William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Kendal

William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Kendal

Sir William Parr (1434 – c. 1483) was English courtier and soldier. He was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Parr (1405-1464) and his wife Alice (who was the 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 (d. 1405), son of Sir John de Parre, lord of Parr; married, in 1383, Elizabeth, daughter of John de Ros, and granddaughter and heiress of Sir Thomas de Ros, baron of Kendal; through his marriage he acquired Kendal Castle and one-fourth part of the barony of Kendal, which continued in the family till after the death of William Parr, Marquis of Northampton, when the Marquis's widow surrendered it to Queen Elizabeth I.

It was known as 'The Marquis Fee.' This branch of the family resided at Kendal.

His paternal grandparents were John Parr (c. 1383 - 1409) and Agness Crophull, widow of Walter Devereux. From her previous marriage she was mother to a younger Walter Devereux and paternal grandmother to Walter Devereux, Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Sir Thomas Parr, the courtier's father, was "sub-vice comes" for Westmorland from 1428 to 1437, and was sheriff from 1461 to 1475. He was assaulted in going to Parliament in 1446, the case being noticed in Parliament and took an active part in the wars of the Roses on the Yorkist side; he was attainted in 1459, with the other leading Yorkists (ib. v.348-50). Doubtless his attainder was reversed in 1461, as he died in 1464.

Sir Thomas left three sons and six daughters; the daughters all married members of prominent northern families. Of the sons, the second, Sir John Parr, also a Yorkist, was rewarded by being made sheriff of Westmoreland 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 (ib. vi.81). The third son, Thomas, was killed at Barnet in 1471.


William was made a knight of the Garter by Edward IV of England and 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-Fields, and was entrusted by Edward with his answer.

When Edward IV returned from exile in 1471 Parr met him at Nottingham, and was rewarded with the comptrollership of the household, which he held till Edward's death. He swore to recognise Edward, Prince of Wales, as heir to the throne in 1472 (ib. vi. 234), and was exempted from the resumption act of 1473 (ib. vi.81).

Parr sat as knight of the shire for Westmoreland in 1467 and 1473, and was sheriff of Cumberland from 1473 to 1483. 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.

It seems probable that he died about this time (cf. Beltz, Memorials of the Garter, pp. 210, lxxii, clxvii), and that the William Parr present at the meeting of Henry VII of England and Philip I of Castile at Windsor, in 1506, was his second son.

Wives and children

Sir William married, first, Joan Trusbut (d. 1473), widow of Thomas Colt of Roydon, Essex; her issue, if any, did not survive Parr. Secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, lord FitzHugh, who survived him and remarried Nicholas, lord Vaux of Harrowden; by her Parr left a daughter Anne, who married Sir Thomas Cheney of Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, and three sons.

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 Fitz-Hugh, and also to his marriage with Maud, daughter and coheiress of Sir Thomas Green of Boughton and Greens Norton in Northamptonshire. He died on 12 November 1518, and was buried in Blackfriars Church, London. His widow died on 1 September 1532, and was buried beside him. Of their children, William Parr (afterwards Marquess of Northampton), and Catherine, queen of Henry VIII, are separately noticed; while a daughter, Anne, married William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke of the tenth creation.

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'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.


*Dictionary of National Biography - from an article published in 1895

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