cathedral. These preferments were apparently conferred on him during his minority by his uncles, for it was not till 20 Sept. 1460 that he was ordained priest. On 19 May 1467 he was instituted to the rectory of Eakring, Nottinghamshire. On 28 Sept. 1476 he was admitted archdeacon of Nottingham, and on 22 Jan. 1478−9 he was elected dean of St. Paul's in succession to Thomas Winterbourne; he retained with it the archdeaconry of Nottingham and the prebend of Willesden in St. Paul's, and from 1493 to 1496 also held the archdeaconry of Taunton. Worsley held the deanery throughout the reigns of Edward V and Richard III, but in 1494 he became involved in the conspiracy in favour of Perkin Warbeck [q. v.] He was arrested in November, confessed before a commission of oyer and terminer, and was attainted of high treason on the 14th (Rot. Parl. vi. 489b). The lay conspirators were put to death, but Worsley was saved by his order, and on 6 June 1495 he was pardoned (Gairdner, Letters and Papers, ii. 375). In October following parliament passed an act (11 Henry VII, c. 52) restoring him in blood (Statutes of the Realm, ii. 619). He had retained his ecclesiastical preferments, and died in possession of them on 14 Aug. 1499, being buried in St. Paul's Cathedral; his epitaph and a very pessimistic copy of Latin verses are printed by Weever (Funerall Monuments, p. 368; Gough, Sepulchral Mon. ii. 337). Fabyan describes Worsley as ‘a famous doctour and precher’ (Chronicle, p. 685). His will, dated 12 Feb. 1498−9, was proved at Lambeth on 8 Nov. 1499, and at York on 27 March 1500, and is printed in ‘Testamenta Eboracensia,’ iv. 155−6; by it he left money for an obit in St. Paul's.

[Authorities cited; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. ed. Hardy, passim; Newcourt's Repertorium and Hennessy's Nov. Rep. Eccl. Londin. 1898; Polydore Vergil, p. 592; Bacon's Henry VII, ed. 1870, p. 339; Gairdner's Richard III, p. 352; Busch's England under the Tudors. i. 95; Archæologia, xxvii. 165; Dugdale's St. Paul's; Milman's St. Paul's; Testamenta Ebor. (Surtees Soc.); notes from Francis Worsley, esq.]

A. F. P.