FYNDERNE, William (d.1445), of Childrey, Berks.
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Family and Education
m. (1) bef. May 1404, Alice (d.c.1417), wid. of—;1 (2) c.1418, Elizabeth (c.1377-30 Oct. 1463), 1st da. and coh. of Thomas Childrey* of Childrey by his w. Elizabeth, wid. of Sir John Kingston (d.1415) of Little Corsley, Wilts., 1s. Thomas†.
Commr. of inquiry, general July 1412 (King’s rights to certain estates), Berks., Dorset, Hants, Oxon., Som., Wilts. July 1427 (concealments), Oxon., Berks. July 1428 (treasons and felonies); to raise royal loans, Berks. Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420, Oxon., Berks. Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431, Berks. Feb. 1441; of oyer and terminer, Wilts. Oct. 1426, Berks. Feb. 1430, Oxon. Mar. 1430; to assess a tax, Berks. Apr. 1431; distribute tax rebate Dec. 1433, Jan. 1436; administer the oath against maintenance May 1434; of array Jan. 1436; to treat for payment of parliamentary subsidies Feb. 1441.
Escheator, Essex and Herts. 6 Mar.-30 Nov. 1417, Hants and Wilts. 24 Jan.-17 Dec. 1426, Oxon. and Berks. 12 Feb.-5 Nov. 1430.
Sheriff, Wilts. 10 Nov. 1417-4 Nov. 1418, 6 Nov. 1424-15 Jan. 1426, Som. and Dorset 12 Dec. 1426-7 Nov. 1427, Oxon. and Berks. 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432.
J.p. Berks. 12 Feb. 1422-Mar. 1443, Oxon. 12 Feb. 1422-July 1423.
William Fynderne came from Derbyshire where, in 1412, he shared with a kinsman, John Fynderne, an interest in a manor in Repton; but at least ten years earlier than this he had moved to Essex, where he made his home. His first wife, Alice, enjoyed as dower from a previous marriage a third part of the manor of ‘Bourehall’ in that county, as well as a life interest in an estate of more than 850 acres in Lambourne, Chigwell, Shelley and elsewhere. This last, by a settlement made in 1404, was to revert after Alice’s death to members of the Derbyshire family of Sapurton, and although it is not made clear whether Alice was in fact a widow of one of the Sapurtons, Fynderne, at least, was to remain on friendly terms with them for the rest of his life. To these lands, estimated in 1412 to yield £20 a year clear, Fynderne added more property in Essex at Beauchamp Roding in 1414 and, after his wife’s death and the consequent loss of her landed holdings, he acquired in Manuden an estate of similar acreage to the one lost, and continued to hold it until his death.2
Fynderne’s second marriage, contracted in about 1418, provided him with landed interests elsewhere, for Elizabeth, as a coheir of the estates of her father, Thomas Childrey, brought him the manors of Childrey and South Fawley in Berkshire, and as the widow of Sir John Kingston she held as dower a number of properties in Wiltshire and Somerset. At Elizabeth’s death many years later these holdings were to be valued at over £32 a year.3 Nor was this sum, clearly an undervaluation, the full extent of Fynderne’s income from land, for in the course of a highly successful career as a lawyer he took the opportunity to increase his possessions by the purchase of more manors, situated in Cambridgeshire (at Little Carlton and Weston Colville) and in Dorset (at Corfe Mullen).4
This career properly began in July 1412 when Fynderne was associated with leading royal officials in an important commission of inquiry into reported rights of the King in a number of shires, apparently being employed as a lawyer by the duchy of Lancaster in its suit against Maud Holand, widow of John, Lord Lovell. He may have owed his co-option onto the investigative body to his relationship with John Fynderne, who was then taking duchy fees as apposer of foreign estreats in the Exchequer. Two years later, he was one of a distinguished committee of feoffees licensed by the Crown to receive from John Sapurton the wardenships of the Fleet prison and of the palace of Westminster together with properties in both places, in order to effect a settlement on Roger Sapurton and his heirs. (Twenty years later Fynderne was to be party to further settlements of the same on Roger Sapurton’s daughter and her husband, William Venour.)5 In 1417, on his appointment as escheator of Essex and Hertfordshire, Fynderne commenced a period of his career remarkable for its dedication to local administration, for between then and 1432 he was to serve as either escheator or sheriff for seven terms, his bailiwicks involving at one time or another no fewer than eight widely separated shires.
