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William Parr
Coat of Arms of Sir William Parr,
1st Baron Parr of Kendal, KG
Personal details
Born 1434
Died 1483 (aged 48–49)
Spouse(s) Joanna Trusbut
Elizabeth FitzHugh

Sir William Parr, KG (1434–1483)[1] was an English courtier and soldier. He was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Parr (1405–1461) and his wife Alice, daughter of Sir Thomas Tunstall of Thurland, Lancashire.


The Parr family originally came from Parr, Lancashire. Sir William's great-grandfather, Sir William de Parre (died 1405) married in 1383 Elizabeth de Ros, daughter of Sir John de Ros of Kendal and Katherine de Latimer, a daughter of Thomas, 1st Baron Latimer of Brayebrooke.[2] Elizabeth was the granddaughter and heiress of Sir Thomas de Ros, Baron of Kendal and had livery of her inheritance. Their marriage alliance with the Ros (or Roos) family enhanced the Parr family standing. On the accession of the Duke of Lancaster as Henry IV of England, Sir William senior stood so high in the estimation of the new monarch that he was deputed with the bishop of St. Asaph to announce the revolution to the court of Spain. Through his marriage William acquired, by right of his wife, a fourth part of the manor of Kirby in Kendal, Kendal Castle, and one-fourth part of the barony of Kendal, which continued in the family till after the death of his grandson, William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, when the Marquess's widow surrendered it to Queen Elizabeth I.[3] It was known as 'The Marquis Fee.' This branch of the family originally resided at Kendal until the Castle fell into disrepair during his son, Thomas', life.

William Parr's paternal grandparents were Sir John Parr of Kendal (c.1383 – 1409) and Agnes Crophull, widow of Sir Walter Devereux. From her previous marriage she was mother to a younger Walter Devereux, paternal grandmother to Walter Devereux, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and great-grandmother to Anne Devereux, Countess of Pembroke. Parr's maternal grandparents were Sir Thomas Tunstall of Thurland Castle and Isabel Harrington, a grandaunt of Sir Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. By his maternal grandfather, Parr was a cousin to Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall.[1] After the death of Dame Isabel, Sir Thomas remarried Joan Mowbray, a granddaughter of Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk.[4]

Sir Thomas Parr, the courtier's father, was sub-vice comes (i.e. deputy to the hereditary sheriff, Baron Clifford) for Westmorland from 1428 to 1437 and MP six times. He was assaulted in going to Parliament in 1446, the case being discussed in Parliament. He took an active part in the Wars of the Roses on the Yorkist side and was subsequently attainted in 1459 with the other leading Yorkists. The attainder was reversed in 1461, before his estates had been confiscated.

He died in 1464. Sir Thomas left three sons (including William, the subject of this article) and six daughters. Of his other two sons, his second son, Sir John Parr, also a Yorkist, was rewarded by being made sheriff of Westmorland for life in 1462; he married a daughter of Sir John Yonge, Lord Mayor of the City of London, and must have lived until after 1473, as in that year he was one of those exempted from the resumption act. His third son, Thomas, was killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. His daughters all married members of prominent northern families.


William was exempted from the Resumption Act of 1464. He was on the side of the Nevilles at Banbury in 1469, was sent by George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick to Edward in March 1470, just before the Battle of Lose-coat Field, and was entrusted by Edward with his answer.

When Edward IV returned from exile in 1471 Parr, along with Sir James Harrington,[5] brought 600 men-at-arms to him at Doncaster.[6] He fought with Edward at Barnet, where his younger brother was killed fighting for the duke of Gloucester,[7] and was rewarded with the comptrollership of the household, which he held until 1475. He also received a major grant of estates, including the third part of the crown's share of the Kendal barony, and Burgh, Pendragon, and Appleby Castles.[8] He did not, however, receive the lordship of Kendal itself, and it would be Parr's son who would be the first of the family raised to the peerage, in 1538.[9] Sir William Parr swore to recognize Edward, Prince of Wales, as heir to the throne in 1472, and was exempted from the Resumption Act of 1473 Parr sat as knight of the shire for Westmoreland in 1467 and 1473, was High Sheriff of Cumberland for 1473 and invested Knight of the Garter in 1474. He was sent to the Kingdom of Scotland to arrange about the breaches of the truce probably in 1479. He was exempted from the act of apparel in 1482, was chief commissioner for exercising the office of constable of England in 1483, and took part in the funeral of Edward IV.

