CAVENDISH, William I (c.1530-72), of Grimston and Trimley St. Martin, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1530, 1st s. of Sir Richard Gernon alias Cavendish, and bro. of Richard Cavendish. m. Mary, da. of Thomas, 1st Baron Wentworth of Nettlestead, Suff., 3 or 4s. inc. Thomas Cavendish 4da. suc. fa. 1554.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. from c.1559.


There were several branches of the Cavendish or Candysshe family living in Suffolk in 1559, and William was a popular christian name among them. However, on a balance of probabilities it was William Cavendish of Grimston rather than his namesake of Cavendish who sat for Suffolk in 1559. A substantial landowner, assessed for the 1568 subsidy on £50 in lands, he was related to a number of influential local families. As three generations earlier one of his ancestors had married a Brandon, his father Sir Richard was a coheir of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. William’s marriage brought him into the family circle of the leading Suffolk magnate of the period, and through his maternal grandmother he was connected with the Grimstons.2

Outside Suffolk Cavendish owned estates, part of the Brandon inheritance, in Lincolnshire and Warwickshire. Soon after his father’s death he began to sell these lands or to exchange them for property in Norfolk and Suffolk; one of the largest sales, in 1561, included the house and site of Stoneley monastery, Warwickshire, with extensive lands formerly belonging to it.3

Cavendish died in his early forties, without having played a prominent part in county administration, though he was a justice of the peace for over 10 years. Information about his character and private life is scanty, but it is clear he was sufficiently in sympathy with the puritan cause to join his brother-in-law Sir Robert Wingfield in signing the petition of 1567 on behalf of John Lawrence, a roving preacher. His will, drawn up on 15 Apr. 1572, the day before his death, left all movable property to his wife. His mother was to receive £110 a year from the manor of Grimston and other Suffolk lands, together with a weekly supply of ‘four couple of duck and mallard and four couple of conies’ towards her housekeeping. There were legacies of 500 marks to the eldest daughter Mary, and 400 marks to each of her three younger sisters. Only one son, Thomas, is mentioned in the will. According to the heralds’ visitations there were two or three older sons, but they presumably died during their father’s lifetime. Thomas, aged about 12, was declared the legal heir.

Cavendish died leaving a number of small debts unpaid, and several conveyances of land and house-property only half completed. The will gave details of the amounts due, down to ‘£4 to the executors of Gaige the butcher’. Two executors were appointed, one at least, John Gilgate, being a servant of Cavendish; Sir Robert Wingfield was the only supervisor.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C142/104/95; E150/650/14; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 12-13; PCC 28 Daper; W. A. Copinger, Suff. Manors, iii. 98; CPR, 1554-5, p. 309.
  • 2. Suff. Green Bks. xii. 100; CPR, 1560-3, p. 20; Vis. Suff. loc. cit.
  • 3. CPR, 1555-7, pp. 127-8; 1560-3, pp. 20, 614; C142/164/99; Wards 7/14/12.
  • 4. Collinson thesis, 870 n. 1; PCC 28 Daper; C142/162/151.