The Tudor Society

October 3 – Sir William Fitzwilliam

On this day in Tudor history, 3rd October 1559, Sir William Fitzwilliam, gentleman of King Edward VI's privy chamber, died.

Fitzwilliam was a member of Parliament, a favourite of both the Duke of Somerset and Duke of Northumberland, and served Mary I as deputy chancellor in Ireland.

Here are a few facts about Sir William Fitzwilliam:

  • Sir William Fitzwilliam was born in around 1506 and was the second son of Thomas Fitzwilliam of Baggotrath, co. Dublin, and his wife, Eleanor Dowdall.
  • His father served as sheriff of Dublin in 1511, his elder brother, Richard, served in Henry VIII's privy chamber, and his younger brother, Nicholas, was treasurer of St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.
  • It is believed that he entered Gray's Inn, one of London's inns of the court, in around 1531.
  • Fitzwilliam served Sir William Fitzwilliam (later Earl of Southampton) and by 1539 was his principal servant. In 1538, he was involved in helping his master examine prisoners in Surrey and served him as principal feoffee of his property portfolio in Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex.
  • By 1539, Fitzwilliam had married Jane Roberts, daughter of John Roberts of Cranbrook, Kent. They went on to have four daughters.
  • He served as member of Parliament for Guildford in 1542, for New Shoreham in 1547, and for Berkshire in 1553 and 1559.
  • In 1544, Fitzwilliam was appointed to the privy chamber of Prince Edward, King Henry VIII's son and heir, and by 1545, he was chief gentleman.
  • In 1551, Fitzwilliam was sent to France to confer the Order of the Garter on King Henry II of France.
  • He was favoured by both the Duke of Somerset and the Duke of Northumberland.
  • He was knighted in 1551/2.
  • By 1552, he had been appointed Lieutenant of Windsor Castle and Keeper of Windsor Great Park by the Duke of Northumberland.
  • On the accession of Queen Mary I, Fitzwilliam was sent to Ireland and served on the council there.
  • In 1555, he was made deputy chancellor in Ireland.
  • Fitzwilliam was rewarded for his work in Ireland, which included uncovering Sir Anthony Leger's misconduct there, with a 21-year lease of the manor of Donaghmore.
  • Sir William Fitzwilliam died on 3rd October 1559. He was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

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October 3 – Sir William Fitzwilliam