ALLESTRY, William (by 1520-96/98), of Alvaston and Derby.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. by 1520. m. Ellen, 6s. 3da.1
Bailiff, Derby 1541-2, 1549-50, 1558-9, 1566-7, 1578-9.2
The old Derbyshire family of Allestry took its name from the village of Allestree, two miles north of Derby, and later held land at Turnditch, Alvaston and Walton-upon-Trent. A well-to-do family of the same name was prominent in the civic life of Nottingham during the 15th and early 16th centuries, but in the absence of pedigrees a connexion between the two, though probable, is not established.3
On his first known return to Parliament in 1542 William Allestry was described as an innholder, but when re-elected in 1545 he was to be called yeoman. He is almost certainly to be identified with the bailiff of Derby in 1541, whose election to this office in that year and subsequent prominence in the town’s affairs made him a natural choice at a time when the borough was clinging to its parliamentary independence. As a Member of five out of the nine Parliaments summoned between 1542 and 1555 he was its most regular representative during these years, and if he was passed over from time to time this may have been rather out of respect for convention than in accordance with shifts of outlook. The sole clue to his attitude to the policy changes of his day is the negative one that in the Parliament of 1555, the last in which he sat, he did not follow the lead of Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing one of the government’s bills.4
In matters secular Allestry was not immune from controversy. In September 1542, during his first term as bailiff, he testified before the Privy Council in a case of horse-stealing in Derby: his slight answers to the Council’s questions, and his failure to deliver its summons to a suspect in the affair, were found unsatisfactory and he was ordered to return home and to bring the suspect back with him by 13 Oct. under a recognizance of 100 marks. Three years later he was involved in a more serious episode. This arose out of discontent over what appeared to be the growing practice by the bailiffs and burgesses of allowing enclosures of land formerly used as common pasture. The presentation to the assembly by one John Sharpe and his adherents of suggested articles of reform, which combined a demand that all such land should be thrown open with an attack on the bailiffs and recorder, stung Allestry, whose own enclosure was threatened, into lodging a complaint against Sharpe in the Star Chamber. He depicted a conspiracy verging on rebellion, and the seven depositions taken endorsed the substance of his bill. When in the following January Allestry’s statement was read before the Privy Council and the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, Sharpe was found to be a man ‘principally bent to ill-rule and disorder’ and Allestry a ‘cumbersome person’. In the hope that their temporary removal from the town would conduce to a restoration of order the Council ordered both to remain near London or Hampton Court until further notice.5
Nothing has come to light about Allestry’s life after his final term as bailiff in 1578-9, but he was probably the William Allestry of Alvaston whose will, drawn up on 29 Nov. 1596, was proved on 12 May 1598. He appointed as executors his wife Ellen and eldest son Thomas, and charged Thomas with paying bequests of £5 each to his younger children out of the yield of the tithes and lands in the lordship of Alvaston and Boulton. The heir was to have all the glass in the house as well as a Flanders chest and the bed linen. An inventory of Allestry’s goods valued them at £170.