HARYNGTON, Sir Nicholas (c.1344-c.1404), of Farleton in Lonsdale, Lancs. and Farleton in Kendal, Westmld.

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



Oct. 1377

Family and Education

b.c.1344, 3rd s. of Sir John Haryngton (d. 1 Aug. 1359) of Farleton in Lonsdale by his w. Katherine (d. 7 Aug. 1359), da. and coh. of Sir Adam Banaster (d.c.1329) of Farleton in Kendal and Margaret Holland of Chorley, Bolton-le-Sands and Aighton, Lancs.; bro. and h. of Robert (d. Feb. 1361) and Thomas (d. Aug. 1361). m. (1) by Sept. 1369, Isabel (b.1344/5), da. and coh. of Sir William English (d. 3 Aug. 1369) of Oakington, Cambs. and Little Strickland, Westmld., 3s. inc. Sir James*; (2) by Aug. 1397, Joan, da. of Hugh Venables of Kinderton, Cheshire, wid. of Sir Thomas Lathom (d.c.1382) of Huyton and Lathom, Lancs. and Roger Fazakerley. Kntd. by Apr. 1369.1

Offices Held

Commr. of array, Lancs. Dec. 1368, Aug. 1402 (bis);2 to make arrests, Yorks. Feb. 1375, Nov. 1377, Lancs. Dec. 1397; of oyer and terminer, Yorks. May 1375 (murder at Sedbergh); inquiry, Westmld. Apr. 1378 (unlawful assemblies), Lancs. Feb. 1383 (shipwreck),3 July 1391; to levy troops and lead them against the Scots Mar. 1380;4 hold a special assize July 1398.5

Sheriff, Lancs. 6 Mar. 1379-14 Mar. 1384.6

Master forester of Quernmore, Lancs. for John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, 21 Feb. 1380.7

J.p. Lancs. July 1394, Mar. 1400, Feb. 1402.8


By marrying the heiress to property in Chorley, Bolton-le-Sands, Broughton, Whalley and Aighton, Sir John Haryngton was able greatly to extend his own holdings in Lancashire, which comprised the manor of Farleton in Lonsdale and land in Aldingham. His wife also brought him a sizeable estate in Westmorland, centred upon the manor of Farleton in Kendal, so he came to enjoy considerable influence as a rentier. Not surprisingly, Sir John served on a variety of royal commissions, as well as occupying a seat on the Lancashire bench and representing the county three times in Parliament. He and his wife died within a week of each other in August 1359, being succeeded by their eldest son, Robert. Neither he nor his next brother, Thomas, survived for very long, and since both were childless the Haryngton estates passed, in August 1361, to Nicholas, the third of Sir John’s four sons. Then aged about 17, Nicholas became a ward of John of Gaunt, who granted all his rights of custody and marriage to Sir James Pickering*. The boy had need of a powerful guardian to resist attempts by Sir William Ferrers to gain control of his inheritance in Bolton-le-Sands, where his aunt, a co-parcener of the manor, had already been coerced into relinquishing her title. Despite his persistence, however, Ferrers proved unsuccessful, and in October 1365 Nicholas obtained seisin of all the property left by his parents. He did not choose to remain at home for very long, and in October 1367 he obtained permission from the King to leave England from the port of Dover with a servant and cash to the value of ten marks. His choice of attorneys was approved by the Crown three months later, although he must have been back in England by the following December, when he served on his first royal commission. In April 1369, as a newly made knight, Sir Nicholas prepared to set out for Ireland in the retinue of Sir William Windsor, under whose banner he fought for the next two years at least. Another member of the expedition was his former guardian, Sir James Pickering, who, as chief justice of Ireland, was responsible for the implementation of some highly dubious financial practices.9

We do not know the precise date of Sir Nicholas’s marriage to Isabel, the younger daughter of Sir William English, a wealthy landowner with estates in Cumberland, Westmorland, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, but it evidently took place during the latter’s lifetime. Sir William died in August 1369, having settled most of his property upon William Restwold, the son and heir of his elder daughter, Julia. Even so, farmland in the Cambridgeshire village of Oakington and houses in Carlisle did revert to Isabel; and it may well be that the holdings in Torpenhow and Bothel, Cumberland, which Sir Nicholas later occupied, were also part of her inheritance. By now a figure of some consequence in the north-west, Sir Nicholas first entered Parliament in 1372, being returned by the electors of Lancashire on five occasions altogether. Yet his increasing involvement in local administration did not prevent him from disregarding the law if it suited his purposes to do so. In 1373, for example, he and (Sir) William Curwen*, at the head of a large force of armed men, caused major devastation on Ralph, Lord Dacre’s estates at Beaumont near Carlisle by ransacking buildings, stealing cattle and carrying off quantities of valuable goods. A royal commission of oyer and terminer was, indeed, set up to investigate the affair (which can now be seen as just one event in a rapidly escalating vendetta), but nothing was done to discipline the offenders. Having so far escaped scot-free, Sir Nicholas pursued his grudge to its logical conclusion, and was personally implicated in the murder of Lord Dacre, who died childless and intestate, in August 1375, almost certainly at the hands of his own brother, Sir Hugh, and our Member, his accomplice. Although both men were presented for the murder at Preston in the following year, having already been excommunicated by the archbishop of York, neither suffered much in the way of long-term retribution. Indeed, not long afterwards Sir Nicholas was accepted by the Crown as a suitable mainpernor for Sir Walter Urswyk† on his assumption of the lease of certain confiscated estates. His appearance, in April 1378, on a commission of oyer and terminer set up to investigate attacks on Sir James Pickering is of particular interest, especially as the latter had agreed to stand bail for Sir Hugh Dacre at the time of his temporary imprisonment in the Tower. Haryngton’s former misdemeanours were apparently forgotten altogether by the spring of 1379, when he became sheriff of Lancashire, a post then in the gift of John of Gaunt, who awarded him letters of pardon soon afterwards. The following year saw his appointment as master forester of Quernmore, again as a result of Gaunt’s patronage; and there is every reason to believe that the duke had intervened personally to protect him during this difficult period. His circle of friends included such other notable adherents of the house of Lancaster as Sir Adam Hoghton† and his son, Sir Richard*, for whom he went surety in August 1384 during the course of litigation over revenues from the manor of Wheelton. He also acted as a feoffee at this time for his former commander, Sir William Windsor, who settled property in Dorset upon him in trust. Together with Sir Richard Hoghton (his future colleague in the Parliament of 1402), Sir Nicholas was commissioned to take depositions from gentry in the north-west concerning the respective claims of Sir Robert Grosvenor and Lord Scrope to bear the same coat of arms, although he was apparently not himself called upon to give evidence. He and Hoghton were by now members of an informal advisory council responsible for the smooth running of Gaunt’s properties in the north. Their colleagues included Sir James Pickering and Sir Robert Urswyk* (whose daughter, Ellen, married Haryngton’s second son); and although they were technically subordinate to the duchy council in London, this small group of knights enjoyed considerable power in Lancashire, where they were the leaders of the ducal affinity.10

