FOXE, William (1479/80-1554), of Stoke by Greet and St. John's Hospital, Ludlow, Salop.

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



? 1523

Family and Education

b. 1479/80, 1st s. of Edmund Foxe of Stoke by Greet by Catherine, da. and coh. of John Pickenham of Pickenham, Norf. m. Jane (d.1566), da. of Richard Downe of Ludlow, Salop, 6s. inc. Charles and Edmund 4da. suc. fa. 12 Sept. 1487.3

Offices Held

Bailiff, Ludlow 1525-6, 1532-3, 1537-8, 1545-6, 1553-4; j.p. Salop 1542-3; commr. musters 1542.4


The Foxe family had been prominent in Ludlow since the early 15th century when it acquired lands at Stoke. William Foxe married the daughter of a man thrice bailiff of the borough, and he himself was to discharge the office five times. He was thus a natural choice as one of the town’s Members of Parliament. Although no names have survived for the early Parliaments of Henry VIII’s reign, an entry in the now (1975) missing bailiffs’ accounts for the 1520s suggests that he and John Cother represented Ludlow in the Parliament of 1523, unless the reference is to its successor of six years later, when the two certainly did so. On that occasion Foxe may have enjoyed the support of his powerful neighbour and landlord Sir Thomas Cornwall, who was himself returned as one of the knights for Shropshire. Nothing is known about Foxe’s participation in this Parliament save that in the fiscal year 1534-5 he received a bottle of muscatel and 40s. towards his expenses in attending its seventh session in the early winter of 1534. In the spring of 1536 Ludlow complied with the King’s request by reelecting the same two Members: this was to be Foxe’s last appearance in the Commons, but his continued interest in Parliament is shown by his encouragement to his sons to find places there during his lifetime.5

His own Membership must have prepared Foxe to seize the opportunities presented by the secularization of church property. Affluent enough in the early 1530s to send two of his younger sons to Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, he gained a notable accession of property and influence when in February 1536 the hospital of St. John in Ludlow conveyed to him all its lands and buildings in the town and in Herefordshire and Staffordshire. Although there seems to have been some flaw in this transaction and its confirmation two years later, for in 1547 Edward VI granted the hospital to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, Foxe was able to acquire the hospital from the earl immediately afterwards for £161. Since 1540 Foxe had also owned former monastic property in the neighbourhood of Ludlow, at Caynham and Snitton.6

Foxe made his will on 6 Mar. 1554, renouncing ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’ and regretting that he was ‘ever led and ruled by them’. He provided for his wife, his surviving children and his grandson and heir Edward Foxe, leaving to the last-named his ‘picture of Christ on the cupboard’. He set aside money for distribution to the poor in their own homes ‘without making of an open dole’. He appointed his wife sole executrix and his son Charles and son-in-law William Hopton overseers of his will, which was proved one month later. He was buried in Ludford church, where a brass records that ‘he founded this aisle and re-edified the almshouse of St. Giles, being decayed’. In October 1554 Foxe’s widow granted Ludlow a burgage on condition that the borough maintained the almshouse of St. Giles and kept up certain masses for the souls of her late husband and parents; ‘and if any law should hereafter make the masses illegal’, the almshouse was to have all. Foxe’s death in the middle of his fifth term as bailiff left the borough in doubt as to whether its charter permitted the election of a successor for half a year.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 8-9 from bailiffs’ accts. (now missing).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., CIPM Hen. VII, iii. 636. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 191; Eton Coll. Reg. ed. Sterry, 129; PCC 29 Tashe.
  • 4. Bodl. Gough ms Salop 1. ff. 275-7; LP Hen. VIII, xvi.
  • 5. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), xii, 113.
  • 6. Add. 6276, ff. 4-5, 19-23v, 29v-52v; CPR, 1547-8, p. 4.
  • 7. CPR, 1553-4, p. 389; PCC 29 Tashe; C142/104/29; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 9; Pevsner, Salop, 176; Salop Par. Regs. Hereford Dioc. xiii. 219; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 281.