FRENCH, Robert, of Totnes, Devon.

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



Jan. 1377
Nov. 1384

Family and Education

?m. (1) Anne, da. and h. of Robert Winard of Sharpham, Devon;1 (2) Maud. 1s.

Offices Held

Steward, Totnes c.1386-7.2

Commr. of inquiry, Devon Mar. 1401 (ownership of lands in Harberton); oyer and terminer Mar. 1411.

Escheator, Devon 29 Nov. 1402-1 Dec. 1405.

Steward of the estates of Buckfast abbey, Plympton priory and Sir John Pomeroy* by Oct. 1407.3


It was either this Robert French or his son of the same name who by his marriage acquired the manor of Sharpham, about two miles from Totnes, and the family also owned property in Chudleigh and Stokenham.4 The parliamentary burgess was a lawyer, and from 1373 onwards is found acting in the central courts at Westminster on behalf of clients from Devonshire and in association with such notable men of law as Lord Bryan’s steward, John Prescott*, and the recorder of Exeter, Thomas Raymond*.5 This experience was no doubt of some value when he himself came to hold courts in Totnes as steward for the lord of the borough, William, Lord Zouche (d.1396). In the meantime, in 1383 French had appeared at the Exchequer on behalf of the prior of Totnes, Thomas Swynford, but evidently he developed a personal antipathy to certain monks of the house, one of whom, a kinsman of Swynford’s, he and three other Totnes men fell upon and brutally mutilated. On 4 Feb. 1388, shortly after the incident,