BANESTER, William (c.1500-by 1539), of Lancaster, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1500. m. c.1520, Margaret, da. and coh. of Lawrence Starkey of New Hall, Lancaster, wid. of George Singleton (d. c.1518), 1s.2

Offices Held

Dep. keeper, Quernmore Park, Lancs. by 1525.3


In an action brought before Sir Richard Wingfield as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, probably late in 1523, William Tunstall stated that the late abbess of Syon had, on 7 Sept. 1515, granted a lease of the manor of Aldcliffe, Lancashire, to George Singleton, that Singleton had died some two or three years later and that his widow had then married William Banester. The present abbess had given Tunstall a lease of the manor to begin on the expiry of that to Singleton but Banester refused to surrender the property, in spite of the abbess and in spite of a privy seal directed against him by Henry Marney, 1st Baron Marny, lately chancellor. Tunstall further claimed that

one Lawrence Starkey, father-in-law unto the said Banester, being now mayor of Lancaster, by his subtle and crafty means a little before the coming up to London of the said Banester caused thesaid Banester to be made a freeman of Lancaster and incontinent after caused him to be chosen a burgess of Parliament. By reason whereof the said Banester might escape from this court and the laws of the realm in defrauding and delaying your said orator of his right and also to frustrate and delude the King’s said commandment.4

In reply, Banester denied both lease and privy seal. Singleton, he maintained, had held the manor in succession to his brother by the custom of tenant-right. The late abbess had wanted Starkey’s daughter, Margaret, to marry Singleton and had promised that they should enjoy the manor by that custom. In return for this, Starkey ‘gave great sums of money to the same George’, which enabled him to pay his debts to the abbess. Banester, therefore, held in right of his wife, Singleton’s widow. As for Tunstall’s further charge, Banester denied that he had been made ‘a burgess of Parliament to avoid anything that shall or may be objected against him in this honourable court’ (an accusation subsequently dropped by Tunstall), and said that he had been ‘freely by the desire and good minds of the burgesses of the said town chosen burgess thereof as other burgesses tofore there hath been’. Tunstall then denied the tenure by right. Early in 1524 Starkey and Banester were bound in recognizances of £2,000 to provide sureties for their good bearing.5

Lancaster may have been enfranchised through the influence of Edward Stanley, 1st Lord Monteagle, either for this Parliament or, as Banester seems to imply, earlier. Monteagle was a man of considerable power and influence who, on 1 Oct. 1485, had been appointed sheriff of Lancashire for life. He died in April 1523, before the Parliament of that year opened, and appointed Lawrence Starkey one of the executors of his will. Starkey had long been in Monteagle’s service, acting as his deputy in the shrievalty. Banester may also have been servant of the Stanleys: one Banester was referred to in October 1536 as being with his master, the 3rd Earl of Derby, at Knowsley. Banester may have been nominated either by his father-in-law, Monteagle’s trusted servant and perhaps also his fellow-Member, or directly by Monteagle.6

Banester, indeed, seems to have little existence apart from his father-in-law. He is said to have been of the house of Banester of Bank but his place in that family is unknown and he heads his own pedigree. There were others of the name in Lancashire but it was clearly this Member who was deputy keeper of Quernmore Park since, under that title, he was associated in an action with Starkey in 1526/27.7

Starkey died on 24 July 1532 and Banester became involved in a dispute over his wife’s inheritance with her half-sister, Etheldreda, who married Humphrey Newton of Newton and Pownall, Cheshire. Early in 1537 the Newtons petitioned Sir William Fitzwilliam I, as chancellor of the duchy. Starkey, they said, had assigned the greater part of his estate to feoffees to the eventual use of Etheldreda but administration of the estate had later been committed to Banester and others, who refused to pay the King what Starkey had owed him and to surrender her inheritance to Etheldreda Newton. An order was made for the attendance of Banester who replied that he was willing to render an account but that his own wife also had a right of inheritance. On 15 Nov. 1537 a commission of inquiry was appointed which arranged to meet on 5 Apr. 1538 when one of the three commissioners and Newton failed to turn up. The dispute dragged on for many years but Banester was dead by 31 Mar. 1539 when Margaret, described as a widow, granted an annuity to a servant. In July 1541 she received a grant of the wardship of their son, Wilfrid, who had been born about 1534, together with an annuity of £5 issuing from the manor of Norwell Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, and lands in Wiswell, Lancashire, which had belonged to William Banester: he had been referred to as of Lancaster in the course of the dispute with the Newtons. Margaret Banester made her will on 6 Oct. and died on 20 Oct. 1542. She left property in Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, and a tenement in Henley-on-Thames which ‘descended unto me by my mother’.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. DL1/18, T9-a (cited in Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, lxxiii. 192-4).
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from career and marriage. Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, lxxiii. 192-3.
  • 3. Ducatus Lanc. ii. 200.
  • 4. DL1/18, T9.
  • 5. DL1/18, T9 a-c (partly cited in Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, lxxiii. 193-4); LP Hen. VIII, add.
  • 6. CP; Surtees Soc. cxvi. 115; LP Hen. VIII, xi.
  • 7. T. D. Whitaker, Craven, ed. Morant, 236; Ducatus Lanc. ii. 132.
  • 8. Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, lxxiii. 194-9; LP Hen. VIII, xvi.