LE SELLIER, Jean (by 1471-1517), of Tournai.

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 1471.2

Offices Held

Juré, Tournai 1492-3, 1505-6, 1509-10, échevin 1496-7, juré ‘boursier’ 1498-1501, prévôt 1507-8, 1512-13, maire 1508-9, juré commis au fiscq’ 1510-11; jt. (with Thomas Hert) comptroller of works, Tournai by Nov. 1515, jt. (with William Pawne) commr. works by Mar. 1516; gent. usher of the chamber 1516.3


As senior prévôt of Tournai, Jean le Sellier was the most notable member of the delegation which parleyed with the besieging English army in September 1513; according to Hall, it was he who expressed the citizens’ willingness to become subjects of Henry VIII. He himself had no hesitation in siding with the conquerors and this must have been one of his chief qualifications as a Member during the last session of the Parliament of 1512. The decision to enfranchise Tournai may well have been taken and announced while the King was still in the city; it was adverted to in a royal letter of 18 Nov. 1513 but a month later the city’s four councils had not been able to choose Members. That le Sellier was one of those elected is known from a reference to him by Wolsey’s vicar-general in Tournai, Richard Sampson, as having been ‘in England at the Parliament, for Tournai’, and as ‘owing his faithful service’ to the minister. It is not known who the other Member was or even if there were only two. Various decisions affecting Tournai were taken while the Parliament was in session and an Act was passed regulating the administration of justice in the city (5 Hen. VIII, c.1). There is nothing to show whether Tournai was represented in the Parliament of 1515, but le Sellier himself can scarcely have been re-elected as he was in the city five days after the opening of the first session.4

Le Sellier’s loyalty was acknowledged by the 1st Earl of Worcester, who suggested from Tournai in August 1515 that he should be ‘put in some authority’ there; Worcester none the less judged it inexpedient to tell the Tournaisien that he was charged with inquiring into the possibility of running down the English garrison. Le Sellier was too deeply committed to the occupation to welcome any weakening of it: when Sir Richard Jerningham sent him to confer with Wolsey ‘of the secrets of Tournai’, he called le Sellier ‘the best Englishman that is born within Tournai’, but added that on this account ‘he is not a little hated among the Tournaisiens’. Le Sellier paid several visits to England and at home was employed on the vast scheme of works: in 1516 he was rewarded by being made a gentleman usher of the chamber and given a pension of £20 a year. His candid letter of 22 Dec. 1516 to Sir Edward Poynings reveals his concern for the bishopric of Tournai, disputed between Wolsey and Louis Guillard, the bishop-elect at the conquest. He did not live to see, or suffer by, the return of the city to France, his death being reported by Sampson to Wolsey on 6 Oct. 1517.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. G. Cruickshank


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; Cott. Galba D5, f. 366.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 3. Archives de l’Etat à Tournai, T14; LP Hen. VIII, ii.
  • 4. Hall, Chron. 565; C. G. Cruickshank, ‘Parlty. rep. of Tournai’, EHR, lxxxiii. 775-6; Eng. Occupation of Tournai, 1513-19, pp. 59-61; LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, ii; SP1/11, f. 106, 12, ff. 84, 150, 14, ff. 205-10, 211-12, 15, f. 21.