Fleetwood, William

, an English lawyer, and recorder of London in the reign of Elizabeth, was the natural son of Robert Fleetwood, esq. who was the third sou of William Fleetwood, esq. of Hesketh in Lancashire. He had a liberal education, and was for some time of Oxford, whence he went to the Middle Temple, to study the law; and having quick as well as strong parts, became in a short time a very distinguished man in his profession. In 1562 he was elected summer reader, and in 1568 double reader in Lent. His reputation was not confined to the inns of court; for when it was thought necessary to appoint | commissioners in the nature of a royal visitation in the dioceses of Oxford, Lincoln, Peterborough, Coventry, and Litchtield, Fleetwood was of the number. In 1569 he became recorder of London. It does not appear whether his interest with the earl of Leicester procured him that place or not; but it is certain that he was considered as a person entirely addicted to that nobleman’s service, for he is styled in one of the bitterest libels of those times, “Leicester’s mad recorder;” insinuating, that he was placed in his office to encourage those of this lord’s faction in the city. He was very zealous against the papists, active in disturbing mass-houses, committing popish priests, and giving informations of their intrigues: so zealous, that once rushing in upon mass at the Portuguese ambassador’s house, he was, for breach of privilege, committed prisoner to the Fleet, though soon released. In 1580 he was made serjeant at law, and in 1592, one of the qneen’s Serjeants; in which post, however, he did not continue long, for he died at his house in Noble-street, Aldersgate, February 28, 1594, and was buried at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, where he had purchased an estate. He was married, and had children. Wood says that “he was a learned man, and a good antiquary, but of a marvellous merry and pleasant conceit,” He was farther esteemed an acute politician; which character was most likely to recommend him to his patron Leicester. He was a good popular speaker, and wrote well upon subjects of government. He made a great figure in his profession, being equally celebrated for eloquence as an advocate, and for judgment as a lawyer.

His occupations prevented him from publishing much, yet there are some small pieces of his extant; as, 1. “An Oration made at Guildhall before the mayor, &c. concerning the late attempts of the queen’s majesties seditious subjects, Oct. 15,1571,” l'2mo. 2. “Annalium tarn Regum EdwardiV. Richard! II I. et Henrici VII. quam Henrici VIII. titulorum ordine alphabetico multo jam melius quam ante digestorum Elenchus, 1579 et 1597.” 3. “A Table to the Reports of Edmund Plowden,” in French. 4. “The Office of a Justice of Peace; together with instructions how and in what manner statutes shall be expounded, 1658,” 8vo, a posthumous publication. 5. A short copy of Latin verses prefixed to sir Thomas Chaloner’s “Repub. Anglorum instauranda.” 6. Notes upon Lambarde’s “| Areheion;” and several political discourses in ms. He is said also to have contributed much towards the last of the old editions of Holinshed. 1


Biog. Brit. Alhen. Oxon. vol, II. Lodge’s Illustrations, Yol. II. —Strype’s Annals.