GAMULL, William (aft. 1571-1643), of Bridge Street, St. John's, Chester.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. aft. 1571, 2nd s. of Edmund Gamull (d.1616) of Chester, alderman and merchant and his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Case of Eaton, Cheshire; bro. of Thomas*. m. (1) Eleanor (d.1615), da. of William Cotgreave of Chester, alderman, 2s. 2da.; (2) Francesca, da. of Anthony Grosvenor of Dodleston, Cheshire.1 d. Apr. 1643.2 sig. Will[ia]m Gamull.

Offices Held

Freeman, Chester 1598,3 common cllr. aft. 1598-1602, sheriff 1602-3,4 sheriffs’-peer 1603-5, alderman 1605-d.,5 mayor 1608-9, 1620-1,6 auditor 1616, 1619;7 adm. of the Dee, 1608-9, 1620-1; j.p. Chester 1608-d.;8 commr. subsidy, Chester 1621, 1624,9 sewers, 1627,10 recusants, Northern counties 1635, 1638.11


Gamull received none of the benefits of the gentleman’s education bestowed on his elder brother, Thomas, but instead followed his father into commerce. He appears to have mainly traded in French wines, importing at least 44 tuns from Gascony in 1601.12 Ten years later, Gamull conducted the city’s negotiations in London for obtaining the farm of the impost on French wines in Chester. He spent nearly £100 during ten weeks including £12 for legal advice paid to his brother, Thomas, Chester’s recorder. Gamull was not only interested in the wine trade, for in 1626 he was granted the right to ship 240 dozen calf-skins. On other occasions he was recorded as shipping cottons, fustians, stuffs and rope.13

A prominent figure in Chester’s municipal affairs, Gamull undertook the onerous position of sheriff in 1602-3 which entailed thrice weekly sittings of the Sheriffs’ Court as well as presiding over the Passage Court every five weeks.14 He stood for alderman in 1603 but received only one vote.15 Two years later he was successful, and in 1608 was elected mayor after receiving over 200 votes.16 In 1620 he was elected mayor again, easily defeating his closest rival by 286 votes to 170.17 Gamull’s second mayoral term was notable for the bitterly contested 1620 parliamentary election in which he and his allies were defeated by the powerful Whitby family. Gamull, who presided over the election, supported Sir Thomas Edmondes*, a nominee of the Prince’s Council, and Chester’s recorder, Edward Whitby. On the day of the election, however, Whitby outmanoeuvred Gamull and got himself returned together with his puritan ally, alderman John Ratcliffe.18 Six years later, Gamull and Whitby put aside their differences to serve together as Chester’s Members. Gamull appears to have made little impact on the proceedings of the 1626 Parliament. He was not recorded as speaking and was appointed to only one committee, concerned with a bill to restrain the making of malt at unseasonable times (9 March).19 While at Westminster Gamull and Whitby asked the corporation for a list of the most prominent citizens and their subsidy assessments so that the city could be rated for the Privy Seal Loan. The assembly sent the names but entreated its Members not to make the list public and to endeavour to lessen Chester’s contribution.20

Like many corporation officials, Gamull benefited from his civic status, leasing the fee farm of Newgate and the ‘old tower’ adjoining it for 33s. 4d. p.a. in 1618.21 He also relied on his civic position when he complained that an ironmonger had illegally extended his dwelling onto corporation land on Bridge Street, thereby blocking the light and ‘prospect’ of Gamull’s house.22 His petition was symptomatic of a testy character. In 1619 he began a long dispute with a minor Cheshire gentleman named Roger Hurleston over the order of municipal processions in Chester. Gamull claimed precedence as an alderman and former mayor, and argued that his wife should enjoy a similar superiority over that of his rival. When Hurleston contested these claims, Gamull petitioned the Norroy King of Arms, enclosing half a hundredweight of Cheshire cheese. The heralds found in Gamull’s favour in regard to his personal status, but they noted that a wife’s position ought to reflect her husband’s lineage, not his office. Gamull was not satisfied, and later proved that his pedigree dated from the reign of Henry III and was older than Hurleston’s.23

On the outbreak of Civil War Gamull evidently supported the king. In September 1642 he was appointed to search the houses of three suspected parliamentarian sympathizers, one of whom was Sir William Brereton, 1st Bt.*, for arms.24 The same month, when the king and Prince Charles were in Chester, he lent the city £10 in advance of a levy.25 However, Gamull’s support for the royalists was cut short by his death in St. Mary’s parish, Chester, in April 1643. Buried in St. John’s, where he lived, his coffin was carried by aldermen of the city preceded by soldiers trailing their pikes and muskets, drums ‘beating sadly’, 40 poor people of Chester and a tolling bellman.26 No will, administration or inquisition post mortem has been found.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


Cheshire Archives, QRJ/1.

  • 1. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 268-9; Vis. Cheshire (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lviii), 103-4.
  • 2. Harl. 2129, f. 86v.
  • 3. Freemen of Chester ed. J.H.E. Bennett (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. li), 79.
  • 4. J. Hemingway, Hist. Chester, 233; Cheshire Archives, AB/1, f. 272.
  • 5. Cheshire Archives, AB/1, f. 287.
  • 6. Cheshire Archives, AF/8/2; CR60/83, f. 37; Hemingway, 233.
  • 7. Cheshire Archives, AB/1, ff. 336v, 349v; AF/11/4.
  • 8. Cal. Chester City Mins. ed. M.J. Groombridge (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. cvi), p. xiii; Harl. 2129, f. 86v.
  • 9. C212/22/21, 23.
  • 10. C181/3, f. 237v.
  • 11. T. Rymer, Foedera, ix. pt. 1, p. 58; pt. 2, p. 162.
  • 12. Cheshire Archives, SB/14, unfol.
  • 13. Harl. 2104 ff. 11, 30r-v.
  • 14. Cheshire Archives, SBC/47 (Gamull’s Sheriffs’ Ct. Bk.); Cal. Chester City Mins. xiv.
  • 15. Cheshire Archives, AF/6/28.
  • 16. Cheshire Archives, AF/8/2; AB/1, f. 287.
  • 17. Cheshire Archives, AF/11/25; CR60/83, f. 37.
  • 18. Harl. 2105, ff. 227-8; D. Hirst, Representative of the People?, 197-8; J.K. Gruenfelder, ‘Chester Election 1621’, Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, cxx. 35-44.
  • 19. Procs. 1626, ii. 238.
  • 20. Harl. 2082, f. 59.
  • 21. Cheshire Archives, AB/1, f. 342v; CHB/3, f. 117.
  • 22. Cheshire Archives, AF/13/14.
  • 23. Harl. 2180, ff. 130, 138-40, 146.
  • 24. HMC 5th Rep. 344.
  • 25. Cheshire Archives, AB/2, f. 57v.
  • 26. Harl. 2129, f. 86v.