HAWLEY, Sir Thomas (d.1419/20), of Grisby and Utterby, Lincs.

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. 1404

Family and Education

s. and h. of Sir William Hawley (d.1386/7) of Grisby and Utterby. m. (1) by May 1390, Margaret, da. of Sir John Brewse of Stinton, Norf.; (2) between Apr. 1402 and Dec. 1404, Dulcie, da. of Sir John Massey (d. 27 July 1403) of Tatton, Cheshire by his w. Alice (d. Oct. 1427), sis. and h. of Sir Geoffrey Worsley of Worsley, Lancs., div. w. of Peter Warburton (d.1412) of Cheshire, 5s. 2da. Kntd. between Mar. 1388 and May 1390.1

Offices Held

J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 16 May 1401-Feb. 1406, 13 Feb. 1407-July 1408.

Commr. of inquiry, Lincs. 7 Dec. 1402 (theft of provisions), Dec. 1406 (lands of Sir Henry Percy and Walter Besby); sewers (Lindsey) Feb. 1417, May 1418; array Apr. 1418.

Collector of taxes, Lincs. (Lindsey), Mar. 1404.

Sheriff, Lincs. 22 Nov. 1405-5 Nov. 1406.


The Hawleys settled at Grisby in or before the very beginning of the 14th century, and soon came to enjoy considerable influence in Lincolnshire. Sir Thomas’s grandfather twice represented the county in Parliament and also served as sheriff continuously between 1363 and 1368, while his father, Sir William Hawley was chief steward of the north parts of the duchy of Lancaster for some seven years. Sir William was indeed a loyal retainer of John of Gaunt, and drew up his will at Bayonne, in 1386, having gone there as a member of the expeditionary force with which Gaunt hoped to secure the throne of Castile. His executors included both Thomas and his friend, Sir Henry Retford* (another of Gaunt’s followers), although when probate was awarded, in November 1387, power of execution was reserved to Sir Henry alone. Thomas’s inheritance appears to have been more than ample, for in addition to the manors of Grisby and Utterby his patrimony also comprised land in the Lincolnshire villages of Burgh on Bain, South Willingham, Hainton, Fotherby, Covenham and Calthorpe. It may, in fact, have been even bigger, since when he died Thomas was also seised of the manors of Withern, Stainton, Biscathorpe and Tetnay, together with extensive appurtenances and other property in at least ten more neighbouring vills and hamlets.2

By the time of his father’s death, Thomas Hawley was already quite well known. During Sir William’s lifetime he lived at Somercotes in Lincolnshire; and in both 1373 and 1375 he served as a juror at sessions before the local j.p.s. He evidently struck up a friendship with William, Lord Furnival (d.1383), who made him an executor of his will, and whose effects were described in an inventory compiled under his supervision. Naturally enough, Hawley’s name appears on the list of Lincolnshire landowners who were required, in March 1388, to take the general oath to support the Lords Appellant, but not enough evidence has survived about his career at this time for us to be able to tell if he was one of their active partisans. A settlement of the manor of Utterby made by Hawley in May 1390 reveals that he had by then married his first wife, Margaret, the daughter of Sir John Brewse. The latter owned extensive estates in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire, although he does not seem to have granted any of them to the couple. Hawley did, however, acquire some land in the Lincolnshire village of Harpswell by purchase in the autumn of 1392. Margaret died young, of an illness which had become so debilitating by January 1396 that Bishop Buckingham of Lincoln then granted her a special licence to hear mass in a private chapel at Grisby. Her death may have prompted Hawley to found a chantry of three chaplains at the parish church of Wyham, which was to be financed out of the profits of the combined advowsons of Wyham and Cadeby. In return for a cash payment of 25 marks, made in February 1397, he obtained royal letters patent authorizing the appropriation; and the scheme was soon put into effect.3

The Lancastrian usurpation of 1399 marks a turning point in Hawley’s life, after which he became a far more important and active figure in the local community. His election to the first Parliament of Henry IV’s reign suggests that he was a recognized supporter of the new regime. Certainly, by May 1401, he had attained the rank of a ‘King’s knight’, being rewarded with an annual fee of £40 payable for life, in return for his part in the Scottish expedition of the previous year. A few days later his administrative career began with the award of a commission of the peace in Lindsey; and it is interesting to see how popular he suddenly became as a trustee and witness to deeds because of this growing influence. From 1403 onwards, for example, he was closely involved in the property transactions of John Skipwith*, whose younger son, Patrick, married his daughter, Agnes, and thus eventually acquired the manor of Utterby. He also enjoyed cordial relations with (Sir) John Pouger* and William, Lord Willoughby of Eresby; but one of his closest friends was Richard Brugge, Lancaster king of arms, to whom, in November 1402, he offered securities of 80 marks. In the following year Brugge made him a trustee; and much later, in 1415, he conveyed to him all his effects for the performance of his will. Another of his intimates was the Lincolnshire landowner, Sir John Copledyke*, who had been his father’s ward during the 1370s. Copledyke’s marriage to a Hawley widow further strengthened the ties between their two families, which were formally united when Sir Thomas’s other daughter, Eleanor, became the wife of one of Copledyke’s younger sons.4

