DURDENT, Edward (d.1397), of Durdents in Denham, Bucks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
s. of Philip Durdent of Durdents by Margery née Eccleshall. m. 2s.
Keeper of Langley Marish park, Bucks. 30 Aug. 1395-d.
The family of Durdent held a manor in Denham from the mid 12th century, as tenants of Westminster abbey. This estate, together with 80 acres of meadowland in Harefield, across the Buckinghamshire border with Middlesex, was settled in 1356 by Philip Durdent on himself for life, with remainder to his son Philip, the latter’s wife Margery Eccleshall and their issue. Following Philip senior’s death about five years later, Edward, his grandson, claimed to be the heir, under the terms of this entail, only to encounter from the first considerable difficulty in establishing his title. One Thomas Galion asserted that its descent was governed by an earlier entail, under which he himself should have inherited, and by an accord reached in October 1362 it was agreed that although Edward Durdent might hold the property for his lifetime in return for an annual payment to Galion of ten marks, after his death Galion and his heirs would again be free to pursue their claim in the lawcourts. It would appear that Durdent then spent some time in gaol, for, described as ‘of full age and sound memory and out of prison’, in November 1364 he quitclaimed to William de Naffreton and Margaret his wife three messuages and large tracts of land at ‘le Southland’ in Denham, which Margaret was entitled to hold for life (as her dower as widow of one of the Durdents). That he was in severe financial trouble is clear, not only from his decision in 1367 to relinquish all title to the same properties to Naffreton, but also from his conveyance in the same year, to his brother Thomas and others, of ‘Balhammesgrove’ in Denham, in anticipation of a grant to Westminster abbey, by which monastery Thomas was already employed. (He was to serve as janitor at the abbey from 1369 to 1371 and, subsequently, as one of the lay officials of the abbot’s household.) In that same year, too, Edward leased to the abbot, Nicholas Litlington, his manor of Denham for 15 years, the latter permitting him to live there provided that the abbey servants had right of entry for storing and carting agricultural produce. Durdent was still being sued in the lawcourts, so, having sought Litlington’s help, he placed the manor in the hands of the abbot’s nominees. Accordingly, it was they who two years later were charged at the assizes with unlawfully disseising Alice, widow of William Langley, of a moiety of the manor. Furthermore, the abbot paid £5 to one of them, Robert Guy, towards his costs for acting as Durdent’s solicitor in the case. Durdent was bound to the abbot in £200 for various expenses incurred by Litlington in his name, in defence of his property in Denham. He therefore made another agreement with the abbot, this time leasing him the manor for 15 years from Michaelmas 1375, on the understanding that if he managed to reduce his debt by 200 marks within five years, he might re-enter the estate. It was in lieu of part of the sum owing (60 marks) that Durdent made over another tract of land to the abbey in 1377.1
Surprisingly, Durdent did manage to recover his property by September 1380 (when he let his fishery in the river Coln). But this was by no means the end of his troubles: he still had a millstone of debt about his neck, notably the sum of £100 he owed to Abbot Litlington on a statute staple; and although the abbot was prepared to waive that particular debt, he only did so after Durdent had given up yet another part of his inheritance. It is difficult to explain the election of this impecunious esquire to the Parliament of November 1390. We may speculate that by then he had possibly entered royal service. But even if this were so, the only indications that he ever had any influence at Court is the grant made in 1392 to his son, Edward Durdent the younger, of the wardship and marriage of Cecily, daughter and heir of Robert Aleyn of East Beckham, Norfolk (whom young Durdent subsequently married), and the award for life he himself, as ‘King’s esquire’, enjoyed from August 1395 (shortly after his second Parliament), namely, of the keepership of the royal park at Langley Marish, near his home.2
Durdent died shortly before 24 Nov. 1397 and was succeeded at