GERARD, William (d.1444), of Hyde near Wareham, Dorset.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by 1423, 2s.1
Commr. to assess contributions to a parliamentary grant, Dorset Apr. 1431.
Bailiff, Corfe castle by Oct. 1435.2
The Gerards of Hyde were probably related to the Gerards of Wareham, one of whom, Richard†, had sat in Parliament twice for Wareham and five times for Dorchester in the 1360s. A Thomas Gerard was bailiff of Wareham in 1414 at the time of William’s first return to Parliament for the borough. William’s parentage is uncertain, but he may well have been the son of John Gerard and great-grandson of Alexander atte Naysshe, who in 1409 brought a suit in the court of common pleas claiming lands in Barton, Somerset.3
Gerard was a lawyer and landowner. After serving eight times as an MP, in May 1423 he stood surety at the Exchequer for Robert Rempston†, the lessee of a messuage and lands in east Purbeck. His fellow mainpernor on that occasion, John Newburgh† of East Lulworth, a member of the Dorset gentry, came to be frequently associated with him. Gerard’s name was recorded on several final concords affecting Dorset properties levied between 1425 and 1444; in 1428 he was a feoffee with John Newburgh the elder of holdings near Cranborne, and in 1435 he was party to a conveyance of the manor of Wotton Glanville to John Hody*, the future chief justice. Later the same year he held sessions of the court of the manor of Corfe castle in his capacity as bailiff for John Beaufort, earl of Somerset. In November 1436 he witnessed a grant made by the abbot of Cerne in the chapter house of the abbey. Subsequently, he became a trustee of the manor of Milborne which had once belonged to Thomas Stretch, and he also acted on behalf of the Jordans of Wolfeton.4 In the meantime he had been present at Dorchester for the elections of the knights of the shire for Dorset in 1425, 1431, 1435 and 1442, and at Ilchester for the Somerset elections of 1432. Gerard appeared on the list of those certified into Chancery by the Dorset knights of the shire at the Parliament of 1433 as fit to take the oath not to maintain those who broke the peace.5
Gerard’s property included part of a knight’s fee in Cheselborne, some eight miles to the north-east of Dorchester. In 1439 he settled on John Bedenale the manor of Winterbourne ‘Quarrelston’ for seven marks of annual rent during the lifetime of the wife of Walter Reson (his fellow Member for Wareham in all but two of his Parliaments), and thereafter rent free; and in 1440 he acquired land and livestock in Sutton Poyntz. He must have subsequently placed these properties in the hands of trustees, for after his death (which occurred on 27 May 1444) juries in Somerset and Dorset gave evidence that he had not been in possession of any lands in either county. His son, John Gerard, junior, then aged 21, was his heir.6