LUTTRELL, Sir Hugh (c.1364-1428), of Dunster, Som.
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Family and Education
b.c.1364, yr. s. and event. h. of Sir Andrew Luttrell of Chilton, Devon by Elizabeth (d. 7 Aug. 1395), da. of Hugh Courtenay, earl of Devon, and Margaret de Bohun, gdda. of Edw. I, wid. of Sir John de Vere. m. bef. 1384, Katherine (d. 28 Aug. 1435), da. of Sir John Beaumont† of Saunton and Sherwell, Devon, wid. of John, s. of Sir John Stretch* of Wambrook, Som., 2s. 4da.1 Kntd. by 1390.
Keeper of Gillingham forest, Dorset 5 July 1391 (in reversion)-aft. Nov. 1414.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Suss. Feb. 1393, Devon Nov. 1413, Devon, Som., Dorset, Wilts., Hants May 1422, Devon July, Nov. 1423, Feb. 1427; inquiry, Surr., Suss. Mar. 1393 (concealments), Calais Apr. 1400 (King’s rights), Herts., Som., Dorset Jan. 1414 (lollardy), July 1414 (treasons and insurrections), Som. Oct. 1421 (piracy), Som., Dorset Apr. 1423 (Russell estates), Som. Aug. 1426 (necromancy); to determine appeals Nov. 1403, Feb. 1404; of arrest, Wilts., Som., Dorset Apr. 1417; to treat for loans, Som. June 1410,2 Som., Dorset, Wilts. Apr. 1421, Devon, Cornw. Mar. 1422, Som., Dorset, Bristol July 1426; enforce statutes relating to salmon, Devon Feb. 1425.
Constable of Leeds castle, Kent 23 Feb. 1393-c. July 1399.
Surveyor of Burstow and Mortlake parks, Surr. by Oct. 1397.
Ambassador to treat with France Sept. 1400, Apr., Aug. 1403, Flanders Dec. 1403.4
Mayor, Bordeaux 13 May-c. Oct. 1404.5
Parlty. cttee. for naval defence Apr. 1406.
Jt. auditor of the accounts of the treasurers of war 16 Dec. 1406.
Steward of Queen Joan’s household by Mar. 1410.
Constable of Bristol castle and keeper of Kingswood and Filwood forests, Glos. 7 Mar. 1410-aft. 1421.
J.p. Som. 16 Jan. 1414-Nov. 1417, Feb. 1422-d., Devon 12 Feb. 1422-July 1423, July 1424-d.
Lt. of Harfleur 20 June 1417-c.1421.6
Seneschal of Normandy by 14 July 1419-18 Jan. 1421.7
Capt. of Montivilliers by Mar.-Apr. 1420.8
Jt. keeper and surveyor of the warrens, chaces and parks of the earldom of Devon 7 July 1422-d.
The Luttrells established themselves in Somerset in the third decade of the 13th century, through the acquisition of an addition to their extensive lands in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. The Somerset properties descended for the most part to a younger branch of the family which became extinct at the death of Sir John Luttrell of East Quantockshead in 1403, whereupon they passed to another, still more junior branch in the person of Sir Hugh. The latter’s grandfather, Sir John†, held property in Devon and represented that county in Parliament in the 1360s, but the Luttrell fortunes in the west were established, at least socially, by his father, whose marriage to the earl of Devon’s daughter allied him to the greatest family in the area and made him a kinsman of the royal house. Thus Sir Andrew, who was by birth only a cadet of a younger branch of the baronial family of Luttrell of Irnham, Lincolnshire, was by his marriage raised to a much higher position in the social scale. For many years Hugh Luttrell’s mother, Elizabeth, was in attendance on her cousins, Edward, the Black Prince, and Princess Joan his wife, and in consideration of such service she obtained from Richard II a continuance of the annuity of £200 granted to her and her husband by Edward III. Hugh himself was related not only to King Richard and his successors, but also to that spectacular trio the brothers Sir Philip*, Sir Peter and William Courtenay, archbishop of Canterbury, all three highly prominent in the last decades of the 14th century. To his mother Luttrell also owed a debt on more material plane, for it was she who purchased the Mohun estates in reversion, an act which, while causing her son no little trouble in obtaining his inheritance, finally promoted the family to a position of both local and national eminence which illustrious birth alone could not have achieved. This, it should be emphasized, was not the making of Luttrell himself: he did not receive the Mohun property until his career was firmly established, and this was achieved not only by birth but because of obvious ability.9
