ADDERBURY (ABBERBURY), Sir Richard I (c.1331-1399), of Donnington, Berks. and Steeple Aston, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b.c.1331,1 prob. s. of Thomas Adderbury of Donnington and Steeple Aston. m. perhaps c.1353, Agnes, 3rd da. of Sir William Shareshull, c.j.KB (d.1370), of Barton, Oxon. by his 1st w. Denise, da. of Otwell Purcell, 2s. inc. Sir Richard II*, 2da. Kntd. by Feb. 1356.

Offices Held

J.p. Berks. 8 Mar. 1364-June 1365, 24 Nov. 1383-July 1389, 24 Dec. 1390-d., Oxon. 1 July 1375-7, 8 July-Dec. 1382, 24 Nov. 1383-July 1389, 24 Dec. 1390-d., Wilts. 4 July 1391-4.

Commr. of arrest, Oxon. Oct. 1375; to make inventories of jewellery of Edw. III Dec. 1377, Feb. 1378; of array, Oxon. Mar. 1380, Apr. 1385, Berks. Mar. 1392; inquiry, Oxon. Feb. 1381 (homicide), Wilts. June 1382 (condition of Marlborough castle), Oxon. Aug. 1382 (disturbances); to put down rebellion, Oxon., Berks. Mar., Dec. 1382; of oyer and terminer, Worcs. Aug. 1382, Oxon. Oct. 1382, Berks. Feb. 1383, general Apr. 1383, Worcs. May 1384, Oxon. July 1384, Dorset Nov. 1389, Feb. 1390 (Queen Anne’s estates); to audit the accounts of the keeper of the King’s jewels June 1383; hold assizes, Berks. May 1389, Glos. Dec. 1390; determine appeals from the constable’s ct. May 1389, Mar. 1394, from the admiral’s ct. May 1391; of gaol delivery, Reading Nov. 1393; to audit accounts of Queen Anne’s treasurer and receiver-general Feb. 1396, Oct. 1397, Apr. 1399; determine dispute between Sir William Bagot* and Coventry May 1396; of weirs, Berks., Oxon. June 1398.

‘Master’ of Richard, prince of Wales c. Oct 1376-c. May 1377.

Jt. capt. of Brest castle, Brittany 18 Feb. 1378-20 May 1379.

On embassies to Brittany 14 July-20 Sept. 1379, Bruges and Germany 26 Dec. 1380-17 Mar. 1381; to treat with the French and Flemings Apr. 1390.

Tax surveyor, Oxon. Aug. 1379.

Chamberlain to Queen Anne by May 1382-aft. May 1386.

Receiver of the King’s chamber 11 Sept.-15 Nov. 1382.2

Member of the King’s Council by Aug. 1389-aft. Aug. 1390.


Richard Adderbury’s presumed father, Thomas, inherited the family’s substantial estates in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire and Sussex in 1346, on the death of his nephew, Sir John Adderbury, only for them to pass to Richard himself within seven years. Richard took possession of the Adderbury property at Donnington before July 1353, for he then obtained a royal commission of oyer and terminer to investigate his complaint about a forced entry there.3 Heading the commissioners was Chief Justice Shareshull, later to become, if he was not already, Adderbury’s father-in-law. Although the marriage was one fully in keeping with his social standing and position as a landowner of consequence, it did not lead to any appreciable increase in his landed holdings, for Agnes Shareshull, as the judge’s youngest child, was to be given only the final remainder in the Shareshull estates under the terms of the entail arranged by her father in 1367. However, it would seem that a settlement was drawn up in her favour on another occasion, for in 1384 her nephew (Sir) William Shareshull*, was to make a quitclaim to Adderbury of the family manor of Barton ‘Cede’ and lands in Steeple Barton, Oxfordshire, enabling Adderbury to retain them for the rest of his life.4

