ALEXANDER, William (d.1446), of Salisbury and Winterbourne Cherborough, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Family and Education

m. (1) bef. 1413, Edith, da. and coh. of John de la Bere of Thornton in Marnhull, Dorset, wid. of Richard Becot, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) by 1441, Isabel, s.p.

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Wilts. May 1409 (post mortem), bef. May 1411 (ownership of Barford St. Martin), Feb. 1422 (false weights), Som., Dorset Apr. 1423 (post mortem), Hants June 1432 (trespasses), Wilts. June 1433 (post mortem); to hold assizes of novel disseisin, Wilts. bef. Aug. 1413; raise royal loans Mar. 1431; of gaol delivery, Old Sarum Jan., Dec. 1440.

J.p. Wilts. 13 Feb. 1410-Feb. 1412, 12 Feb. 1422-July 1425, 15 Dec. 1427-July 1432.

Dep. chief steward, duchy of Lancaster, south parts c.1418-c.1437; justice itinerant, Welsh lordships 1420-1, Feb. 1433.2

Biography

Alexander’s career as a lawyer had begun by 1398, when he acted as an attorney at the Salisbury assizes on behalf of Sir Peter Courtenay† (the earl of Devon’s uncle) and Sir John Roches*, but there is little reference to him thereafter until his appointment as a royal commissioner and j.p. in Wiltshire 11 years later. From then on, however, he made regular appearances at the sessions of the peace and as a justice at the assizes. Alexander attended the Wiltshire elections to the Parliaments of 1407 and 1411 and was himself elected to represent the shire four years later. It seems likely that by 1415 he was already connected with Sir Walter Hungerford*, the chief steward of the duchy of Lancaster south of Trent; certainly within three years he had been named as Hungerford’s deputy, a post he was to retain for some 20 years. Alexander’s ability brought him to the attention of Henry V’s feoffees, who retained him as an apprentice-at-law; and Hungerford himself regularly employed him, notably in transactions concerning property in Middlesex.3

Other Wiltshire landowners called on Alexander for his assistance in legal matters: Henry Thorpe* asked him to be a feoffee of his estates and an executor of his will; Henry Popham* enlisted his help for the entail of property in Salisbury; he was a trustee of the manor of Baynton which John Rous III* wished to grant to Edington priory; and John, Lord Lovell, entrusted him with three other manors in the same county. Elsewhere, he was an arbitrator in a matter of disputed rent at Southampton, in 1418, and a feoffee of a manor in Oxfordshire which was conveyed in 1425 to (Sir) John Blaket*.4 The accounts of the chamberlain of Salisbury for 1420 show Alexander receiving a fee of £2 and a gown, no doubt for legal services, while in the 1420s a correspondent of Thomas Stonor* wrote of him, in the context of a lawsuit, that he ‘semes most bost and wurship’.5

Alexander supplemented his income from the law with dealings in the cloth trade, of which his home town, Salisbury (which he represented in Parliament five times) was an important centre. In 1428 he was engaged in lawsuits with a local tucker and a tailor, disputes no doubt arising from his own trading interests; and in May 1437 he obtained a royal licence to ship a stated number of cloths of different colours and varieties from Southampton to any country at peace with England, he having agreed first to pay a subsidy reckoned on the value of the goods sold in addition to the normal customs duties. Such transactions may, however, betoken no more than a landowner with an interest in exploiting his own estates.6 Alexander’s landed holdings came to be quite widespread. In 1406 he had acquired property in East Harnham and Winterslow, Wiltshire, and two years later land at Winterbourne Cherborough in the same county. The latter, to which he added substantially over the years, was later described as a manor. By 1412 he was holding land at South Tidworth in Hampshire, estimated to be worth £4 a year, while as an outcome of his first marriage he was to acquire, jure uxoris, a third part of the manor of Thornton and property, including rents of £14, in Kington, Dorset. By 1423 he was in possession of a house in Castle Street, Salisbury, to which he added a number of other properties in the city. Alexander’s only son, John, died shortly before December 1441, when Thornton was entailed on Alexander and his second wife and their issue, with remainder to William Carent* of Toomer (to whom, in fact, it eventually passed). Before his death, which occurred on 17 July 1446, Alexander sold most of his property in Salisbury and placed his other holdings in the hands of feoffees, who included Master Gilbert Kymer, treasurer of Salisbury cathedral and physician to Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. Alexander’s heir was his brother, John, then aged over 60. His widow married Thomas Hussey II*.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger

Notes

Variants: Alisaundre, Elisaundre.

  • 1. According to OR (i. 307), Alexander sat for Old Sarum in 1423, but in fact he sat for Salisbury: C219/13/2; Salisbury RO, ledger bk. A, f. 89.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 430.
  • 3. CCR, 1399-1402, p. 132; 1429-35, pp. 44, 53; Somerville, 430; JUST 1/1502 mm. 220, 220d; C219/10/4, 6; VCH Wilts. v. 34.
  • 4. CCR, 1413-19, pp. 475, 517; 1419-22, p. 9; 1422-9, pp. 128, 256; 1441-7, p. 307; PCC 36 Marche; CPR, 1441-6, p. 266; C143/449/35; Wilts. Feet of Fines (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xli), 220, 344.
  • 5. Stonor Letters (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xxix), 35; R.C. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. (Salisbury), 114-15.
  • 6. CPR, 1422-9, p. 435; 1436-41, p. 59; 1441-6, pp. 116, 300; 1446-52, p. 290; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 405, 456.
  • 7. J. Hut