DORMER, Sir William (by 1514-75), of Wing, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. by 1514, o.s. of Sir Robert Dormer by Jane, da. of John Newdigate. educ. ?I. Temple. m. (1) lic. 11 Jan. 1535, Mary (d.1542), da. of Sir William Sidney of Penshurst, Kent, 2s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) Dorothy (d.1613), da. of Anthony Catesby of Whiston, Northants., 1s. Robert 6da. suc. fa. 1552, KB Sept. 1553.1

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. from c. May 1547; sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 1553-4, 1568-9.


At the accession of Elizabeth, Dormer’s mother and his daughter, the Duchess of Feria, went abroad, but Dormer himself remained, his Catholicism notwithstanding. He retained his local county offices, was classified as a ‘hinderer’ of religion in 1564, and was elected knight of the shire in 1571, just when old Lady Dormer’s connexions with Sir Francis Englefield and other Catholic exiles was causing the government most embarrassment. Writing to the Duchess of Feria from Louvain in April 1570, Englefield described Dormer as ‘beset with heretics and breathing their spirit’. Englefield asked the duchess to write to her father: ‘It is thought one message from you would move Sir William more than 15 from us Louvainists’. More to the point, Englefield described the end Earl of Bedford as ‘the chief friend that ... [he] has, by whom he enjoys all that he now has’, and this is probably the key to Dormer’s freedom from penal measures, and to his election for the county in 1571. It speaks highly for Bedford’s friendship that he, a puritan, should support Dormer for the county when his own son had to take a seat at Chipping Wycombe. The only recorded activity found for Dormer