WALTERS, William (d.1417), of Salisbury, Wilts.
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Family and Education
Reeve, Salisbury 1 Nov. 1394-5; mayor 1402-3; chamberlain 1412-14.2
Walters was born at Alderton, near Towcester, in Northamptonshire.3 When he first moved to Salisbury to set up in business as a cloth merchant is unknown, but was evidently well established there before he was made reeve in 1394 and collector of a local tax in 1397. He seems to have had a special talent for negotiation, and was several times employed by the commonalty of Salisbury for discussions with the government. In September 1398 Richard II, having banished Henry of Bolingbroke, demanded a renewed oath of loyalty and support from a number of major towns including Salisbury: accordingly, Walters, together with Richard Spencer* and William Hulle I*, was sent to Coventry to seal the text of the oath with the common seal of the city. Moreover, when Bolingbroke returned from exile in July 1399, it was Walters who, again with Hulle, was dispatched with an assurance of the city’s support for his claims and a loan of £200 (originally collected for King Richard). After seeking Henry for some time, the deputation caught up with him at Lichfield, probably in the last week of July: they handed over their messages, to which he returned a gracious reply, promising to be the city’s ‘good lord’ and to preserve its privileges.4 As a culmination of their activities in this year, Walters and Hulle were returned for Salisbury to the first Parliament of Henry’s reign.
Walters served as mayor in 1402-3, when his expenses in office (for which he was not reimbursed until seven years afterwards) amounted to £14. In this same year he presented a very large amount of woollen cloth—no less than 180 whole cloths of assize—for alnage. After 1407 (when such records begin) he is frequently recorded as present at meetings of the convocation of the city;5 and in April 1411, during the dispute over tolls between Salisbury and Southampton, he was one of those chosen by his fellow members of the convocation to negotiate with a delegation from the port. The dispute was still going on in February 1412 when, along with Walter Shirley* and William Waryn*, he was ordered to go to London to continue the case, presumably at the court of common pleas. That same year he was elected chamberlain, an of flee only recently introduced, which gave him a special responsibility for the financial affairs of Salisbury. Thus, when, in June 1413, Henry V demanded a loan of £100 from the city, Walters was sent with Waryn to the royal council to treat for a reduction of the amount demanded by a third. The attempt was, however, unsuccessful, and in March 1415 Walters himself contributed £2 towards the sum needed. Early in 1417, though no longer chamberlain, he was sent to London to press for the loan’s repayment; but once again his mission proved a failure, and, indeed, the money had still not been returned by 1428. Meanwhile, in October 1413, Walters had been appointed an executor of Thomas Child*.6
Walters died in the late spring of 1417. His will, made on 21 May, shows him to have been one of the wealthier of his local contemporaries. He requested burial beside his wife in St. Edmund’s church, and made generous bequests to various religious institutions in Salisbury, as well as to the parish church of Alderton (where he had been baptised), the vicar of which was asked to pray for the souls of his parents and ancestors. Among his other legacies was £20 for the repair of Drakehall Street, Salisbury, and of roads through the forest of Clarendon. Of his six houses in the city, one was granted in perpetuity to the commonalty to defray mayoral expenses. Walters’s chief executor was his old associate, William Waryn, w