EYRE, Sir William (1556-1629), of Great Chalfield, Wilts.
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Family and Education
bap. 1 Jan. 1556,1 o.s. of John Eyre† of Great Chalfield and Wedhampton, Wilts., and Anne, da. of Thomas Tropenell of Great Chalfield.2 m. (1) by 1577 Anne (bur. 19 June 1587),3 da. of Edward Baynton† of Bromham, Wilts., 3s. 2da.;4 (2) by 1590, Elizabeth (bur. 26 Mar. 1622), da. of John Jackman, Grocer of London, 2s. 3da.;5 (3) c.1626, Anne, da. of Michael Erneley of Bishops Cannings, Wilts., wid. of William Noyes, s.p.6 suc. fa. 1581;7 kntd. Sept. 1592.8 d. 24 Aug. 1629.9 sig. William Eyre.10
Constable of Trowbridge Castle, Wilts. 1581-d.;11 j.p. Wilts. by 1586-Jan. 1599, Feb. 1599-d.;12 sheriff, Wilts. 1591-2;13 kpr. Fisherton Anger gaol, Wilts. 1591-2;14 commr. charitable uses, Wilts. 1600, 1613,15 sewers, Dorset 1605;16 dep. lt. Wilts. 1603-at least 1611;17 commr. subsidy, Wilts. 1621-2, 1624, 1629,18 Forced Loan 1627.19
Eyre married into one of the wealthiest and politically most prominent of north Wiltshire families, and in 1581 inherited his father’s considerable estates, which numbered more than a dozen manors, including the family’s principal estate at Great Chalfield.20 His second marriage to the daughter of a wealthy London merchant greatly increased his financial security.21 His family was further allied to the local gentry by his daughter’s marriage to John, eldest son of Sir Walter Long†, by which Eyre became related to Sir John Thynne* of Longleat. Eyre’s extensive properties ensured that his subsidy assessment was consistently the highest in the region; he was also able to afford a town house in London.22
In about 1598 Eyre was listed as one of the six most important gentlemen of Wiltshire.23 His brief removal from the magistrates’ bench in early 1599 may have been associated with a serious attack made upon him in London some months earlier.24 In April 1603 he was appointed deputy lieutenant of Wiltshire under Edward Seymour, 1st earl of Hertford. He proved to be conscientious in the post, but in 1604-5 sided against the election of Hertford’s secretary as muster-master for the county. As a result, Eyre’s division was one of several which delayed musters and refused to contribute towards muster payments.25
Eyre was elected in 1604 for Heytesbury, a borough controlled by the Thynnes; but he left no trace upon the records of the first Jacobean Parliament.26 He does not appear to have stood again. He died at Great Chalfield on 24 Aug. 1629, and was buried in the chapel adjoining the manor house.27 In his will, made in 1627, he left the manors of Woddington, Little Chalfield and Neston to three of his surviving sons, and named Lucy, his daughter by his second marriage, as sole executrix.28 For reasons that he did not make clear he attempted to disinherit his eldest son, Sir John*, who nevertheless obtained an annulment of the will and assumed the administration of the remaining estates in 1630.29 The latter had by this time sat in three Parliaments, and Eyre’s third son by his first marriage, Sir William, represented nearby Westbury during the Commonwealth.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Henry Lancaster
- 1. Wilts. RO, 1605/2.
- 2. Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 60; Tropenell Cartulary ed. J.S. Davies, ii. 353.
- 3. Wilts. RO, 1605/2.
- 4. R.C. Hoare, Wilts. (Frustfield Hundred), 56; Wilts. (Downton Hundred), 7.
- 5. Wilts. RO, 1605/2; PROB 11/84, f. 239; Vis. Wilts. 60.
- 6. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxiii. 232.
- 7. PROB 11/63, f. 291v; C142/197/94.
- 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 89.
- 9. C142/761/116.
- 10. Wilts. RO, A1/150/2, f. 47.
- 11. VCH Wilts. vii. 61.
- 12. Mins. of Procs. in Sessions ed. H.C. Johnson (Wilts. Rec. Soc. iv), 111, 153; C231/1, ff. 62, 64; C66/2527.
- 13. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 154.
- 14. HMC Hatfield, xiii. 473.
- 15. C93/1/15; 93/5/20.
- 16. C181/1, f. 118v.
- 17. Hertford Ltcy. Pprs. ed. W.P.D. Murphy (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 17, 172; Add. 5496, ff. 8, 63-4, 84; SP12/283A/85; HMC Bath, iv. 375.
- 18. C212/22/20, 21, 23; Add. 34566, f. 132.
- 19. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
- 20. PROB 11/63, f. 291v; C142/197/94; C66/1913/13, 30 June 1582; VCH Wilts. vii. 18; Wilts. N and Q, v. 399, 400, 451-2; Subscription Bk. of Bps. Tounson and Davenant ed. B. Williams (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xxxii), 44; Wilts. RO, 130/4/5c.
- 21. PROB 11/68, ff. 74-5.
- 22. E179/199/38; 179/199/368; VCH Wilts. vii. 18; Coll. Top. and Gen. viii. 205.
- 23. SP12/269/46.
- 24. Wilts. RO, A1/150/2, 3; APC, 1597-8, pp. 458-60.
- 25. Hertford Ltcy. Pprs. 31, 38, 39, 46.
- 26. C219/35/128.
- 27. Wilts. RO, 1605/2.
- 28. PROB 11/157, f. 465.
- 29. Wilts. IPMs ed. G.S. and A.E. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 370-1.