HANSARD, Sir Richard (d.1428), of Walworth, Co. Durham and South Kelsey, Lincs.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Sir Richard Hansard (c.1377-c.1410) of Walworth and South Kelsey by his w. Joan, da. of John Aske (d.1397) of Ousethorpe, Yorks. m. Joan (d. aft. 1435), poss. da. of Sir John Hedworth, 5s. 4da. Kntd. by Aug. 1402.1
Commr. of array, Lincs. (Lindsey) Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403, May 1415, Apr. 1418, Mar. 1419, Mar. 1427; sewers May 1408, Feb. 1410, Nov. 1413, Jan. 1414, Feb. 1417, May 1418; inquiry Feb. 1419 (treasons, escapes, concealments); to raise royal loans Nov. 1419.
J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 5 Feb. 1406-July 1420, 12 Feb. 1422-July 1423, 20 July 1424-d.
Escheator, Lincs. 14 Dec. 1415-8 Dec. 1416.
Sheriff, Lincs. 23 Nov. 1419-16 Nov. 1420.
Collector of a royal loan, Lincs. (Lindsey) Jan. 1420.
The subject of this biography claimed his descent from Gilbert Hansard, a younger brother of Robert Fitzmeldred, lord of Raby, who had settled at Walworth by the close of the 12th century. His ancestors also acquired a substantial estate in and around the manor of South Kelsey and were thus equally influential in both Durham and Lincolnshire, although during our period the family as a whole concentrated its interests almost exclusively in the latter area. Sir Richard Hansard the elder, an obscure man about whom comparatively little is known, followed his own father’s example by marrying into the Yorkshire gentry, so in addition to a patrimony worth over £32 a year in Durham and Lincolnshire, he was able to leave his son and heir further revenues of £20 or more from the liberty of Howdenshire.2 This Sir Richard made his home at South Kelsey, where he and his wife were buried. Their younger son, Gilbert, and another member of the family called Robert served together as coroners of Lindsey during the second and third decades of the 15th century, clinging to office despite frequent attempts to replace them with better-qualified candidates.3 Both men clearly owed a good deal to their kinsman, the MP, who first comes to notice in December 1399, when he began to serve as a royal commissioner in Lindsey. Between then and August 1402, when he witnessed a local deed, Richard Hansard was knighted; and although his father lived on for a few more years, he had already assumed the headship of the family in all but name. He became a j.p. in 1406; and in the following year he joined with his neighbour, (Sir) Gerard Sothill*, in settling a dispute between the prior of Newstead on Ancholme and his tenants by private arbitration. After Sir Gerard’s death, in 1410, Hansard remained friendly with his widow and her young son, frequently appearing as a witness to their property transactions. Another of his associates at this time was the royal judge, Robert Tirwhit, for whom he acted as a trustee. Tirwhit’s behaviour did not always accord with his position in the legal hierarchy; and in October 1411 he and his supporters (among whom Hansard was particularly prominent) attempted to ambush William, Lord Roos, and his retainers. This unprovoked attack caused quite a stir, not so much because Tirwhit had brought discredit on the judiciary, as on account of the fact that Lord Roos was then on his way to a love-day at Wrawby which he and the judge had arranged for the peaceful settlement of a property dispute. Although it is unlikely that he had mobilized a force ‘entour le nombre de cyng cents armez et arraiez a fair de guerre’, as his adversary claimed, the judge still found himself in an extremely embarrassing situation. The arbitrators appointed by Parliament to examine the affair made him deliver a humiliating public apology to Lord Roos, and also insisted that Hansard and four other leading members of his following should do likewise, in person, at Roos’s castle of Belvoir in Leicestershire. Notwithstanding this dramatic loss of face, the connexion between Sir Richard and the Tirwhits continued, although perhaps understandably he henceforth had more to do with William Tirwhit* than with his father, the judge. The two men were both summoned to attend the Lincoln assizes of March 1417 as defendants in a property dispute; and six years later they sat together for Lincolnshire in the House of Commons, this being Hansard’s last appearance there. His second son, Henry, is said to have married into the Tirwhit family, and may even have been William’s brother-in-law.4
Relations between the MP and his younger brother, Gilbert, also remained cordial throughout this period, the latter being present (with his kinsman Robert Hansard) as witness to Sir Richard’s return to the Parliament of November 1414. Moreover, when, a few days later, Sir Richard obtained the farm of the alien priory of Winghale in Lincolnshire, it was Gilbert who offered sureties at the Exchequer for his regular payment of an annual rent of ten marks. Comparatively few of the shire knights who represented Lincolnshire in the early 15th century ever witnessed the returns drawn up at the county court in Lincoln, but Hansard, somewhat exceptionally, attested those to the Parliaments of 1416 (Mar.) and 1427. On the latter occasion his two kinsmen also took part in the election, as was by then their common practice. Comparatively little else is known about Hansard’s personal affairs during this period, possibly because his preoccupation with official duties (first as escheator, then as sheriff of Lincolnshire) left him little time for anything else. He occasionally witnessed local deeds; and in 1416 he acted as a feoffee-to-uses for some neighbours in North Kelsey, but by and large he rarely shouldered responsibilities of this sort. Nor, after his clash with Lord Roos, did he become involved in any more serious disputes. Indeed, unlike many of his peers, he rarely went to law, and the one suit which he himself began (against a Nottinghamshire husbandman who owed him 40s.) was abandoned because of the defendant’s refusal to appear in court. In March 1423 he was named as one of the plaintiffs in an assize of fresh force at York over the ownership of 28 messuages in the city, his interest being that of a trustee for John Talbot, Lord Furnival (cr. earl of Shrewsbury in 1442), who won his case.5
Hansard’s lease of Winghale priory was extended for another 24 years at a slightly increased rent in December 1423, but he only completed a fraction of the term; and on his death, in 1428, his widow, Joan, became tenant in his place. According to one source, the couple had at least nine children, but we do not know how many survived their father. The eldest son, Richard, certainly did, and the family estates remained in his hands until his death in 1457.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Haunsard(e), Haunsart, Hawnsard.
- 1. R. Surtees, Durham, iii. 318, 411; Test. Ebor. ii. 76; Lincs. AO, FL 3183; Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 286; CPR, 1429-36, p. 461. The pedigree of the Hansard family given in Genealogist, iv. 112-13, is confused and unreliable, while that in Lincs. Peds. ed. Maddison, 455, is incomplete.
- 2. Surtees, loc. cit.; Feudal Aids, iii. 269; vi. 543; EHR, xlix. 635.
- 3. CCR, 1413-19, pp. 123, 265, 329; 1419-22, p. 246; 1422-9, p. 236.
- 4. CCR, 1405-9, p. 383; RP, iii. 650; Belvoir Castle deeds 1259, 1737, 1793, 1824; Surtees, loc. cit.; JUST 1/1524 rot. 3.
- 5. C219/11/4, 8, 13/5; CFR, xiv. 81; CPR, 1409-13, p. 189; 1416-22, pp. 210, 351; 1422-9, p. 148; Surtees Soc. clxxxvi. 101; CP25(1)144/154/25.
- 6. CFR, xv. 65; Feudal Aids, iii. 356; CPR, 1429-36, p. 461; DKR, xxxv. 117; Surtees, loc. cit.