LEGET, Helming (d.1412), of Tottenham, Mdx. and Black Notley, Essex.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Helming Leget (d.1391) of Hadleigh, Suff. and London by his 2nd w. Margery, da. of John Malwayn of West Grafton, Wilts. and wid. of Nicholas Mocking (d.1360) of Tottenham. m. bef. Sept. 1400, Alice (c.1378-1 Apr. 1420), da. of Sir Thomas Mandeville (d.1391) of Black Notley by Anne, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Drokensford, sis. and coh. of Thomas Mandeville (d.1400), 1s.
Escheator, Essex and Herts. 8 Nov. 1401-29 Nov. 1402, 22 Oct. 1404-9 Nov. 1406.
Commr. of inquiry, Essex, Herts. May 1402 (concealment of goods forfeited by the earls of Huntingdon, Kent and Salisbury), Essex Aug. 1404 (treasons and felonies), Feb. 1406 (poaching), Herts. Oct. 1408 (Bardolf estates)1; array, Essex Sept.-Nov. 1403; arrest Jan., June 1404; to enlist men for service in the King’s ships June, July 1411.
Sheriff, Essex and Herts. 29 Dec. 1402-5 Nov. 1403, 30 Nov. 1407-15 Nov. 1408.
Constable of Clare castle, Suff. and steward of the lordship of Clare during minority of Edmund, earl of March, 30 July 1403-d.
J.p. Essex 5 June 1404-Feb. 1407.
Usher of the King’s chamber by Mar. 1405-d.
Dep. to Thomas Chaucer*, the chief butler, Ipswich and Colchester by 29 Jan. 1408-24 Apr. 1411.
Keeper of the King’s ships 22 June 1411-d.
Leget came from a family with a tradition of service to the Crown. His father, Helming senior, was a King’s yeoman and esquire under Edward III, rising to be receiver of the chamber (1362), constable of Windsor castle (1369), and coroner and clerk of the market of the household (1375), and only leaving royal employment at Edward III’s death. Leget senior held lands in Suffolk (at Hadleigh, Aldham, Hintlesham and Reydon) which were to pass at his death to his son Edward, presumably the issue of his first marriage. His second marriage (to Helming junior’s mother) had been granted to him by Edward III, and brought into his possession estates once held by his wife’s former husband, Nicholas Mocking, although not without complicated negotiations with Mocking’s heirs. They included premises in Elmley, Kent, part of the manor of Bruces in Tottenham, Middlesex, and several properties in Southwark, Surrey, and in London.2 Not all of these holdings passed to Helming junior at the death of his father in 1391, for the latter had instructed his executors to sell some land to provide his daughter, Joan, with a dowry of 100 marks (she subsequently married William Danvers* of Berkshire); other properties went to religious foundations; and Helming’s mother and her third husband (a Lombard merchant named Angelo Christoforo) retained much of the rest for her lifetime. In 1393, at the Kent assizes, Leget claimed certain of the Malwayn estates on the basis of a will made by his uncle John Malwayn in 1376, but he failed in his suit. There were no rival claimants to the property at Tottenham, of which he obtained possession in February 1394, and it was there that he lived for the next few years.3
Leget’s marriage brought him into Essex. His wife’s brother, Thomas Mandeville, died a minor in 1400, whereupon the Mandeville estates were divided between Alice Leget and her sister Joan, wife firstly to John Barry and later to James Hoget. By 1410, after various transactions with Joan and her husbands, the Legets had secured full possession of the manors of Black Notley, Broomfield, Stapleford Tawney and Chatham, Essex, and Eastwick, Hertfordshire, holdings which at Mandeville’s death had been valued at about £62 a year. In 1412 Leget’s property at Tottenham was estimated to be worth a further £10.4 To this annual income of at least £72 he added yet more from royal grants.
