William Danvers was half-brother to Sir Robert Danvers of Ipwell in Oxfordshire, the Judge of the Common Pleas in the reigns of Henry VI and Edward IV, being second son of John Danvers of Calthorpe, near Banbury, in the same county, by his second wife, Joan, daughter of William Bruley of Waterstock. He probably received his legal education at Lincoln's Inn, where Robert had studied, although he does not appear in the list of the governors or of the readers in that house. There must have been a considerable difference between the ages of the two brothers - perhaps fifteen years - because William's career as an advocate, in the year books, does not commence until 1475, eight years after his brother's death.
William became a JP for Oxfordshire as early as 1456, and for Berkshire two years later. He was also appointed apportioner of the subsidy in Berkshire in 1463 and escheator for the two counties, as well as serving on various commissions from 1459 onwards. Though his elder brother, Thomas, was a Lancastrian, amidst all the tumult of the Wars of the Roses, William's was a quiet life, at Westminster or on circuit, dispensing justice and upholding, amongst the commons of England, the majesty of the law. He married Anne, the daughter and heiress of John Pury of Chamberhouse Castle at Crookham in Berkshire around 1470 and represented the Borough of Taunton, in Somerset, in the parliament of 1467 and, again, in 1472, if not in 1470 too. In 1478, he transferred to the constituency of Hindon in Wiltshire.
William's father-in-law died shortly after 1480 and he and his wife inherited Chamberhouse. He attained the degree of sergeant-at-law soon after the accession of King Henry VII, in the third year of whose reign (1488), he was appointed Justice of Assize in the North and raised to the Bench of the Common Pleas. Although his attendance in court is not noticed in the year books beyond Trinity Sunday 1501 - the year in which he was knighted, along with his brother, at the marriage of Prince Arthur - fines appear to have been acknowledged before him as late as February 1504.
Sir William died on 19th April 1504 and, in his will, asked that his body should be buried in the parish church of Thatcham, before the image of St. Nicholas. In fact, his widow erected a complete chapel on the south-east side of the church to house his tomb. Although the monument survives, the memorial brasses are long gone. Lady Danvers lived on at Chamberhouse for another twenty-six years, doing acts of kindness and charity to her poorer neighbours, to whom she was much endeared. She was also a patron of Sion Abbey in Middlesex. Their two eldest sons died within her lifetime. The younger one settled at Banbury in Oxfordshire, and the old castle passed to their sister, Isabel, by her marriage settlement to Martin Docwra made sixteen years before. They were the grandparents of Henry Docwra, Baron Docwra of Culmore.
Partly edited from Edward Foss' 'The Judges of England Volume 5' (1857).
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