BALCHIEF, William, of Portsmouth, Hants.

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



May 1413
Nov. 1414
Dec. 1421

Family and Education

Offices Held


Members of the Balchief family had resided in Portsmouth since the late 13th century.1 William was perhaps the son of another William†, bailiff of Portsmouth in 1393-4, who, described as ‘the elder’ in 1410, was then among the borough tenants who refused to contribute towards the wages of one of the parliamentary burgesses, Henry Abraham.2 On 12 Oct. 1414 at the Exchequer William Balchief obtained the lease of a cottage in Kingston (within the liberty of Portsmouth) at a rent of 2d. p.a. and for as long as it should be in the Crown’s possession. Among his sureties was Henry Preston I, a lawyer from Nottingham, who like Balchief was to sit in the forthcoming Parliament. Balchief most likely made his living from trade; in 1423 the royal searcher of Southampton Water discovered 12 barrels of herring, worth £6, which had been smuggled into England by him, and he was fined accordingly.3

Much later, in 1469, lands at Kingston were said to be in the possession of the heirs of William Balchief.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Balchef, Balchyf, Balchyffe. There may well have been as many as three William Balchiefs living in this period: one witnessed a local deed in 1374 and served as parliamentary burgess in 1382 (Oct.) and 1383 (Oct.); the MP of 1399 was described on the return as ‘junior’, but so too was the representative of 12 years later (1411), while the William Balchief returned in 1419 was called ‘senior’ (E326/2935; C219/10/6, 12/3). Unfortunately, there is insufficient evidence to distinguish between them.

  • 1. CAD, ii. B2946, 2935, 2960.
  • 2. C219/9/10; Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxviii), 197-8.
  • 3. CFR, xiv. 76; E122/184/3 file 1, f. 47d.
  • 4. Portsmouth Recs. ed. East, 498. A John Balchief was bailiff of Portsmouth in 1442-3 (SC6/1280/6).