GERARD, William II (by 1529-81), of Chester, Cheshire.

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 1529, s. of Gilbert Gerard of Ince, Lancs. by Eleanor, da. of William Davison of Chester. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1543, called 1546, ancient 1552. m. Dorothy, da. of Andrew Barton of Smithhills, Lancs., 2s. inc. Gilbert 4da. Kntd. 11 Oct. 1579.1

Offices Held

Queen’s attorney in Wales and the marches 13 Mar. 1554-24 Nov. 1559; recorder, Chester by Sept. 1555-1574/75; j.p. Cheshire by 1555-d., Glos. 1558/59, 1579, Herefs. 1558/59-d.; justice in Wales, Brec. circuit 9 Sept. 1559, c.j. by 1570; member, council in the marches of Wales c.1560, v.-pres. 1562; v.-justice of Chester 1561; ld. chancellor of Ireland and dean of St. Patrick’s 1576; master of requests 1579; commr. eccles. causes, diocese of Chester 1562, Salop 1573, piracy, Cheshire 1568.2


William Gerard came of the Lancashire family which produced Gilbert Gerard, an Elizabethan attorney-general and master of the rolls. Like this cousin a member of Gray’s Inn, Gerard also made headway in his profession. He became a freeman of Chester in January 1555, probably at the same time as he was made recorder: the William Gerard who was returned for Preston to the Parliament of October 1553 was probably his cousin, Gilbert Gerard’s younger brother.3

Gerard was to keep the recordership for 20 years and to sit for Chester in every Parliament summoned throughout that time. The only peculiarity attaching to his Membership relates to the Parliament of 1558 when, on a copy of the Crown Office list, his name was one of the 18 (including his brother-in-law Ralph Barton’s) which were omitted, but it was afterwards inserted in another hand. No explanation of this is forthcoming: it can hardly mean that Gerard had not been originally elected, since it was probably he and not Sir William Garrard, a Londoner sitting in the House for the first time, who on 5 Feb., 16 days after the Parliament opened, was appointed with three others to examine a matter of complaint against Walter Ralegh. The only other indication of Gerard’s part in the proceedings of his first two Parliaments is the negative one that he does not appear among the Members who in 1555 opposed one of the government’s bills.4

Under Elizabeth, Gerard served as a judge in Wales and as an active member of the council at Ludlow, and later endeavoured to raise the standard of justice and administration in Ireland. He died on 1 May 1581 and was buried in Chester cathedral.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 21, 81; Ormerod, Cheshire, i. 194-5; DNB.
  • 2. CPR, 1553-4, pp. 269-70; 1558-60, p. 28; 1560-3, pp. 280-1, 444-6; OR, i. 392; R. H. Morris, Chester, 220, 304n, 418; Ormerod, i. 221; W. R. Williams, Welsh Judges, 126; SP11/5/6; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 200, 522, 637; CSP Ire. 1574-85, p. 91; Holinshed, Chron. vi. 421; J. R. O’Flanagan, Ld. Chancellors of Ireland, i. 289; R. Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 84, 104-5, 200.
  • 3. Freemen of Chester (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. li), 30.
  • 4. Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264; CJ, i. 48.
  • 5. Ormerod, i. 194-5.