HERVY, William (d.c.1400), of Southrop, Glos.

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



Family and Education

m. bef. Jan. 1367, Mary, s.p.m.

Offices Held

Sealer of wool-sacks, London 17 July 1360-26 Oct. 1390.

Keeper of York castle gaol 6 Feb. 1362-c.1377.

Alnager of England 29 June 1362-aft. Feb. 1388.

Commr. of inquiry, Berks. May 1366 (concealment of sums due to Queen Philippa), Glos. Nov. 1367 (intrusions, property of Bruern abbey), Glos., Oxon. May 1378 (forestalling and regrating, concealments, false weights), Glos. Mar. 1387 (felonies); arrest Mar. 1388.

Bailiff of Queen Philippa’s liberty, Bucks. bef. Aug. 1369.

Yeoman of the robes under Edward III and until 16 Dec. 1377.

Tax collector, Oxon. Nov. 1377.

J.p. Oxon. 28 June 1378-81.


Hervy, a man of obscure origin and undistinguished birth, acquired all his property in Gloucestershire through royal grant as reward for his and his wife’s services to Edward III and Queen Philippa. He had already seen ‘long service’ to the King as a yeoman in his household by July 1360 when he was granted for life the office of sealer of sacks of wool awaiting shipment abroad in the port and City of London, receiving as his fee a farthing on every sack sealed. He was to continue to wear the King’s livery until the end of the reign, at some unknown date before Edward’s death being made ‘yeoman of the robes’. Such proximity to the fount of patronage secured for him in the 1360s several marks of royal favour, among them a corrody in Bridlington priory (Yorkshire), the keepership of York city gaol and the gift of a horse confiscated as deodand. But his most important reward, granted him for life in June 1362, was the office of alnager throughout England, for which he was to take as his fee ½d. on every whole cloth sold and ¼d. on every half cloth. In May 1366 Hervy was associated with John Golafre in a commission for the administration of Bruern abbey (Oxfordshire), following a period of such extreme mismanagement of the abbey’s funds that it was feared that the monks would disperse. His corrody at Bruern, held by Edward III’s grant, probably dates from this period.1

Hervy also owed his marriage to royal patronage. Mary had been a ‘damsel’ in Queen Philippa’s chamber (that is, one of her waiting-women), and on the occasion of her marriage to Hervy, a match made at the queen’s command, she was promised a dowry of £100. The union probably took place before May 1366 when Hervy was appointed to a royal commission set up to help rectify the queen’s financial embarrassment—caused in part by many similar acts of generosity. Not long afterwards the Hervys acquired from Peter Bridges, another member of the King’s household, a lease of the property he held for life by royal gift at Southrop on the border between Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and in January 1367 the King granted that they might retain these properties for term of their own lives. Some time before the queen’s death in 1369 she appointed Hervy as bailiff of her liberty in Buckinghamshire. And further grants were forthcoming from the King: in 1370 the wardship of the manor of Lyneham in Oxfordshire; in 1373 a gift to Mary Hervy of the manor of Bidfield in Bisley, Gloucestershire; in 1374 another wardship, this time of two-thirds of the manor of Ascot in Oxfordshire, lately in the possession of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford (one of Hervy’s mainpernors on this occasion was none other than William Montagu, earl of Salisbury); and in 1375 a corrody in Malmesbury abbey. Finally, in 1376 the estate at Southrop was regranted to Hervy and his wife, this time in tail-male. That Hervy was able to remain in the King’s good favour right to the end may have owed something to his friendly attitude to Edward’s mistress, Alice Perrers, for whom he acted as a feoffee of a manor in Oxfordshire.2

