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His Worship Sir William Tresham JP (d. 23 September 1450) was a British lawyer and Speaker of the House of Commons. Born in Northamptonshire, the son of Thomas Tresham of Sywell, he went on to become a major landowner in the region. He was elected as one of the counties Knights of the Shire for the parliament of 1423, and again in 1427, 1429, 1432, 1433, 1435, 1439, 1442, 1445, 1447 and February and November 1449, serving in twelve successive parliaments overall.[1] In 1424 he was also appointed a Justice of the Peace for Northamptonshire; a man born of common stock relied on advancement in his home county for advancement nationally. Having trained as a lawyer Tresham spent intermittent periods in the service of the king, such as in 1415, when he audited the accounts of royal officials in southern Wales.

It is assumed he concentrated on his legal career in the 1420s, where there are few records of his activities, but in 1430 he was appointed as a councillor to Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and continued to receive an annual fee until at least 1447. In 1432 he was made one of the two Attorneys-general of Henry Beaufort, and spent much of the 1430s on various commissions of the crown, including one to Northamptonshire in 1434 to investigate concealments of royal revenues, and another in 1439 to look at the value of crown lands, again in Northamptonshire. He was employed by the royal household as an apprentice-at-law and thus secured a tie with them; this is likely why he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons for the 1439 Parliament, when there were calls for reform of the royal household.

He was again elected Speaker in 1442 and 1447 and continued his royal service, mainly for the Duchy of Lancaster, and was retained as an Apprentice-at-law from 1444 to 1447. He was made a feoffee of the duchy estates in 1446 and in 1448 was made a chancellor of those feoffees, followed by an appointment as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 3 June 1442. He was favoured at court, leading to his appointment to politically sensitive legal cases, such as the 1444 commission to investigate charges of treason against Thomas Carver, and a 1447 commission directed at members of the household of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. In 1550 he was himself indicted for treason in the aftermath of Jack Cade's rebellion in Kent, but before any sort of commission could take place he was murdered. While travelling to meet with Richard of York with his son, Sir Thomas Tresham, the pair were assaulted by a group of local men with whom Tresham was in a property dispute. William was killed, and Thomas escaped injured.

References

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Unknown
Member of Parliament for Northamptonshire
1423–1449
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
William Burley
Speaker of the House of Commons
1439–1442
Succeeded by
William Burley
Preceded by
William Burley
Speaker of the House of Commons
1446–1447
Succeeded by
Sir John Say
Preceded by
Sir John Popham
Speaker of the House of Commons
1449–1450
Succeeded by
Sir William Oldhall
Preceded by
Walter Sherington
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1442–1449
Succeeded by
John Say
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