Sir Thomas may, meanwhile, have taken part in the battle of Shrewsbury (July 1403), which saw the defeat of a combined force of Henry IV’s enemies led by the Percys. One of the casualties on the losing side was the Cheshire knight, Sir John Massey, whose daughter, Dulcie, became Hawley’s second wife. She had previously been married to Peter Warburton, a local landowner, but in April 1402 the latter agreed to pay Sir John 300 marks in return for an unopposed divorce. Within a month of Massey’s death, Henry IV decided that Dulcie herself should receive this money notwithstanding her father’s forfeiture for treason—so it looks as if Hawley had already made clear his intention of marrying her. In April 1404 Warburton offered Dulcie a recognizance for a second, far greater sum of 550 marks, the first instalment of which was paid to her and Hawley exactly eight months later.5

Although Hawley sat in Parliament for the last time in October 1404 (when his friend and fellow shire knight, Sir Henry Retford, was elected Speaker), his career as a loyal servant of the house of Lancaster had in some senses only just begun. He served a term as sheriff of Lincolnshire one year later, and continued to attend Henry IV until the latter’s death, when his appointment as a ‘King’s knight’ was confirmed by Henry V. A dispute between him and John Skipwith then threatened to disrupt a friendship of many years’ standing, but in July 1414 the two men and their associates exchanged mutual securities of £200 as an earnest of their willingness to submit to arbitration. Their quarrel, which concerned the ownership of the manor of Healing, involved Skipwith as an executor of the late Thomas Missenden, so his own interests were not directly at stake. Despite his advancing years, Hawley was anxious to accompany Henry V on his first invasion of France in 1415, so on 19 Apr. he indented to serve for one year with a man-at-arms and six mounted archers. Letters of protection were accorded to him shortly after; and, as security for a first quarter’s wages of £12 8s.½d., he received various pledges, including ‘a pair of gold spurs with red tyssers ... and a sword garnished with ostrich feathers, which was the King’s sword when prince of Wales’. These were not redeemed until about 1430, when his executors dealt with the transaction.6

Sir Thomas drew up his will at Grisby on 29 June 1419, and died at some point before 20 May 1420. He made elaborate provision for the welfare of his five sons, the eldest of whom, named John, succeeded him. He wished to be buried at the parish church of Burgh on Bain, to which he left a bequest of £5, but his primary concern was to see that each of his children was assured of an annual income sufficient to support them for life. John Hawley’s immediate inheritance was thus considerably depleted by settlements upon his younger brothers.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Lincs. AO, Reg. Buckingham, xii, f. 341v; F. Blomefield, Norf. viii. 268; CP25(1)143/147/29; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 181, 187; DKR, xxxvi. 33-4, 505-6; Scrope v. Grosvenor, ii. 262-4. In his will of 1419 (Reg. Chichele, ii. 191-5), Hawley left his estates in East Barkworth to his uncle, William Barkworth. It is, therefore, quite likely that his mother belonged to the same Lincolnshire family and brought this property with her as a marriage portion.
  • 2. Lincs. Peds. ed. Maddison, 475; Reg. Buckingham, xii, f. 341v; Reg. Chichele, ii. 191-5; Feudal Aids, iii. 238; CChR, v. 143; Somerville, Duchy, i. 367; Reg. Gaunt 1379-83, i. 7, 14-15; PRO List ‘Sheriffs’, 79.
  • 3. C143/426/17; CP25(1)143/147/29; Lincoln Rec. Soc. xxx. 42-43, 50, 86; Test. Ebor. i. 125; iii. 402; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 181, 187; CPR, 1396-9, p. 137; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 51.
  • 4. Lincs. AO, MM1/3/8, 10; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 298; 1402-5, p. 115; 1409-13, pp. 189, 429; 1413-19, p. 271; 1419-22, p. 210; CPR, 1401-5, p. 232; 1413-16, p. 327; W.O. Massingberd, Ormsby-cum-Ketsby, 74-75; Cott. Ch. XXVIII 6; CAD, iii. A6000; Lincs. N. and Q. xi. 251; Reg. Chichele, ii. 186-9.
  • 5. DKR, xxxvi. 333-4, 505-6.
  • 6. E101/69/5/426; E404/31/163; DKR, xliv. 561; N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, 380; CPR, 1413-16, p. 225; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 188-9.
  • 7. Reg. Chichele, ii. 191-5.