BARNES (BARNE, BARNEIS, BERNERS), William I (by 1502-58), of Thoby, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1502. m. Dorothy, da. of Anthony Hansard of Witnesham, Suff., 4s. inc. William Barnes II 1da.2

Offices Held

Auditor of wood sales, office of gen. surveyors 1523-42, ct. gen. surveyors 1542-5; auditor, ct. augmentations, Glos. Hants, Wilts. and Bristol 1536-53; commr. accounts [I] 1537, for suppression of monasteries, Glos. Hants, Wilts. 1539, survey lands in Ambleteuse and Boulogne 1546, relief, Essex 1550; keeper, Horsfrith park, Essex 1541-d.; j.p. Essex 1547-d.3


Barnes was an auditor in the royal courts throughout his working life. He came into prominence at the Dissolution, when he was appointed to the court of augmentations. In October 1537 he travelled to Ireland to examine the accounts of the vice-treasurer, remaining there until about May of the following year. Perhaps in reward for this service he received a grant of the priory of St. Leonard and the manor of Thoby in Essex, which was thenceforward his principal residence.4

In December 1539 Barnes rode through Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Wiltshire to oversee the dissolution of the religious houses still remaining in those counties. He used his augmentations post to speculate on the market for monastic lands. Most of the estates which he secured he quickly sold although he retained the greater part of his acquisitions in Essex. The social position he attained was recognized early in Edward VI’s reign, when it was noted that he had failed to compound for the honour of knighthood. No evidence of his political allegiance in the upheavals which followed has been found; he appears merely to have exercised his official duties.5

It is possible that Barnes, and not his son William Barnes II, was returned for Wigan in the spring of 1554 as well as for Taunton; he may even have been the William Barnes who is said to have sat for Marlborough in 1542 with John Thynne. No personal link has been discovered between Barnes and Stephen Gardiner, who as bishop of Winchester in 1554 was the patron of Taunton and Downton, unless it can be found in their common connexion with the Eden family. Barnes’s neighbour in Essex, Secretary Petre, may have been the intermediary, but this is more likely to have been Gardiner’s colleague Sir Edward Waldegrave, knight of the shire for Somerset in both the Parliaments of 1554. A relative of Waldegrave married Thomas Eden, Member for Taunton in November 1554, who was perhaps already related by marriage to Barnes. By a settlement of 1556 Barnes granted his manor of Hinton, Gloucestershire to Waldegrave, Sir Robert Rochester, and Eden’s son and heir Thomas, to the use in fee tail of William Barnes’s son and namesake and his wife Elizabeth. Barnes presumably owed his return for East Grinstead to his acquaintance with the ex-chancellor of the augmentations, Sir Richard Sackville, whose family, with the Gages of Firle, shared the patronage there; it may also have been favoured by Rochester as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster which owned the borough. The Journal does not mention Barnes.6

Barnes died between August and December 1558, leaving the manor of Thoby and the land he held of Ingatestone manor to his eldest son William. His other Essex property was to be divided between his sons Leonard and Richard.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: R. J.W. Swales / N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. J. Waylen, Marlborough , 521.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 21.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII , xii-xiv, xvi, xx, xxi; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 55, 56, 208, 221n, 240n, 358n, 494; Rep. Roy. Comm. 1552 (Archs. of Brit. hist. and culture iii), 77, 192; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 78, 83, 261; 1553, p. 352; 1553-4, pp. 27, 507; 1555-7, p. 25; SP11/5, f. 31v.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii-xiv.
  • 5. Ibid. xiv-xvi, xx; SP10/2, f. 91.
  • 6. Harl. 1137, f.29; CPR, 1555-7, p. 61.
  • 7. PCC 6 Welles.