PARKER, William II (d.1421), of Kings Langley, Herts.
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Family and Education
Parker of Little Hallingbury, Essex by 22 June 1411, Kings Langley by 23 Jan. 1418.
As the son of a prominent London merchant who shrewdly invested a substantial amount of his commercial profits in land, our MP found it easy to relinquish his mercantile background in favour of the life of a country gentleman. His father’s many connexions extended far beyond the City; and there can be little doubt of the benefit which he and his family derived from the patronage of the Mowbrays, whom William Parker I had served loyally for many years. The latter’s second marriage, made at the turn of the century to Joan, daughter of John Norbury*, proved to be of even greater consequence for his children, because it was to Norbury, Henry IV’s first treasurer of the Exchequer, that he turned when choosing their guardian. By the terms of his father’s first will, dated 17 Aug. 1400, William II was to receive 500 marks in cash, as well as plate worth a further £20 and the contents of the manor of Kingsworth in Kent. Since he and his legacy were duly committed to Norbury’s care, we may safely regard the young man as then being a minor, although the absence of any such provision in a second will, made on 12 June 1403, would suggest that he was over 21 when his father actually died a few weeks later. He inherited an impressive estate, comprising land in Kent worth £46 6s.8d. p.a., the manor of Little Warley in Essex, tenements in Shoreditch, Middlesex, and property in Kings Langley, where he appears to have made his home. Despite the extent of his father’s charitable bequests, which were to be financed out of rents and tenements in the City, Parker was sure of an income of at least £18 p.a. from other holdings in London. His patrimony may also have included the manor of Beaurepaire in Kent, but this was held on a long lease, and did not belong to his family.2
In comparison with his father, William II remains an obscure figure about whom little is known. His election to the Parliaments of 1404 (at Coventry) and 1407 (at Gloucester) undoubtedly owed something to the influence of John Norbury, but it is interesting to note that Parker was returned on the first occasion with Sir John Poultney, who also came of merchant stock and possessed strong connexions with the City. Most of the surviving references to Parker describe him as a resident of Kings Langley, yet he showed scant interest in the affairs of his neighbours and even less in the business of local government. In July 1409, he was the recipient of a bond in £200 offered by the mercer, Thomas Philip, and certain associates of his from Huntingdonshire. This transaction, like most of the others which remain to illuminate his career, probably concerned the administration of his late father’s estate, and tells us hardly anything about his own affairs. His appointment as keeper of the royal park at Little Hallingbury may also have been brought about through Norbury’s intervention on his behalf, since there is no evidence to suggest that he nursed any ambitions as a courtier or crown servant.3
Parker is last mentioned in January 1418, when a royal commission was issued for his arrest, together with one Thomas Parker, alias Godefelowe, of London and others on unspecified charges. He died between then and October 1421, and was buried in Kingsnorth parish church. According to his memorial brass (which no longer survives), he had by then received a knighthood, but this seems unlikely. He appointed the Londoners, Thomas Elys, Thomas Chapman and Thomas Nichol, to execute his will; and to them fell the task of recovering part of the legacy left to him by his father some 20 years before. The two men and their wives were remembered by the mercer, Simon Bartelot, whose will of October 1427 made provision for the foundation of a chantry bearing their several names in the church of St. Lawrence Jewry, London.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. PCC 4, 6 Marche; Cal. Wills ct. Husting London ed. Sharpe, ii (2), 446.
- 2. PCC 4, 6 Marche; Feudal Aids, vi. 469, 471; Arch. Jnl. xliv. 61, 63; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 91, 96.
- 3. CCR, 1402-5, p. 520; 1405-9, p. 518; CPR, 1408-13, p. 295; 1416-22, p. 145.
- 4. CPR, 1416-22, p. 145; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, pp. 95, 160; Mon. Brasses 239; Cal. Wills ct. Husting London, ii (2), 446.