APPLEYARD, William (d.1419), of Norwich, Hethel and Bracon Ash, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1383
Nov. 1384
Feb. 1388
Nov. 1390
Jan. 1397
Oct. 1416

Family and Education

s. and h. of Bartholomew Appleyard† (d.1386), of Norwich by his w. Emma. m. (1) by 1383, Margaret (d.aft. 1401), da. of William Clere† (d.1384) of Ormesby St. Margaret, Norf. ?3s. (? inc. Bartholomew*), 3da.; ? (2) Margaret, da. of John Rees of Long Stratton, Norf. and wid. of William Curson of Swainsthorpe, Norf.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Norwich, Mich. 1386-7, 1395-6, 1401-2; mayor Mar. 1404-c.Sept. 1406, May 1411-13, 1418-19.2

J.p. Norwich 6 Apr. 1392-7.

Commr. of array, Norwich Aug. 1402, Jan. 1404, Mar. 1419; inquiry June 1406 (concealments); to raise royal loans June 1406.

Escheator, Norf. and Suff. 29 Nov. 1402-12 Nov. 1403.

Tax collector, Norwich June 1416.


As the first mayor of Norwich under the charter of 1404, Appleyard occupies a special place in the city’s history, and his record of ten elections to Parliament is second only, in this period, to that of Walter Bixton*. The son of a leading citizen of Norwich, he is first recorded in August 1367, when an inquest was held as to whether Bartholomew Appleyard and his sons William and Edmund might effect an entail of certain lands at East Carleton, some four miles south of the city, which were held in chief by the remarkable service of providing the King with 224 herring pasties whenever he visited the region. After obtaining a favourable verdict, the Appleyards completed the transaction without waiting for a royal licence to be formally issued, though for this misdemeanour they were pardoned six months later. William was admitted a freeman of Norwich on 23 Sept. 1367 when his father was a bailiff.3 In all probability he was then still a minor, and it was not until the crisis occasioned by the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 that he was given any position of responsibility in civic affairs; with Norwich put in a state of defence against the Norfolk rebels led by Geoffrey Lister, he was named one of the eight ‘assistants and counsellors’ to the bailiffs for its safeguarding. His public career, which began in 1383 with his first election to Parliament, spanned 36 years altogether, a period in which he served three terms as bailiff and five as mayor. He performed other functions on behalf of the city, too; in 1384-5, for example, he was paid £4 13s.4d. expenses for obtaining royal commissions of array for the defence of Norwich, presumably on account of a possible French invasion from Flanders. By royal appointment he acted as a j.p. in the city for five years under Richard II, and he came to be of sufficient importance in the region generally as to be appointed escheator in the joint bailiwick of Norfolk and Suffolk under Henry IV. Highly esteemed by his fellow citizens, Appleyard was not only made their first mayor in 1404 and re-elected in 1405, but when the ‘commons’ met for the mayoral elections in the following year they chose him yet again. However, on this third occasion, the ‘prudeshommes’ wished to have Walter Daniel instead, and Appleyard, supporting his fellows, led Daniel to the bench, handed him the sword of office and retired. Always public-spirited, he presented, in 1411, a ‘great tree’ for the building of the new guildhall.4

Appleyard inherited a number of properties in Norwich, situated for the most part in the parishes of St. Andrew, St. Michael at Pleas and St. Giles. The house occupied by his father, but largely built as it now stands by himself, is a noted building renowned for its wall of finely cut black flints. (It served from the late 16th century as the city bridewell and is now the Bridewell Museum.) He paid the city rent for part of ‘Cokeylane’ in St. Andrew’s, and also for a ditch outside Heigham gate where he owned water-mills. In addition, Appleyard was possessed of substantial landed holdings a few miles to the south of Norwich, having inherited, from his parents, manors at Intwood, Bracon Ash and Hethel as well as part of the manors of Stanfield in Wymondham and Rainthorpe Hall in Newton, and adding to these by purchase lands in the same region at Dunston, Wreningham and Swainsthorpe. In October 1391 he obtained for himself and his heirs a royal grant of the view of frankpledge regarding all his tenants at Hethel. A year later he acquired a neighbouring manor at Carleton.5 The earlier interest of the Appleyards, father and son, in property at Great Yarmouth which they acquired from Hugh Fastolf* the merchant, taken together with their dealings in the 1380s with certain London mercers, adds weight to the accepted view that their evident prosperity was founded on trade. However, no record has been found of any shipments being made through Yarmouth in William’s own name.6

