HEYRICKE, Sir William (1562-1653), of Cheapside, London and Beaumanor, Leics.; later of Wood Street, London and Richmond, Surr.

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



31 Oct. 1605

Family and Education

bap. 9 Dec. 1562,1 5th s. of John Heyricke (d.1589), ironmonger, of Leicester, Leics. and Mary, da. of John Bond of Ward End, Warws.; bro. of Robert Heyrick†. educ. appr. Goldsmith, London 1579.2 m. 6 May 1596, Joan, da. of Richard May, Merchant Taylor, of London and Rawmere, Suss., 8s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.).3 kntd. 2 Apr. 1605.4 d. 2 Mar. 1653.5 sig. W[illiam] Heyricke.

Offices Held

Freeman, Goldsmiths’ Co. by 1587,6 renter warden (jt.) 1602-3, first warden 1605-6, 1618-19;7 member, Virg. Co. 1612.8

Freeman, London 1587,9 common councilman by 1598-?1605,10 alderman 1605;11 freeman, Leicester 1601;12 commr. subsidy, Leicester 1608, 1621-2, 1624,13 Leics. 1626;14 sewers, Mdx. 1619;15 j.p. Surr. 1624;16 collector of subsidy, Leics. 1628.17

Jeweller to the king, queen and prince (jt.), 1603-?24;18 teller of the Exch. 1616-23.19

Contractor, Crown land sales 1607-8.20


Heyricke’s grandfather moved to Leicester in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. His father established himself as a prosperous ironmonger and served twice as mayor of the borough. The family business was inherited by Heyricke’s elder brother, Robert, who was elected to Parliament for Leicester in 1589, and was mayor three times before his death in 1618. Heyricke was the youngest of five sons and was apprenticed to the second brother, Nicholas, a successful London Goldsmith. By 1590 he had set himself up in business on his own account at the Rose in London’s Cheapside. He quickly diversified into money-lending to the nobility, and prospered sufficiently to buy the manor of Beaumanor, 12 miles north of Leicester, from the 2nd earl of Essex in 1595. The following year he married the sister of Humphrey May*, acquiring (Sir) Baptist Hicks* as a brother-in-law, and in 1601 he was elected to Parliament for Leicester with the support of both the corporation and the 4th earl of Huntingdon, for whom he acted as financial agent.21

According to a petition he presented to Charles I in 1626, Heyricke made himself useful to King James before the latter’s accession to the English throne, presumably as a financier.22 In May 1603 he was appointed jeweller to the king, and the following November he was appointed one of the three jewellers to the king, queen and Prince Henry, at an annual fee of £150.23 He subsequently abandoned his London trade, although he continued to execute private commissions as a jeweller and lend out money. The following year he was granted a reversion to one of the teller’s places in Exchequer.24 At about the same time he leased a house in Richmond, Surrey, but he also retained an establishment in London, which served as the base of his business activities.25

Heyricke was knighted in April 1605. According to Samuel Calvert, this honour was bestowed in recognition of the quality of his workmanship, but it seems likely that his substantial loans to the Crown also helped.26 The following month Heyricke was elected an alderman of London. Heyricke was evidently appalled, for on 13 May the lord chamberlain, the 1st earl of Suffolk, wrote to the lord mayor that, ‘by reason of the great debt which His Majesty oweth him’ Heyricke was ‘unfit to discharge that place’. As a result of Suffolk’s intervention Heyricke was discharged from office on 29 May, the day after he was sworn in, paying a fine of £300; a month later he was also exempted from the shrievalty. He was unable to escape the burdens of office entirely, however, for in 1605-6 he served as first warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company.27

Heyricke retained close links with Leicester in the new reign. Indeed, in 1603 he provided plate, which the corporation presented to Anne of Denmark and Prince Henry on their journey south from Scotland.28 Shortly after his brother Robert was re-elected mayor of the borough, he was returned for Leicester in October 1605 at the by-election prompted by the death of Sir Henry Beaumont II. According to the eighteenth century antiquarian, John Nichols, the event saw a local poet address a laudatory acrostic to Heyricke, which praised the latter’s charity to the poor, who apparently ‘run after you, and for your coming pray’.29

