BIDDLECOMBE, William (by 1488-1546/47), of Poole, Dorset.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



? 1536
? 1539

Family and Education

b. by 1488. m. (1); (2) 3s. 8da.3

Offices Held

Bailiff, Poole 1509-10, mayor 1515-16, 1521-2, 1530-1, 1536-7, 1543-4.4


Two merchants named William Biddlecombe lived at Poole early in the 16th century, but little effort was made in the official records of the town and the port to distinguish between them, possibly because their careers overlapped only during the 1540s. The elder man, who is presumed to be the Member, was then coming towards the end of his dominance in the town, while the younger stood on the threshold of adult life and would not achieve high municipal office until three decades later. Biddlecombe’s election to the Parliament of 1529 was the natural extension of his long-standing interests in the borough. He enjoyed the patronage of Sir Giles Strangways I, a member of the Duke of Richmond’s council, and through Strangways he was employed on several occasions by the duke, notably in 1534 when he delivered a letter to Cromwell in which Richmond, who was lord of the adjacent manor of Canford, referred to him as ‘being burgess of the Parliament for my said town [of Poole]’. He was an obvious choice for election and with the backing of the King’s illegitimate son his election must have been a foregone conclusion. During the third or fourth session in 1532 he was entrusted by the town with three charters concerning its liberties and a roll as to rights in Southampton. These were doubtless needed in the suit to the King and Council for which he expended the sum of 37s.2d., refunded to him in January 1533. During the following year he paid his fellow-Member William Thornhill, on the town’s behalf 26s.8d. ‘for his time’ in Parliament, and in March 1536 he received 20d. for an abridgement of the statutes which he had purchased for the corporation. Whether Biddlecombe was returned for the borough in succeeding Parliaments is uncertain: the payment of £6 which he received on 27 Apr. 1541 ‘for being four times at the Parliament’ may have referred to sessions of the Parliament of 1529, especially as the town’s payments were sometimes in considerable arrear, but it would also have fitted the one session of June-July 1536 and the three of 1539-40.5

Biddlecombe made his will on 15 Sept. 1546 and died soon afterwards, as the will was proved by his executors and sons-in-law John Scriven and Richard Goddard on 14 Feb. 1547. He owned only his dwelling house in Poole, which he bequeathed to his son William, and the third share of a ship called the Michael of Poole, but he left sums of £200 or £100 each to his large family, of whom his sons William, Arthur and Thomas, and four daughters, were under age: a subsequent lawsuit about his legacy disclosed that Arthur Biddlecombe was born in 1535 or 1536. The will contains no reference to the merchant namesake, who may have been a son of his first marriage and was perhaps the William Biddlecombe of Swanage, Dorset, who took a lease of the parsonage there between 1542 and 1545. For the subsidy payable by the inhabitants of Poole in 1547 the children of William Biddlecombe, deceased, were assessed on goods worth £100, while another William Biddlecombe was assessed on goods worth £10.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Poole rec. bk. 1, p. 65.
  • 2. Ibid. 1, p. 65.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 28 Alen.
  • 4. Poole rec. bk. 1, pp. 32, 38, 54, 61, 69.
  • 5. Ibid. 1, pp. 2, 32, 38, 56, 58-59, 65, 69-70; Hutchins, Dorset, i. 34; E122/121/7-8, 207/6; LP Hen. VIII, iv. xii; SP1/84, f. 202.
  • 6. PCC 28 Alen; C1/1106/33, 1404/39-42; E179/104/174.