He was a son of another William of Worcester, a Bristol whittawer (worker in white leather), and his wife Elizabeth, née Botoner. His mother was a daughter of Thomas Botoner from Coventry, and he sometimes used the surname Botoner.
He was educated at Oxford and became secretary to Sir John Fastolf. When Fastolf died in 1459, Worcester discovered that he had bequeathed him nothing, despite his being one of Fastolf's executors, and, with one of his colleagues Sir William Yelverton, Worcester disputed the validity of the will. However, an amicable arrangement was made and Worcester obtained some lands near Norwich and in Southwark. He died about 1482.
Worcester made several journeys through England, and his notes (now known as his "Itineraries") contain much information. His survey of Bristol, which he appears to have devised as a self-contained work, is particularly detailed, and of great value to historians and antiquaries. Portions of his notes were printed by James Nasmith in 1778; and the description of Bristol was published by James Dallaway under the title William Wyrcestre Redivivus in 1823, and reprinted in his Antiquities of Bristowe in 1834. Modern scholarly editions and translations have been published as the Itineraries of William Worcestre in 1969, edited by John Harvey; and as The Topography of Medieval Bristol in 2000, edited by Frances Neale.
The Boke of Noblesse, written some time in the 1450s, was produced in the wake of disastrous English losses in France and was later revised with the apparent intention of encouraging King Edward IV to renew his claim on the French throne.
Worcester also wrote Annales rerum Anglicarum, a work of some value for the history of England under Henry VI. This was published by Thomas Hearne in 1728, and by Joseph Stevenson for the Rolls Series with his Letters and Papers illustrative of the Wars of the English in France during the Reign of Henry VI (1864). Stevenson also printed here collections of papers made by Worcester respecting the wars of the English in France and Normandy.
- Harvey, John, ed. (1969). Itineraries [of] William Worcester: edited from the unique MS Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 210. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0198222033.
- Neale, Frances, ed. (2000). William Worcestre: The Topography of Medieval Bristol. Bristol Record Society. 51. Bristol: Bristol Record Society. ISBN 0901538213.
- McFarlane, K. B. (1957). "William Worcester: a preliminary survey". In Davies, J. Conway (ed.). Studies presented to Sir Hilary Jenkinson, C.B.E., LL.D, F.S.A. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 196–221.
- Orme, Nicholas (2006) . "Worcester [Botoner], William (1415–1480×85)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29967. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Worcester, William.|
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Worcester, William". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 821.