HASELEY, Thomas (d.1449), of Westminster.

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

Constituency

Dates

May 1413

Family and Education

m. (1) Alice, wid. of — Spenser, 3ch. d.v.p.; (2) by Nov. 1448, Agnes,1 s.p. legit. Kntd. c.1445.

Offices Held

Chancery clerk by 1404; clerk of the Commons in Parliament by Apr. 1414-1440; secondary clerk of the Crown in Chancery 17 Oct. 1415-d.2

Commr. of inquiry, Surr., Suss. Feb. 1411 (treasons, felonies, concealed royal income), Mdx. July 1420 (illegal disseisin), Mar. 1431 (concealments); arrest Oct. 1420; to raise royal loans, Surr., Suss. Feb. 1430, Mar. 1431, Mdx. June 1446.

Verderer, Windsor forest 31 May 1413-?d.3

J.p. Surr. 28 Oct. 1417-Feb. 1435, Mdx. 14 Nov. 1418-July 1423, Feb. 1433-9, July 1440-d.

Supervisor of pontage, Staines 1418-20, 1422-4, 1428-35, Wallingford 1429-31, 1433-8.

Escheator, Kent and Mdx. 4 Nov. 1418-23 Nov. 1419, Surr. and Suss. 5 Nov. 1430-26 Nov. 1431.

Keeper of the Exchange 9 Nov. 1419-aft. 1433.4

Coroner and dep. butler, London 12 Mar. 1429-c.1434;5 dep. butler, Chichester and Shoreham 13 Nov. 1430-c.1434.

Steward of Kennington and Byfleet, Surr. 6 Jan. 1430-d.

Under marshal of England by May 1449-d.

Biography

Haseley’s two elections to Parliament were both minor events in a career in royal service which spanned more than 45 years, and he had no known connexion with either of the boroughs which returned him. Although his family background is obscure, his name probably derived from Great Haseley in Oxfordshire, for he mentioned the church there in his will; and in view of his lifelong attachment to Thomas Chaucer*, cousin of Bishop Henry Beaufort, it may well be the case that he was the son of another Thomas Haseley, a bondman of the bishop’s, who died shortly before January 1402 in possession of property not far away at Abingdon. Perhaps it was not coincidental that his career as an official in Chancery began during Beaufort’s chancellorship of 1403-5. The date of his promotion to clerk of the Commons in Parliament is uncertain, for the appointment was made verbally, but he was certainly engaged in business connected with Parliaments in Henry IV’s reign. (In the Parliament of 1410 he acted as proxy for the abbot of Abingdon; and in November 1410 and February 1413 he took recognizances from Hugh Benet, the Oxford MP, and in 1412 another from two Staffordshire Members.) On 17 Feb. 1413, during Henry IV’s last Parliament, he was one of the mainpernors for Richard Garner, a Lombard merchant who, in a bond for 10,000 marks, undertook to appear before the two Houses from day to day when required. Haseley was probably acting as deputy to the then sub clericus John Scarborough*, and it seems likely that his position facilitated his return as a representative for Lyme in 1410 and for Barnstaple in May 1413. Scarborough’s patent was confirmed in October following, but he probably died soon afterwards, for Haseley later claimed that he had been sent to Leicester for Henry V’s ‘first Parliament’ (in fact the Leicester Parliament was his second) to be sub clericus to the clerk of the Parliaments, John Frank. Although continuing to hold the post (which was worth £5 a year) until 1440, Haseley admitted in about 1438 that he had ‘nevere come in the Parlement’ since 1425, and that his duties had been performed by deputy. In any case, from 1415 he combined the office with that of secondary clerk of the Crown, which brought in £10 p.a.6 It is not surprising to find him making frequent appearances in Chancery and the Exchequer, standing surety there, receiving many gifts of chattels (perhaps as fees), and acting as a feoffee-to-uses and as an attorney. So, for instance, in 1415, ‘in isto presenti Parliamento’, he served as advocate for Richard Quartermaine; in 1417 he was present when the chancellor, Bishop Beaufort, relinquished the great seal; in 1418 he acted as attorney for John Feriby and for John, Lord Talbot (later earl of Shrewsbury), who was then the King’s lieutenant in Ireland; and in 1420 he performed a similar service for James, earl of Ormond. He was appointed as proxy by the heads of various religious houses in several of the Parliaments between 1414 and 1433.7

