Sir William Gascoigne, Knt., Lord Chief Justice of England

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Sir William Gascoigne, Knt., Lord Chief Justice of England, son of William Gascoigne and Agnes Franke, was born about 1350.1 He died in 1419.2 Both he and his first wife were buried at All Saints Church, Harewood, Yorkshire, England.3

William married (1) Elizabeth Mowbray, daughter of Sir Alexander Mowbray, Knt. and Elizabeth Musters, between 22 June 1386 and 21 June 1387;4 he married (2), as her 2nd husband, Joan Pickering, daughter of Sir James Pickering, Knt., after November 1391.4

He made himself famous by sending Prince Henry (later Henry V, King of England) to prison for contempt of court stating:
Happy is the king who has a judge so resolute in administering the law, still happier in having a son who submits to it.

This was immortalized by Shakespeare in Henry IV, pt II, Act V, Scene II.

Other commentary on Sir William Gascoigne, Knt., Lord Chief Justice of England include:
By a resolute and judicious exertion of authority supported law and government in a manner which has perpetuated his name, and made him an example famous to posterity.
Never was the seat of judgement held by a more upright and independent magistrate. His refusal to try Archbishop Scrope and Thomas Mowbray, son of the banished Duke of Norfolk, who had died in exile are a couple instances of this. He said, 'Much as I am beholden to your Highness and all your lawful commands, I am bound by my allegiance to obey, but over the life of the prelate, I have not, and your Highness cannot give me, any jurisdiction. For the other prisoner, he is a peer of the realm, and has a right to be tried by his peers.'

He was educated at Cambridge and called to the bar by the society of Gray's Inn, and his arms may be seen in one of the windows of their hall. He was appointed Chief Justice of the King's Bench by patent, 15 November 1400. He retired in 1413, with an annuity of £20 per year. Later a royal warrant was issued, 14 Nov 1414, "granting to our dear and well-beloved William Gascoigne, an allowance during the term of his natural life of four bucks and four does out of your forest at Pontefract."4

For more information about Sir William Gascoigne, Knt., Lord Chief Justice of England, please see this Wikipedia article.

Family 1

Elizabeth Mowbray d. bef. Nov 1391

Family 2

Joan Pickering d. bef. 12 Jun 1427
This person was last edited on2 Jun 2021


  1. [S2051] J. W. Clay, editor, Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire, with additions (3 vols., Exeter, England: William Pollard & Co., 1899-1917), 3:98, further cited as Clay, Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire.
  2. [S2375] Christopher Matthew Bovis, "The Gascoigne Family, c. 1309-1592: Gentry and Identity" (Ph.D., University of York, 2017), 50; digitized at White Rose eTheses Online ( : downloaded May 2021), ethosID, further cited as Bovis, "The Gascoigne Family."
  3. [S2375] Bovis, "The Gascoigne Family," 52.
  4. [S950] Joseph Foster, Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire (Two vols., London: W. Wilfred Head, 1874), 1:2 (Gascoigne), further cited as Foster, Pedigrees of Yorkshire.
  5. [S2051] Clay, Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire, 2:288.
  6. [S748] John Watkins, "Re: Gascoigne of Gawthorpe - before the Chief Justice", soc.genealogy.medieval, newsgroup, 18 Jul 2014,, accessed May 2021.