GALE, George (by 1490-1556), of York.

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




Family and Education

b. by 1490, s. and h. of Oliver Gale of Thirntoft by Ellen, da. of one Marshall of Richmond. m. by 1526 Mary, da. of Robert Lord of Kendal, 2s. 6da.3

Offices Held

Member, Corpus Christi guild, York 1511, under treasurer, royal mint c.1527, 1545-54, alderman 1529-d., sheriff 1530-1, mayor 1534-5, 1549-50, brother, St. Thomas’s hospital 1522-d., warden 1552-3.4


George Gale must have come from his country home to York by 1514-15, when he was made free of the city as a goldsmith. In 1529 he was elected alderman without having previously been sheriff: this was perhaps a concession to his special status as mintmaster, for only two other aldermen of Tudor York, one of them his fellow-Member (Sir) George Lawson, were allowed to do this. He was, however, elected sheriff in 1530, although he was alleged to have tried to bribe the common council not to nominate him, and it was then agreed that he should continue to be an alderman, his shrievalty notwithstanding.5

It seems certain that Gale was already holding office at the York mint, but the matter is not clear: one report suggests that he was the master of the archbishop’s mint and that after the fall of Wolsey he continued to mint halfpence by licence, another that he was master of the royal mint in 1526-7, when Thomas Mason was mayor—a discrepant statement this, as Mason’s year of office began on 3 Feb. 1528. Perhaps Gale was in charge of both mints; the archbishop’s mint was certainly in operation until at least 1532 and if there was a royal mint it must have ceased production soon afterwards, to be revived in 1545. On 3 Apr. of that year Gale was appointed its under treasurer, at a salary of 100 marks a year, and on 14 May the city council exempted him from regular attendance because ‘he stands charged with the King’s mint within this city’. He was to hold the office until 28 Feb. 1554, although the mint is not known to have operated after the death of Edward VI.6

Gale early became an active member of the city council and often travelled to London on its behalf. He was by-elected to the Parliament of 1529 following the death of his kinsman Peter Jackson during the winter of 1531-2. The date of the by-election is not known, but it took place between the spring of 1532, when Jackson was still included although marked ‘mortuus’ on the revised list of Members, and January 1533. On 22 Jan. Gale was given instructions relating to the city’s decaying trade, revenues and buildings. The instructions were for him alone, his colleague (Sir) George Lawson being apparently too busy to attend; this irregularity had led the council to draw up a letter nine days earlier giving Gale full power to act on its behalf. He appears to have attended all the remaining (fifth to eighth) sessions of the Parliament, but nothing else has come to light save that for the autumn session of 1534, when he was serving his first term as mayor, the council voted him a special retinue ‘for the worship of the city’. He and Lawson also represented the city in the short Parliament of June-July 1536, for which the council equipped them with instructions about trade. Gale did not sit in the Parliament of 1539, but three years later he was elected for the third and last time, on this occasion with John Hogeson. Their instructions from and reports to their city show that the obstructive ‘fishgarths’ in the river Ouse had become a chief concern, but various trading matters also occupied them and they succeeded in obtaining an Act (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.10) which gave York a monopoly of coverlet making in Yorkshire.7

In 1549 Gale was elected mayor a second time, ‘for the good wisdom, soberness and other good qualities in him apparent’. He at first refused the office because of his mint duties: he was supported by Protector Somerset, who ordered the city to rescind the election, but both must have waived their objection. This mayoralty saw action taken under an Act of 1547 (1 Edw. VI, c.9) in uniting city parishes and selling the redundant churches: Gale himself was offered the churchyard and rectory of St. Helen-on-the-Walls for 10s. In January 1550, towards the end of his term, he seems to have left the city to avoid an outbreak of plague, and he was still absent in September.8

In 1524 Gale, then living in the rich Belfray parish, had been assessed for subsidy on 20 marks in goods, but in 1546 he was rated at 140 marks in lands and fees and in 1547 at 200 marks. This prosperity he no doubt owed to his office at the mint, although he may have retained his goldsmith’s business and he certainly engaged in general trading. Much of his capital was invested in property: in 1530 he acquired the manor of ‘Bardalgarth’, thus becoming only the second Tudor alderman of York to be a manorial lord. In 1546-7 he added land in Hunburton and Whenby, and in 1550 he bought from the city property in Hemingbrough, Scarborough, Stamford Bridge and Whenby. He had by 1539 come to live in Petergate, in the parish of Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, and it was perhaps there that his wife’s sister, the last prioress of Wilberfoss near York, came to live when her house was surrendered. In 1553 Gale and his wife bought Wilberfoss priory from the crown, together with lands and rectories in several neighbouring parishes, for the sum of £615. Gale was connected by marriage with both his city brethren and the county gentry. His elder daughters married two aldermen, Ralph Hall and Robert Paycock, and his younger ones made even more advantageous matches, Ursula with Sir William Mallory and Dorothy with Thomas Fairfax.9

Gale made his will on 11 June 1556. Among his charitable bequests were £8 to the York poor to pray for his soul, an order to his wife to pay them £4 a year, and £7 to mend local highways. Besides much city property, he left lands in Catton, Escrick, Hunburton and Wilberfoss, leases of Acomb Grange, and Acomb with Holgate, Lilling, and the tithes of Newton and Wilberfoss. His wife and two sons were named executors, and three of his brethren supervisors, aldermen John North and Robert Hall II, and recorder William Tancred. Gale died in the following month, on either 10 or 20 July, and contrary to his expressed wish he was buried in the Minster, where an epitaph to him, his wife and son was afterwards placed, markedly Catholic in tone.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. M. Palliser


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; York Civic Recs. iii (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. ciii), 145.
  • 2. York Civic Recs. iv (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cvi), 3.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. of the North, i (Surtees Soc. cxxii), 61; York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife ms civic officials, i. 282-4; Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York (Surtees Soc. lvii), 174n.
  • 4. Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York, 174, 300-1; York archs. B11-22 passim; LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 195-6; Brit. Numismatic Jnl. xlv. 60.
  • 5. Reg. Freemen, York, i (Surtees Soc. xcvi), 236; York archs. B11, f. 101; York Civic Recs. iv. 12.
  • 6. York Civic Recs. iii. 142; LP Hen. VIII, v, xx; G. C. Brook, Eng. Coins, 175-9, 189, 190; York archs. B17, f. 88v; E351/2080; C. E. Challis, The Tudor Coinage, 78.
  • 7. York Civic Recs. iii. 138 passim to iv. 109; Elton, Reform and Renewal, 77; York archs. B11, f. 137.
  • 8. York Civic Recs. v (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cx), 6-29, 43-44; Challis, 41.
  • 9. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. iv. 170; xxxvii. 496-7; E179/217/110-111; Fabric Rolls York Minster (Surtees Soc. xxxv), 110; Tudor Feet of Fines, i (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. ii), 56, 125, 128; Yorks archs. B19, ff. 95-96; LP Hen. VIII, xiv; Test. Ebor. vi (Surtees Soc. cvi), 307-8; CPR, 1553, p. 89; York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife ms civic officials, i. 282-4; York wills, 15(1), 292.
  • 10. York wills 15(1), 62; Drake, Eboracum, 497; C142/109/52, 59.