Even so, Haseley commended himself to Henry V more by his extra-parliamentary exploits than by any devotion to his clerical duties. He claimed that during the King’s absence abroad it had been he who, after lying in wait for five days and six nights ‘in the most secrete wyse’, had arrested Thomas Payn of Glamorganshire, a councillor of the traitor and lollard Sir John Oldcastle*, when he was about to break into Windsor castle to release James I, king of Scotland. As Haseley later boasted, Henry V publically delcared in Parliament that the taking of the prisoner ‘plesid hym more thanne I hadde geten or gyven him £x ml’. It may well have been because of these services that on 9 Nov. 1419, shortly after Payn was imprisoned, Haseley was appointed, on the verbal command of the King, as keeper of the Exchange. This was by no means his first involvement in matters of royal finance (for in 1408 he had deputized for the warden of the Mint in a transaction of some importance). Nor was it his last: at the end of his career, in 1445, he was to provide securities of £100 for the new master of the Mint, Robert Manfield, esquire, and in the meantime he carried on commercial deals with foreign merchants on his own account, becoming a financier of considerable standing. In 1424 he had contracted with Alexander Farentinis, a member of the powerful banking firm of the Albertini of Florence, to purchase in Rome wool, hides and other staple commodities worth 2,000 marks, and easily solved the problem of effecting the necessary exchanges.8 Nor were Haseley’s activities in this field impaired by the ‘sore sickness’ which prevented him from discharging his parliamentary duties.

It seems clear that much of Haseley’s success was due to his friendship with Thomas Chaucer. He often stood surety for Chaucer at the Exchequer, and in 1425 he joined with him and a leading vintner, Thomas Walsingham*, in a contract with a Bristol merchant worth 1,000 marks. In 1429, moreover, Chaucer appointed Haseley to deputize for him as coroner in the City of London, a post concomitant with that of chief butler of England, and a year later made him deputy butler in the ports of Chichester and Shoreham. Both men were for a long time concerned with the rebuilding of the bridge over the Thames at Wallingford, where Chaucer was constable of the castle. Chaucer used Haseley as a trustee of his estates, and this service also brought him into close contact with his patron’s son-in-law, William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, whom he also served as a feoffee-to-uses.9 Haseley formed many other connexions, not least of interest being one with John Springthorpe, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster from 1410 to 1413, who requested him to supervise the administration of his will. Naturally, since the main duty of his superior, the first clerk of the Crown in Chancery, was ‘to attend continually [upon] the chancellor in person or by deputy’, Haseley became well acquainted with the chancellor and other leading councillors of Henry VI’s reign. In 1427 and 1429, for example, he assisted Archbishop Kemp of York to make arrangements for the construction of bridges at Kexby and Thornton (Yorkshire); and in 1433 he did Archbishop Chichele a service by acting as his mainpernor. Two years later, when he made a grant of all his moveable property in England (which he enrolled on the close roll in his own hand), the recipients were Archbishop Kemp and the earls of Stafford and Suffolk. Kemp did him the honour of becoming one of his feoffees, and agreed to act as supervisor of his will.10

Rewards for Haseley’s services, in the form of fees, offices and grants, were plentiful: from 1417 to his death he was entitled to receive 6d. a day from the issues of Berkshire; in 1424 he was granted (along with Chaucer) custody of the valuable estates late of John Arundell II* of Bideford, which he retained until 1442; he held corrodies for life at the abbeys of Abingdon (from 1424), Gloucester (from 1429) and Bordesley (from 1431), and secured a joint lease (with Archbishop Kemp) of the property of Richard Windsor and another of lands in Kent, all the while profiting from licences to export corn. In addition there were his wages in Chancery, occasional rewards for his keepership of the Exchange and his income from the stewardship of the royal manors of Kennington and Byfleet. Then, too, there were fees paid him by official bodies, such as the corporation of York, for services rendered; gratuities for using his influence with the chancellor on behalf of certain suppliants (as in the procurement of a charter for the York mercers’ company in 1430), and annuities from members of the nobility, including one of £2 which he received from the King’s uncle Humphrey, duke of Gloucester.11

By 1430 Haseley was prosperous enough to employ an armourer and chaplain of his own. But he was ever on the look-out for more. In about 1438 he petitioned the King to recompense him for his expenses in capturing lollards, detecting smugglers and arresting traitors, and was successful, perhaps through the good offices of Cardinals Beaufort and Kemp, for on I Mar., expressly for good service to the three Lancastrian kings, he was granted an annuity of £40 for life, and on 30 Oct. he obtained from the Crown a plot of land next to New Temple on an 80-year lease. For reasons which remain unclear, temporary disgrace followed shortly afterwards, resulting in Haseley’s imprisonment in the Fleet and dismissal from the Middlesex bench. He was ordered to be released on 13 Feb. 1439, but the gravity of the charges against him and the extent of his personal wealth are both indicated by the fact that, in addition to finding mainpernors who would stand bail in £500, he himself had to provide assurances of £4,000 that he would appear before the Council to make answer. However, he evidently satisfied the councillors, for he was pardoned on 27 May and restored to the bench in 1440. Five years later he was knighted.12

