FLEETWOOD, Sir William I (1551-1616), of Cranford-le-Mote, Cranford, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 1 Mar. 1551,1 2nd surv. s. of Thomas Fleetwood† of The Vache, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks. and his 2nd w. Bridget, da. of Sir John Spring of Cockfield, Suff.; bro. of Sir George* and Henry*. educ. L. Inn 1570. m. by 1576, Jane (d.1628), da. of William Clifton of Barrington, Som., wid. of Hugh Copleston of Copleston, Devon, ?9s. 4da. (?1 d.v.p.).2 suc. fa. 1570; kntd. 11 May 1603.3 bur. 15 Sept. 1616. sig. William Fletewoode.

Offices Held

J.p. Mdx. by 1587-at least 1614,4 Beds. 1597-at least 1614,5 Herts. 1604-16; 6 capt. militia ft. Mdx. 1588,7 commr. musters, 1588-at least 1608;8 commr. subsidy, Mdx. 1591, 1593, 1597, 1608,9 aid 1609;10 freeman, Southampton, Hants 1599;11 commr. oyer and terminer, London 1601-9, Mdx. 1601-9,12 Syon manor, Mdx. 1603-at least 1604;13 commr. sewers, Mdx. 1604, London and Mdx. 1606, Coln valley 1609-at least 1615,14 swans, Gravesend, Kent to Windsor, Berks. 1605-at least 1609,15 lands of John Deacon, attainted, London and Surr. 1608,16 repair of highways, London 1609,17 lands of the late earl of Oxford, Cambs. 1610.18

Recvr.-gen. Ct. of Wards 1594-1610;19 commr. lands of wards, 1608.20


By the beginning of James I’s reign, Fleetwood was well established as receiver-general of the Court of Wards. Knighted at the Coronation, he was returned to the first Jacobean Parliament for Middlesex, having last represented the county in 1589. His renewed interest in Parliament may have stemmed from the fact that the master of the Wards, Lord Cecil (Robert Cecil†), intended, through his spokesman Sir Robert Wroth I, to offer the Commons the abolition of wardship in return for a fixed annual composition. However, Fleetwood’s income was probably not threatened by Cecil’s proposed reform and so it is not altogether surprising that, unlike two other officers of the court of Wards who had seats in the Commons, John Hare and Sir Edward Lewknor I, he was not named to the committee appointed to consider Wroth’s motion when it was laid before the House on 23 Mar. 1604.

Fleetwood is difficult to distinguish in the parliamentary records from his namesake and second cousin, Sir William Fleetwood II, the Member for Buckinghamshire, although between 1604 and 1607 he was certainly named to at least four legislative committees. As receiver-general of the Court of Wards, he was appointed to consider a measure to allow the guardians of the Bedfordshire lunatic Robert Tompson to create a jointure in the event that Tompson’s son and heir married (24 Feb. 1607). He was also placed on committees for bills to prohibit married men from living in college with their families (14 June 1604), to naturalize Sir David Foulis (18 Apr. 1606) and to repeal a clause in the 1604 Watermen’s Act (13 Mar. 1607). 21

Fleetwood was in financial difficulty by November 1604, when he sold his lease of Cranford St. John manor to Sir Roger Aston* for £1,500.22 By October 1605 he had begun to divert some of his official receipts to his own purposes. His embezzlement went undetected until July 1609, when he was accused of having siphoned off more than £14,164.23 Unable to repay this enormous sum, he became a bankrupt.24 On 25 Dec. 1609 the court of Wards ordered the manors of Cranford-le-Mote and Cranford St. John, which Fleetwood had leased back from Aston, to be extended for debt.25 Five days later a commission of inquiry was established into Fleetwood’s financial dealings by Cecil, now earl of Salisbury.26 The charges were evidently proven, for on 3 Feb. 1610 Fleetwood resigned his post to his eldest son, Miles*.27 A week later the Court of Wards ordered the seizure of bonds worth £6,000, which had been posted by Fleetwood and 30 sureties on Fleetwood’s appointment as receiver in 1594.28 By July 1611 Fleetwood, who seems to have played no part in the parliamentary sessions of 1610, had fled to Denham Court, Buckinghamshire, the home of his cousin, Sir William Bowyer I*. He subsequently moved to a small property in Ealing, the lease for which he had acquired in 1608. However, in April 1616 the owners prosecuted him in Chancery for refusing to pay half his annual rent.29 He died shortly afterwards, and was buried on 15 Sept. at St. Andrew’s Church, Ealing.30 He was succeeded by his son Miles, who sat in Parliament during the 1620s. No will or administration has been found.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. GL, ms 4448, f. 19v.
  • 2. DL7/12/2; H. Fishwick, Hist. of Par. of Poulton-le-Fylde (Chetham Soc. n.s. viii), 157-8; Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 227; Fleetwood Fam. Recs. ed. R.W. Buss, peds. 1 and 14; Reg. St. James’ Clarkenwell [sic] (Harl. Soc. ix), 9; E.T. Bewley, ‘An Irish Branch of the Fleetwood Fam.’, The Gen. n.s. xxiv. 218-19; LI Admiss.; PROB 11/153, f. 183; LMA, Acc. DRO37/A1/1, pp. 3-6, 53, 72.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 106, mistakenly calls him Miles.
  • 4. APC, 1588-9, p. 108; C231/1, f. 5; SP14/33; C66/1988.
  • 5. C231/1, f. 36v; C66/1988.
  • 6. Cal. Assize Recs. Herts. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 7, 172; C231/4, f. 29.
  • 7. HMC Foljambe, 38.
  • 8. APC, 1588, p. 144; 1595-6, p. 22; 1596-7, p. 388; 1597-8, p. 359; Add. 11402, f. 142.
  • 9. E115/146/42; 115/147/112; 115/148/60; SP14/31/1.
  • 10. SP14/43/107.
  • 11. HMC 11th Rep. III, 22.
  • 12. C181/1, ff. 11, 13v; 181/2, ff. 71v, 72v, 103, 107v-8.
  • 13. C181/1, ff. 65, 89.
  • 14. Ibid. f. 88; C181/2, ff. 20, 90, 229v.
  • 15. C181/1, f. 113v; 181/2, f. 89v.
  • 16. C181/2, f. 70.
  • 17. C193/6/188.
  • 18. E178/3618.
  • 19. J. Hurstfield, Queen’s Wards, 227; E214/1148.
  • 20. C181/2, f. 64.
  • 21. CJ, i. 238b, 300a, 340a, 352b.
  • 22. C54/1788.
  • 23. SP14/47/54.
  • 24. HMC Downshire, ii. 138.
  • 25. VCH Mdx. iii. 180; LMA, Acc/530/1/13. It was subsequently disputed whether these manors were capable of being extended, Reps. of Sir Henry Hobart (1678), p. 45.
  • 26. E178/4181; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 133; SP14/48/55.
  • 27. E214/1148.
  • 28. WARD 9/632, unfol. See also WARD 9/61, pp. 7, 49-54.
  • 29. C2/Jas.I/S14/55.
  • 30. LMA, DRO37/A1/1, p. 72.