GARRARD (GARRETT), Sir William (by 1518-71), of London and Dorney, Bucks.

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. by 1518, 1st s. of John Garrard of London. m. by 1539, Isabel, da. of Julian Nethermill of Coventry, Warws., 5s. 1da. Kntd. by 29 Feb. 1556.1

Offices Held

Alderman, London 1547-d., sheriff 1552-3, mayor 1555-6, auditor 1556-8; master, Haberdashers’ Co. 1557; consul, Russia Co. 1555-6, gov. 1561-d.; assistant, Merchant Adventurers’ Co. 1564; gov. mineral and battery works 1568.2


William Garrard was born in the parish of St. Magnus the Martyr near London Bridge, the son of a London grocer. Garrard himself became a haberdasher and married the daughter of a Coventry draper, who by his will of 1539 left £6 13s.4d. to each of the Garrard children. The family was then living in Garrard’s native parish, where his goods were valued at £200 for subsidy. He later moved to St. Christopher le Stocks.3

In 1545 Garrard was one of a number of commoners appointed by the court of aldermen to devise new means for the relief of poverty, and for the next four years he served as a surveyor of the poor; he took ‘great and manifold pains’ in drawing up the constitutions of the new hospitals, was a governor of Christ’s Hospital in 1553-4, of Bridewell in 1558-9 and of St. Bartholomew’s from 1559 until his death, surveyor of all the city’s hospitals in 1566-7 and their comptroller general from 1568. Exempted from the shrievalty in 1551, he was elected sheriff the following year and mayor in 1555, probably receiving his knighthood in this capacity. He was returned by London to the last Parliament of Mary’s reign, but the ‘Mr. Garrard’ who was one of four Members deputed by the Commons on 5 Feb. 1558 to consider Walter Ralegh’s claim to privilege is more likely to have been William Gerard II, one of the Members for Chester. It was another namesake, William Garrard II, who had sat in the Parliament of March 1553 for Wootton Bassett.4

Garrard’s wide trading interests put him among the great London merchants. He was one of the Merchant Adventurers with whom in 1552 Cecil negotiated a loan of £40,000 to the crown, in 1564 he was an assistant of the Company and in the following year he and ‘others of such merchants as specially use to transport cloths over the sea’ were consulted by the Privy Council about a complaint by the London clothworkers. From the European market he moved into the newly developing ones beyond. A voyage to Barbary in 1552 was followed by several to Guinea, which in turn led him into the slave trade. He was an active promoter of John Hawkins’s second expedition of 1564, additional funds for which were raised at a meeting at his house, as well as of the disastrous voyage of 1568, which cost him and his partners nearly £21,000, including 45 negroes valued at nearly £6,000. He was by then also governor of what became known as the Russia Company: a ‘principal doer’ in promoting the first voyage of 1553, Garrard was one of the four consuls appointed in 1555 and by 1561 he was a governor. From then until his death he was, if not always the sole governor, the effective head of the Company, which was often called by his name.5

The yield of these enterprises is hard to assess, for although Garrard died a wealthy man, with lands in three counties, he had acquired most of these early in his career, before embarking on his more risky ventures. His grandfather had been a small landowner in Kent, and in 1545 Garrard bought the manor of Southfleet in that county from (Sir) William Petre, who was to name him an overseer of his will; he also bought back the family house, the Lion, at Sittingbourne and left it to his brother’s heir. When not in London, however, Garrard evidently preferred his manor house at Dorney, bought in 1542 and enlarged with a ‘new gallery and closet made over the porch’. By his will of 15 Apr. 1570 he left Dorney and all his lands in Buckinghamshire to his eldest son, with the reversion to Southfleet after his wife’s death. One of the overseers of the will was his son-in-law George Barne. Garrard died in London, probably at his house in St. Christopher’s parish, on 27 Sept. 1571 and was buried in St. Magnus the Martyr, the parish church of his childhood. An inventory of his goods survives.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 144; PCC 6 Alenger; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 16, f. 495; jnl. 16, f. 370v.
  • 2. City of London RO, rep. 11, f. 346v; 13(2), f. 338; jnl. 16, f. 201; 17, f. 41; W. Herbert, Livery Cos. ii. 539; CPR, 1554-5, p. 57; 1563-6, pp. 178-80; T. S. Willan, Early Hist. of Russia Co. 285; Sel. Chs. of Trading Cos. (Selden Soc. xxviii), 19.
  • 3. PCC 3 Daper, 6 Alenger; E179/144/120.
  • 4. City of London RO, jnl. 15, ff. 213v, 317v, 384-4v; 16, ff. 142v, 201; rep. 13(1), f. 93v; 13(2), f. 338; 14, ff. 73, 216v, 392, 535; 15, ff. 126, 281, 379, 473v; 16, ff. 110, 401, 502v; CJ, i. 48.
  • 5. G. D. Ramsay, London in International Pol. 36, 55, 160, 225; J. W. Burgon, Sir Thomas Gresham, i. 466; CPR, 1554-5, pp. 55-59; 1563-6, pp. 178-80; APC, vii. 278; O. de Smedt, De Engelse Natie te Antwerpen, i. 213; CSP For. 1558-9, p. 217; Hakluyt, Voyages, ii. 392; iii. 14, 39, 64, 93, 109, 167, 177; vi. 138-40, 145-52, 262; T. S. Willan, Muscovy Merchants of 1555, pp. 27-28, 35 et passim; Lansd. 6, ff. 48-51; 11, ff. 47-49; Stow, Annales, 609.
  • 6. C142/159/41; PCC 3 Daper; F. G. Emmison, Tudor Sec. 70 et passim; LP Hen. VIII, xx; Arch. Cant. xlii. 38-40; VCH Bucks. iii. 223; NRA 7619, p. 35.