CLERKE, William I (by 1527-?87), of Ponsbourne, Herts.
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Family and Education
There can be no certainty that it was the same man who sat in all the above Parliaments. Since the borough of Wilton was dominated by the Earl of Pembroke it is almost certain that the Wilton MP was the William Clerke, gentleman, of Ponsbourne in Hertfordshire, who was associated with Pembroke in several grants of land during the last weeks of Edward VI’s reign. It is not clear, however, whether his life was spent entirely in Pembroke’s service; he is not mentioned in the 1st Earl’s will nor was he among the mourners. The same William Clerke of Ponsbourne may have been the William Clerke of Friern Barnet who died in 1587 and who married the widow of John Perte of Tewkesbury. He may also have been the William Clerke of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, ‘strongly allied and friended in the county and also a common juror and leader of juries’, who was sued in the court of requests early in Elizabeth’s reign by Margaret, widow of Sir John Brocket, and her son Edward. This man was accused of forcibly entering the manor of Wheathampstead and of taking the profits for himself from Michaelmas 1558, after perceiving Margaret Brocket to be ‘a very aged and impotent woman’.3
No evidence has been found to connect this William Clerke with either Calne or Devizes. However, it is at least possible that the Pembroke connexion, which secured his seat at Wilton, also explains his return for two other Wiltshire boroughs. Unidentified though he is, the 1572 MP was appointed to a committee on the preservation of woods on 28 Jan. 1581.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: P. W. Hasler
This biography is based upon research by T. F. T. Baker.