The direction taken by Adderbury’s career was largely determined by the fact that he held his manors of Old Shoreham, Sussex, and Donnington, Berkshire, of Edward, prince of Wales, for this feudal tie soon developed into a personal one. In February 1359, already a knight, Adderbury took out royal letters of protection as about to depart for Gascony in the prince’s retinue, and he was to campaign with the prince there again in the spring of 1366. Edward’s satisfaction with his performance was expressed in November 1367 with the grant of a life-annuity of £40, paid out of the prince’s revenues at Chester, in return for Adderbury’s undertaking to provide military support in time of war. Accordingly, Sir Richard was mustered with others of the prince’s retinue at Northampton in 1368 (accompanied by his own contingent of four esquires and ten archers), and in the following year he served in Gascony as one of Edward’s officers. Indeed, he stayed on as seneschal of the Limousin after his lord’s return to England in 1371.5 His experience of warfare was subsequently put to good use by the Crown: he spent from March to July 1374 at sea with a force of 39 men-at-arms and 40 archers, a voyage which cost the government over £500. Following the death of the Black Prince in June 1376, Adderbury remained close to his widow, Joan of Kent, and young heir, Richard of Bordeaux; in fact, he was in attendance at the assignment of dower to the princess of Wales in October, as a representative of the interests of Prince Richard, and such was his concern for the latter’s welfare that a month later he sold his own manors of Old Shoreham and Todham, Sussex, to John, Lord Arundel, in order to raise money to help support the boy’s estate. (Tardily, eight years after he became King, Richard was to recompense him for his loss.) In all probability, Adderbury was at that time the prince’s ‘master’— that is, the person of quality made responsible for his safety and general upbringing— and for a while he also acted as steward of Richard’s estates. Expressly as a reward for having been the prince’s ‘first master’, in May 1377 he received a grant for life of his manors of Helston in Trigg, Cornwall, and South Town, Devon.6

Richard’s accession to the throne made no immediate difference to Adderbury’s position, staying as the latter did in close attendance on the King. In June 1377 he was among those sent to the citizens of London, either by the King or, more likely, his mother, to negotiate a reconciliation between them and the King’s uncle, John of Gaunt, and it was as ‘King’s knight’ that three months later he was granted custody of Dartmoor forest for life, entirely rent free. (A royal commission afterwards found that he was even entitled to certain lucrative perquisites from the bailiwick of the forest.) That December he was deputed to help make an inventory of the jewels and other valuables belonging to the late King Edward III, to ensure that these were removed from whoever had them (doubtless such persons included Alice Perrers, condemned to forfeiture by the Parliament then in session), and to deliver them to the keeper of the great wardrobe. Royal confirmation of Adderbury’s annuity from the Black Prince was provided in March 1378, at about the same time as the Exchequer paid him £10 for riding to Ludlow with personal messages from the King to Edmund, earl of March.7 Another, more hazardous, journey was in store for him. He and Sir John Golafre had recently contracted to serve as captains of Brest castle in Brittany, and in May they embarked from Southampton with a company some 140 strong, sailing in La Alice, a ship which the King had given to Adderbury. Sir Robert Knolles (whose retinue’s wages of 1,000 marks they had taken with them) handed over custody of the castle on 10 June, and they then remained at Brest until May 1379. Their year’s service cost the Crown well over £6,500. On his return home, Adderbury resumed his place at Court as a knight of the King’s chamber, although almost immediately (in July) he sailed back to Brittany in the company of the duke, John de Montfort, to negotiate with him the terms of an Anglo-Breton alliance, and also to determine the respective claims to prisoners-of-war made by King Charles (‘the Bad’) of Navarre and John, Lord Arundel, marshal of England. He took passage back to Cornwall in September.8

Adderbury was to continue to wear royal livery as a chamber knight for at least six years more, and clearly enjoyed a position of influence with the young King. Richard placed such confidence in his former tutor as to dispatch him in December 1380 on embassy to Bruges for negotiations with the envoys of the King of the Romans, Wenzel IV, about his marriage to the latter’s sister, Anne of Bohemia. He left Richard at Woodstock at Christmas and returned to London in March 1381, having while overseas also accompanied Sir Simon Burley on a journey to Germany for a personal audience with Wenzel. This participation in the arrangements for the King’s marriage laid a foundation for Adderbury’s attachment to the new queen, to whose service he was to be devoted until Anne’s death in 1394. Within a few weeks of Anne’s coronation in January 1382 Adderbury was acting as her chamberlain, an office he was to occupy for at least four years. That spring he served as her attorney and representative in transactions concerning the estates which had recently reverted to the Crown on the death of William de Ufford, earl of Suffolk; and in the summer he paid a London goldsmith 100 marks out of the Exchequer for making jewellery for her. For a few weeks in the autumn he simultaneously acted as receiver of the King’s chamber, although this was a temporary appointment, and on 15 Nov. he secured a formal acquittance of all money, gold plate and jewels belonging to the monarch.9 Queen Anne showed her appreciation of Adderbury’s services in May 1383 with a grant for his lifetime of the manors of Iffley, Oxfordshire, and Carswell, Berkshire, worth £40 a year. (These the King was to present to him outright two years later, as compensation for the losses he had sustained on his behalf in selling part of his own inheritance in 1376.) Adderbury’s position as an intimate member of the Court circle is further indicated not only by his being asked in July 1385 to act as a trustee of estates belonging to the King’s half-brother, Sir John Holand (then in deep disgrace for having murdered the earl of Stafford’s heir), but also by his nomination in the following month as an executor of the will of the King’s mother, Princess Joan. Evidently, the royal family regarded him as entirely trustworthy. Marks of favour shown him by the King in 1386 included (in March) a grant entitling his son, Sir Thomas Adderbury, to whom Sir Richard had given his life-interest in Helston, to retain this manor for the duration of his own lifetime, and (in June) a licence to build himself a castle at Donnington.10

