William de Shareshull

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Sir William de Shareshull KB (1289/1290–1370) was an English lawyer, and Chief Justice of the King's Bench from 26 October 1350 to 5 July 1361.

Shareshull came from relatively humble Staffordshire origins in the village of Shareshill, rising to great prominence under the administration of Edward III of England; he was responsible for the 1351 Statute of Labourers and Statute of Treasons. He is also briefly mentioned in the poem Wynnere and Wastoure, dating from the 1350s.

Shareshull's career was studied in-depth by the academic Bertha Putnam.


He is mentioned among the advocates in the ‘Year Book’ of Edward II, and also as receiving a commission of oyer and terminer on 22 February 1327, and the two following years. In 1331, when he had risen to the rank of king's serjeant, he was appointed with others to assess a tallage in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and Berkshire (25 June). In the following year he was one of the council selected by the king to advise him, was ordered on 11 October to attend the approaching parliament in Scotland for the confirmation of the treaty with Edward Balliol, and was made a Knight of the Bath.[1]

On 20 March 1333 he was made a judge of the King's Bench, but was removed to the Common Pleas on 30 May following. In 1340 (30 November) Edward III suddenly returned from the Low Countries, and removed the chancellor and treasurer and other prominent officials, among them Shareshull, on a charge of maladministration. He was reinstated, however, on 10 May 1342, and on 2 July 1344 he was made Chief Baron of the Exchequer. On 10 November 1345 he was moved back to the Common Pleas, with the title of second justice. He was also appointed one of the guardians of the principality of Wales during the minority of the king's son. On 26 October 1350 he was advanced to the headship of the Court of King's Bench, and presided in it until 5 July 1357. While holding that office he declared the causes of the meeting of five parliaments, from 25 to 29 Edward III (1351–1355), and his functions seem to have more resembled those of a political and parliamentary official than those of a judge.[1]

In the last year of his chief-justiceship he was excommunicated by the Pope, for refusing to appear when summoned to answer for a sentence he had delivered against Thomas Lisle, the Bishop of Ely for harbouring a man who had slain a servant of Blanche, Lady Wake.[1]

According to George Rogers Clark's Borough of Ipswich (p. 14), in 1344 when some sailors thought Shareshull (there called Sharford) stayed too long at dinner when he was holding assizes in that town, one of them mounted the bench and fined the judge for non-attendance. He took such offence at the joke that he induced the king to take away the assizes from the town and seize the liberties of the corporation into his own hands for about a year. Though retired from the bench, he occupied confidential positions as late as 1361. He lived beyond 1364, in which year he granted his manor of Alurynton in Shropshire to Osney Priory, in addition to lands at Sandford in Oxfordshire, which he had given seven years before. He was a benefactor also to the priories of Bruera, near Chester, and Dudley. He left a son of the same name, who died in 1 Henry IV (1399–1400).[1]


  1. ^ a b c d  "Shareshull, William de". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Shareshull, William de". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Legal offices
Preceded by
William de Thorpe
Lord Chief Justice
Succeeded by
Henry Green