Heyricke made no recorded speeches during the first Jacobean Parliament, but he was appointed to 14 committees, all of them in the second and third sessions, and most of them concerned with London or trade. On 22 Jan. 1606 he was named to the committee to consider the bill for the better execution of penal statutes, which was intended to abrogate patents dispensing with the penalties imposed by economic legislation. Two days later, when the committee was due to meet, the text of the bill and the committee membership list was delivered to Heyricke and George Blincowe. However, the following day Richard Martin reported that the committee had failed to meet. There is no evidence that Heyricke played any subsequent role in proceedings concerning the bill, which finally passed the Commons on 17 April.30 Heyricke was appointed to eight other legislative committees in the second session, of which four directly related to London. These concerned housing (24 Jan.), small debts (28 Jan.), water supplies (31 Jan.) in the capital, and the charter of the Pinners’ Company (1 April).31 Heyricke, being first warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, was undoubtedly interested in the bill for the execution of the ordinances of guilds and corporations (28 Feb.), a measure funded by the 12 great livery Companies of London, of which the Goldsmiths’ were one, and followed by the company’s clerk. His prominence in the Company also gave him an interest in the bill to confirm properties given to corporations for charitable purposes (29 March).32 His two final committees related to the regulation of the production of black soap (5 Apr.) and the prevention of double payment of debts to shopkeepers.33

In the third session Heyricke was named to five committees. The first, on 10 Dec. 1606, concerned the bill to reform abuses in the Court of Marshalsea.34 Writing to his brother Robert five days later he included a report on ‘Parliament matters’, but unfortunately this document has not survived.35 Thereafter there is no evidence that Heyricke attended the Commons until the following May, when he was named to two committees on London. The first concerned a bill designed to explain the Act passed the previous session concerning the New River (1 May), while the second dealt with a measure to secure the lands of the municipality and the livery companies (4 May).36 On 11 May he was added to the committee for the bill to confirm a fifteenth century charter giving the borough Southampton the right to restrict the activities of outside merchants, a measure which was opposed by the London corporation. His final appointment, on 5 June, was for the bill to naturalize Fabian Smith, the son of an English merchant who had been born abroad.37 Heyricke took no known part in either session in 1610.

In July 1607 Heyrick joined Sir Walter Cope*, Arthur Ingram*, Sir Thomas Lake I* and others in a syndicate for the sale of Crown lands, chiefly rectories and ex-chantry lands.38 In the following September he took on as his apprentice his nephew Robert, the future poet, but the arrangement did not work out, and five years later Robert was sent to Oxford.39 By 1613 Heyricke had moved his London base to a substantial house in Wood Street, which he rented from the Goldsmiths’ Company. Negotiating with the Company for a renewal of the lease the following February, he procured a letter to the Company from the Latin secretary, Sir Thomas Lake I*, indicating that the king wanted him favourably treated. This royal intervention caused some disquiet in the Company, which responded by offering to renew the lease for a fine of £300. This sum seems to have been more than Heyricke had hoped for, but after some hesitation he accepted.40

Over the next few years Heyricke continued to cultivate his interest at Leicester. In late 1613 he was active in helping the corporation with the purchase of property and the incorporation of Newarke hospital. On 12 Jan. his brother assured him that the corporation would ‘never forget your pains and kindness’.41 Robert wrote again on 22 Feb., this time about the elections for the forthcoming Parliament. Although the 5th earl of Huntingdon, with whom Heyricke was not as closely connected as with his predecessor, had already prepared his nominations, Robert had been busily campaigning on Heyricke’s behalf, having canvassed the mayor and other prominent members of the corporation about the advisability of electing ‘such as be freemen, and well willers to corporations, whereof I know you to be one’. Robert seems to have envisaged Heyricke running in tandem with the borough’s recorder, Francis Harvey†, and was clearly acting on his own initiative, as he asked Heyricke to provide him with ‘your letter touching this matter so soon as may be’. Shortly thereafter Heyricke confirmed that he wished to stand, but the leading members of the Leicester corporation, fearful of rebuffing Huntingdon for fear that he would block the incorporation of the hospital, were only willing to offer him a seat if the recorder chose not to stand.42 Heyricke, however, reiterated his brother’s argument that the borough should elect two freemen, ‘which I could wish all corporations to do’. He promised that if he elected he would ‘give as honest an I and a No for the good of your town and all corporations as any man’, and proposed the recorder as his colleague, ‘for severally the lawyers did much good in the House the last Parliament’. He also offered to serve without payment.43 However, the election was delayed while the borough waited for the sheriff to send them the writ, which Robert thought was ‘held away by some policy’. In the meantime the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Thomas Parry*, wrote to the borough nominating a candidate for one of the seats. Robert continued to hope that there was a prospect of securing Heyricke’s election, but on 14 Mar. the borough offered one seat to Huntingdon and the other to Parry.44 Nine days later, contemplating the failure of his efforts, Robert advised his brother to secure the support of the chancellor of the duchy if he ever wanted to stand again.45

