LICHFIELD, alias TAVERNER, Aymer (d.c.1400), of Lichfield, Staffs.
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Family and Education
s. of Thomas Lichfield alias Taverner of Lichfield. m. by 1361, Margery, da. and h. of John Stretton of Stretton, Derbys., 1s.1
J.p. Staffs. 15 Dec. 1376-May 1378, 26 May 1380-Dec. 1382, 15 July 1389-June 1390, 12 Nov. 1397-9.
Commr. to make an arrest, Staffs. July 1380, Feb. 1399; of array Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392; inquiry, Warws. Oct. 1390, May 1393; to seize property confiscated from the Lords Appellant of 1388, Beds., Bucks., Northants., Rutland, Warws., Worcs., Leics. Oct. 1397; of oyer and terminer, Staffs. Apr. 1398 (withdrawal of labour services).
Escheator, Salop, Staffs. and the Welsh march 20 Oct. 1385-3 Dec. 1386, 24 Nov. 1394-18 Nov. 1395.
Sheriff, Staffs. 18 Nov. 1386-7, 7 Nov. 1393-11 Nov. 1394, Warws. and Leics. 15 Nov. 1389-7 Nov. 1390, 17 Nov. 1398-22 Aug. 1399.
Alnager, Staffs. 20 July 1394-Easter 1399.
Although the precise nature of their relationship remains unknown, Lichfield was almost certainly a kinsman, indeed, perhaps the brother, of Simon Lichfield, who was clerk of the common pleas in 1384 and the holder of many royal commissions in Staffordshire. Another member of this prolific family, which possessed considerable influence in the northwest Midlands during the later 14th century, was Aymer’s nephew, Roger Lichfield*, who represented Worcester in six Parliaments. Aymer himself first appears in 1361, by which date he had apparently married Margery, heiress to the manor of Stretton, since he then appointed another of his kinsmen, Thomas Lichfield, to the living there. It was not until 1372, however, that Aymer and his wife conveyed Stretton (together with interests in Leicestershire) to trustees holding to their use and that of Margery’s heirs. Her inheritance also included certain unspecified property in Warwickshire, and this was evidently included in the terms of the settlement, too. In December 1376, Lichfield received the first of many commissions as a j.p. in his native Staffordshire. Already one of the richest inhabitants of Lichfield, he made the comparatively large contribution of 6s.8d. towards the poll tax of 1379. His scattered possessions in and around the town (which included some 330 acres of farmland and other miscellaneous premises) were probably part of a family estate, since they eventually reverted to his descendants after his death.2
As lord of Stretton, Lichfield again presented to the local parish church in July 1382, 1385, 1392 and 1397; and in August 1384 he joined with the archdeacons of Coventry and Derby to choose an incumbent for the rectory of Aldridge in Staffordshire. It was during this period that Lichfield first became involved in the affairs of his neighbours, the Swynnertons, with whom he was associated as a trustee, and possibly as a tenant, for almost 16 years. He also had connexions with the Cistercian abbey of Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, being made a feoffee of property held to the use of a former abbot at some point before September 1383. Four years later, he and the bishop of Bath and Wells were made joint custodians of the Warwickshire priory of Monks Kirby, only to have their royal letters patent annulled shortly afterwards on the discovery that the previous keeper was still alive.3 The year 1387 saw the award to Lichfield, his brother, Thomas†, their kinsman, Simon, and a number of local men of a royal licence permitting them to form a fraternity and guild at St. Mary’s chapel, Lichfield. The guild was to be mantained out of the profits of land worth up to £10 a year, and conveyances were still being made to this effect five years later.4
Lichfield’s almost continuous employment by the Crown as a sheriff and escheator during the later 1380s and the 1390s (he was returned to Parliament in 1386 while in office as escheator of Shropshire and Staffordshire) must have absorbed most of his energies: it certainly made him a number of enemies, since at some point before December 1392 Sir John Arderne and his followers allegedly attacked his home and stole goods worth £100. A commission of inquiry was set up to investigate Lichfield’s complaint, but the outcome is not recorded.5 During the Easter term of 1394, Lichfield began two actions for trespass in the court of common pleas. In so doing he no doubt hoped to exploit his position as sheriff of Staffordshire (which he then held for a second time), although his efforts met with little success. On the contrary, one resident, whom he was also suing for debt at this time, obtained a royal pardon for outlawry because of his non-appearance in court.6
Lichfield is last mentioned in August 1399. His abrupt removal from the shrievalty of Warwickshire and Leicestershire at this time was undoubtedly a political decision, although he did not long survive his enforced retirement; and in the following year his widow’s trustees presented to the living at Stretton. His involvement in October 1397 in the confiscation of the estates of the Lords Appellant of 1387-8 and his re-appointment as a j.p. soon afterwards suggest that he had a strong personal commitment to Richard II. He was evidently on close terms with the influential courtier, Sir William Bagot*, who made him a trustee of his manor of Baginton in Warwickshire, and like the turncoat Bagot he had once shown far greater sympathy for the Appellants’ cause. Certainly, the two royal letters of pardon issued to him in 1398 refer specifically to this previous attachment, and it is interesting to note that the chief feoffee upon whom he had then settled his estates was none other than Henry of Bolingbroke, one of the junior Appellants and the future Henry IV. Notwithstanding this potentially important connexion, Lichfield seems to have died in disgrace, or perhaps in debt, as his Staffordshire estates were awarded for life by the Crown to the King’s knight, Sir William Newport*, in about 1400, and did not pass into the hands of his nephew and eventual heir, Sir William Lichfield†, for a further 16 years. Meanwhile, in 1412, his widow, Margery, conveyed all her own possessions in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire to her kinsman, John Fynderne. Sir William was still being sued for his late uncle’s debts in 1418, when Roger Bradshawe* attempted to recover from him a sum of £20 which his elder brother, Nicholas, had been owed by the deceased.