WILLIAMS, Thomas I (by 1518-79/90), of Oxford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1518. m. (1) by 1539, Elizabeth; (2) Margaret; 6s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Subsidy collector, Oxford 1544, bailiff 1546-7, assistant to mayor 1554, key keeper 1555, 1556, alderman 1557-d., mayor 1557-8, 1565-6, 1576-7.2


According to the visitation of Oxfordshire, Thomas Williams was of Dorset origin. There is no indication that he was related to his colleague Richard Williams. He appears on a list of ‘privileged persons which came to be freemen’ as ‘Thomas Williams a mercer and innholder servant to London’, presumably John London of New College, the monastic visitor. It is possible, therefore, that he was the Thomas Williams who on several occasions in 1538 and 1539 was appointed attorney to receive and deliver the premises of monastic houses which had surrendered to London, and he was probably the Thomas Williams, yeoman, who, with his wife Elizabeth, obtained the lease of a messuage from New College in June 1541. He was present when an inventory of church goods was taken at Osney on 19 May 1545.3

Williams was assessed for the subsidy in November 1543, paying 8s. on goods worth £12 in the north-west ward of Oxford. His goods were again valued at £12 in 1544, 1547 and 1550, at £13 in 1551 and at £20 in 1559; he paid 10s. towards a lottery on 1 Apr. 1568, as did other leading citizens. In 1547 he was again described as a mercer but six years later he was appointed one of three vintners for the city, in accordance with the Act of that year (7 Edw. VI, c.5); on 22 Jan. 1579 he joined the deputy vice-chancellor, the mayor and others in licensing the city’s alehouse-keepers.4

Williams was entrusted with several such special duties. He was given custody of the armoury in 1548, and with Thomas Mallinson he was among those who were to draw up indentures for a new fulling mill in 1555. He was paid 20s. on 1 Dec. 1565, during his second mayoralty, for charges in London, and in the following August received Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Oxford. On 19 Oct. 1574 he was one of those selected to attend the mayor before the Privy Council in connexion with a series of far-ranging disputes with the university.5

Williams’s Membership of Mary’s first Parliament was a natural step in his civic progression. Nothing is known for certain of his role in the House but on 22 Nov. 1553 a bill for the amendment of causeways and highways was committed to a Mr. Williams, either the Oxford Member or Sir John Williams; two years later Sir Humphrey Radcliffe secured privilege for one of his servants arrested at the suit of one T. Williams. Williams was not among the Members of the Parliament of October 1553 who opposed the initial measures towards the restoration of Catholicism, and while this is not conclusive evidence as to his sympathies at the time these became apparent shortly before his death. In 1577 he was included in a return of Catholics in Oxford with his wife, his son Alexander and his daughter Anne, then the wife of Dr. Roger Marbeck, a physician and former provost of Oriel. Williams himself, although a church-goer, was described as ‘a common receiver of professed enemies’ among the Catholic gentry of Oxfordshire and was said to be worth 1,000 marks. Moreover, his will, undated but proved on 29 Jan. 1580, establishes that he was the father of Thomas Williams, one of the earliest English Jesuits, to whom he left ‘if he be alive £10 if the laws of the realm will permit it’. His lease of the Star inn was to go to Alexander after the death of his wife Margaret or when she should cease to dwell there. He left an embroidered pall to the city, £5 to the poor of Oxford, an angel apiece to John Kennall, archdeacon of Oxford, and Thomas Glasier, rector of Exeter College ‘to make merry among the fellows’. He owed his son John £6 13s.8d. ‘which he paid for the redeeming of certain books that his brother Ralph Williams sold of Mr. London’s which he must restore to be laid up with the rest of Mr. London’s books’. Ralph had joined his brother Thomas in exile by 1581 and another brother, Edward, was by 1594 in the service of Cardinal Allen, having formerly been in that of Ralph Sheldon. Williams named his wife Margaret residuary legatee and executrix. She was buried in St. Thomas’s church on 8 June 1585.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Surv. Oxf. ii. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. n.s. xx), 159; H. Foley, Jesuit Recs. iv. 572; Bodl. wills Oxon. 186, ff. 113-14.
  • 2. E179/162/229; Oxf. Recs. 188, 219, 260, 261, 268, 313, 383.
  • 3. Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 312; Oxf. Univ. Arch. B27, p. 2; LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xiv; Surv. Oxf. ii. 159; Oxon. Rec. Soc. i. 135.
  • 4. E179/162/224, 229, 261, 282, 289, 318; Oxf. Recs. 270, 321, 400; Liber Albus Civ. Oxon. ed. Ellis, no. 354.
  • 5. Oxf. Recs. 192, 224, 294, 299, 313, 314, 357, 362-5; APC, viii. 305, 376-86; ix. 350, 352-3.
  • 6. CJ, i. 31, 42; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 97-98, 101, 112-13; DNB (Marbeck, Roger); Bodl. wills Oxon. 186, ff. 113-14; Foley, iv. 572; SP12/150/95, 249/64, 92, 96; Recusant Hist. xiii. 299-300; Worcs. Recusant, xxv. 2-4; Antiqs. Oxf. iii. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxxvii), 250, 252.