PAGE, William (d. aft.1584).
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Family and Education
Page first appears as a servant of Peter Vannes, the English agent in Venice, who asked for his arrest in June 1554 for expressing a desire to kill Queen Mary. The council of ten refused because in Venice ‘everybody discourses, even of princes, according to their opinions’. In any case Vannes was a ‘very timid’ man, in great ‘fear about religious matters’, and it was not ‘becoming to imprison men for light causes, such as the words of a base menial who was either mad or drunk’. Next, in December of that year, Vannes wrote to Sir Philip Hoby† in Padua recommending his servant to him as being young, and with good Italian and English, even though Page ‘with lewd and presumptuous words offended the Queen’s Majesty’. Page had requested this letter of reference because he had ‘a great fancy to serve’ in Hoby’s household, probably thinking that his religious and political views would be better tolerated by him than by Vannes. When Mary died Page returned to England to become a secretary to the 2nd Earl of Bedford, to whom he had probably been introduced by the Hobys, the widow of Thomas Hoby having married Lord John Russell, the son of Francis, Earl of Bedford.1
It is Page’s service with the 2nd Earl of Bedford that explains his return to the first four Parliaments of Elizabeth. Bridport was near one of Bedford’s estates. That nobleman was high steward of Oxford and an Oxford council minute for 7 Dec. 1562 records that
William Page, gentleman, was admitted into the liberties of the city at the request of the Lord the Earl of Bedford and the same day elected one of the burgesses for Parliament.
In 1571 and 1572 Bedford was instructed to supervise the elections in Cornwall, where he was warden of the stannaries. At Saltash in 1572, the burgesses of 1571 were re-elected.
Page probably accompanied Bedford on his duties in the north. In July 1565 Thomas Randolph, Bedford’s fellow commissioner in the business of the marriage of the Queen of Scots, wrote to the Earl, regretting his inability to meet him and suggesting that Bedford send a messenger ‘of some appearance ... if any of your own, either Mr. Page or Mr. Lilgrave’. Doubtless equipped in the marches with a practical knowledge of military problems, Page spoke in the Commons on 3 June 1572, at the second reading of a bill ‘for the well-making of calivers’, to assert that the lieutenant of the ordnance was a fitter person than the armourers to decide on the size of bullets. Page was still alive, though possibly retired, when Bedford made his will in April 1584. Described as ‘sometime’ the Earl’s servant, he was left £10. He may well have retired to Plymouth, across the river from his 1571 and 1572 constituency, for letters of administration were issued in February 1591 for the possessions of a man of his name.2