ACTON, William (by 1513-67), of Aldenham, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. by 1513, s. of Thomas Acton of Aldenham by Elizabeth, da. of one Dryland. m. by 1534, Cecily, da. of Richard Cresset of Upton Cressett, 6s. 6da. suc. fa. by Feb. 1538.1
There is some obscurity about the succession of William Acton to his family’s lands, which constituted one of the largest estates west of Bridgnorth. The succession was disputed, and it is impossible to reconcile the various statements of relationship contained in the consequent chancery cases and in contemporary wills and inquisitions. As Acton came from a line of lawyers and his eldest son was to be trained to the law, he may have received a legal education, but the first trace found of him is in the administration of the estates of two recently dissolved Shropshire abbeys in 1540. Six years later he bought some ex-monastic land in the county for £291, only to sell it not long afterwards to a London mercer.2
Acton sat in two of Queen Mary’s five Parliaments, on both occasions with a distant kinsman, Jerome Horde. His personal standing in the neighbourhood of Bridgnorth and ownership of property in the town went some way towards satisfying the government’s demand for the return of resident Members, but his election probably owed more to the council in the marches, and in particular to Reginald Corbet and Roger Smith; Corbet, a member of the council, had sponsored the admission of Acton’s son to the Middle Temple in 1552, and Smith, who was related to Acton by marriage, had himself sat for Bridgnorth in the two Edwardian Parliaments. The Journal makes no mention of Acton’s part in the House, but he is known to have joined Corbet and other Shropshiremen in opposing a government bill in 1555. There is little further trace of him. In 1554 he bought the prebend of Morville in the free chapel of Mary Magdalen, Bridgnorth, and in 1562 he witnessed Roger Smith’s will. Acton died on 7 May 1567, apparently intestate, and was succeeded by his son Robert, aged 33.