WILLIAMS, Richard (by 1516-79), of Oxford.

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 1516. m. Joan (?Barton, sis. of John Barton), s.p.1

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Oxford 1547-8, bailiff 1550-1, key keeper 1554, 1557, assistant to mayor 1557, subsidy collector 1559, mayor Mar.-Sept. 1565, 1571-2, 1578-d., coroner 1568, alderman 1578-d.2


There were several men of this name in Oxford including in the previous generation two Johns, a brewer and a glover, either of whom might have been Richard Williams’s father. No relationship has been established between Richard and Thomas Williams I, and neither man mentions the other in his will.3

Richard Williams was admitted a freeman in 1536-7 and assessed for subsidy on goods valued at £6 in 1543, 1544 and 1547, at £12 in 1551 and at £9 in 1559. These assessments were low compared with those of other citizens who were returned to Parliament, although in 1568 Williams paid 10s. towards a lottery, as did all the other leading freemen. His property acquisitions also suggest that he became more prosperous in his later years. He occupied a garden belonging to Christ Church in St. Aldate’s parish in 1548; leased an orchard for 21 years at an annual rent of 26s.8d. in 1565; with Roger Taylor leased the site of the former Greyfriars in October 1571 for 1,500 years; was the tenant of a fishery near the former Blackfriars in 1573/74; and, with his wife, leased a ‘great garden’ for 21 years in 1576. Designated ‘generosus’ on his return to Parliament and ‘gentleman’ in a grant of 1568, Williams was a baker by trade. When all bakers of the city subscribed towards a ‘load horse’ in 1572, he gave 5s., the second largest sum.4

Williams was as active as any of his fellows in the city’s service. In 1554 and 1555 he was appointed to lease the stands of St. Frideswide’s fair. In 1562 he was among those who visited the son of Dr. George Owen at Godstow to settle a dispute over Port Meadow, and in the following April he was ordered to inspect the road which was being made there. When the mayor and his 12 assistants, with 24 associates, voted in a secret ballot for the new mayor in September 1562, the candidates with most support proved to be Ralph Flaxney and Richard Williams, of whom the first was chosen. In March 1565 Williams was elected mayor in place of William Matthew, who had died in office: it was the first of his three terms, the last being cut short by his own death. On 22 Jan. 1579 he joined the deputy vice-chancellor and others, including Thomas Williams, in licensing the city’s alehouse-keepers.5

Richard Williams’s fellow-Member John Barton was also his brother-in-law: Barton probably married Joan Williams. Both men stood surety for their precursor William Tylcock when he was fined 53s.4d. in Hilary term 1558 for having departed from the Parliament of November 1554 without licence, and Tylcock and Williams were supervisors and witnesses of Barton’s will.6

The customs of Oxford allowed the mayor to make one of his sons a freeman for a gilded penny. On 9 Sept. 1572 Williams, who had no children, was offered the chance to prefer one of his kinsmen or else a servant named Evans for 4s.6d. and on 20 Aug. 1579 it was agreed that he could prefer anyone for a total fee of 14s. He made his will on 27 Jan. 1579. His charitable bequests included £20 to the Oxford charity known as Dame Margaret Northern’s coffer and two silver tankards and a dozen silver spoons to the city. Several members of the Barton and Sutton families were among the beneficiaries and the executors and residuary legatees were William Frere, Joan Atkinson, widow of John Barton and described as the testator’s sister, and Robert and Agnes Sutton. The date of probate is not known but, according to Wood, Williams was buried on 21 Sept. 1579 and brass effigies of him and his wife were placed in St. Aldate’s church.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Antiqs. Oxf. iii. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxxvii), 130.)
  • 2. Oxf. Recs. 189, 203, 227, 266, 308, 324, 338, 394, 398; Oxf. City Docs. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xviii), 113; CPR, 1566-9, p. 316.
  • 3. Oxf. Recs. 58, 103, 174, 189, 204, 220, 349.
  • 4. Ibid. 149, 300, 309, 321, 347, 355, 378; E179/162/224, 229, 261, 289, 318; Liber Albus Civ. Oxon. ed. Ellis, nos. 355, 362; Surv. Oxf. ii. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. n.s. xx), 1-2.
  • 5. Oxf. Recs. 222, 228, 262, 294, 296, 303, 308, 375, 399.
  • 6. KB27/1185; PCC 23 Sheffelde.
  • 7. Oxf. Recs. 208, 342, 404; Bodl. wills Oxon. 186, ff. 105-6; Antiqs. Oxf. iii. 130.