William Strickland

William Strickland, the son of Roger Strickland and his wife, Mary Appleton Strickland, was born in about 1520. As a young man he sailed to America with Sebastian Cabot. Strickland returned in 1542, and with the proceeds of his voyages built Boynton Hall. Strickland steadily accumulated estates in Yorkshire, including the manors of Auburn, Coneysthorpe, Hildenley, and Wintringham, and lands in Bridlington and Easton. (1) It is claimed that he was responsible for introducing the turkey to England. (2) According to the author of The English Baronetage (1741) he was related to Peter Wentworth. (3)

Strickland represented Scarborough in the House of Commons. He was a supporter of the religious reformers such as Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer and John Bradford, who had been executed during the reign of Queen Mary. Strickland was dismayed when Matthew Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth continued with this policy. It has been argued by his biographer, David Crankshaw: "Clandestine separatist conventicles began forming in London. If in 1566 Parker won the battle, in that hardly any true radicals were then left in possession of London livings, his victory was arguably a pyrrhic one... By prosecuting his drive for conformity so rigorously he drove some moderate nonconformists into open revolt. The disaster of 1566 was all the more tragic because Parker's hopes of achieving conformity were bound to be frustrated by the jurisdictional complexities of the early Elizabethan church, by the nonconformist predilections of many who held authority within it, and by the shortage of preachers. Several of the disaffected were still able to achieve promotion surprisingly quickly, while others, drummed out of London benefices, continued to minister in country livings. Hamstrung by a ramshackle administrative structure and by endemic pluralism, Parker emerged from the conflicts of the mid-1560s with his primacy crippled, while his antagonists lived to fight another day." (3)

On 6th April 1571, William Strickland, spoke against ecclesiastical abuses, and specifically dispensations and simony. To remedy them he called for the return the rules enacted during the reign of Edward VI. On 14th April, Strickland introduced his own bill to reform the prayer book – among other measures it proposed to abolish confirmation, prevent priests from wearing vestments and end the practice of kneeling at the Communion. The measure was rejected and he was accused of being a supporter of the leading reformer, John Foxe. (4)

William Strickland continued to support the reformers until his death in 1598.

Primary Sources

(1) Michael R. Graves, William Strickland : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

Strickland also represented Scarborough in four Elizabethan parliaments.... In 1571, however, he was prominent as one of those seeking further reformation in the Elizabethan church.... On 14 April he (Strickland) introduced his own bill to reform the prayer book. He was resisted by members of the privy council, which summoned him to its presence during the Easter recess and sequestered him from parliament. On 20 April this provoked an animated Commons debate about the liberties of the house. Next day Strickland was restored to his place there and promptly named to the committee on the bill for coming to church. He was also appointed to committees for bills concerning priests in disguise, maintenance of navigation, corrupt presentations, and tillage. Strickland's role in this parliament has been a subject of extended historical debate. He was for long seen as a leading figure in a reforming protestant (or puritan) party which launched an organized parliamentary campaign in 1571.

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(1) Michael R. Graves, William Strickland : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(2) Howard Peach, Curious Tales of Old East Yorkshire (2001) page 53

(3) Thomas Wotton, The English Baronetage: Containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of All the English Baronets, Now Existing: Their Descents, Marriages, and Issues (1741) page 219

(4) David Crankshaw, Matthew Parker : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(5) Michael R. Graves, William Strickland : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)