GUILDFORD, (d.1448/9), of Halden in Rolvenden, Kent.
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Family and Education
Commr. of array, Kent Mar. 1419, Dec. 1435, Mar. 1443; inquiry, June 1434 (ownership of a manor), Kent, Cinque Ports Nov. 1434 (theft of a ship’s cargo); to distribute tax allowances, Kent Jan. 1436; take musters, Suss. Mar. 1436, June 1439; of oyer and terminer, Kent June 1438; to raise royal loans Nov. 1440; treat for an advance from parliamentary subsidies Feb. 1441.
Escheator, Kent and Mdx. 24 Jan.-17 Dec. 1426.2
Sheriff, Kent 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432, 3 Nov. 1438-5 Nov. 1439.
J.p. Kent 18 Nov. 1435-Oct. 1436, 13 Mar. 1437-Nov. 1438, 24 July 1440-d.
Guildford was the second member of his family to sit in Parliament for Kent, his father having done so in 1380 and 1384. The father had acquired Hemsted in Benenden by royal grant after its forfeiture by Sir Robert Bealknap, c.j.c.p., and Halden, in the adjacent parish of Rolvenden, through marriage, the latter becoming the principal residence of the family in the time of Edward Guildford. By 1431 Edward was also in possession of the manor of Elmton in Eythorne, together with certain lands valued at £5 a year in the same part of Kent. The value of the remainder of his holdings is nowhere recorded.3
Various episodes of Guildford’s life suggest that he was a man of violent temperament. In May 1412 he was bound over in £200 to Henry IV to ensure that he would do no harm to one Patrick Seyntoweyn, and in October 1413 the sheriff of Kent was ordered to arrest him and eight others and bring them immediately before the court of Chancery. Further details of his misdemeanours on these two occasions have not been traced, but they may have been similar to the offences about which complaint was made to the chancellor in or after 1416, when it was alleged that he had forcibly disseised John Hikkes of his property in Rolvenden, dragged him out of his house by his legs, and stolen goods worth £20. The injured man, referring to ‘la graunt pearde, extorcion, oppression et allyance’ of Guildford, had found that successful recourse to the normal common law process of the courts in Kent was out of the question. This contrasts markedly with evidence of Guildford’s standing in the community. In January 1420, shortly after the dissolution of his first Parliament, his name was included by the local j.p.s. in a list sent to the King’s Council as one of the dozen men from the county they considered most capable of doing military service in defence of the kingdom. Later in the year he attended the parliamentary elections at Rochester, and, in November 1421, those held at Canterbury. Appointment to the offices of escheator and sheriff and as a member of the local bench followed a few years after Henry VI’s accession. Guildford was named among the gentry of Kent required in 1434 to take an oath not to maintain malefactors; and in 1436 the Council requested from him a loan of £40 towards the duke of York’s expedition to France.4
Guildford’s circle of acquaintance included Nicholas Carew* of Surrey, for whom he occasionally witnessed deeds (as in 1421 and 1432) and also acted as a trustee of his estates. In 1428 he made a quitclaim to the King’s councillor, Sir Walter (now Lord) Hungerford*, and others of the manor of Eythorne, of which his own manor of Elmton was a dependency. Three years later he was involved in transactions regarding land in Stone, on behalf of William Bertyn of Canterbury, who had married his daughter, Elizabeth. In a more prestigious match, another of his daughters was wedded to William Darell, the eldest son and principal heir of John Darell*, steward to Archbishop Chichele, but this alliance may not have been arranged until after John’s death. Perhaps Guildford’s most important connexion was with the King’s governess, Alice Beauchamp, widow of Sir John Dallingridge* of Bodiam castle; and, while acting in the 1430s as a feoffee of her substantial estates in Sussex and Kent, he most probably came into contact with his co-feoffees, the earls of Warwick and Stafford. Nevertheless, there is nothing to suggest that his chance meetings with the politically powerful—notably Hungerford and Warwick—ever led to preferment.5 The later years of Guildford’s life saw him once more engaged in various local disputes. In the course of one such quarrel, he petitioned the chancellor alleging that the vendors of certain property in Tenterden and Benenden had renegued on an agreement promising him first refusal to purchase, only for evidence to be produced in court effectively demonstrating that he himself had schemed to obtain the property for much less than its market value. In 1443 he began proceedings in an assize of novel disseisin against members of the Brenchesle family for possession of other premises in Benenden, but eventually ended their disagreement with a settlement out of court. Not long afterwards it was alleged in Chancery that, having been enfeoffed of the manor of Dane Court, he had refused to return it to its rightful owner, John Fyneux.6
Against these instances of devious practice may be placed evidence of Guildford’s piety. In 1440 he and his wife had been admitted to the fraternity of Christ Church cathedral priory in Canterbury, and in April 1444 he founded a chapel in Rolvenden church in honour of St. Anne and St. Katherine. It was in his chapel that, in the will he made on 16 Oct. 1448, he requested burial; and among his many religious bequests was the sum of £2 for a pyx to hang above the altar near his tomb. Guildford’s executors included his son (Sir) John and his son-in-law, William Darell. The will was proved on 21 Sept. 1449. Guildford was survived by his widow, who acted as patron of E