PAUL, William (1599-1665)

PAUL (PAWLE), William (1599–1665)

cons. 20 Dec. 1663 bp. of OXFORD

First sat 21 Apr. 1664; last sat 2 Mar. 1665

bap. 14 Oct. 1599, yr. s. of William Paul, butcher and citizen of London and Joane, da. of John Harrison, beadle of the Butchers’ Co. educ. All Soul’s, Oxf. matric. 1616, BA 1618, fell. 1618, MA 1621, BD 1629, DD 1632. m. (1) 12 Nov. 1632, Mary (d.1633), da. of Sir Henry Glemham and Anne Sackville; (2) 22 Jan. 1635, Alice (d.1635), da. of Thomas Cutler of Ipswich and Anne Dandy; (3) ?1635, Rachel (d.1691), da. of Sir Christopher Clitherow, ld. mayor of London, 2s. 4da.1 d. 24 Aug. 1665; will 14 Sept. 1664, pr. 21 Feb. 1666.2

Chap. to Charles I and II.

Rect. Patshull, Staffs. 1626-28, Brightwell Baldwin, Oxon. 1632-65, Chinnor, Oxon. 1662-65; vic. Amport, Hants 1662; preb. Chichester 1637-62; dean Lichfield 1661-4.

Also associated with: St Leonard Eastcheap, London, and Lichfield, Staffs.

‘Wealthy and knowing in secular affairs’, William Paul was elevated to the bishopric of Oxford in 1663 through the influence of Gilbert Sheldon, of Canterbury, who hoped that Paul would use his wealth to rebuild the bishop’s palace at Cuddesdon.3 Paul, the son of a London citizen, had been a parish clergyman and preacher in Oxford since the 1620s. One of Paul’s contemporaries deemed the bishop an ‘acute scholar’, a ‘shrewd man in business’ and ‘exceedingly well-versed in the laws of the Church and the land’, but the surviving records leave scant evidence of his activity.4 His brief parliamentary career also leaves only the most sketchy of details.

His marriages brought him social status and useful connections. Through his first marriage to Mary Glemham, Paul was related to the Sackville earls of Dorset, to the dowager Lady Dorchester (widow of the Dudley Carleton, Viscount Dorchester) and through Henry Glemham, later bishop of St Asaph, to Charles II’s mistress, Lady Castlemaine. His second wife was the sister-in-law of Matthew Wren, bishop of Hereford (later translated to Norwich and then to Ely). His third wife was the daughter of a prominent London merchant. Such advantageous marriages may explain his prosperity and ability to secure preferment. By the time of his death he was able to bequeath over £6,000 in money bequests and two Oxfordshire manors.

At the Restoration, having been sequestered during the late 1640s, Paul resumed his post as a royal chaplain and beneficed clergyman and, in 1661, was appointed dean of Lichfield. Later that year he preached before the king a stern warning against backsliding into sin.5 In the summer of 1663 he succeeded Robert Skinner, as bishop of Oxford. The new bishop was permitted to hold in commendam the well-endowed Oxfordshire rectories of Chinnor and Baldwin-Brightwell.6 Paul was consecrated at Lambeth in December 1663. Having registered his proxy in favour of Gilbert Sheldon on 20 Mar. 1664, he eventually took his seat in the Lords the following month on 21 April.

Paul attended the House for over half of the sittings in the first (spring) session of 1664. He was not appointed to any committees but supported the episcopal bench throughout the passage of the first Conventicle Act in May 1664. When Parliament reassembled on 24 Nov. 1664 Paul became much more active in the House, attending over 80 per cent of the sittings and being named to numerous committees. He is not recorded as having registered his dissent on any occasion.

Paul died at Chinnor on 24 Aug. 1665 before Parliament could reassemble. He had made his complex will the previous November, providing generously for his large family, servants, the poor, and for the cathedrals of Lichfield and Chichester. He left £5,800 to provide portions for three of his daughters; when one, Bridget, later married Sir Edmund Warneford her portion was £1,900.7 He also bequeathed to his successor all the timber newly acquired for the rebuilding of Cuddesdon. The bishop was buried in the chancel of Baldwin-Brightwell Church where his ‘disconsolate’ widow and executor, Rachel, erected a ‘fair marble’ monument to his memory.8


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/319.
  • 2 Ibid.
  • 3 Ath. Ox. iv. 828-29.
  • 4 Lansd. 986, ff. 44-45; Salmon, Lives, 311.
  • 5 Evelyn Diary, iii. 303.
  • 6 CSP Dom. 1663-4, pp. 171, 198, 335.
  • 7 HP Commons 1660-1690, iii. 671.
  • 8 Lansd. 986, f. 44.