WEBBE, alias KELLOWE, William (by 1466-1523), of Salisbury, Wilts.

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 1466. m. (1) Joan, wid. of one Stone ?of Salisbury, 1s. William Webbe II 1da., (2) Edith, wid. of Robert Long (d.1501) of Steeple Ashton and of one Morgan; (3) Joan.2

Offices Held

Member of the Forty-Eight, Salisbury by 1487, of the Twenty-Four 1487, jt. keeper of the keys 1488, constable, Market ward 1488, assessor 1492, 1498, city 1497, auditor 1495, 1497-1500, 1504, 1506-7, 1509, 1513, 1517-18, 1521, mayor 1495-6, 1511-12, 1513-14, 1522-d.; commr. subsidy 1496, 1512, 1514, 1515.3


According to a statement in his will, William Webbe was christened in the church of St. Lawrence at Shaftesbury. His parentage is unknown, but his use of the alias ‘Kellowe’ in his will raises the possibility that he was an illegitimate offspring of one of the Keilway family of Dorset and thus perhaps related in blood to Robert Keilway I. If Webbe was a bastard it did not impede his progress, for by the end of the 15th century he had become one of the richest merchants of Salisbury. He may have started his career in Southampton, an important outlet for the Wiltshire cloth trade, where he built the so-called Church House in Crane Street; in 1509 a pardon was issued to John Stone of Salisbury and William James of Southampton and Salisbury, factors and attorneys of Thomas Coke I, William Hawkins and William Webbe. Poole was probably another port through which Webbe exported his goods, since both his son and grandson did so, while his daughter married a merchant of that town.4

Webbe performed many special duties for the corporation of Salisbury and during his second mayoralty he presided over the compilation of rules for public order to be approved by the King’s justices. His first three terms as mayor ended by his being paid £17, £19 12s.5d. and £18 4s.8d. respectively, of which £10 was for his pension and the remainder for other charges. He appears to have been reluctant to undertake a fourth term, perhaps because of failing health, for his election on 2 Nov. 1522 was followed three days later by a resolution that ‘for various considerations’ he need not hold the office again.5

Webbe and Coke claimed payment at the statutory rate of 2s. a day for their service in the Parliament of 1504 but when both men were re-elected on 2 Jan. 1510 they were promised only 1s. a day. It was not customary for the mayor of Salisbury to be returned to Parliament, and this may explain why Webbe was not chosen when these reduced wages were again offered in 1512.6

Webbe made his will on 13 July 1523, describing himself as ‘William Kellowe or William Webbe of the city of New Sarum, mercer and merchant’ and asking to be buried in the church of St. Thomas, where his three wives already lay. He made bequests to his daughter Cecily, the wife of Thomas White of Poole, and her three children, as well as to the children of his second wife by her two earlier marriages. The chief beneficiary and sole executor was his son William who received a dwelling house, shop, warehouses and five tenements ‘by the water lane in Castle Street’ at Salisbury. Thomas White and another ‘son-in-law’, John Stone, were named overseers, with £10 and £5 apiece. Webbe died some three months before the close of his mayoralty, for the will was proved on 14 Aug. and his death was noted when the assembly met to elect a successor five days later.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Salisbury corp. ledger B, f. 220v.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 298; PCC 12 Bodfelde, 48 Blamyr.
  • 3. Ledger B, ff. 162v, 164v, 165v, 166, 177, 191, 192, 198, 198v, 201, 201v, 203, 204v, 212v, 215, 217, 219v, 224v, 229, 229v, 239, 241, 247v, 250v; Rot. Parl. vi. 518; Statutes, iii. 80, 113, 117.
  • 4. PCC 10, 12 Bodfelde; VCH Wilts. vi. 126-8; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 526; A. A. Ruddock, Italian Merchants and Shipping in Southampton, 1270-1600 (Soton Rec. Ser. i), 145; LP Hen. VIII, i.
  • 5. Ledger B, ff. 169, 173v, 174v, 181v, 192v, 195, 200, 209, 224, 225, 226, 227, 231v, 250v, 251.
  • 6. Ibid. ff. 211v, 212, 220v, 225.
  • 7. PCC 12 Bodfelde, 30 Hogen; ledger B, f. 252v.