Indeed, it was clearly the Appleyards’ wish to be accounted socially as one with the gentry of Norfolk. William’s early marriage linked him with the Cleres of Ormesby, who owned extensive estates in the east of the county. By the will made in 1384 by William Clere, his father-in-law, Appleyard and his wife received ten marks and a confirmation of their tenure of certain lands at Ormesby, Burgh and Runham, as well as a bequest of 40 sheep for their son John. For over 30 years Appleyard acted as a trustee of Clere’s estates on behalf of his mother-in-law, Denise, and her eldest son, John Clere, and as late as 1417 he made a settlement on another of his brothers-in-law, Robert Clere* of Stokesby, of the reversion of the manor of Runham.7

In 1384 Appleyard had assisted in the conveyance of the advowson of St. Peter Mancroft (Norwich) to the collegiate church of St. Mary in the Fields. And it was in the same church that, in 1388, he founded a chantry for the soul of his father and for his own spiritual welfare, donating 100 marks to that end. Another chantry was subsequently endowed there at the behest of William Rees* of Tharston, esquire, whose first wife was probably Appleyard’s sister, and whose own sister may have been Appleyard’s second wife. Certainly, the two men were closely associated: Appleyard witnessed several deeds on Rees’s behalf, helped him to purchase part of the Nerford estate in 1393, and from 1401 acted as his feoffee of manors in Cambridgeshire. They both sat in the Parliament of 1397 (Jan.), when Rees was elected for Norfolk.8

Appleyard’s will, made on 20 Apr. 1418, left his place of burial to wherever it pleased God, and instructed his executors to sell two messuages in St. Andrew’s parish to pay his debts. He died on 4 Sept. 1419 and his will was proved in the Norwich consistory court on 14 Oct.9

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Called ‘junior’ to distinguish him from his uncle William (who was associated with Bartholomew Appleyard in property transactions completed that same year: CP25(1)168/177/97).
  • 2. Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 97-100; C267/3/14, 19.
  • 3. C143/362/17; CPR, 1367-70, p. 87; Recs. Norwich ed. Hudson and Tingey, i. 267.
  • 4. F. Blomefield, Norf. iii. 106-7; Recs. Norwich, i. pp. lxii, lxiv, lxv, 71-72, 84-88; ii. 48; Norf. Arch. xv. 187.
  • 5. Blomefield, ii. 502; iv. 318, 503; v. 40, 66-67, 83-84, 88, 101, 103, 104-6; Recs. Norwich, ii. 245-6, 248; CP25(1)168/177/97; CPR, 1388-92, p. 489; Feudal Aids, iii. 625-6; Norf. RO, Norwich enrolments 14 m. 27d; 15 mm. 26, 36; 16 m. 26, 17 m. 14d; ‘Domesday bk.’ f. 79.
  • 6. Norf. RO, Gt. Yarmouth et. roll C4/91; CCR, 1381-5, p. 127.
  • 7. Harl. 10, f. 135; CAD, v. A12367; CPR, 1416-22, p. 65; Vis. Norf. (Norf. Arch. Soc.), ii. 266; Norwich enrolments 16 m. 8d.
  • 8. CPR, 1381-5, p. 406; 1399-1401, p. 446; 1405-8, p. 472; 1408-13, p. 352; Blomefield, iv. 174, 176; v. 305; CCR, 1389-92, p. 489; 1399-1402, p. 287; CP25(1)168/180/226. This association with Rees may have given rise to another interesting connexion. Rees was a retainer of the Mowbrays, and Appleyard’s daughter, Emma, is reputed to have married Sir Henry Grey of Ketteringham, Norf., a nephew of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk (d. 1399) (Blomefield, v. 91-93).
  • 9. Norf. RO, Reg. Hyrning, f. 51. An inquest post mortem was not held until a year after his death (C138/44/6), by which time his son and heir, Nicholas Appleyard, esquire, was aged over 25.