Rastell, William (DNB00)

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RASTELL, WILLIAM (1508?–1565), judge, born about 1508, was elder son of the printer, John Rastell (d. 1536) [q. v.], by his wife Elizabeth, sister of Sir Thomas More. Rastell's sister Eliza married John Heywood [q. v.] In 1525 he went to Oxford. There, according to Wood, he learned much ‘logic and philosophy,’ but took no degree. After plying the printer's craft for some years he was admitted, on 12 Sept. 1532, a student at Lincoln's Inn; he was called to the bar in 1539, and was chosen autumn reader in 1547, and treasurer in 1555.

Like his father, a staunch catholic, Rastell quitted England soon after the accession of Edward VI, and resided at Louvain throughout his reign, suffering in consequence the forfeiture of his estate. He returned on the accession of Mary, was made a serjeant-at-law on 16 Oct. 1555, was joined with the bishops of London and Ely in a commission of inquisition into heresy on 8 Oct. 1556–7, and was advanced to a puisne judgeship in the queen's bench on 27 Oct. 1558. He was continued in office by Elizabeth, resigning office early in 1563.

His last days were spent at Louvain, where, in the church of St. Peter, he had buried in 1553 his wife Winifred, daughter of Dr. John Clement [q. v.] He died on 27 Aug. 1565, and was buried by the side of his wife.

Rastell edited ‘The Works of Sir Thomas More, knight, sometyme Lorde Chancellour of England; wrytten by him in the Englysh Tonge,’ London (Tottell), 1557, 2 vols. fol. He was credited with a life of Sir Thomas More, but, if written, this was either never published or perished at a very early date.

He also edited (1) Fitzherbert's ‘Natura Brevium,’ with Littleton's ‘Tenures,’ a ‘Chartuary,’ and other matter [see Fitzherbert, Sir Anthony, and Littleton, Sir Thomas, (1402–1481)], London (Tottell), 1534, 8vo; and separately in 1553, adding a new table of contents. (2) A translation of his father's ‘Expositiones Terminorum Legum Anglorum,’ entitled ‘An Exposition of certaine Difficult and Obscure Wordes and Termes of the Law,’ &c., London (Tottell), 1567, 8vo; reprinted 1579, 1602, and as ‘Les Termes de la Ley,’ 1641 and 1667. (3) ‘A Colleccion of all the Statutes from the beginning of Magna Carta until the yere of our Lorde 1557, which were before that yere imprinted. Whereunto be addyd the Colleccion of the Statutes made in the fourth and fift yeres of the reign of King Philip and Quene Mary, and also the Statutes made in the fyrst yere of the reyne of our Sovereyne Lady Quene Elizabeth,’ London (Tottell), 1559, 4to, a work afterwards continued by Ferdinando Pulton [q. v.] Rastell also compiled ‘A Table collected of the yeres of our Lorde God and of the yeres of the Kynges of Englande,’ London, 1561, 1564, 8vo; and ‘A Colleccion of Entrees, of Declarations, Barres, Replications, Rejoinders, Issues, Verdits, Judgements, Executions, Proces, Contynuances, Essoynes, and divers other matters,’ London (Tottell), 1566, fol., 1574, fol. (Yetsweirt), 1596, fol.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 100, 343; Burnet's Reformation, ed. Pococke; Strype's Mem. (fol.), ii. 396, 496; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 149; Records of Engl. Cath. (Knox), ii. 5; Dugdale's Orig. p. 252; Chron. Ser. pp. 89–92; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, pp. 100–22; Ames's Topogr. Antiq. (Dibdin), iii. 371; Bridgett's Life of Sir Thomas More; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

J. M. R.