The death, in May 1391, of John Bailey, a feudal tenant of the Haryngtons, enabled Sir Nicholas to assert his rights of wardship, and although Bailey’s grandson, Richard Shirburne*, was only ten years old, he promptly married the boy to another of his charges, the young Agnes Stanley, securing a settlement upon them of the Shirburne estates. Not long afterwards Sir Nicholas took a seat on the Lancashire bench. Once again, however, he manifestly considered himself to be above the law; and, unconstrained by either the demands of his new position or his obligations to Gaunt, he repeatedly poached game and held illicit hunting parties in the parks of the duchy. Perhaps he already knew that the duke would turn a blind eye to such comparatively minor offences on the part of an otherwise loyal retainer; at all events, in 1393, he secured a full pardon from his patron and continued to hunt just as before. A second pardon, this time for both the unrepentant Sir Nicholas and his younger son, James, appears to have been issued in 1397, so Gaunt must have viewed his activities with tolerance. By this date, Sir Nicholas had decided to remarry, taking as his second wife the twice-widowed Joan Venables. A somewhat notorious character, Joan was said to have neglected and abused her first husband, Sir Thomas Lathom, while he lay dying, and to have lived openly in the same house with her lover, Roger Fazakerley. Having consigned Sir Thomas to a speedy burial without ceremony or mourners, she married Fazakerley, retaining a substantial share of the Lathom estates in Huyton and Knowsley. She and Sir Thomas had produced four daughters, one of whom was betrothed, in, or before, 1397, to Sir Nicholas’s third son and namesake, bringing as her marriage portion part of the manor of Huyton which she continued to hold during her mother’s lifetime. Having thus made sure that his wife’s property would remain securely in the hands of his own descendants, Sir Nicholas set out, in 1400, to find a bride for his young grandson, John, selecting Thomas Hornby’s daughter, Margaret, as the most suitable candidate. Sir Nicholas evidently took up residence at Knowsley, for in May 1401 he became involved in a lawsuit over the abduction of one of his household servants there. He and his wife were also at this time trying to recover possession of land in Roby, which was, indeed, awarded to them at the Lancaster assizes. A few months later, in the following November, Nicholas Haryngton the younger and his brother, James, were both retained as esquires by Henry IV at fees of £10 p.a. and £20 p.a. respectively. Sir Nicholas performed his own final service to the house of Lancaster in the autumn of 1402, when he entered the House of Commons for the fifth time. He died before 8 Feb. 1404, leaving estates in Westmorland, Lancashire and an unspecified part of Yorkshire, all of which passed to his eldest son, Sir William.11

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. CIPM, xi. no. 251; xii. no. 346; Recs. Kendale ed. Farrer and Curwen, ii. 266, 270; VCH Lancs. iii. 170-1; v. 245-6; viii. 202; Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 53; Chetham Soc. xcv. 19-20; n.s. xciii. 47; CPR, 1367-70, p. 238.
  • 2. DKR, xl. 531.
  • 3. Ibid. 522.
  • 4. DKR, xliii. 365.
  • 5. C66/350 m. 28v.
  • 6. Somerville, Duchy, i. 461.
  • 7. Reg. Gaunt 1379-83, no. 211.
  • 8. Chetham Soc. n.s. xcvi. 37; DKR, xl. 528, 530.
  • 9. VCH Lancs. v. 245-6; vi. 135, 213; viii. 202; CIPM, xi. no. 251; Recs. Kendale, 266, 270; DKR, xxxii. 342; CCR, 1364-8, p. 145; 1367-70, pp. 55, 79, 238, 404, 405.
  • 10. CIPM, xii. no. 346; (Rec. Comm.), iii. 244; CPR, 1370-4, pp. 311-12; 1381-5, pp. 390, 482; DKR, xxxii. 363; xliii. 365; CFR, ix. 38, 137; Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 231; S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 157-8, 160; CP, iv. 4-5.
  • 11. Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 38, 53; Chetham Soc. xcv. 19-20; n.s. lxxxvii. 30-31, 97; xciii. 43, 47; xcvi. 37; DKR, xliii. 368; VCH Lancs. iii. 170-1; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 12, 14; CFR, xii. 223.