After the death of Edward IV, Parr was pressured by his mother-in-law, Lady FitzHugh, to accept and follow the rule of the Lord Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, during the minority of the new boy King Edward V.[1] The FitzHughs were closely related to the royal family through Parr's wife, Elizabeth, whose mother was cousin to the Yorks and aunt to Anne, Duchess of Gloucester. When Richard decided to take the throne as King, Parr was not persuaded that Richard's determination for the throne was justified. Parr was loyal to the institution of the monarchy, but detested the idea of usurpation, however justified it was in political terms.[1] The murder of William, Lord Hastings on 13 June 1483 was the tipping point for Parr.[1] Hastings had been a close friend and adviser to the late King.[1] Hastings had also been brother-in-law to Parr's mother-in-law. When Richard became King, William Parr chose not attend the coronation despite being given a position in the coronation as canopy bearer.[1] Lady Parr and her mother, however, were present as two of the seven noble ladies appointed to serve the new Queen consort, Anne.[1]

After refusing to be part of the coronation of King Richard III and his queen consort on 6 July 1483, Lord Parr returned north where he died shortly after.[1]

Wives and children

Sir William married, first, Joan Trusbut (died 1473), widow of Thomas Colt of Roydon, Essex; her issue by Parr, if any, did not survive. After Joan's death, William was appointed the wardship of her son John Colt, Esq. His daughter, Jane, would become the first wife of Sir Thomas More.

Secondly, Elizabeth FitzHugh, daughter of Henry, 5th Baron FitzHugh and Lady Alice Neville, who survived him and remarried Sir Nicholas Vaux. By her, Parr had two daughters and three sons:[10]

  • Anne Parr (c.1476-4 November 1513), who married Sir Thomas Cheney of Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire.
  • Elizabeth Parr (b. 1499), married Nicholas Woodhull (Baron of Wodhull).
  • Sir Thomas Parr (d. 11 November 1517), Lord of the manor of Kendal and Master of the wards and comptroller to King Henry VIII.
  • Sir William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Horton (d. 10 September 1546)
  • Alice Parr (died young)
  • John Parr, Esq. (before 1483-8 September 1508)

The eldest son, Sir Thomas Parr, was knighted and was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1509; he was master of the wards and comptroller to Henry VIII. He was rich, owing to his succeeding, in 1512, to half the estates of his cousin, Lord FitzHugh, and also to his marriage with Maud Green, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Green of Boughton and Greens Norton in Northamptonshire. He died on 11 November 1517, and was buried in St. Ann, Blackfriars, London in an elaborate tomb which has since been destroyed. His widow died on 1 December 1531, and was buried beside him. Of their children, Catherine Parr, queen of Henry VIII, and William Parr (afterwards Marquess of Northampton), are separately noticed; while a daughter, Anne, married William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.

The second son of Sir William Parr was William, who was knighted on 25 December 1513, was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1518 and 1522, and after his niece's Catherine Parr's promotion became her chamberlain. On 23 December 1543 he was created Baron Parr of Horton, Northamptonshire. He died on 10 September 1547, and was buried at Horton (for his tomb, see Bridges, Northamptonshire, i. 370). By Mary, daughter of Sir William Salisbury, he left four daughters. A third son of Sir William Parr, named John, married Constance, daughter of Sir Henry Vere of Addington, Surrey. They had no issue.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Linda Porter. Katherine, the Queen, MacMillan, 2010. ISBN 0-312-38438-6.
  2. Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. p. 406.
  3. Sir Bernard Burke. A Genealogical History of the Dormant: Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, Harrison, 1866. pg 418.
  4. Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd edition, 2011. pg 206-7.
  5. Horrox, R., Richard III: A Study in Service, Cambridge 1989, p. 41
  6. Ross, C., Edward IV, London 1975, p. 164
  7. Rosemary Horrox, ‘Parr, Sir William (1434–1483)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 23 Jan 2014
  8. Horrox, R., ‘Parr, Sir William (1434–1483)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008.
  9. Cokayne, G.E., The Complete Peerage of England and Wales (Vol. IV, London, 1892), 340.
  10. Douglas Richardson. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 662.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Douglas Richardson. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 661.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta ancestry, Genealogical Publishing Com, 2005. pg 643.

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