WHITE, Sir John (d.1573), of London and Aldershot, Hants.

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 Robert White, merchant, of Farnham, Surr. by Katherine, da. of John Wells. m. (1) Sybil, da. of Robert White of South Warnborough, Hants by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Englefield, 4s. 3da.; (2) 1558, Catherine, da. of John Soday, apothecary to Queen Mary, and wid. of Ralph Greenway, alderman and grocer of London, 2s. 1da. Kntd. 1564.

Offices Held

Treasurer, St. Bartholomew’s hospital 1549; alderman and auditor, London 1554, sheriff 1556-7, ld. mayor 1563-4; master, Grocer’s Co. 1555-6, 1560-1; president, Bethlehem and Bridewell hospitals 1568-d.; surveyor-gen. of London hospitals 1572-3.2


The branches of the White family to be found in Hampshire and Surrey in the sixteenth century were descended from Robert White, a merchant and a mayor of the staple of Calais, who died in 1461/2, having purchased lands in Farnham, Surrey and South Warnborough, Hampshire. White himself had a younger brother, John, who became bishop of Lincoln and subsequently bishop of Winchester during Queen Mary’s reign. Bishop White, a resolute pursuer of heretics, voted against the supremacy bill in the House of Lords in Elizabeth’s first Parliament. After preaching at Mary’s funeral he was imprisoned in the Tower. On his release he retired first to his brother’s house in London and then to that of Sir Thomas White, another Catholic sympathizer, at South Warnborough. White himself, however, appears to have had no strong religious convictions, for his name appears on the pardon roll both at the beginning of Mary’s reign, and at the beginning of Elizabeth’s. A successful merchant in the Spanish trade, his second wife was of Spanish descent, and her brother, Ralph Soday, had acted in Spain as factor for her first husband, Ralph Greenway, another grocer. A Mr. White, merchant of London, was in Spain in August 1562. In 1570 White was among those appointed to hear the complaints of two English merchants engaged in the Spanish trade. Like most merchants, however, he probably did not confine himself to one market or one class of merchandise. In 1554 he and Sir Henry Hoberthorne were granted a licence to export 100,000 pounds of bell-metal. He also lent money to the Crown, and built up a landed estate. As early as 1548 he and a relative, Stephen Kirton, were granted Farnham chantry for £407 4s., and he subsequently purchased other lands in Devon, Kent, Surrey, Shropshire and Wiltshire.3

White was first returned to Parliament in 1566, when he sat instead of London’s new recorder Thomas Bromley. It was traditional for the recorder to occupy one of London’s seats in Parliament, and therefore Bromley seems to have been automatically returned after the death of the former recorder, although he was already representing Guildford in this Parliament. The Commons, however, decided that Bromley should remain Member for Guildford and that there should be a by-election in London. On 31 Oct. 1566 White was present at a conference with the Lords on the Queen’s marriage and the succession, and in the Parliament of 1571 he served on four committees: concerning the subsidy (7 Apr.), fraudulent conveyances (11 Apr.), Bristol (19 Apr.) and the river Lea (26 May).4

On 29 May 1573 White made his will, proved by his son-in-law Lawrence Hussey, and his sons Robert and William, on 20 Aug. After a short conventional preamble he expressed a desire to be buried in the parish church of Aldershot, where a ‘discreet learned man’ was to preach a sermon, either at the funeral or on a holiday shortly afterwards. According to London custom his goods were to be divided into three parts: a third for his wife, a third for his children as yet unprovided for, and the remainder for personal bequests. 13s.4d.was bequeathed to each of his maidservants, 40s. to the poor of Aldershot, £4 to the poor of Cornhill ward, and £4 to the prisoners in Ludgate, Newgate, and the two counters. The overseer was a fellow-grocer, William Townerowe. Sir John died on 9 June 1573 in London, and was buried, as he had requested, at Aldershot.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; Folger V. b. 298.
  • 2. PCC 10 Ayloffe; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 12-13, 82; Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 177; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. cix, cx), 7; Machyn Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 172, 405; T. S. Willan, Muscovy Merchants, 99-100; A. B. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 74, 131, 412; ii. 34.
  • 3. DNB (White, John); Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 12-13, 81-2; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 64-7; 1550-3, pp. 44, 117; 1553-4, pp. 408, 419; 1558-60, p. 171; 1560-3, p. 300; 1563-6, p. 431; HMC Hatfield, i. 83; Willan, 99-100; CSP For. 1562, p. 214; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 111; APC, vii. 406-7.
  • 4. Beaven, i. 275; D’Ewes, 126, 159, 160, 162, 189; CJ, i. 83, 84, 93.
  • 5. PCC 40 Peter; C142/165/174; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 157.