JUSTICE, William (by 1448-1521), of Southampton and Reading, Berks.

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 1448. m. by 1507, Alice, da. of John Martin of Wokingham, Berks., 2s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Junior bailiff, Southampton 1489-90, senior 1492-3, sheriff 1495-6 , mayor 1501-2; commr. subsidy 1492; member of guild, Reading 1509, inner council of burgesses 1511, mayor 1513-14, Jan.-Sept. 1517.3


In his will William Justice gave his birthplace as ‘Mire’, perhaps Mere in Wiltshire, but he seems to have made his fortune at Southampton where he handled a consignment of eels as early as 1469 and where he traded in wine and other commodities from 1481. It may have been his marriage to a Berkshire woman which first brought him to Reading, but the father of Richard Justice, who was living at Reading as early as 1471, also had some connexion with Southampton. Alice Martin’s brother William married first a Bennett of Norton Bavant, Wiltshire, and then a Yate of Lyford, Berkshire.4

After his mayoralty of 1501-2 William Justice does not figure as an active townsman of Southampton and he is described as a merchant of Reading in 1504, when entering into a recognizance to the King of £100 in a transaction involving four Londoners and the collector of customs at Southampton. In June 1509 a pardon was granted to William Justice clothier and merchant, late of Southampton, and after his admission to the Reading merchant’s guild on 8 Oct. he was apparently settled in his new home, although retaining property in Southampton.5

Justice now began a new municipal career. On 26 Dec. 1509 he was chosen senior Member for the Parliament which was to meet in the following month and shortly afterwards he contributed 20s., as did his fellow-Member Richard Cleche and others, towards the renewal of Reading’s charters. He was one of the inner council of Twenty-Four elected by their fellows on 24 Jan. 1511 to advise the mayor, and after being one of three candidates for the mayoralty in 1512 he was appointed to that office by the abbot a year later. He served a second term after Thomas Bye died in office, being chosen to fill the vacancy on 26 Jan. 1517, but after that year he took no part in town affairs. He made his will in his own house at Reading on 18 Feb. 1521 and probate was granted to his son and son-in-law Thomas Vachell I as executors a month later. After asking for burial in St. Mary’s church, Reading, and leaving money for tithes forgotten and for masses, he remembered churches in three counties and provided for his family and his servant John Bourne II.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Reading Recs. i. 112-13.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 43; PCC 6 Maynwaryng.
  • 3. Bk. of Remembrance (Soton Rec. Soc.), i. 10, 11, 75, 76-78; CFR , 1485-1509, p. 165; Reading Recs. i. 112, 121, 124, 133.
  • 4. PCC 6 Maynwaryng; C. Platt, Med. Southampton , 247; Black Bk. of Southampton (Soton Rec. Soc.), ii. 66; Reading Recs. i. 65, 70, 71, 76; Assize of Bread Bk. 1477-1517 (Soton Rec. Soc.), 15.
  • 5. CCR , 1500-9, p. 114; LP Hen. VIII , i; Reading Recs. i. 112.
  • 6. Reading Recs. i. 113-14, 121, 123-4, 133; PCC 6 Maynwaryng.