HUISH, Nicholas, of Balsham, Cambs. and Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex.
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Family and Education
Escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 29 Nov. 1410-10 Dec. 1411, 4 Nov. 1418-23 Nov. 1419.
J.p. Cambs. 24 Feb. 1419-July 1423.
Commr. of inquiry, Cambs. July 1422, June 1423 (repairs to the great bridge at Cambridge).
Huish would appear to have come from the Devonian family of this name, for when first recorded acting as a mainpernor in Chancery—in February 1397—he was described as ‘of Devon’. Yet during the formative years of his career he was frequently associated with men from Herefordshire, so the possibility remains that his origins lay not in the West County but in the marches of Wales. Whatever the true facts of the matter, it is clear that it was in the courts of Westminster that he made his livelihood, and that his interests in south-east England came to predominate. After finishing his training as a lawyer, he often appeared in Chancery to provide securities for defendants in lawsuits, on these occasions his place of residence being usually given as in Essex or Hertfordshire, and from early on his clientele included litigants from Cambridgeshire.1
If ability in his chosen profession may be judged from a substantial increase in material prosperity, then Huish was of no more than average capability, since he was never a man of much property. His territorial interests in Hertfordshire, acquired by 1399, had extended by 1413 to Little Hadham, for a royal commission was then set up to inquire into his claim that he and his fellow trustees, acting on behalf of Henry Clinton’s widow, had been wrongfully disseised of ‘Warynstenement’ and lands there, properties which he seems to have obtained in sole ownership subsequently. By 1413 Huish also had holdings at Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex, and towards the end of his life he joined with John Knesworth to purchase a manor in Little Bardfield in the same county, although this last he did not keep for long. Little has been discovered about his landed interests in Cambridgeshire, the county he represented in Parliament, save that he did own a house at Fowlmere and, at least on occasion, resided at Balsham.2
In the course of Henry IV’s reign Huish gradually established a reputation for competence in his profession. For example, in 1401 he appeared on behalf of a man from Colchester registering an appeal to the courts of Canterbury against a sentence of excommunication imposed by the diocesan. On two occasions he stood surety at the Exchequer on behalf of the Herefordshire MP John ap Harry*: in 1406, when ap Harry secured keeping of the Essex manors lately belonging to Sir Alexander Walden*; and in 1407 when, with Sir John Oldcastle* and others, he obtained custody of a Mortimer lordship in Wales. The Bidford family of Stocking Pelham, Hertfordshire, asked him to be a trustee of their property, and in 1412 a lessee of land at Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, sought his services as a mainpernor. During Huish’s first term as escheator he attended the shire elections held at Cambridge for the Parliament of 1411. Among his clients at the Exchequer in the early years of Henry V’s reign was Robert Waryn*, former knight of the shire for Huntingdonshire. He himself was returned by the neighbouring county to Henry’s fourth Parliament.3
By 1417 Huish had come to the attention of the wealthy Suffolk landowner, Sir William Argentine*, who made him a feoffee of his manor at Melbourn. In February 1419 he shared with Argentine’s widow the wardship of his estates and the marriage of his grandson and heir, John, but they failed to reach an agreement with the treasurer of the Exchequer as to the annual value of the property, which they were required to render, and their guardianship was ended after just three months. Nevertheless, Huish continued to act in the interests of the Argentine family, for in 1423 he was party to the settlements made with William Allington*, former