It seems likely that Leget attached himself to Henry of Bolingbroke before he seized the throne, for as early in Henry’s reign as 5 Nov. 1399 he was granted an annuity of £20 as a ‘King’s esquire’ and, indeed, he was already in receipt of livery at the Household. In 1401 he and his wife were granted a tun of Gascon wine every year for life, and in October 1402 he was given custody of the Shropshire manor of Cressage, worth £20 a year, provided that he sued at his own expense for recovery of the King’s rights to the same. Although appointed escheator of Essex and Hertfordshire in 1401 and sheriff in 1402, he was often absent from his bailiwick in royal service. Thus, on 10 July 1403 he was with Henry IV on his way to join the earl of Northumberland to combat the Scots, then being instructed to deliver a letter from Henry to his council regarding the payment of the prince of Wales’s army; and two days later he was busy commandeering horses ‘for certain business touching King and realm’. It seems likely that he fought at the battle of Shrewsbury, for just nine days after the battle he was granted the office of constable and steward of Clare during the minority of Earl Edmund of March, whom the Percys had attempted to set on the throne. During the suppression of the Welsh revolt when the King was at Worcester and in ‘grande necessitee’ (probably in 1405), Leget paid out £100 on his behalf. In 1406 the Exchequer was instructed to re-imburse him, the King then ‘preignantz cestre matire le plus tendrement a cuer’.5
Meanwhile, in 1404, Leget had been one of those entrusted by Henry IV with the task of suppressing a rebellion which had broken out in Essex. At the centre of a plot to overthrow Henry and restore Richard II (rumoured to be still alive) were Leget’s own kinswoman Maud, dowager countess of Oxford, and the heads of certain local religious houses, conspirators whom he loyally helped to detain. In August he supervised part of the gruesome journey of the dismembered traitor, William Serle, from Pontefract to London, and it may have been as a reward for his zeal that, in October, he shared with the dean of Salisbury a grant of custody of the temporalities of the vacant see of Winchester, for which he was to account to the King personally in the chamber. Leget’s appointment as an usher of the chamber may date from this time. Early in 1405 he was granted the wardship of lands in Hampshire worth £20 a year (though he sold it and that of Cressage shortly afterwards), and in March, after the failure of the plot of Edward, duke of York, to abduct the young earl of March, Leget was awarded 15 cows and 12 cart-horses forfeited by the duke, to cover his expenses on the King’s business. He was also paid £10 for escorting York’s sister, Constance, Lady Despenser, from London into custody at Kenilworth. Later that year he stood surety for the lessees of March’s manor of North Fambridge, Essex.6
Leget was an usher of the King’s chamber at the time of both his returns to Parliament, and his position at Court may well have influenced the electors in his favour. Yet he was well qualified to sit for Essex by virtue of his wife’s estates in the county, and he had formed connexions with certain prominent figures among the local gentry. For instance, among the feoffees of his property was John Doreward*, a former member of Henry IV’s council, and he was to be party with Doreward and Sir William Coggeshall* to a settlement of land on the latter’s brother-in-law John, son of Sir John Hawkwood, the famous condottiere. Leget retained the King’s goodwill: in July 1409 he was accorded for life a manor near Hungerford, Wiltshire, of an annual value of 20 marks, and that same year he and William Loveney*, former keeper of the Wardrobe, shared the custody of the manor of Bobbingworth in Essex. But Bobbingworth had also been granted elsewhere, and after a petition presented in the Parliament of 1410 the patent to Leget and Loveney was revoked. Leget may have sat in this Parliament (for which the returns for Essex have not survived). Certainly, he was at Westminster on 26 Jan., the day before it assembled, then obtaining letters patent of exemption from further royal service against his will.7
In June 1411 Henry IV, then planning to provide military support for the duke of Burgundy against the Orléanists and actually to lead the expedition in person, appointed Leget as keeper of his ships, and that summer the esquire was kept busy impressing men to serve on board the King’s own galley. In fact, Henry never sailed, but Leget, who obtained royal letters of protection as going overseas on 5 Oct., may nevertheless have joined the expedition under its new commander, the earl of Arundel.8
Leget died on 1 Aug. 1412. In 1420, after the death of his widow (who had taken Roger Spice as her second husband), John Fray* obtained the wardship of her estates during the minority of Leget’s son Thomas, and in 1426 John Talbot, Lord Furnival, paid 20 marks for the boy’s marriage. Thomas was later to inherit the property in Suffolk of his uncle, Edward Leget.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CIMisc. vii. 384.
- 2. CChR, v. 188; T.F. Tout, Chapters, iv. 332; CPR, 1361-4, p. 379; 1367-70, pp. 318, 322; 1377-81, p. 546; 1385-9, p. 145; 1399-1401, p. 50; VCH Mdx. v. 326; CFR, xiv. 228; CCR, 1360-4, pp. 91, 288, 329-30; CIPM, xiii. 40, 195; Corporation of London RO, hr 105/19, 109/47, 58, 68, 76, 111/2.
- 3. PCC 8 Rous; Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 398; Tottenham Manor Ct. Rolls, trans. Oram, 214, 227, 241-2, 255; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 306, 427; JUST 1/1503 m. 34.
- 4. VCH Essex, iv. 234-5; VCH Herts. iii. 318; CFR, xii. 75; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 250, 252, 254-5; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 54, 57, 215, 217-18; C137/14/56; Feudal Aids, vi. 440, 491.
- 5. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 64; 1401-5, pp. 12, 171, 258, 283; J.H. Wylie, Hen. IV, iv. 206; E101/404/21; E404/21/52; Harl. 319, ff. 46, 49d; PPC, i. 207.
- 6. Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxviii), 152; CCR, 1402-5, p. 354; 1405-9, pp. 110, 191; Wylie, i. 427-8; CFR, xii. 293; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 496, 501; 1405-8, p. 74; Issues ed. Devon, 300.
- 7. DL 42/16 (pt. 3), f. 136; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 138, 231, 240; CFR, xiii. 192-3; Sel. Cases before King’s Council (Selden Soc. xxxv), 92-95; Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. ser. 2, vi. 174.
- 8. CPR, 1408-13, pp. 294, 319; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 204.
- 9. C138/44/3, 12; C139/28/33; CPR, 1422-9, p. 350; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 294, 460-1; CFR, xiv. 354.