In addition to his house in St. Mary-le-bow, it is related that west from Gresham College was another fair house where Sir William kept his mayoralty.1 He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Scopeham, and had three sons and one daughter, Thomas, William, Francis, and Anne. He was believed to be as wealthy as any one who had previously passed through the office of Lord Mayor, and he was owner of much landed property in various parts of the country. Sir William being convinced that his eldest son Thomas, from his habits of extravagance, was unfitted for the management of large estates, bequeathed the bulk of his wealth to his second son, who bore the same name as himself. He died in 1542, before the completion of the fine cross he was then erecting in Coventry, described by Dugdale as “one of the chief things in which the city glories.” This work was completed by his executors.

The second Sir William was born in London about the last year of Henry VII. He lived through the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Queen Mary, and a great part of that of Queen Elizabeth. He married in the lifetime of his father, Anne, eldest daughter and co-heir of John Densel of Densel in Cornwall, descended from a family of great antiquity. By her he had two sons, Denzil and Gervase, also a daughter named Gertrude. Among numerous estates devolving on him was that of Haughton, in Nottinghamshire, formerly called Longvilliers, from the family once resident there. It is described as a seat both pleasant and commodious, lying between the forest and the clay, partaking both of the sweet and wholesome air of the one, and the fertility of the other.”2 When Sir William entered into posses sion of Haughton, it is not improbable that some part of the house then standing would be coeval in erection with the chapel in the meadow near at hand, the ruins of which yet remain, and are of Norman origin. The buildings were surrounded by a moat, the entrance being by a drawbridge at the base of a lofty tower, protected by a battlemented gateway. Soon after entering into possession, the enlargement of the mansion was commenced. The tower was allowed to remain, and is probably shown in the view of Haughton drawn for John Holles, Duke of Newcastle. Sir William added the great hall, which is described as standing in the centre of the buildings where, in the time of Gervase Holles, the historian, his initials were carved over the fireplace as well as at the entrance from the court. In the windows of the hall were also placed escutcheons of arms in stained glass of the family of Elizabeth Scopeham, Sir William’s mother. The sleeping apartments and offices were on the upper side.

It must have been an event of considerable importance in the quiet lives led by the inhabitants of Haughton, when Sir William, attended by fifty followers on horseback, dressed in blue coats and wearing badges, set out to attend the coronation of Edward VI., where he received the honour of knighthood.2

Sir William was a fitting type of the “fine old English gentleman” of the time of the eighth Henry. Free-hearted and generous almost to a fault, he was of so noble a nature that for more that fifty years after his death he was spoken of as “the good Sir William” or “the good lord of Haughton.” We are told by Gervase Holles that “so little did he want to take advantage of any one, even after he had bargained for the purchase of a neighbouring property, which it would have been a great convenience to him to possess, as it stood within a short distance of his own mansion, that on the wife of the person who sold it informing him in great distress that if her husband sold ‘The Lownd’ she and her children would be utterly undone, he exclaimed: ‘Sake of God, I will have none of it; never shall it be said that any one was a penny the worse for my occasions.’ He resigned the bargain, which his heirs have since for above sixty years endeavoured to retrieve, but without success.”

Although there is no record of the arrangement of the interior of the good knight's abode, it may safely be inferred, from his taste for display, that at Haughton would be found all the rude comforts of those days of “Merry England,” and the refinement that sprang up during the reign of Elizabeth. It is known that he was on terms of intimacy with the Earl of Shrewsbury, whom he must have often visited at Worksop Manor, or at his two great houses in Sheffield. It is only natural that, with his wealth, he should be inspired to emulate the great Earl in the appointments and the beautifying of his mansion. A taste for painting and the decorative arts had been aroused, in great measure by the presence of Holbein in this country. In the memoirs of the family a portrait of Sir William’s daughter Gertrude being incidentally mentioned, it may reasonably be concluded that this was not the only painting he possessed. At this time tapestry hangings, both foreign and English, were in great request. We read of the importation of four thousand pieces in one ship, and though there is no account that Sir William’s walls were so adorned, or of the hangings of velvet and silk of his beds, nor of the silver and gold plate displayed in his court-cupboards, or in his cabinets, yet we may have confidence that the work of the specially clever workmen of those days would find its way to Haughton.

Christmas, the great festival of the winter, was begun at Haughton on All-hallow-tide, and continued until Candlemas, and during that time any man was permitted to stay and receive hospitality for three days without being asked from whence he came or what he was.3

1 Stow. 
2 Thoroton's Nottinghamshire—Throsby’s edition.
3 It is said that Thomas Holles, Sir William’s brother, whose want of prudence their father had foreseen, was attended by seventy followers at the coronation. On which Gervase Holles remarks: “This extravagance he continued so long as he was able, and like a well spread oak, carried a great shade, even when spent to the heart.”