PRYSELEY, William (by 1499-1540 or later), of Calais.

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 1499.2

Offices Held

Alderman, Calais by 1520, mayor 1520-1, commr. sewers 1532, defence 1535, oyer and terminer 1540.3


William Pryseley occupied a house outside the walls of Calais, between the Water and Lantern gates. The vulnerability of his domicile and his representation on the town council of a ward where the only Englishmen were soldiers engendered a concern with the problems of defence. Early in 1536 he was reassured about his status in Calais by Sir William Fitzwilliam I who advised him to continue the King’s loyal subject. As the promoter of the Act (27 Hen. VIII, c. 63) enfranchising the town Fitzwilliam may have proposed him as the first representative of the mayor and aldermen to be returned to Parliament. He left the town for the assembly after the departure of his fellow-Member Thomas Boys, taking with him fresh instructions concerning the water-defences which were under review by the Council. On 17 June 1536 he and Boys informed the deputy, Viscount Lisle, about the discussions on the defences which they held each day with Fitzwilliam and others ‘after doing our duties in the Parliament House’, and early in July the pair raised the matter successfully with Cromwell during a sitting of the House. His antipathy towards the Protestantism abroad at Calais may have prevented his re-election in 1539 when Thomas Broke was chosen by the mayor and aldermen. When after Broke’s speech on the eucharist a commission into heresy was ordered, Pryseley ingratiated himself with Lisle by testifying against Broke. Following Lisle’s imprisonment in 1540 he was named to the commission of oyer and terminer issued in November. This is the last reference found to Pryseley. If he made a will it has not been traced.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. LP Hen. VIII, x. 1086.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 3. P. T. J. Morgan, ‘Govt. Calais, 1485-1558’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1966), 301; LP Hen. VIII, vi, xvi, app.; C1/418/21.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iii, vi, x-xii, xiv.