DALLINGRIDGE, Sir John (d.1408), of Bodiam castle, Suss.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
J.p. Suss. 28 Nov. 1399-Feb. 1400, 26 Feb. 1403-d.
Commr. of array, Suss. Dec. 1399, Nov. 1403, July 1405; inquiry, Glos. Aug. 1401; arrest, Suss. May 1404; sewers, Kent, Suss. June 1407, Suss. June 1408.
Sheriff, Glos. 8 Nov. 1401-20 Jan. 1402.
Tax collector, Suss. Mar. 1404.
Keeper of Braden forest, Wilts. 14 Mar.-16 July 1405.
Constable of Bramber castle, Suss. 11 June 1405-d.
Parlty. cttee. for naval defence 3 Apr. 1406, to oversee the engrossment of the Parliament roll 22 Dec. 1406.1
John is first recorded in 1383 as, with his parents, a recipient of a royal pardon for acquiring the manor of Iden (Sussex) without the King’s licence. As an esquire, he accompanied his father on the naval expedition of March 1387, serving on the flagship of the admiral, Richard, earl of Arundel. However, following Sir Edward’s rise to the position of prominent councillor to Richard II, and (it may be presumed) his consequent detachment from his former place as trusted retainer of Arundel, John became a member of the entourage of Henry, earl of Derby, who at that time was in favour with the King. Shortly after participating in the jousts of St. Inglevert at Calais in April 1390, he joined Derby’s retinue for its journey to Prussia, where, at the siege of Wilna that October, he was promoted to knighthood. It was while they were overseas in the winter of 1390-1 that the earl coveted a gold chain of Dallingridge’s and offered him £6 13s.4d. for it. Sir John’s father was one of the ‘King’s knights’ whom Bolingbroke, at Bishop’s Lynn in July 1392, was to appoint as his general attorneys while he was absent abroad. Sir John probably remained in the earl’s service until Bolingbroke’s departure into exile seven years later.2
Sir Edward Dallingridge’s premature death in 1393 left his son faced with a number of obstacles to the secure possession of his substantial inheritance: the Exchequer made demands on him for certain forfeitures for which his father had held responsibility; he was required to confirm his parents’ sale of the Wardieu estates in Northamptonshire; and his paternal grandmother brought a suit against him in the court of common pleas, touching her dower rights in the manor of Bolebrook. Perhaps most damaging were the actions of the duke of Lancaster’s feodary in Sussex, who made distraint on his property for payment of heriot and relief due from Sir John for certain manors; however, having petitioned the duchy council in November 1395, and claimed that he held them merely as a lessee under the terms of a trust set up by his father, he was permitted a limited respite. It may well have been in order to secure protection from the fiscal exactions of Crown and duchy that, in the following January, he made enfeoffments of 11 manors in Sussex and another in Kent, at the same time transferring to friends all his moveable goods (save for five horses and the contents of a single manor-house, which he reserved for his personal use).3
Nevertheless, in common with many others of the gentry whose loyalty to the King was suspect, Dallingridge could not remain immune from royal intimidation, especially after Henry of Bolingbroke was accused of treason. In May 1398 he and the trustees of his estates were forced to pay 500 marks to obtain the King’s pardon and exemption from ‘all forfeiture, title, claim, right and interest’ which the Crown might have had in the premises on account of his father Sir Edward’s support for the Lords Appellant several years earlier. It no doubt seemed politic, while Bolingbroke was in exile, for Dallingridge to attach himself to a magnate openly allied with the King; and, accordingly, when he joined the army Richard II took to Ireland in April 1399, it was as a member of the retinue of the King’s half-brother, John Holand, duke of Exeter, then attempting to supplant the dispossessed Fitzalans in their political supremacy in Sussex. But clearly his sympathies remained with his former lord, to whose side he hastened on his return from France to England. Readily welcoming his support, on 18 Nov. Henry IV granted Sir John all the timber felled on the Dallingridge manors of Wilting and Hollington which Richard II had appropriated; and ten days later the new King appointed him as a j.p. Significantly, within three months of the accession he joined the elite group of ‘King’s knights’. Furthermore, Sir John had a friend at the very heart of government, for the new King’s first chancellor, John Scarle, clerk, had been a trustee of his estates for the previous three years. Evidently, King Henry entertained no doubts of Dallingridge’s loyalty even when his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Sackville II*, and his future executor, Thomas Waller, were both arrested on suspicion of complicity in the rising of the demoted duke of Exeter in January 1400; three days after Sir John had stood bail for his friends on 6 Feb., he was granted custody of the lordship of Rotherfield, forfeited by Thomas, Lord Despenser, for his part in that treason; and in the same month he was formally retained by the King for life with a handsome annuity of 100 marks. Dallingridge’s membership of the Household served only to strengthen the King’s fondness for him, and in August 1401 this annuity was all but doubled when the farm of Rotherfield was allowed him for the duration of the minority of Despenser’s heir.4