In the course of his highly profitable career, Haseley purchased sizeable estates in Surrey (at Southwark, Guildford and Windlesham), Berkshire (at Sunninghill, Ascot, Windsor and Winkfield) and Middlesex (the manor of Kingsbury in Hendon, and lands in Fulham, Ealing, Brentford and Chiswick). His property in London included seven messuages in Billingsgate Ward, The Ram’s Head, The Angell, a quay in ‘Petiwales’, and a granary. Together with Alice Spenser, a woman with whom he had contracted a marriage ‘per verba legitime de presenti’, which was not recognized by the Church until 1437, he was co-owner from 1430 of property in Holborn and a tenement and quay in Thames Street near the Tower. From 1433, however, his main residence was a house in Chelsea, which had once belonged to his predecessor as sub clericus of the Parliaments, and which he also shared with Alice. Haseley’s income from land was estimated in 1436 to be as much as £100 a year. From 1440 he held for life rooms in the Crutched Friars, as a brother of their chapter; and these included the ‘prioures-halle’, the ‘prioures-chambre’, a cellar, quarters for his friends and servants, and use of the conventual kitchen.13

In May 1449 Haseley made a settlement of certain of his estates in favour of his second wife, Agnes. This was probably in preparation for his end, for he made his will in the same month (on the 23rd), and died on 11 June, leaving as his heir his brother, John, then aged 60. Haseley asked to be buried in St. Anne’s chapel in the church of the Crutched Friars, to which he gave a number of bequests including a ‘great Bible’ worth ten marks, a book of Saints worth four marks, another book worth £2, a house in Aldgate Street, vestments and the sum of £20. It was no doubt his many years at Westminster which prompted a gift of 100 marks to the dean and chapter of St. Stephen’s. Chaplains were required to pray for his soul over the course of the next year in three London churches as well as in Haseley’s own chapel in St. Clement Danes. He made bequests to all the orders of friars in London, the Minories, all the leper houses of the City, the churches of Great Haseley (Oxfordshire), Windlesham (Surrey, where his mother was buried), and Bromehill priory (Norfolk, where lay his first wife). His widow and her heirs were to have the substantial properties already settled on her, all of his jewels and any sums in silver or gold owed to him, while his brother, ostensibly the heir to the rest of Haseley’s property, was noticed only in the bequest of a small annuity of £2. The civic authorities of London were left a valuable property at Billingsgate. Haseley’s executors, who included Robert Monter, the clerk of the hanaper, were to receive individual gifts, notably two pipes of good wine and a valuable silver cup embellished with a crown. The will was proved at Lambeth on 16 July.14 Within a few years his widow had married Gilbert Debenham, esquire.15

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger

Notes

  • 1. C1/20/13; CPL, viii. 644.
  • 2. Bull. IHR, xvi. 65-87; EHR, lvii. 35, 36, 42, 313, 317; CPR, 1413-16, p. 362.
  • 3. C242/9/7.
  • 4. E101/301/20, 514/18, 19; E404/42/320; Issues ed. Devon, 411; CPR, 1429-36, p. 282.
  • 5. Cal. Letter Bk. London, K, 92.
  • 6. CPR, 1401-5, p. 232; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 174, 411, 416, 421; SC10/44/2156; PPC, v. 106.
  • 7. RP, iv. 74; CCR, 1413-19, p. 435; CPR, 1416-22, p. 153; DKR, xli. 698, 801; SC10/45/2221, 46/2253, 2259, 2278, 2285, 47/2302, 2303, 2319, 2324, 48/2389, 2390, 49/2420.
  • 8. PPC, v. 104-5; CAD, iii. D708; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 145, 486; 1429-35, pp. 184-5, 193; 1441-7, p. 408.
  • 9. CFR, xiv. 371; CCR, 1422-9, p. 259; 1447-54, pp. 210, 211, 213, 215; CPR, 1422-9, p. 330; 1429-36, pp. 156, 346, 451.
  • 10. Reg. Chichele, ii. 306-7; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 410, 473; 1435-41, p. 40; CPR, 1429-36, p. 265; CFR, xvi. 154.
  • 11. CPR, 1416-22, p. 124; 1422-9, p. 73; 1441-6, p. 130; CFR, xv. 72, 214; xvi. 120; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 137, 471; 1429-35, p. 126; C1/10/28; E163/7/31(1); York City Archs. chamberlains’ acct. C1/2; York Merchant Adventurers’ recs. D63.
  • 12. PPC, v. 104-7; CPR, 1436-41, pp. 188, 276; CFR, xviii. 58; CCR, 1435-41, pp. 204, 252.
  • 13. CCR, 1409-13, pp. 97, 345; 1413-19, pp. 452, 454; 1422-9, p. 123; 1429-35, pp. 286-7; 1435-41, p. 371; 1441-7, p. 113; CPR, 1441-6, p. 402; 1446-52, p. 262; E179/238/90; Corporation of London RO, hr 159/3, 20, 160/9, 12, 16.
  • 14. CCR, 1447-54, pp. 134-5, 285-6; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Stafford, ff. 174-5; C139/133/11.
  • 15. London and Mdx. Feet of Fines, 201.

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