With an eye to the future, Heyricke continued to help the corporation with the affairs of the hospital, receiving letter of thanks the following August for his ‘great pains, travel and good endeavours to many persons and places on behalf of our poor town’, together with a bottle of claret, a quart of sack and a pound of sugar.46 In 1616 he instituted an annual sermon to be given at the Newarke hospital, the first of which was preached by his niece’s husband, Thomas Sacheverell.47 That same year his tellership of the Exchequer fell in on the death of Sir William Bowyer I*. His income from the office, in addition to the yearly salary of £33, sometimes totalled as much as £400 p.a.48 Heyricke contributed £3,500 to the costs of the king’s visit to Scotland in 1617, and in return the alienations fines and the profits of the Hanaper were granted to him, his brother-in-law Sir Baptist Hicks* and a third prominent financier, Sir Paul Bayning. After receiving nothing for three years, he applied himself to the Scottish courtier, the 1st earl of Kellie, who wrote to the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Fulk Greville*, on 11 Feb. 1620. Kellie described Heyricke as ‘always ready with his poor means to do His Majesty the best service he could’, and added that ‘by his example some few did the like’. Indeed, as a result of Heyricke’s efforts, ‘His Majesty has good sums ... in his hand’. This glowing tribute produced a Privy Council order for payment of £1,500 to be made to Heyricke before any other private person, but no cash.49

In 1618 Heyricke was re-elected first warden of the Goldsmiths’, and in November, as part of a Privy Council investigation into the shortage of coin, helped examine the recent production of silver plate.50 His papers include a number of items relating to the Mint, suggesting that he was widely involved in official discussions concerning the money supply.51

The appointment of his brother-in-law (Sir) Humphrey May* as chancellor of the duchy in 1618 strengthened Heyricke’s interest at Leicester, and he was re-elected for the borough in 1621. He was named to three committees and made 11 recorded speeches, but is not mentioned in the records of the Parliament after 26 March. His only legislative appointment of the Parliament was on 15 Feb., when he was appointed to the committee to consider the Sabbath bill.52 He seems to have shown little interest in legislation, although he did keep a copy of a paper in defence of a bill presented by Sir John Cage of Cambridgeshire concerning fines imposed by the commissioners of sewers, a measure which received its first reading on 7 March.53

On 26 Feb. Heyricke spoke in the debate about the ‘scarcity of money’. His primary concern was to place the blame for the country’s economic problems on merchants and patentees rather than his fellow Goldsmiths. One of the culprits he identified was the East India Company, for since its establishment in 1600 the output of the Mint had fallen dramatically. He also highlighted the export of coin to Poland, and raised the issue of the patents for making gold and silver thread and the manufacture of gold leaf, the former of which was a long-standing grievance of the Goldsmiths’ Company. Defending his colleagues, he cited the findings of himself and his fellow investigators in 1618, that the production of silver plate had declined rather than risen. Consequently, he argued, the ‘making of plate is not the cause of want of coin’. In Cheapside, where the ‘show of goldsmiths shops’ had been ‘the greatest in Christendom’, he complained that many premises were now empty and rents had declined, a further ‘sign that trade is decayed’.54 In the debate on the Westminster election dispute later that day, Heyricke supported the validity of William Man’s election.55 He spoke again in the afternoon at the committee concerning (Sir) Giles Mompesson, the notorious patentee for gold and silver thread, but his words went unrecorded.56

On the following day Heyricke reiterated his argument that large amounts of coin were being exported.57 He may have been the ‘Sir William’ who argued on 13 Mar. that silver was exported because of the imbalance between the official valuations of gold and silver.58 However, by then his principal interest was the pursuit of notorious monopolists. On 3 Mar. he reacted with alarm to the news that Mompesson had escaped and argued that it was a ‘great fault in the serjeant’ to have allowed this to happen. He therefore proposed that the House should ‘examine and proceed against’ the serjeant.59 The same day he was sent to search for Mompesson’s associate Matthais Fowle, and, on the nomination of Sir William Bulstrode, who seems to have been under the misapprehension that he was a Westminster magistrate, he was appointed to the committee to consider how to bring Fowle before the Commons. Heyricke himself proposed that another of the patentees, Henry Twitty, should be sent for, as he was ‘as deep in it’ as Mompesson.60 On 6 Mar. he attacked the patentees for buying bullion by troy weight but selling it by ‘Venice weight’, although he claimed there was ‘no standard of Venice weight’ and traditionally only troy weight was used in England. He claimed the profits of the patent came to over £6,000 and the standard of their goods were very poor. The following day he reiterated the claim the Goldsmiths’ Company had made three years earlier, that goldwire drawing was not in fact a new trade introduced by the patentees but one which was already well established in London.61 Among his papers he kept copies of the depositions made before a committee of the House of Lords of London tradesmen who had been imprisoned by the patentees, and also a list of complaints itemizing ‘the abuse of His Majesty and the state with the great grievance of His Majesty’s loyal subjects by the patent of gold and silver thread’.62

