STANLEY, Sir William (1528-81), of Hornby Castle, Lancs.

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. 1528, 1st s. of Thomas Stanley, 2nd Lord Monteagle, by 1st w. Mary, da. of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. m. (1) Anne, da. of Sir James Leyburn of Cunswick, Westmld., 2da.; (2) by 15 Sept. 1575, Anne, da. of Sir John Spencer of Althorp, Northants. Kntd. 22 Feb. 1547; suc. fa. as 3rd Lord Monteagle 25 Aug. 1560.1

Offices Held

?Commr. chantries, Notts. and Derbys. 1548, musters, Lancs. 1573, Lancaster 1580; j.p.q. Som. 1564-77 or later.2


As heir to the barony of Monteagle, Sir William Stanley can have needed no other recommendation than that of his lineage to become junior knight of the shire in 1555; the senior seat went to his kinsman, Sir Thomas Stanley, a younger son of the head of the family, Edward, 3rd Earl of Derby. Of Sir William Stanley’s brief career in the Commons all that has come to light is that on 20 Nov. 1555 the House ordered that his servant Thomas Bossevile, who had been attached in London for debt at the suit of John Ayer, should have privilege.3

Early in 1558 the 2nd Lord Monteagle was ordered to levy 150 men to be sent as a reinforcement to Berwick under the command of his son. On 14 Feb. 1558 father and son were rebuked by the Privy Council for levying this force as far as Somerset and Devon; the Council had intended that they should be drawn only from such shires as were under the lieutenancy of the north. Later in 1558 Stanley took part in a raid into Scotland.4

The Monteagle interest in Somerset and Devon accrued from the 2nd Lord’s marriage to Mary Brandon. On 12 Dec. 1553 Henry and Frances Grey, Duke and Duchess of Suffolk, Lady Margaret Clifford (later wife of the 4th Earl of Derby), and Sir William Stanley had licence as coheirs to enter upon the lands of Henry Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; the greater part of Stanley’s share seems to have lain in Lincolnshire but there were properties, including advowsons, scattered throughout the country. On 20 June 1561, as Lord Monteagle, he had livery of his father’s lands. Soon afterwards, and mainly in May 1563, Monteagle and his wife received a large number of licences to alienate property, chiefly in Lincolnshire. Most of these licences related to the Suffolk inheritance but Monteagle also disposed of part of his patrimony. He had begun to do so before his father’s death and apparently without his consent: this may explain why he is not mentioned in the father’s will.5

One such Monteagle estate was sold to the crown in consideration of a debt of £417. This is one of the few indications of the reason for these sales. In 1571 the Privy Council began to press Monteagle to pay an annuity of 40 marks which he had promised John Pistor alias Baker on Pistor’s yielding his pensioner’s office to Monteagle’s brother-in-law Richard Zouche of Stavordale, Somerset; four years later the Council was ordering him to pay the annuity to Pistor’s daughter Grace. The Monteagle inheritance itself was not a very rich one: it has been classed in the next to lowest of eight income-groupings of the peerage in 1559. Perhaps Monteagle’s failure to hold office or to sit on more than a handful of commissions was due to some defect in his personality, although nothing of this sort appears to have been recorded. Like most of the Stanleys he was a Catholic, but that would have favoured his employment in Mary’s reign and not seriously hindered it in the early years of Elizabeth’s. He was to attend the House of Lords regularly until 1576, when he appointed as his proxy first Lord Burghley and then, in 1580, Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex. Little is known of his activity there but he voted against the bill for the consecrating of bishops in 1566 and had a bill concerning tenancy committed to him in 1572. On 10 Dec. 1560, 5 Sept. 1562, and 28 Nov. 1571 he received protections.6

Monteagle died on 10 Nov. 1581. When his inquisition post mortem was taken a year later his only surviving child Elizabeth was aged 24 or more and married to her kinsman Edward Parker, 12th Lord Morley. His widow married Henry Compton, 1st Lord Compton, and after his death Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth from fa.’s i.p.m. and date of parents’ marriage, CP. Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 293; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. Gentry 1529-58’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1959), 617.
  • 2. CPR, 1548-9, p. 137 1563-6, p. 27; Watson, 617; APC, xii. 8.
  • 3. CJ, i. 45.
  • 4. APC, vi. 244 268; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 475.
  • 5. CPR, 1553-4, p. 5; 1555-7, p. 439; 1560-3, pp. 118, 204, 489-90, 549-50, 552-3, 557, 562, 581-2, 584-5, 600, 602; 1563-6, pp. 47, 137, 200; 1566-9, p. 330; 1569-72, pp. 295, 455; VCH Lancs. viii. 98n; Surtees Soc. xxvi. 113-16.
  • 6. CPR, 1558-60, p. 323; 1560-3, p. 265; 1563-6, p. 200; 1569-72, p. 446; APC, viii. 9, 137, 239, 320, 331; L. Stone, Crisis of the Aristocracy, 729, 760; Cath. Rec. Soc. xiii. 90; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 286; LJ, i. 582 seq.
  • 7. C142/198/55.