CLERK, William II, of Wycombe, Bucks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Tax collector, Bucks. Dec. 1406, Dec. 1407, June 1410, July 1413, Dec. 1414, Nov. 1415, May 1416, Dec. 1417.
Collector of rents and farmer of Bassetsbury manor by 1410-23 May 1421.1
Mayor, Wycombe Mich. 1419-20.2
One of the most important Wycombe burgesses of this period, Clerk is first heard of in 1385, when he went surety for the attendance in Parliament of Richard Kele*. In 1396 he was a pledge for Walter Frere* when the latter was amerced before the manor court of Bassetsbury, and in 1402, three years after his first election to Parliament, he was a guarantor of Nicholas Sperlyng’s attendance in the Commons.3 Clerk owned a considerable amount of land in the Wycombe area; and in about 1400, together with Kele and others, he became a feoffee of Thomas atte Lude, a local landowner, of a substantial estate nearby. He also held, jointly with William atte Halle*, a large farm in Wycombe itself. His other holdings included lands at Totteridge (within the manor of Wycombe) and at Ashendon near Aylesbury, which were subsequently conveyed by enfeoffment to Thomas Hampden of Wycombe.4
Clerk’s local importance was increased by his appointment as farmer and collector of rents in Bassetsbury, which was one of the constituent manors of Wycombe and contained most of the borough. He had obtained this post by Michaelmas 1410, at which time the manor was in the hands of Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford, and he retained it after her death in 1419 (when Bassetsbury reverted to the Crown). His wages were two marks a year. During his tenure of office, he served five times as a collector of parliamentary subsidies in the county at large.
In 1412 Clerk and William Doyly, as the two surviving feoffees of Thomas atte Lude, brought an action for novel disseisin against Ralph, son of Thomas, who had died meantime. Ralph’s defence to this charge of illegal entry was that the lands properly belonged to him as heir, having been only leased to Clerk and his associates for term of his father’s life. In the following year Clerk witnessed the election of burgesses for the Parliament of May 1413, and thereafter he was present at the Wycombe elections to the Parliaments of 1414 (Nov.), 1417, 1420, 1421 (May), 1421 (Dec.) and 1422.5 Meanwhile, he was himself again elected in 1415, and during this session he was appointed tax collector in the county for the sixth time.
In May 1421, the manor of Bassetsbury was divided equally between Henry V and Anne, countess of Stafford, as grandchildren and coheirs of Joan de Bohun. It was only then that Clerk relinquished the collectorship, perhaps because of old age. He was still alive, however, in March 1423, when he served as a juror in the Bassetsbury manor court.6