PAYCOCK, Robert (by 1513-70), of York.

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 1513. m. (1) Anne (d.1557), da. of George Gale of York; (2) Anne, wid. of Ralph Babthorpe of Osgodby; at least 5s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Junior chamberlain, York 1537-8, constable, merchant guild 1539-40, 1541-2, master 1542-3, 1563-5, sheriff 1540-1, member of the Twenty-Four 1541, alderman 1543-d., mayor 1548-9, 1567-8.2


Robert Paycock, whose parentage has not been traced, was probably not a native of York, where he was admitted a freeman during 1533-4. His progress in civic office was matched by his rise in the city’s merchant guild. His assessment for subsidy, as a parishioner of All Saints, Pavement, on £40 in goods in 1546 and £50 in the following year reveals him as one of the 12 richest York laymen. All but one of his recorded trading activities involved the shipment of lead either to London or overseas, and it was he who in 1550 secured for York an export licence for lead. To the yield of trade he added that of his first marriage, to a daughter of his wealthiest fellow-citizen.3

Paycock reached the bench of aldermen only ten years after becoming a freeman, and five years later he was elected mayor. His year of office saw the excision of Marian plays from the city’s Corpus Christi cycle, as well as the uniting of many York parishes and the sale of redundant churches; in the next year, when his father-in-law was mayor, he obtained one such church very cheaply. When with William Holme he attended the first session of Mary’s last Parliament, a valuable gift and tax concession were secured for the city. Neither was able to attend the second session, both being struck by the disease then afflicting York: Holme died but Paycock recovered. During his long service as alderman, he seems to have been involved in more quarrels with other councillors, and the subject of more slanders, than most aldermen, but the quarrels are difficult to follow—in 1562 ‘Proud Paycock’ was taunted with cowardice, and in 1563 with being ‘against the common wealth’. He died on 15 June 1570 and was buried, as he had asked to be, in All Saints church, Pavement, where his brother William was rector.4

By his will of 10 July 1569 Paycock left to his wife and children various York properties, including his dwelling house in Coppergate, and houses in the Pavement, Peaseholme and the Water Lane. He named five of his six surviving children executors and residuary legatees, and his son William, his brother William and his ‘cousin’ Gregory Paycock supervisors. His Protestant-sounding bequest of his soul to God the Father and Son in the hope of salvation only through the merits of Christ’s passion, accords with the upbringing of the children of his first marriage but not with the archbishop of York’s dismissal of him in 1564 as ‘no favourer of religion’ or the Catholicism which his second wife was to profess until she, too, conformed in 1581. The will was proved on 20 June 1570.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. M. Palliser


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Vis. North (Surtees Soc. cxxii), 61; Yorks. Par. Reg. Soc. c.102; York wills 19, f. 118; Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York (Surtees Soc. lvii), 301n; Reg. Freemen, York, ii (Surtees Soc. cii), 11; J. C. H. Aveling, Cath. Recusancy in York 1558-1791 (Cath. Rec. Soc. monograph ii), 332-3.
  • 2. York archs. B13-24 passim; York Mercers and Merchant Adventurers (Surtees Soc. cxxix), 136, 153-4, 167, 323-4.
  • 3. Reg. Freemen, York, i (Surtees Soc. xcvi), 252; York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife mss civic officials, ii. 553; E179/217/110, 111; APC, iv. 149; York Civic Recs. v (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cx), 47.
  • 4. York Civic Recs. iv (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cviii), 95, 97, 120, 170-83; v. 1-10, 17, 29, 67-68, 172, 189; vi (ibid. cxii), 45, 53, 120, 123-32; York archs. B22, ff. 121-2; Yorks. Par. Reg. Soc. c.104; York wills 19, f. 118; F. Drake, Eboracum, 294.
  • 5. York wills 19, f. 118; Aveling, 332-3; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 72; J. J. Cartwright, Chapters in Yorks. Hist. 151; Reg. Freemen, York, ii. 3, 11.