Fynderne’s second marriage brought him into close contact with the future under treasurer, William Darell† of Littlecote, the husband of his wife’s niece and coheir of the Childrey estates. In 1418 the two men stood surety at the Exchequer for Thomas Bonham*, the Wiltshire lawyer. It is not surprising to find them both in 1426 as party to settlements of former Childrey lands, nor to find Fynderne acting as a trustee of other properties on his friend’s behalf. Of more interest is the fact that in 1428 when Darell made an entail of his own estates in five counties, he promised Fynderne, his wife, Elizabeth, and their son Thomas, an interest in them for life, should it happen that he and his brother John Darell* (steward to Archbishop Chichele) both die without issue.6 Like the Darells, Fynderne had by then formed connexions of the highest importance in the government of the minority of Henry VI. Back in 1417 he had been named as a feoffee in the reversion of certain properties in Essex on behalf of Henry V’s grandmother, Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford, and this had no doubt given him a personal interest in the partition of the de Bohun inheritance when this matter came up for discussion before the Parliaments of May 1421 and 1422, both of which he attended as a knight of the shire for Berkshire. It may also have played a part in establishing his links with Henry V’s brother John, duke of Bedford, who by the terms of the King’s will became Regent of France during his nephew’s minority, and, by authority of the same Parliament of 1422, was made Protector of England whenever he should be in this country. However it came about, by December 1426 Fynderne was serving as a member of the duke’s council in England (being then engaged in correspondence on his behalf with the prior of Llanthony by Gloucester). As there is no evidence that he himself ever crossed over to France, it seems likely that his chief role as a councillor was to look after Bedford’s interests at home during his prolonged absence abroad; and, indeed, in May 1427 he was one of those to whom the duke gave full powers of attorney on his departure for France. That the nature of their relationship went beyond the purely official, is clear from a transaction completed in May 1431, for in the making of a settlement of land at Weston Colville on Fynderne and his wife and son (probably on the occasion of the latter’s marriage), Bedford himself acted as a trustee, in company with William Allington*, the former Speaker. Fynderne’s other contacts were also proving useful: in July that same year William Darell, then serving as under treasurer to Sir Walter (now Lord) Hungerford*, procured for them both at the Exchequer custody of the late Robert de la Mare’s* lands in Berkshire during the minority of his heir. Two years later, in 1433, it was Darell who, as sheriff of Berkshire, presided over Fynderne’s third election to Parliament. In April 1434 Fynderne was among those summoned to a great council held at Westminster, where Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, was to voice serious criticisms of his brother the duke of Bedford’s conduct of affairs as Regent of France, to which Bedford responded in kind, prolonging the debate until the young King intervened to end the dissension and nullify the mutually recriminating documents. Doubtless, Fynderne sympathized with his lord Bedford on the issues involved and perhaps lent him active support on this occasion. But he was soon to lose his patron, for the duke died just 18 months later. The question as to who should succeed Bedford in France was wide open when Fynderne’s final Parliament met in October 1435. Following the appointment of the duke of York as lieutenant-general a few months later, Fynderne was among those requested for loans to help raise the large sum needed to finance his army: he was asked for £50.7
As might be expected of a lawyer of Fynderne’s standing, he was called upon to act as a feoffee-to-uses by several of his acquaintances. Among these were Robert Harcourt†, John Golafre* (twice his companion in the Commons) and Robert Whittingham*, receiver of the late duke of Bedford’s estates (and on whose behalf he also witnessed deeds). In 1441 he was asked to attest a grant made to Bedford’s cousin, John Holand, earl of Huntingdon.8 Yet another sign of Fynderne’s standing among the gentry was the excellent match he was able to make for his son, Thomas. At Weston Colville the Fyndernes had as a neighbour Joan Swinburne, the elderly widow of Sir Robert Swinburne* (d.1391), who in 1430, shortly after the death without issue of the last of her five sons, agreed that her grand daughter, Katherine Berners, now coheir of the substantial Swinburne estates in Essex, Derbyshire and elsewhere, should marry the MP’s son. For a short while in the summer of 1433, immediately after Joan Swinburne’s death, Fynderne had custody from the Exchequer of his daughter-in-law’s inheritance.9
In February 1441 Fynderne obtained an exemption not only from further royal service, but also from being made to take up the honour of knighthood (a rank warranted by his emergence as a prosperous landowner, and one which his son was afterwards to accept). Three years later, with his end in sight, he gave an estate in Botley (Berkshire) to Lincoln college, Oxford, and also donated a sum of money to the college enabling it to purchase more land in 1445. That year, on 13 Mar., he died, and was buried in the church at Childrey, where his widow commissioned an elaborate monumental brass depicting him as a figure in armour with a tabard, and herself with a horned head dress and mantle with heraldic arms.10 The widow, by living on well past her 80th year, was to witness in 1461 the forfeiture of the Fynderne estates following the attainder in Edward IV’s first Parliament of her son, Sir Thomas, a staunch supporter of the Lancastrian cause, although her demise in 1463 prevented her ever learning of his death by beheading after the battle of Hexham. She was succeeded in her Childrey and Kingston lands by her grandson, Thomas Kingston.11
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Authors: J. S. Roskell / L. S. Woodger
- 1. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 242.
- 2. Ibid. 242, 262-3, 265; Derbys. Feet of Fines (Derbys. Rec. Soc. xi), no. 1041; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 555; C139/117/5; Feudal Aids, vi. 447.
- 3. C137/66/28, 87/34; C140/10/20; VCH Berks. iv. 175; VCH Wilts. viii. 16, 66, 72.
- 4. J. Hutchins, Dorset, ed. Bingham and Bond, iii. 355; Feudal Aids, ii. 122; VCH Cambs. vi. 150, 154, 185.
- 5. DL28/4/6; CPR, 1408-13, p. 431; 1413-16, pp. 159, 254; 1429-36, p. 367.
- 6. CFR, xiv. 256; CP25(1)13/82/11; Dorset Feet of Fines, 303-4; CAD, ii. C2584.
- 7. CAD, iii. C3007; C115/K2/6682, ff. 189-90; CCR, 1429-35, p. 185; CFR, xvi. 48; PPC, iv. 213, 329; C76/109 m. 8.
- 8. CCR, 1429-35, pp. 241-3; 1435-41, p. 452; C1/16/713-14; Corporation of London RO, hr 169/10.
- 9. VCH Cambs. vi. 185; CFR, xvi. 153, 163; CCR, 1435-41, p. 98.
- 10. CPR, 1436-41, p. 526; VCH Oxon. iii. 164-5; C139/117/5; Berks. Bucks. Oxon. Arch. Soc. xi. 99-100, 106, pl. 6.
- 11. C140/10/20; RP, v. 477.