HERLYNGTON, John (d.1408), of Yaxley, Hunts.
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Family and Education
m. Joan, at least 2s. d.v.p.1
J.p. Hunts. 20 July 1372-12 Nov. 1397, 15 Feb. 1401-d.
Collector of pavage for the Yaxley area 16 Nov. 1372-5, 27 Jan. 1377-20 Oct. 1381.
Commr. of inquiry, Hunts., Beds. Nov. 1377 (bridge repairs), Hunts. Sept. 1383 (illicit sales of wine), Lincs. June, Nov. 1394 (boundary dispute between Holand and Kesteven), Cambs. bef. May 1398 (wastes at the priory of Swavesey); to enforce labour services, Cambs., Hunts. July 1381 (estates of Thorney abbey and Ramsey abbey); suppress the rebels of 1381, Hunts. Mar., Dec. 1382; of array Apr. 1385, Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; to make an arrest, July 1401; proclaim the King’s intention to rule justly May 1402; of oyer and terminer Aug. 1407 (withdrawal of labour services by John Styuecle’s* tenants at Woolley).
Assessor of a tax, Hunts. May 1379; surveyor Dec. 1380, Mar. 1381; collector Dec. 1384, Mar. 1404; collector of an aid on the marriage of Princess Blanche Dec. 1401.
Escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 12 Dec. 1390-13 Feb. 1392, 12 Nov. 1403-22 Oct. 1404.
Alnager, Hunts. 20 July 1394-26 Oct. 1396.
Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1 Dec. 1396-3 Nov. 1397.
Nothing is known about this MP before his appointment to the Huntingdonshire bench in 1372, when he must still have been a comparatively young man. His subsequent activities as a farmer of pavage at Yaxley suggest that he spent part, if not all, of his early life there, and although he was later able to consolidate his estates through purchase, his connexion with this small Huntingdonshire village to the south of Peterborough remained strong until his death. It was, indeed, at Yaxley that he and his wife were permitted by the bishop of Lincoln, in 1398, to celebrate mass privately in their own chapel. By then Herlyngton had accumulated other holdings across the county border in both Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, where he enjoyed considerable influence among the local gentry. His major acquisitions of property were, however, confined to Huntingdonshire, and appear to have been made at two separate points in his career. Firstly, in 1381, he took on the lease of a substantial estate in Abbotsley and Upper Hardwick (near St. Neot’s) from Richard Knyvet, who fixed the rent at 40 marks a year, but subsequently agreed to sell him some of the property outright. Several years later, at the very end of the 14th century, Herlyngton bought the whole manor of Orton Waterville, together with the advowson of two chantries in the parish church, from the trustees of the Thorpe estates. He was, moreover, twice able to supplement his landed income by farming property from the Crown. In October 1380 he and Sir William Brantingham* were given custody of certain confiscated land in the Huntingdonshire village of Folksworth; and towards the very end of his life he and another associate took over the lease of holdings in the same area during the minority of Humphrey, earl of Stafford.2
Most of the information which now survives about Herlyngton concerns his involvement in the affairs of other landowners, and although nowhere specifically described as such, it seems likely that he was a lawyer. From 1373 onwards he witnessed a number of local deeds, most notably for the courtier, Sir William Thorpe† (then owner of Orton Waterville), various members of the influential Styuecle family and their kinsman, Sir William Moigne*, who was one of his neighbours.3 Even more striking is the regularity with which he appeared as a mainpernor in both Chancery and at the Exchequer, being thus named on at least eight occasions between 1383 and 1402. Among those for whom he performed this valuable service were William Hornby, Richard II’s attorney in the court of King’s bench, John Waweton (his colleague in the Parliaments of 1394 and 1395) and the widow of Sir Hugh Despenser.4 It is now impossible to tell how often Herlyngton was called upon to execute the wills of men and women in the Huntingdonshire area, although we know that his duties as an executor of a friend in Yaxley, at some point before 1377, led him to begin an unsuccessful lawsuit against the London mercer, Henry Burton, for the recovery of £40. His popularity as a feoffee is certainly beyond question, for he was involved in a wide range of property transactions, and at various points in his career he held in trust land and rents belonging to Sir Gerard Braybrooke I*, John Tyndale* and his friends from the Styuecle clan, with whom he seems to have been particularly close. He and his son, John, who died in about 1389, were both parties to conveyances made by John Styuecle, who numbered the bishop of Ely and Joan, dowager countess of Hereford, among his other trustees. Herlyngton also acquired an interest in the keepership of the Fleet prison in London, which carried with it lands and rents in the City held by him to the use of Roger Sapurton and his heirs.5 Understandably enough, he also became drawn into the financial affairs of his clients, and this no doubt explains why he so often either entered or received recognizances for debt. In 1383, for example, he was bound in joint securities of £20 and £150 which concerned the business dealings of, respectively, John Knyvet* and his brother, Richard, although it just possible that these particular transactions concerned his own investment in the property market. Several other obligations were entered by him on behalf of residents of Yaxley, while almost all the rest involved gentlemen from the surrounding countryside.6 The most notable of Herlyngton’s many connexions was with Thorney abbey (which lies not far from Yaxley across the border in Cambridgeshire), and he was appointed to represent the abbot as a proxy in no less than 12 Parliaments. These all met between 1379 and 1404, although so far as we know Herlyngton was only himself returned as a shire knight to one of them (that of 1394).7
Herlyngton was not slow to invoke the law on his own account, and he spent some time in court as a result of private quarrels rather than professional commitments. During the early 1380s, for example, he sued a priest named John Eysham for trespassing on his Northamptonshire estates, and not long afterwards he took another clergyman to court for the detinue of an unspecified book. His last years were marked by actions for debt brought against two local men who both managed to escape the full force of the law, although this round of litigation was somewhat overshadowed by a far more serious case which reached the court of Chancery in January 1405. Herlyngton was then bound over in securities of 1,000 marks to keep the peace towards one John Peeke, who offered similar guarantees that he would do no harm either to him or his servants.8 The outcome of this apparently violent confrontation is not recorded, but no further disturbances occurred to trouble his last years. By then Herlyngton could look back on a long and successful career during which he had not only represented the electors of Huntingdonshire in six Parliaments but had also held office as sheriff and escheator, as well as sitting for over 32 years on the local bench. His temporary replacement as a j.p. in 1397 suggests that he was not in favour with the court party, which had then regained control of the government. His surrender of bonds worth 20 marks to the King by way of a forced loan at this time, coupled with his decision to sue out a royal pardon in the following year, certainly supports this view, as does his prompt re-appearance as an MP and royal commissioner immediately after the Lancastrian usurpation. A loyal servant to Henry IV, he advanced a loan to the new regime in the autumn of 1402, and remained active in the field of local government until his death, which occurred six years later.9 He and his wife, Joan, had by then settled their property in Upper Hardwick upon their widowed daughter-in-law, Elizabeth (sometime wife of their second and equally short-lived son, Thomas) and her new husband, William Molesworth; but the rest of the Herlyngton estates remained in Joan’s hands and were conveyed by her almost immediately to an extremely distinguished group of trustees, including John Botiller*, Roger Hunt* and Robert Scott*. The latter retained control of Orton Waterville for several years, but since there were no heirs to inherit after Joan’s death, the manor was eventually sold to John, earl of Worcester.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421