KILLIGREW, William (d.1622), of Hanworth, Mdx. and Lothbury, London.

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

5th s. of John Killigrew of Arwennack and bro. of Henry and John I. m. aft. 1611, Margaret or Margery, da. of Thomas Saunders of Uxbridge, Mdx., wid. of Robert Wolman or Woolman and of John Leigh, at least 1s. Robert 1da. Kntd 1603.

Offices Held

Groom of privy chamber by 1576; feodary and escheator, duchy of Cornw. and constable Launceston castle 1576; farmer of the profits from seals in Queen’s bench and common pleas 1578; j.p.q. Cornw. c.1583-7; commr. musters, Cornw. by 1582; receiver, Devon and Cornw. by 1588; commr. Madre de Dios goods 1592, Cadiz goods 1596; acting treasurer of the chamber 1595; chamberlain of the Exchequer 1605-8.


Killigrew presumably owed his parliamentary seat at Grantham to his relative by marriage, Sir William Cecil. At Helston and Penryn his own family influence was paramount, and his return at Fowey was probably arranged by his cousins the Treffrys. Killigrew owned little land in the county, and he was removed from the commission of the peace for non-residence. Furthermore the depredations of the two John Killigrews meant that the family was held in low esteem in Cornwall at this time. It is therefore ironic that Killigrew was the first of his family to attain knight of the shire status, his election being due, it must be inferred, to his and his brother Henry’s standing at court. Although not mentioned by name in the parliamentary journals, Killigrew could have served on committees in 1597 concerning enclosures (5 Nov.), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), the penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.) and the subsidy (15 Nov.), to which all the knights of the shire were appointed. On 8 Dec. 1597 the knights for Cornwall were appointed to a cloth committee. Killigrew had a town house in London and leased the manor of Hanworth, where he was visited by both Elizabeth and James I.

As far as his court career is concerned Killigrew first comes to notice when he was sent to France in November 1562 and again in the following spring, to try to obtain the release of his brother Henry. This led to his being named, about 1564, as ‘fit to be employed in foreign messages’, and during the 1570s he occasionally took letters to Paris, or to his brother, then ambassador to Scotland. Until he was made a groom of the chamber he was probably living on the bounty of his brother Henry, whose interests he no doubt looked after in return. Once he achieved office he would have had many opportunities to make money, soon to be enhanced by a lucrative grant of the profits from sealing documents in the Queen’s bench and common pleas. Like Henry, William Killigrew used his influence on behalf of Henry Neville after the Essex rising. Killigrew’s career continued into the Stuart period, and he died in 1622, being buried near to his brother Henry in St. Margaret’s, Lothbury.

Vivian, Vis. Cornw, 268; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 21; A. C. Miller, Sir Henry Killigrew, passim; E. K. Chambers, Eliz. Stage, i. 65; iv. 113-17; SP40/1/149; E351/541/150, 167; CSP Dom. 1591-4, pp. 547. 559; 1603-10, pp. 10, 436; CPR, 1563-6, p. 163; Lansd. 24, f. 62; 25, ff. 67, 83; 55, f. 19; 56, f. 168; 59, f. 43; 70, ff. 66, 98; 121, f. 66; 683, f. 49; D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561, 569; PCC 96 Savile.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler