William Rosewell (c. 1520–1566) was the Solicitor-General to Queen
Elizabeth between 1559 and 1566.
William Rosewell was born about 1520, the son of William Rosewell
(Rowswell) (d. 1570) of Loxton, Somerset, England. He came to some
prominence as Solicitor-General to Queen Elizabeth. He appears in the
Queen's Counsel between 1558 and 1603 as W. Ruswell (or Mr.
Russell) and was Solicitor-General from 1559 until his death in 1566.
He was succeeded by Richard Onslow. He purchased a number of estates
Somerset and Devon.
About 1559 William Rosewell, the Solicitor-General, married Elizabeth,
daughter of Matthew Dale, a wealthy haberdasher of
London. She was the widow of Gregory Isham, of Braunston,
Northants who died in 1558. She is not mentioned in the Solicitor
General's will, so it is assumed that she predeceased him. William
and Elizabeth had three children – Parry (d. 1573), William
(1561–1593), and Philippa. Parry died before he came of age. The
second son, William, was born in 1561 and inherited from Parry in
1573. This William came into the possession of Forde Abbey,
about 1581. He married Ann Walkeden in 1588 and had one child, Sir
Henry Rosewell in 1590. William died at Ilminster,
1593. Philippa married Sir George Speke of Whitelackington,
Somerset in 1584.
William Rosewell was at the Middle Temple, London, in 1556 and was
chosen as Assistant to the Reader of that institution in 1562. William
Rosewell was appointed as Solicitor-General to Queen Elizabeth on 1
Only four items have been found relative to his action while in
office. With the Attorney-General, Gerard, he signed a note,
concerning grants of privileges to the University of Cambridge, about
1561; and in 1563 he made a note of the grant of the advowson of
Northchurch. He was one of 13 noblemen and officers of the state
appointed as mourners for the honourable celebration of the funeral of
the Emperor in 1564. The Chamber Accounts of 1562–63 show that he
received a reward of 40 shillings per year.
Despite a humble background, he was able to use his education to
achieve high professional and social status. His marriage to the
rich widow, Elizabeth Isham, may also have assisted him to acquire a
large property portfolio, which in many instances he purchased from
those who had obtained property following the dissolution of the
In 1556 Sir Thomas Smith, of Ankerwicke, in the county of Berkshire,
sold the Manor and advowson of Yarlington,
Somerset to William
Rosewell, of Loxton, and William Rosewell, his son and heir of the
Middle Temple, London for £1,000. A lease written in 1562 shows that
William Rosewell, Solicitor-General, lived at the
The Solicitor-General died before his father who then left it to the
William Rosewell of Forde Abbey. After being in the
hands of the Rosewells for 36 years the Manor and advowson of
Yarlington was sold to Sir Henry Berkeley, of
Bruton in 1592 for
A deed of 10 November 1563 shows that
William Rosewell together with
associates, Humphrey Colles (Coles), Henry Portman, and William Hawley
(Halley), Esquires, purchased the Manor and advowson of Thurloxton,
Somerset. The Manor was sold before his death in 1566.
At the time of his death the Solicitor-General held 'the manors of
Ermington and "Carswell" (Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury) and of the
Hundred of Ermington in Devon; the manors of Southbrent, Stapleton,
Limington and Alford, in Somerset; the advowsons of the Churches of
Limington and Alford; and 300 messuages, 200 tofts, 6 watermills, 2
windmills, 6 dovecotes, 300 gardens, 3000 acres of land, 1000 acres of
meadow, 2000 acres of pasture, 200 acres of wood, 3000 acres of furze
and heath, and £20 of rent with the appurtenances in Ermington,
Carswell, Southbrent, Stapleton,
Limington and Alford.’
The will of 'her Highnes Solicitor General' is dated 10 June 1566, and
was probated 4 November 1566. In it he states that by a deed, dated 1
May, 'last passed' he granted all his estates in trust to 'my verrie
trustie frendes Humfrey Colleys (Humphrey Colles, Sheriff of
Somerset, 1557) Henrie Portman (Son of William Portman) Amice Pawlett
(Amias Paulet) John Clifton
Nicholas Wadham William Halley (Joint
owner of Buckland Priory) John Eveleighe Esquiers, William Rosewell
father of me the saide William and Henrie Halley gentlemen.' A legacy
of £5 he leaves 'to the Poore Howsholders within the parrishes of
Whittington Colledg Sanicte Thomas Apples [Apostle's] and elsewhere
within the Cytie of London to be distributed amonges them in Allmes as
shalbe thought good by the Deane of Powles withe the assente of som of
my seid trustie frendes.' He appoints as his executors his sons, Parry
and William, and his brothers-in-law, Henry Dale and Matthew Dale. The
'right Honerable Sir William Cecill (William Cecil) Knight the Qluenes
majesties principall Secretarie and Gilbert Gerrarde (Gilbert Gerard)
esquier her highnes Attorney generall' were requested to act as
overseers. According to this document, his children were to be 'well
godlie and vertuoslie brought opp and maineteyned according to their
degrees in lerninge nurture and vertue and that my saide sonnes at
their apte yeres of discretion shalbe putt to the study of the Lawes
so long tyme and in suche sorte as shall seeme metest to the
discretion of my said trusty friendes.' (from Frances B. James)
^ "Matthew Dale of
Bristol and London". Governor Thomas Dale.
Retrieved 17 August 2016.
^ a b Wotton, Thomas. "The English Baronetage." Printed at The Three
Daggers and Queen's Head, Fleet Street, London, 1741. Vol. II p. 34.
^ a b c d e James, Frances B (1888), Sir Henry Rosewell – A
Devon Worthy, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 20, 113-122.
^ "Grand Ladies of the Farthingale Era". Retrieved 19 February
^ a b Rogers, T.E. (1890) Records of Yarlington. Elliott Stock,
London. p. 94.
^ "Appendix: Outward Fees, 1562-3 Chamber accounts of the sixteenth
century: London Record Society, 20 (1984), pp. 118–121". Retrieved
10 October 2011.
^ Musson, Anthony (2010). "Lawyers Laid Bare: The Private Lives of
Medieval and Early Tudor Lawyers". Retrieved 17 August 2016.
^ a b Rosewell, C.J. (2009), Rosewell: Landholders of Somerset, Devon
and Wiltshire in the 16th and 17th Centuries,
Centre, PAM 2975, 28 pp.
Somerset Records Office, SRO DDPM/3/1/2-3, 1563
^ "Colles, Humphrey". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 13 October
^ Will of William Rosewell, (1566), National Archives, PCC 11/48/607
Family tree of Rosewell of Bradford on Tone, Somerset
Note: In general, only the male lines connecting those with
articles are shown.
Vicar of Bradford-on-Tone
Rector of Shepton Mallet
Rector of Yarlington
Rector of Combe Hay
Vicar of Doulting
Minister at Chatham
Forde & Limington
Minister of Rotherhithe
Minister at Hackney
Silver — main male lines
Light Blue — there are one or more generations of male descendants
No Colour — there are no known surviving male descendants
^ a b c d e f g h Weaver, F. W. (1885). The Visitations of the County
Somerset in the years 1531, 1573 and 1591. Exeter: W. Pollard and
Company. p. 70-71.
^ a b c d e f Goulstone, John (2008). Rosewell of north-east Somerset
Somerset Heritage Centre, A/DUK - 2013/420 ed.). London: J.
^ a b Leadam, I. S. (ed) (1898). "Selected Cases in the Court of
Requests 1497–1569". Publications of the Selden Society. 12:
101–172. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
^ a b c d e f Weaver, F. W. (1853).
Somerset Incumbents: From the Hugo
Mss. 30, 279-80, in British Museum (1889). C. T. Jeffries and
^ a b c Harvey, W; Marshall, G. W. (1897). The Visitations of
Wiltshire 1565. Exeter: William Pollard & Company.
^ a b c d e Manco, Jean (1995). The Parish of Englishcombe - A History
(PDF). Englishcombe: Englishcombe Parish Council. pp. 14–15.
Retrieved 27 February 2015.
^ a b Browning, Michael L. "Manor Court Rolls" (PDF). High Littleton
& Hallatrow Parish. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
^ a b Will of William Rowsewell, Gentleman of Luxton, (1570), National
Archives, PCC 11/52/323
^ a b c d James, Frances B. (1888). "Sir
Henry Rosewell - A Devon
Worthy". Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 20:
^ a b c Girle, Roderick (2012). A Cargo of Sundries: The Australasian
Girle/Rosewell Family. Brisbane: Love of Books. pp. 15–26.
Family tree of one branch of Rosewell o