HOLME, William (by 1501-58), of York.

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



Mar. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1501, s. of Reginald Holme of York by Margery. m. Margaret, 6s. 7da.4

Offices Held

Junior chamberlain, York 1529-30, master, guild of SS. Christopher and George c.1533, sheriff 1535-6, member of the Twenty-Four 1536, alderman 1540-d., mayor 1546-7; city tax collector 1550; v.-adm. bet. Humber and Tyne.5


William Holme, the son of a York fuller, became free of the city by patrimony during the fiscal year 1521-2. He became free as a wax chandler, but by 1529 he was also practising as a barber and by 1535 was one of the city’s common corn buyers. By then he was a prominent citizen, holding the mastership of the popular guild of SS. Christopher and George in 1533, and being important enough by the next year for a quarrel of his with a city councillor to be settled by no less a person than Cromwell. It was also to Cromwell that in 1535 (Sir) George Lawson reported that Holme and two fellow-citizens had bought Lincolnshire and Holderness corn worth £100, thus enhancing the price at York. Such episodes perhaps help to explain Holme’s relatively slow progress in civic office; he was not elected an alderman until 1540, nearly 20 years after taking up his freedom. Thereafter he ranked among the most powerful citizens, holding local crown offices as well as city ones; his memorial brass calls him ‘vice-admiral between Humber and Tyne; and the steward of St. Mary abbey lands; collector for Newburgh’.6

Holme lived in Walmgate, in the parish of St. Denys. In 1524 he was taxed on £5 in goods in that parish, but in 1546 and 1547 he was assessed on 100 marks in goods, being by then one of the dozen richest York laymen. His term as mayor was unusual in that a summary of it was written into the council minutes. He was plainly a much trusted alderman, in 1556 for instance being sent three times to London and in 1558 given a delicate commission to negotiate with the 5th Earl of Westmorland ‘after his discreet manner’; above all, he was returned to Parliament for the city more often than anyone else of his time, sitting in five out of the seven Parliaments of Edward VI and Mary. In all of these he and his various fellows were given much business to do in London. In 1547 they were able to secure an Act allowing for the union of parishes in York (1 Edw. VI, c.9), under which the number of York churches was reduced by one third. In 1555 Holme persuaded the government to lower York’s tax quota by £100.7

The climax of Holme’s services to York came in 1558. On 30 Mar., returning from Parliament, he was able to show his colleagues the Queen’s warrant for a further tax remission of £40 and to report a gift of plate and of £60 in money from the London goldsmith Sir Martin Bowes. The council granted him a 21-year lease of the city’s malt tolls ‘for his great diligence, industry and pains’, and then presented him to a mass meeting of citizens, who acclaimed his ‘earnest diligence ... in all the city affairs’. After this triumph Holme’s life and career were brought to an abrupt end. He and his parliamentary colleague Robert Paycock fell ill of an epidemic, the ‘new ague’, which struck the city that year. On 16 Oct. the city council informed the Speaker that they were critically ill and could not attend the coming session, and two days later Holme died: he is marked ‘mortuus’ on a copy of the official list of Members and was buried in his church of St. Denys, leaving a widow (who was buried there a year later) and 13 children. His son Robert was already a York freeman and merchant, another son was about to become a York capper, and a third, to judge from his father’s will, was considering becoming a priest.8

Holme had made his will on 10 Sept. 1558. He bequeathed his soul to God, the Virgin and all saints, and asked for his body to be buried in St. Denys’s church, before his stall. He left much property in York, including 14 houses in various streets, to his family and to two city churches; he also had property at Youlthorpe, Yorkshire. If the law allowed, the St. Denys’s churchwardens were to have a close and a garden behind the church in return for an annual obit for Holme and his wife, and for alms to the poor. His dwelling house, of which he was only a lessee, was to go in turn to his wife, to a daughter and to the parish. The Queen’s goldsmith, Robert Raines of London, was made guardian of another daughter. Holme named his wife executrix and residuary legatee, and the supervisors were Richard Goldthorp and two members of the Twenty-Four, James Symson and Christopher Hall. The will was proved on 5 Dec. 1558.

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. M. Palliser


  • 1. York Civic Recs. v (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cx), 87.
  • 2. Ibid. 109; Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 3. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 4. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York (Surtees Soc. lvii), 134n, 301n; F. Drake, Eboracum, 305.
  • 5. York archs. B11-22 passim; Yorks. St. Ch. Procs. ii (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xlv), 26; Drake, 305.
  • 6. Reg. Freemen, York, i (Surtees Soc. xcvi), 243, 249; York archs. B13, ff. 2, 29; LP Hen. VIII, ix; VCH York, 132; Yorks. St. Ch. Procs. ii. 26; Drake, 305.
  • 7. York Civic Recs. iv (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cviii), 78, 134-50, 164-9, 182-3; v(cx), 1, 2, 7-10, 23-25, 31, 87, 109-10, 129-40, 146-7, 167-8, 172, 180, 189; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. iv. 181; E179/217/110-11; Statutes, iv. 14, 15.
  • 8. York archs. B11, ff. 121-22; York Civic Recs. v. 189; York pub. lib. Skaife mss civic officials, ii. 382-4; Reg. Freemen, York, i. 267, 279; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264; York wills 15 (3), f. 229.