Heyricke’s opposition to patents was not restricted to those that affected the goldsmith’s craft. On 12 Mar. he attacked Sir Francis Blundell’s* patent for licensing pedlars, stating that Blundell had sued over 1,000 petty chapmen in the Exchequer, including ‘divers of good worth, as the mayor of Leicester’.63 A fortnight later, in the debate following Sir Edward Coke’s report concerning (Sir) Henry Britton’s* patent for granting free warrens, he declared that he had spent £40 on obtaining a grant of free warren for Beaumanor direct from the Crown in 1616, only to have it questioned within two years under a quo warranto.64 In addition he kept a copy of Thomas and John Browne’s petition to the Commons against the patent held by Sackville Crowe* for making ordnance.65

On 29 Apr. three Leicester wool merchants wrote to Heyricke complaining that four years earlier the Staplers’ Company had been granted a monopoly of the domestic wool trade, as a result of which they had been forced to purchase their admission from the earl of Kellie for £111 each. Hearing that the monopoly was questioned in Parliament, they feared that their membership of the Company would be rescinded without compensation. They wanted either their money back or some guarantee that they would retain the privileges they had bought, and they asked Heyricke to advise them whether they should ‘exhibit a bill of grievances into Parliament-house’. If one had already been preferred by others, then they wanted him to add their names to it. Heyricke, however, seems to have done nothing to help, presumably because Kellie was his friend. On writing to the corporation after the end of the first sitting he claimed that ‘I cannot do them no good’ because Parliament had condemned the Staplers’ monopoly as illegal.66 In this same letter Heyricke told his constituents that, despite having played no recorded part in the Commons’ proceedings after Easter, ‘never any did with better alacrity attend that service than myself did’, and that it ‘pleased God to give blessing unto my small endeavours’. Unfortunately, he did not spell out what he thought his achievements were. He assured the corporation that 95 bills ‘for the good of the Commonwealth’ were almost ready, ‘but upon some secret causes, best known unto His Majesty’, the session had been adjourned until the following November. Referring to the Commons’ belligerent motion passed on the last day of the sitting, he declared that it was ‘such a blow to all recusants and Romish papists as never were greater’. He reported that he had delivered the borough’s petition against alnage, which is not otherwise mentioned, but ‘as yet there is not time for the regulating of it’.67 Heyricke played no recorded part in the second sitting.

Heyricke’s career declined after 1621, probably because of his increasing money problems. He reckoned in the summer of 1621 that he was owed £8,104 by the Crown, of which £3,500 had been advanced in the previous May. In 1623 he sold his tellership to Edward Carne*. He relinquished his position as royal jeweller the following year, and thereafter lived mostly at Beaumanor.68 He made no demur over the Forced Loan in 1627,69 and Bishop Williams intervened in 1627 in favour of Lady Heyricke, who was accused of ‘setting aside, for the summer time, some glass out of a church window, and some speeches of passion against a church-warden’.70 He paid Ship Money without complaint in Leicestershire, though he objected to a second assessment in Norfolk, which he only visited for his health.71 He took no active part in the Civil War, but the royalists, who plundered Beaumanor, described him and his wife as ‘rebels’.72 Shortly before his death early in 1653 he settled 20s. on the minister who preached the annual sermon at Newarke hospital and 20s. for the poor.73 He was buried in St. Martin’s church, Leicester on 8 March. Later that year, according to Nichols, letters of administration were granted to Thomas Richardson†, 2nd Baron Cramond. No evidence for this statement has been found, nor for any other grant of probate. None of his descendants sat in Parliament.74

