William Trussell

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Sir William Trussell
Wm Trussell Boroughbridge Rebel Arms.jpg
Arms William Trussel bore at Boroughbridge: argent, a cross fleury gules[1]
King's Secretary
In office
MonarchEdward III
Procurator of the House of Commons
In office
7 January 1327 – 28 April 1343
MonarchEdward II
Edward III
Sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire
In office
MonarchEdward II
Member of Parliament
for Northamptonshire
In office
6 May 1319 – 25 May 1319
MonarchEdward II
Member of Parliament
for Leicestershire
In office
9 September 1314 – 28 September 1314
MonarchEdward II
Personal details
ChildrenWilliam Trussell

Sir William Trussell was an English politician and leading rebel in Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March's rebellion against Edward II. William acted as Speaker of the House of Commons and renounced the allegiance of England to Edward II, forcing his abdication, and became King Edward III's Secretary.

Early life[edit]

He was born the son of William Trussell of Billesley, Warwickshire.

He was Sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire for 1314–15 and represented Leicestershire in Parliament in 1314 and Northamptonshire in 1319.[2] He was an ardent supporter of the House of Lancaster but was pardoned for his role in the death of Piers Gaveston in 1318.

Opposition to Edward II[edit]

As Edward II slowly regained power from the Ordainers he rewarded the reviled Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester with land he confiscated from the barons, leading to their revolt. William Trussell was amongst them and on 12 March 1322 a warrant for his arrest was issued describing him as "the King's enemy".[3] Four days later both Trussell and his son fought on the rebels' side at the Battle of Boroughbridge. Edward and Dispenser won, beheading the rebels' leader Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster (King Edward's cousin) and forcing others into exile. As the injustices continued, and the effects of the Great Famine of 1315–22 lingered, discontent remained. Despenser was rewarded with lands that had belonged to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, including those in Leicestershire.[4]

Sir William led a band of rebels that allegedly pillaged Dispenser's estate at Loughborough in May 1322[3] but was imprisoned at Scarborough Castle in July.[3] He escaped and allegedly fled south causing great havoc in Somerset and Dorset in August.[5] On 14 March 1323 Roger de Beler, Richard de Willoughby and William de Gosefeld were issued with arrest warrants for Trussell, his son William, his brother Ralph, Roger la Zouch (son of Sir Roger la Zouch, Lord of Lubbesthorpe), Robert de Holland, 1st Baron Holand[a] and others who were accused [b] by Hugh le Despenser of stealing horses, oxen, pigs, sheep and swans from his parks in Leicestershire.[4] The warrant was reissued in 1324 alongside similar ones that dealt with alleged rioting against Dispenser in Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire by other rebels.[4]

Trussell fled to France and was not named as an accomplice of Roger la Zouch and the Folville Gang when they murdered/executed Roger de Beler in January 1326, presumably in revenge for his enforcement on behalf of Hugh le Despenser.[4] Richard de Willoughby was later kidnapped and ransomed by them in 1332.

Support of Edward III[edit]

Trussell then joined up with Queen Isabella and Mortimer in Paris before moving to Flanders where he was allegedly tasked with helping to build an invasion army by William I, Count of Hainaut.[6] Trussell accompanied Isabella and Mortimer when they landed in England on 24 September 1326 at the start of their Invasion of England. Their forces consisted of approximately 1500 soldiers, many of whom were Flemish mercenaries and others exiled Contrariants. Opposition was almost non-existent and so many barons, sheriffs and knights joined the rebellion that they gained control within just two months. Adam, Abbot of Glastonbury hid Dispenser and the Lord Chancellor, Robert Baldock in Glastonbury Abbey, and in December 1326 William Trussell was ordered to bring the Abbot before the next Parliament.[5] Both Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester and his son Hugh Despenser the Younger were captured and Trussell oversaw the trial of Despenser the Elder where he was denounced and sentenced to death.[7] Both Despensers were gruesomely executed.

Trussell was appointed Speaker of the House of Commons and, acting as Procurator of the whole Parliament, renounced allegiance to Edward II on 21 January 1327. Edward III was crowned as king in his place on 1 February 1327 and Trussell went on to become the new king's Secretary and undertake numerous important diplomatic missions, particularly to France and Spain.[5]

He was buried in St Michael's chapel in Westminster Abbey in 1347.

Family and descendants[edit]

Sir William married Maud, the daughter of Warin Mainwaring and they had at least three sons and a daughter.[8]

  • John, who inherited his estates.
  • William, who was Constable of Odiham Castle for over 25 years and Treasurer of the Chamber from 1333 to 1335.
  • Warin
  • Isabelle, who married John de St Pierre.

After Sir William's death his widow married Oliver de Bordeaux.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ married to Maud, daughter of Alan la Zouch, Baron la Zouch of Ashby
  2. ^ both Despensers were viewed as corrupt and used blackmail and extortion to extract wealth from people so many of the accusations they made about their rivals may have been fabricated


  1. ^ Parl Writs II 1830.
  2. ^ MPs 1878.
  3. ^ a b c Parl Writs II Digest 1834.
  4. ^ a b c d Patent Rolls 1232–1509.
  5. ^ a b c Close Rolls 1224–1468.
  6. ^ Fryde 1979
  7. ^ Matthew 2004
  8. ^ "Sir William Trussell (Died 1345)". Britannia. Retrieved 17 June 2016.


External links[edit]