WRIGHT, William (by 1482-1543), 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 1482, s. of William Wright of York. m. Ursula Joye or Jone, of Riccall, ch.2

Offices Held

Member, Corpus Christi guild, York 1503, senior chamberlain 1509-10, sheriff 1511-12, member of the Twenty-Four 1512, master, merchant guild 1512-14, alderman 1514-d., mayor 1518-19, 1535-6; master, York archiepiscopal mint 1523.3


William Wright was the son of a York notary of the same name who died about 1523. He became a York freeman, as a merchant and notary, in 1508-9. Ten years later, he was living as a married man in the parish of Holy Trinity, King’s Court, but the lay subsidy of 1524 shows that he had then returned to his father’s parish of St. Michael-le-Belfrey, perhaps after his father’s death. By 1539 he had moved again, to the parish of St. Martin, Coney Street, where he remained until his death. Little has come to light about Wright’s life apart from his civic career. Presumably starting in trade, since he was a member of the York merchants’ guild until 1529 at least, in 1523 he contracted with Wolsey to become, at a rent of £5 a year, master and worker of silver moneys at the archbishop’s mint. It is not clear how long he held this office, which by 1529 seems to have passed to George Gale, but he had other strings to his bow: there was his profession of notary— he so described himself in his will—and perhaps the business of moneylending. His assessment of £16 in goods for the subsidy of 1524 carries a note that he was ‘decayed since the first levy by trusting of his goods to divers persons—£24, whereof he trusteth to be paid’.4

Wright rose rapidly in civic responsibility. He became senior chamberlain only a year after taking up his freedom, was at once entrusted with a mission to the Earl of Surrey in London and within five more years had risen to the bench of aldermen, on which he served nearly 30. Shortly after his election as alderman he was chosen to partner Alan Staveley in Parliament and when the city belatedly received the King’s letter requiring the re-election of the previous Members only Staveley was replaced, by the veteran William Nelson, perhaps because Thomas Drawswerd, Nelson’s former colleague, was the mayor-designate. Nelson and Wright were instructed to transact city business in London, which included appearing before the Exchequer. In 1518 Wright was the first mayor to be elected by the new method prescribed by letters patent of 1517, with ordinary citizens barred from the election. During his second term, in 1535-6, there was a great legal battle with the archbishop over the Bishopfields, common fields adjoining the city. An alderman until his death in 1543, in the previous year he was displaced as a warden through ‘impotency’.5

Wright made his will on 10 Apr. 1543, bequeathing his soul to the Trinity, the Virgin, St. Peter and all saints, and asking for burial in his parish church of St. Martin, Coney Street. It was an unusually brief will for an alderman, merely stipulating that his wife and children should have their thirds of his goods according to custom; even the number of children is not mentioned. He made his wife residuary legatee for the health of his soul and ended, ‘God send us all to be merry in Heaven, Amen. And my wife and children grace well to do, and my servants good masters’. The will was proved on 19 June 1543.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. M. Palliser


  • 1. York Civic Recs. iii. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cvi), 45-46.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York (Surtees Soc. lvii), 159n.
  • 3. Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York. 159, 219; Reg. Freemen, York, i (Surtees Soc. xcvi), 32; York archs. B 9-17 passim; C. Caine, Archiepiscopal Coins of York, 59-61.
  • 4. Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York, 159n; York chapter archs. L2(5)a, f. 134; Reg. Freemen, York, i. 232; Test. Ebor. iii (Surtees Soc. xlv), 370; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. iv. 170; LP Hen. VIII, xiv; York Mercers and Merchant Adventurers (Surtees Soc. cxxix), 130, 323; York wills 11, f. 680v; C. E. Challis, The Tudor Coinage, 40, 76, 311.
  • 5. York Civic Recs. iii. 27-28, 45-46, 66-67, 171-4; York archs. B9, ff. 78, 94; 16, f. 18v.
  • 6. York wills 11, f. 680v.