BISHOP (BUSSHOP), William (by 1516-?58), of Great Yarmouth, Norf.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1516, prob. s. of William Bishop of Yarmouth by Alice, da. of one Pawling. m. (?Alice), da. of one Jetter, 3s. 3da.1

Offices Held

Auditor, Great Yarmouth 1537-8, 1550-1, churchwarden 1538-9, bailiff 1539-40, 1548-9, j.p. 1540-1, 1542-3, 1549-50, 1552-3, 1553-4, 1556-7, 1557-8, member of the Twenty-Four by 1545.2


William Bishop’s father was a wealthy merchant of Yarmouth, able at his death in 1530 to leave £100 to each son of his own four sons. He owned extensive property in Norfolk, but this was divided on his death, the younger William Bishop’s share being confined to lands in Rollesby, about eight miles northwest of Yarmouth. Apart from his membership in 1551 of a syndicate of 16 who bought the chantry of Swaffham, there is no indication that Bishop himself owned any considerable property outside Yarmouth.3

Bishop is not easily distinguished from contemporary namesakes, but from 1537 he appears to have moved swiftly up the municipal ladder. After the Norfolk rebels of 1549 destroyed much of the material collected to build a new haven, Bishop, one of the bailiffs at the time, headed the subscription list to collect new timber with £40, the next largest sum for a member of the Twenty-Four being £11. He was constantly called upon for advice on the work, and both in July 1553 and in 1557-8 he was one of a group charged with the fortification and defence of the town. As a wealthy ship owner, three of whose vessels are mentioned in the borough accounts for 1538-9, he had a particular interest in keeping the port active and secure. On several occasions during Edward VI’s reign he lent money to the town, which by 1551 was in serious straits. Sir Thomas Clere was demanding £43, partly for his charges in the ‘commotion time’, and the expenses of the new haven, still unbuilt, were pressing. A sum of £20 was raised for Clere from borough funds, while Bishop and Simon More lent the balance, receiving as pledge ‘one cope and a vestment of cloth of gold, with the alb and the amice thereunto belonging’.4

Bishop is said to have been proposed as bailiff in 1558 but to have died before he could take up the office. If so, he must have died before 3 Oct., when the names of two other men as bailiffs were entered in the assembly book. The will which ‘William Bishop the younger of Great Yarmouth’, probably his son, made in April 1559 includes a request for burial in the chancel of Yarmouth church ‘by the bodies of my late father and mother’. The obscurity of his end suggests that Bishop was a victim of the epidemic prevailing at the time.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first office. PCC 25 Jankyn, 38 Chaynay; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 59; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 3-4; Norwich consist. ct. 118 Jagges.
  • 2. Gt. Yarmouth ass. bk. A, ff. 22, 31v, 44, 159v; rolls 1508-9, 1514-15, 1520-1, 1527-8, 1539-40, 1548-9; ex inf. p. Rutledge.
  • 3. PCC 25 Jankyn; CPR, 1550-3, p. 79.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iv, xx; H. Swinden, Gt. Yarmouth, 398n, 399n, 401, 872; Gt. Yarmouth rolls 1538-9; ass. bk. A, ff. 4, 24, 69v, 83, 108, 126, 171, 186v, 209; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, pp. 314, 323.
  • 5. Information from P. Rutledge; Gt. Yarmouth ass. bk. A, f. 199v; PCC 38 Chaynay.