Henry IV always looked with favour on the Beauchamps of Powick, to whom Dallingridge now became related through his marriage to Sir William Beauchamp’s* sister. The match also had the advantage of substantially increasing his already considerable income. His own estates in Sussex alone provided him with more than £100 a year; now he could expect perhaps as much as £97 more, derived from the manors of Dassett and Griff in Warwickshire and Sudeley in Gloucestershire, which his wife, Alice, held in jointure from her marriage to Sir Thomas Butler.5 Dallingridge’s acquisition of Sudeley castle explains his appointment as sheriff of Gloucestershire in November 1401. His resignation from the post after barely two months may be ascribed to his duties in the King’s household, where he was numbered among the privileged dozen knights of the Chamber and Hall. Indeed, from May until July 1402 he was absent overseas acting as escort to the King’s daughter Blanche, travelling to Heidelberg for her wedding. That autumn Sir John was returned to Parliament for the first time. In the following year he accompanied King Henry on his peregrinations: thus, for instance, in August, soon after the suppression of the Percys’ rising at the battle of Shrewsbury, he was despatched from Doncaster to do royal business in the south, with orders to return to the King at Worcester. Sir John’s embarkation from Sandwich in June 1404 probably marked the start of another mission on Henry’s behalf. Dallingridge must have regularly come into contact with the influential (Sir) John Pelham*, a fellow Chamber knight who was to be his companion from Sussex in the next three Parliaments, although there are no signs that the two were on terms of close friendship. However, he had formed an amicable relationship with William Heron†, Lord Say, the steward of the royal household, whose second wife, Elizabeth Butler, was his own stepdaughter. He made Say a trustee of his estates, and following Say’s death in 1404 it was he whom the King entrusted with custody of the contents of his London house until it could be decided whether any of them were goods forfeited by the late earl of Worcester, Thomas Percy. The King’s knights were well placed to benefit from the discovery of plots to depose him and, for a while in 1405, Dallingridge held the keepership of Braden forest, forfeited by the duke of York (then a prisoner in Pelham’s custody); and more important, that June, while at the King’s side for the suppression of Archbishop Scrope’s rising in Yorkshire, he was granted for life custody of the castle and lordship of Bramber, forfeited by the archbishop’s ally, Thomas Mowbray, Earl Marshal, who had been executed only three days earlier. Henceforth he received his royal annuity of 100 marks, augmented by a further £40 a year, directly from the revenues of Mowbray’s estates, and the constableship of Bramber castle and keepership of St. Leonard’s forest were included in the grant. That autumn Sir John moved with the royal army to South Wales, where he fell into a dispute with Ralph Green*, an esquire whom he noticed bearing arms identical to his own — ‘d’argent ove une croice engreilé de gules’ — which he believed to have pertained to his own family ever since the Conquest. He impetuously offered to settle the matter by single combat, but Green more sensibly suggested that the King should arbitrate between them. Henry awarded that both should continue to bear the arms while on his service in Wales, and at Worcester in October referred the matter to the constable’s court. Dallingridge was still a member of the King’s household when returned to the Parliament of 1406.6 A prominent figure in the Commons, at the end of the first session he was nominated to the committee set up by his fellows to discuss, with the Council, how best to put into effect their plan for the merchants to take over responsibility for naval defence and thus allow for the discharge of the two treasurers of war (one of whom was his companion, Sir John Pelham). Then, on the last day of the Parliament, he was one of the dozen commoners authorized to oversee the engrossment of the Parliament roll.
During his last Parliament, at Gloucester in November 1407, Dallingridge took out letters patent of exemption from holding further royal offices against his will. Elected to the Parliament on 6 Oct., it would none the less appear that he was in a low state of health, for five days later he made his last will and testament. In fact, he did not survive another year, for he died on 27 Sept. 1408. He was buried in the Cistercian abbey church at Robertsbridge, next to the tomb of his parents, and his executors subsequently paid a ‘great and notable sum’ to ensure that the monks would regularly commemorate the anniversary of his death. His will was proved on 19 Nov.7