CHURCH (CHIRCHE), Richard (d.1428), of Thornham and Gislingham, Suff.

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

m. (1) bef. Feb. 1379, Katherine, da. of Robert Gislingham; (2) bef. Feb. 1397, Margaret. 1da.

Offices Held

Tax collector, Suff. May 1398, Dec. 1407.

Bailiff, Ipswich Sept. 1401-2.1


Church came from Thornham near Eye, some 20 miles from Ipswich. Through his first marriage he acquired lands in the same area of Suffolk, and in 1381 he and his wife enfeoffed Sir William Burgate* and others of the manors of Bedingfield and of ‘Swardeshawe’ and ‘Rishes’ in Gislingham. Ten years later Church alone made a further conveyance to the same trustees of ‘Swardeshawe’ and of ‘le Woodhouse’ in Thornham Parva, along with other property in Finningham, Wyverstone, Burgate, Mellis and Yaxley, all of which were subsequently transferred back to his keeping. Over the years Church had many dealings with Sir William Burgate, and it may well be that they were connected by ties of kinship as well as by those of landlord and tenant. For instance, in 1408 Church witnessed a deed for Sir William and, after the latter’s death in the following year, he assisted the widow in transactions relating to property in Burgate. In 1412 Sir William’s feoffees conveyed to Church and his second wife ‘Swardeshawe’ and ‘le Woodhouse’ at farm, and it would appear that they then retained these manors until Church’s death.2

Church also established connexions with another of the leading figures of the community of the shire: Sir William Elmham*. In 1393 he acted as a trustee for Elmham’s purchase of the manor of Walsham and, following Sir William’s death ten years later, he served his widow as a feoffee (Burgate was another), helping her to complete the sale of the same manor. Church brought a suit in Chancery when a Bury St. Edmunds man failed to render account as his receiver, only for the defendant to be pardoned his outlawry in 1396. With his second wife, Church obtained in 1397 papal indults for a portable altar and for plenary remission of their sins at death.3

The factors which prompted this minor Suffolk landowner first to acquire property in Ipswich and then to become involved in the affairs of the town are now obscure. Yet, in March 1399, as ‘of Gislingham’ he joined with two others in obtaining a lease of three tenements in St. Laurence’s parish, and five months later he purchased from Robert Lucas* a shop in the same district. To this last he added land in 1400, and he subsequently acquired premises in St. Mary’s and in ‘le Oldebocherye Street’ which had once belonged to John Cobbet†. Having been chosen as bailiff of the town in 1401, he was returned to his only known Parliament at the end of his term of office. Church probably retained interests in Ipswich for the rest of his life; certainly, in April 1407 he renewed his lease on the properties in St. Laurence’s parish, this time his co-lessees being Gilbert Debenham* and James* and Robert Andrew I*. He attended the shire elections for Suffolk held at Ipswich later that same year. Some time before 1415 Church sued a London citizen in the courts at Westminster for a debt of 50 marks.4

Church made his will with regard to his landed property on 16 Jan. 1424 and a last testament on 12 Apr. 1428. He died before 20 May following, the date of probate in the Norwich diocesan consistory court. His heir was his only daughter Mary, wife of William Topsfield, who, after the death of Church’s widow, was to inherit the manor in Bedingfield, which he had purchased from the Erpingham family.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: K.N. Houghton / L. S. Woodger


  • 1. E368/175; N. Bacon, Annalls of Ipswiche ed. Richardson, 87.
  • 2. CIPM, xv. 982; Harl. Chs. 47 E 13, 48 A 41-43, 50 H 2, 51 E 52; Procs. Suff. Inst. Arch. xix. 352-3; CP25(1)223/112/21.
  • 3. CPR, 1391-6, pp. 262, 679; 1405-8, p. 99; 1408-13, p. 71; CPL, v. 39, 56.
  • 4. Stowe Chs. 392, 394, 395; Ipswich RO, recognizance rolls 18-23 Ric. II, 1-5 Hen. V; Add. 30158, f. 1; C219/10/4; CPR, 1413-16, p. 216.
  • 5. Norf. RO, Reg. Surflete, ff. 23-24; J. Copinger, Suff. Manors, iii. 269-70.