After Edward III’s death Hervy left the Court, relinquishing his post as yeoman of the robes in December 1377. For a while it would seem that he was in disgrace, or at least overlooked: Bidfield was granted to one John Wotton and Hervy protested at Wotton’s forcible entry into his houses and robbery of his goods there. However, full restitution was made in 1378, and in the following year Hervy was confirmed in his office as alnager, strict enforcement of the payment of his fees being authorized at the same time. Furthermore, in June 1380 Richard II allowed him 50 marks on his account as former bailiff of Queen Philippa’s liberty in Buckinghamshire, on learning that he had received only 100 marks of the gift of £100 she had promised him at his wedding.3 Nevertheless, Hervy’s relations with Richard were never so close as those which he had enjoyed with the boy’s grandfather, and it was probably for this reason that he and his wife now entered the service of Edward’s fourth son, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. On 11 Feb. 1381, he contracted to serve the duke as his bachelor in peace and war, and before very long his wife entered the household of Gaunt’s daughter-in-law, Mary, countess of Derby. Now at a distance from the source of crown patronage, Hervy received his last royal grant in February 1385: a lease of land in Pembrokeshire, for which he paid 50s.a year until July 1386. Although he had purchased a house in London some eight years previously, after Richard’s accession he seems to have resided most often in the provinces, where he served as a j.p. in Oxfordshire and a commissioner in Gloucestershire, and it was by the latter county, where he owned property by royal grant, that he was returned to his only Parliament. Following his appointment in March 1387 to a commission to investigate felonies committed in Gloucestershire, Hervy heard indictments brought against certain men for breaking into his own house at Southrop, where they had killed one of his servants and stolen two horses. Hervy was retained in office as alnager when the government came under the control of the Lords Appellant (possibly because of his connexion with Gaunt, the father of one of those Lords), and in March 1388 he was commissioned by them to arrest and bring before them Robert Stanford for examination regarding the chattels of Sir Robert Tresilian, the chief justice recently executed by order of the Merciless Parliament. In October 1390, after Richard II had resumed control of the government, Hervy was dismissed from his post as sealer of wool-sacks in London, but the precise date he ceased to be alnager is not known.4

Hervy was still living in March 1394 when his wife collected from the prior of Llanthony near Gloucester the goods and jewellery which he had left at the priory for safe-keeping; but he may have died shortly afterwards and certainly did so before 1400. His wife had long continued to follow an independent career as a member of the households of John of Gaunt and Henry of Bolingbroke. In 1391 she had been granted an annuity of ten marks charged on the duchy of Lancaster lordship of Aldbourne (Wiltshire), and from before June 1393 until after 1396 she was employed as governess of Bolingbroke’s sons (including the future King Henry V). Although, on 23 Nov. 1400, Henry IV agreed that despite Hervy’s death without male issue his widow might continue to hold the estate at Southrop, six years later she gave it to the college of St. Mary Newarke at Leicester, an important Lancastrian foundation. Then, in June 1408, she was granted an annuity of £40 specifically ‘for her good service to the King and his son the prince and his other infants’; in 1412 it was conceded that her kinswoman, Maud Honte, might inherit Bidfield after her death, and in 1417 her one-time charge, Henry V, made her an allowance of a tun of Gascon wine every year for the rest of her life.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. CPR, 1358-61, p. 457; 1361-4, pp. 86, 171, 235; 1364-7, p. 244; 1374-7, p. 76; E101/396/2, f. 56d, 11, f. 17d, 397/5, ff. 43d, 82d; CCR, 1360-4, p. 262; 1364-9, p. 240; 1405-9, p. 76; CIMisc. iii. 1058.
  • 2. CPR, 1364-7, p. 351; 1370-4, p. 386; 1374-7, pp. 268, 404; CCR, 1369-74, pp. 156-7; 1374-7, p. 115; 1377-81, p. 313; CFR, viii. 73, 251; VCH Glos. xi. 15-16; CIMisc. iv. 8.
  • 3. E101/398/9, 401/2; CFR, ix. 51; CCR, 1377-81, p. 313; CPR, 1377-81, pp. 92, 102, 396, 631.
  • 4. Reg. Gaunt 1379-83, nos. 10, 18; CFR, x. 89; CCR, 1377-81, p. 132; 1385-9, p. 171; CIPM, xiii. 167 CPR, 1385-9, pp. 408, 465; 1389-92, p. 321; CIMisc. iv. 387; DL28/1/2 ff. 20, 20d, 24d.
  • 5. C115/K2/6684, f. 171; Feudal Aids, ii. 300; CCR, 1396-9, p. 471; CPR, 1396-9, p. 565; 1399-1401, p. 393; 1405-8, pp. 158, 452; 1408-13, p. 387; 1416-22, p. 123; DL29/738/12098; J.H. Wylie, Hen. IV, iii. 327; iv. 163, 171; C143/437/15. This William Hervy should not be confused with a namesake who was ‘yeoman of the chandlery’ under Richard II and Henry IV, and keeper of the warren at Sheen June 1395-aft. Oct. 1413 (E101/403/10 f. 45, 404/21 f. 45d; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 595, 643; 1396-9, p. 214; 1413-16, p. 100).