While attending his second Parliament, at Westminster in October 1386, Adderbury gave evidence in the court of chivalry in favour of Richard, Lord Scrope, in the latter’s controversy with Sir Robert Grosvenor over the right to bear identical heraldic arms. Although nothing is known of his personal reaction to the political events of the Parliament itself, culminating in the impeachment of the former chancellor, there can be no doubt that he was identified with the court party, for in January 1388 he was to be among those expelled from the King’s presence by the Lords Appellant. By good fortune he escaped imprisonment and possible execution at their hands, and when Richard II took back control of the government in the spring of 1389 he returned to the King’s side. Richard welcomed him with a grant of a charter of free warren in his demesne lands. More significantly, Adderbury now began to make regular appearances as a member of the King’s Council. As such, he served on the committee set up in August that year to supervise the sale of certain of the estates forfeited to the Crown by judgement of the two Parliaments of 1388. Matters of diplomatic importance followed: in the spring of 1390 he was sent on an embassy to treat with the French for a permanent peace, as well as with the Flemings for a truce; at Westminster palace in May he set his seal to the King’s letter to Pope Boniface IX stating royal policy as expressed in the second Statute of Provisors; and he was sent a summons to attend the Council in August for discussions regarding breaches of the truce in Aquitaine. Precisely how long Adderbury remained a royal councillor is uncertain, although his inclusion on commissions to determine appeals from the courts of chivalry, and on another to arbitrate in the dispute between that prominent councillor, Sir William Bagot, and the civic authorities of Coventry, point to his continued participation in government at the centre at least until 1396. Rewards for his ‘long, good service’ included a tun of wine a year from the prisage of Bristol, and, in June 1393, the grant of a royal wardship.11

Although no longer chamberlain to Queen Anne, Sir Richard continued in the early 1390s to act as a member of her council, too; and for his assistance the queen gave him for life a tun of wine a year, as well as a supply of wood, charcoal and venison from Wychwood forest. The winter following the queen’s death in 1394 he spent in Ireland with the King’s forces, and after his return he shared with Sir Philip de la Vache* in June 1395 the wardship of John Fitzellis’s heir, together with the young man’s marriage, for which latter they paid £100. Twice in 1390 Adderbury had obtained royal letters patent granting exemption from holding local office against his will, but it was only now, when in his sixties, that his workload in Oxfordshire and Berkshire underwent reduction. Even so, he served on the benches of both counties right up to his death, all the while continuing to share responsibility for the audit of the accounts of the late Queen Anne’s treasurer and receiver-general.12

Adderbury’s connexions were naturally many, especially among those familiar with the royal court. John, Lord Lovell, had employed him as an attorney and feoffee-to-uses in the 1380s; Sir Philip de le Vache had entrusted him with the estates he held as custodian during the minority of (Sir) John Beauchamp* of Holt; and Sir John Golafre, a favoured knight of the King’s chamber, named him as overseer of his will in 1394. During the 1390s Adderbury also acted as a feoffee and surety for William Wilcotes*, the chief steward of Queen Anne’s estates, and he asked Wilcotes’s kinsman, John Wilcotes*, to be his executor, along with William Mackney*, another Oxfordshire man and royal esquire.13