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. W.G. Dimock, ‘Some Early Notices of the Herrick Fam.’, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. vi. 118.
  • 2. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, appr. bk. 1, f. 6v, info. from David Beasley.
  • 3. Nichols, County of Leicester, ii. 615-6; iii. 148, 150-60.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 137.
  • 5. Nichols, i. 601.
  • 6. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, appr. bk. 1, f. 75, info. from David Beasley.
  • 7. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bks. 1599-1604, p. 271; 1605-11, p. 405; 1618-24, p. 352, info. from David Beasley.
  • 8. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 84.
  • 9. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. ed. P.M. Pugh (NRA 17342), 66.
  • 10. R.M. Benbow, Tables of London Citizens 1558-1603, i. 244.
  • 11. CLRO, Reps. 27, ff. 19, 35v.
  • 12. H. Hartopp, Reg. Freemen of Leicester, 98.
  • 13. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 14. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 102.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 347v.
  • 16. C231/4, f. 168.
  • 17. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 103.
  • 18. HMC 4th Rep. 315.
  • 19. Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 234.
  • 20. C66/1728.
  • 21. T. North, ‘Letters of Alderman Robert Heyricke of Leicester 1590-1617’, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. v. 109-111, 116-17; Nichols, ii. 631; iii. 150; Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 68-9, 82-3; HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 310.
  • 22. Nichols, iii. 159.
  • 23. T. Rymer, Foedera vii. pt. 2, p. 69.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 7, 120.
  • 25. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 61, 69, 72, 75, 78.
  • 26. Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer, ii. 57; Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 85.
  • 27. Nichols, iii. 151.
  • 28. Recs. of Bor. of Leicester ed. H. Stock, iv. 32, 57.
  • 29. Nichols, iii. 151.
  • 30. CJ, i. 258a, 260a, 299b; HMC 4th Rep. 118.
  • 31. CJ, i. 259b, 230b, 262b, 291b.
  • 32. Ibid. 275b, 287a. See LONDON.
  • 33. Ibid. 294a, 300a.
  • 34. Ibid. 329a.
  • 35. Nichols, 625; North, 119.
  • 36. CJ, i. 368b, 1038b. The second appointment is only included in one version of the Journal.
  • 37. Ibid. 372a, 379b; Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in Eng. and Ire. ed. W.A. Shaw (Huguenot Soc. of London xviii), 10.
  • 38. C66/1728; Nichols, iii. 152.
  • 39. Oxford DNB sub Herrick, Robert.
  • 40. North, 123; Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bk. 1611-17, pp. 152-3.
  • 41. Nichols, i. 340; North, 124-5, 145-6.
  • 42. Nichols, i. 341.
  • 43. Recs. of Bor. of Leicester, iv. 137.
  • 44. Nichols, i. 341.
  • 45. Ibid., where this letter is misdated, see Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 13.
  • 46. North, 148; Recs. of Bor. of Leicester, 150.
  • 47. Nichols, i. 342-3; North, 140, 158.
  • 48. G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 209; Oxford DNB.
  • 49. Nichols, iii. 153-4; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 452.
  • 50. APC, 1618-19, pp. 304, 306, 318-20.
  • 51. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 97-9.
  • 52. CJ, i. 523a.
  • 53. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 162; CJ, i. 542b.
  • 54. CJ, i. 526a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 95; CD 1621, iv. 105-6; v. 514-15; Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bk. 1611-17, pp. 290, 294.
  • 55. CJ, i. 529a.
  • 56. CD 1621, vi. 13.
  • 57. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 104.
  • 58. CD 1621, ii. 217.
  • 59. CJ, i. 535b.
  • 60. Ibid. 536a.
  • 61. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 130; CD 1621, v. 278; Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bk. 1611-17, p. 290.
  • 62. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 99; LJ, iii. 48.
  • 63. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 146; CD 1621, iv. 148.
  • 64. CD 1621, iv. 192; C66/2108/12.
  • 65. Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 125.
  • 66. Nichols, i. 345; P.J. Bowden, Wool Trade in Tudor and Stuart Eng. 170, 173; J. Thompson, Hist. Leicester, 347.
  • 67. Thompson, 347.
  • 68. Nichols, iii. 154.
  • 69. HMC Cowper, i. 296.
  • 70. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 119; 1631-3, p. 274; C.E. Welch, ‘An Ecclesiastical Dispute at Woodhouse’, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xxxv. 56-61; Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. 46.
  • 71. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 427; 1637-8, p. 89.
  • 72. R. Symonds, Diary of Marches of Royalist Army ed. C.E. Long (Cam. Soc. lxxiv), 183.
  • 73. Recs. of Bor. of Leicester, iv. 409.
  • 74. Nichols, iii. 155.