Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fitzwilliam, William (1460?-1534)

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FITZWILLIAM, Sir WILLIAM (1460?–1534), sheriff of London, was son of John Fitzwilliam. His mother was Ellen, daughter of William Villiers of Brokesby in Leicestershire. It has been claimed that the family was descended from one William Fitzwilliam of Green's Norton, who is stated to have been a natural son of William the Conqueror. But the existence of this natural son receives no confirmation from contemporary documents, and he is probably a figment of the genealogists. Fitzwilliam lived and traded in Bread Street, London, afterwards in St. Thomas Apostle, having a country house at Gaynes Park, Chigwell, Essex. He was admitted to the livery of the Merchant Taylors' Company of London in 1490, of which he was warden in 1494 and 1498, and master in 1499, obtaining a new charter for the company on 6 Jan. 1502. In 1505 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the shrievalty of London, but was appointed to the office on the king's nomination in 1506, and was elected alderman of Broad Street ward in the same year. Elected sheriff of London in 1510 he refused to serve, and was in consequence disfranchised and fined one thousand marks by the lord mayor. The franchise was restored and the fine remitted by order of the Star-chamber, 10 July 1511. He became treasurer and high chamberlain to Cardinal Wolsey, who appointed him one of the king's council. In 1515 he was nominated sheriff of Essex, was knighted in 1522, and was sheriff of Northampton in 1524. He entertained Wolsey during his disgrace, 1–5 April 1530, at Milton Manor, Northampton (the seat of the present Earl Fitzwilliam), which he purchased in 1506 from Richard Wittelbury. Fitzwilliam rebuilt the church of St. Andrew's Undershaft, London, and the chancel of Marholm, Northamptonshire. By deed (26 May 1533) he settled twelve hundred marks on the Merchant Taylors' Company for certain religious uses since applied (under scheme of 1887) to divinity scholars at St. John's College, Oxford. Fitzwilliam married, first, Ann, daughter of Sir John Hawes: secondly, Mildred, daughter of Sir R. Sackville of Buckhurst; thirdly, Jane, daughter of John Ormond. He had by his first wife issue Sir William, his heir (father of Sir William Fitzwilliam, 1526–1599 [q. v.]), Richard, Elizabeth, and Ann; by his second wife, Christopher, Francis, and Thomas. He died 9 Aug. 1534. His will is dated 21 May 1534. He was buried at Marholm.

[Bibl. Top. Brit. vol. x.; Gibson's Castor, p. 187; Manuscript Records of Merchant Taylors' Company; Corporation of London Repertory Book; Collins's Peerage, iv. 387 sq.; Testamenta Vetusta, ii. 665; Greyfriars Chronicle (Camd. Soc.); Cavendish's Life of Wolsey.]

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