Over the years Adderbury had augmented the estates he had inherited in Oxfordshire and Berkshire by acquiring the manor of Peasemore (in 1378), an interest for life in the Golafre estate at Langley, together with the bailiwick of Wychwood forest (in 1380) and the reversion of the manor of Kidlington (held by de la Vache and his wife in survivorship). In addition, he leased a house in the City of London, in Distaff Lane. Over the same period, however, he was disposing of other properties: he sold Carswell, which the queen had given him;14 and throughout his career he was engaged in a generous endowment of religious and charitable foundations. As early as 1362 he had alienated the advowson of Steeple Aston to the Augustinian canons at Cold Norton. Four years afterwards he obtained a royal licence to found a chantry chapel of two priests at Donnington, altering his plans in 1376 in order that part of the endowment might be made to the house of Crutched friars near the Tower of London, in return for the friars’ undertaking to supply two of their number to serve in the chapel. Subsequently, a small dependent friary, known as the priory of Holy Cross, was built next to this chapel, maintained by revenues from land donated by Adderbury in 1394 and 1399; and in the meantime, in 1393, he had also founded a hospital there, which he endowed with the manor of Iffley (given him by the King) as well as with property in Berkshire. Nor was this all, for in 1381 and 1392 he made grants of land to the Cistercian abbey at Bruern. That Adderbury was naturally a devout man is further suggested by his admission in September 1394, on the eve of embarkation for Ireland, to the confraternity of Llanthony priory by Gloucester.15

A lifetime of service dedicated to the Black Prince and his son Richard II ended with Adderbury’s death early in April 1399.16 His will has not survived. He was succeeded by his son, Sir Richard Adderbury II.

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 166.
  • 2. T.F. Tout, Chapters, vi. 57.
  • 3. CIPM, vii. 557; viii. 643; CPR, 1350-4, p. 512; C.C. Brooks, Hist. Steeple Aston, 51; VCH Oxon. vi. 304; xi. 124.
  • 4. B.H. Putnam, Sir Wm. Shareshull, 8, app.1; CCR, 1381-5, p. 449; VCH Oxon. xi. 64.
  • 5. Reg. Black Prince, i. 21, 31; Foedera ed. Rymer (Hague edn.) iii(1), 119; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, i. 154, 156; DKR, xxxvi. 1; E101/29/24; Chandos Herald, Life Black Prince ed. Pope and Lodge, 131.
  • 6. E101/33/25; CPR, 1374-7, p. 376; 1377-81, p. 155; 1385-9, p. 15; CCR, 1374-7, p. 458; VCH Suss. iv. 51-52; vi. 150; Tout, iii. 330-1; iv. 191.
  • 7. T. Walsingham, Hist. Ang. ed. Riley, i. 330; CPR, 1377-81, pp. 23, 155; 1381-5, pp. 136, 279; CFR, ix. 50; E403/465 m. 12.
  • 8. CPR, 1377-81, p. 151; E101/37/2, 30, 38/9, 318/21; E374/13 mm. C, D; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte ii. 129-30.
  • 9. Tout, iv. 344; E101/401/2, f. 42; E364/15 m. F; Dip. Corresp. Ric. II (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xlviii), 16-17; CFR, ix. 287; CIPM, xv. 623; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 54, 135; Issues ed. Devon, 221-2; CPR, 1381-5, p. 192; 1385-9, p. 154.
  • 10. CPR, 1381-5, p. 311; 1385-9, pp. 15, 133, 156; CCR, 1392-6, p. 224; Test. Vetusta, i. 14.
  • 11. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 166; Walsingham, ii. 173; CChR, v. 319; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 107, 204; 1391-6, p. 281; PPC, i. 11, 17; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ii. 162; Dip. Corresp. Ric. II, 221; CCR, 1389-92, p. 141.
  • 12. CPR, 1388-92, pp. 263, 374; 1391-6, pp. 476, 488-9, 526, 594.
  • 13. Ibid. 1377-81, p. 458; 1391-6, p. 331; 1396-9, p. 136; CCR, 1381-5, p. 427; 1385-9, p. 297; 1389-92, p. 301; 1399-1402, pp. 304-5; CFR, xi. 136; Lambeth Pal. Lib., Reg. Arundel, i. f. 155.
  • 14. CP25(1)12/74/5; CPR, 1377-81, p. 444; 1381-5, p. 149; VCH Berks. iv. 456; Corporation of London RO, hr 105/20.
  • 15. CPR, 1361-4, p. 190; 1374-7, p. 197; 1374-7, p. 252; 1381-5, p. 18; 1391-6, pp. 209, 267, 368-9; 1396-9, p. 469; 1399-1401, p. 486; 1446-52, p. 169; C115/K2/6684, f. 173d.
  • 16. CPR, 1396-9, pp. 518, 526.