ALLEN, alias HELYER (HILLIARD), William.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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In June 1558 a William Allen alias Helyer of Salisbury gave William Bennett of Westbury a release of all actions; six years later, this time said to be of Oxfordshire and acting with Robert Allen of London, he entered into a bond of £100 to abide by a judgment given in a dispute with William Bennett of Norton Bavant. In both documents Allen is styled ‘generosus’. Bennett’s identity is uncertain: the elder William Bennett, a clothier of Norton Bavant, some five miles from Westbury, did not die until 1566 but it is his son, a Westbury man, who is thought to have sat for that borough in the Parliament of November 1554. Allen’s connexion with the Bennett family is reflected in the bequest of four marks to ‘William Hellyar my servant’ made in his will of June 1558 by Dr. Thomas Bennett, prebendary of St. Paul’s cathedral and precentor at Salisbury, brother of the elder William Bennett.1

Allen’s origins remain obscure. There seems no direct connexion between him and the Helyers or Helliers of Hampshire or Somerset, and the first will found of one of this family at Westbury was drawn up as late as 1597. However, there was at least one group of Helyers living at Calne in the mid 16th century, and the conjunction with the name Allen suggests a relationship with William Allen, the wealthy and well-connected clothier of that town, who in 1558 was representing the borough in Parliament for the fourth time. Since Helyers mentioned in the contemporary Calne records were usually of low social status, it is possible that the Westbury Member was an illegitimate son of an Allen of Calne, perhaps of the clothier himself, and if so he could have owed his seat to his namesake’s local influence. He may have been the William Hellier of Cherhill, near Calne, whose property was assessed at £3 for the subsidy of 1576, or the William Allen of Tinhead, four miles from Westbury, assessed for the same tax on £4.2

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Wilts. RO, 413/27/242-3; Wilts. N. and Q. vi. 136.
  • 2. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 78; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 150; PCC 68 Cobham; Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. vii. 4, 9, 14, 15, 31; x. 50, 141; xlv. 49-50.