BURGH (BOROUGH), William (by 1488-1552), of Great Yarmouth, Norf.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1488. m. Margery, at least 2s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Great Yarmouth 1519-20, junior bailiff 1526-7, senior bailiff 1535-6, 1544-5, j.p. 1531-2, 1536-7, 1538-40, 1541-2, 1543-4, 1545-7, coroner by 1532-5, 1542-3, member of the Twenty-Four in 1542 and 1549.3


A freeman of Yarmouth from 1508 or 1509, William Burgh rose to wealth there probably as a timber merchant or shipbuilder. He owned at least two ships, the Barbara and George, of which the second was on a voyage to Iceland when he made his will, and his bequests to his wife included a ‘kele’, a woodyard and a mill. In 1541 Burgh, John Lavyle and Ralph Deen ‘of their good and mere voluntary minds’ gave Yarmouth castle to the town as a court house.4

Burgh’s Membership of the Parliament of 1542 is known from local references to him in this capacity; the word ‘Burg.’ which appears on the election indenture may be his name but is more probably a contraction of ‘Burgenses’. On 23 Jan. 1543, the day after the opening of the second session, the Yarmouth assembly resolved that he and Thomas Echard should join with the town’s legal counsel in suing to the Privy Council for the remission of part of the fee farm and for a ‘writ of perambulation’ to resolve the dispute between the town and Sir William Paston over the common. On his return from the third session Burgh was paid, according to ‘old custom’, at 2s. a day for 63 (out of a possible 75) days’ attendance; he also received 13s.4d. for horse hire to and from London, 20s. on behalf of his fellow-Member (Sir) Humphrey Wingfield, a further 20s. for his expenses ‘about the suit made for the delivery of the Flemish prisoners’, and 37s.6d. for half a barrel of gunpowder, a total of £10 16s.10d.5

Burgh died between 6 Apr. 1552, the day on which he made his will, and the following 12 Sept., when it was proved. His religious conservatism is reflected in his commendation of his soul to the mercy of God by the intercession of the Virgin Mary and all the saints. He asked to be buried in St. Nicholas’s churchyard near his wife’s father (whom he did not name) and gave her the ‘rule and governance’ of his six almshouses in Yarmouth. His sons William and John were to have £40 each out of the sale of the George, and William a quarter of the proceeds of her last voyage. The executors were his wife and son William.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. The indenture, C219/18B/55, has only the christian name ‘Willielmus’ and this is given in OR; Norf. Rec. Soc. xxxix, 50.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. PCC 24 Powell.
  • 3. H. Swinden, Gt. Yarmouth , 937-9; Gt. Yarmouth rolls 1535-6, 1544-5; information from P. Rutledge.
  • 4. Cal. Freeman Gt. Yarmouth, 20; PCC 24 Powell; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, 306.
  • 5. Norf. Rec. Soc. xxxix. 50.
  • 6. PCC 24 Powell.