Luttrell’s father died in 1378, and his own career began a year or so later, when, still a minor, he was retained by John of Gaunt as one of his esquires. He came of age in 1385 while abroad on royal business and subsequently transferred his service from Gaunt firstly, by 1391, to the queen, Anne of Bohemia, and then to Richard II. He received several grants of property from the queen because of ‘her love for him’, and no doubt he became a highly valued member of her household. In July 1391 he obtained the reversion of the office of keeper of her forest of Gillingham, which he was occupying at least by February 1399, though not without opposition from counter-claimants who accused him of securing formal ratification through the chancellor, Bishop Stafford of Exeter, rather than directly from the King. Meanwhile, in February 1392 the queen had awarded him and others the farm of her manor of Milton, Kent, and of the hundreds of Milton and Marden in the same county, for a payment of £186 13s.4d. a year. This grant, too, was not very satisfactory, and he was nearly £500 in arrears seven years later at Michaelmas 1399, when his tenure ended. From 1393 to 1399 he held office as constable of Leeds castle, first by appointment of the queen and then by confirmation of the King. His income from this source was not always easy to obtain: the prior of Leeds was ordered in October 1397 to pay arrears dating back three years. On his surrender of the constableship to Henry IV in 1399 he was given as compensation an annuity of £5 to be paid from the manor of Milton. In addition to these grants from Queen Anne, Luttrell had received from Richard II in July 1391 an annuity of £20 and the position of farmer of the lands of the abbey of St. Nicholas, Angers, in Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire, and the alien priory of Corsham (Wiltshire), a dependancy of Marmoutiers. In November 1399 this annuity, too, was transferred to the manor of Milton, but Luttrell surrendered it, along with his £5 annuity payable in lieu of the constableship of Leeds, in May 1404, when he still owed over £482 for the farm of the late queen’s estates. In return, Henry IV generously pardoned him the full amount of the debt. Luttrell still retained the lease of the alien monastic estates, however, which later came into the hands of Queen Joan, Henry IV’s consort, as part of her dower. A further annuity of £40 granted him on 23 Aug. 1395 and payable at the Exchequer from the issues of the alien priory of Wing, Buckinghamshire, was made by Richard II to his kinsman ‘because retained to stay for life with the King’. This continued to be paid until at least 1404.10
Grants of this kind were as much in response to services already performed as retainers for future support, and it is clear that Luttrell’s loyalty to Richard II was unshakeable right up to the deposition. The evidence does not suggest any cooling of relations in the last few years of the reign; and Luttrell’s influence at court and his employment in Richard’s household were maintained until the end. Not only did he, like many others, accompany the King to Ireland in 1394, but he was also one of the loyal band who escorted Richard on what proved a fateful journey there in 1399. Nevertheless, the change of ruler appears to have increased rather than diminished his fortunes. The explanation for this may lie in his family connexions, for the Courtenays also flourished under Henry IV. Luttrell had presumably owed the surveyorship of Burstow and Mortlake, which he held in the last years of Richard’s reign, to his uncle Archbishop Courtenay (who left him 100 marks in his will); and it was in the company of another uncle, Sir Peter, that he sailed for Calais in 1400, after the latter had been confirmed in office as captain of the garrison there. Luttrell seems to have shared Courtenay’s passion for the joust; he had been present at a tournament held near Calais in 1390, and in 1402, by then acting as lieutenant to the new captain of Calais, the earl of Somerset, he arranged for another to be held there at which the duke of Orléans was to be the umpire. Luttrell remained lieutenant at Calais at least until December 1403, when he was allowed to take quantities of green, black, russet and rayed cloth through the customs at London ‘for his use and for the use of his household’. During the previous summer, however, he had spent some time in England, for his receiver had sent him 22 marks ‘at his coming from Cales’.11
While still holding office as lieutenant of Calais, Luttrell’s talents were diverted to the field of diplomacy. He was appointed to at least four missions, the last of which is unusually well documented. In April and August 1403 he was commissioned to treat with the French over infringements of the truce, and in October, as a conservator of the truce, he was involved in discussion with his French counterpart over protection for fishermen. Two months later he was authorized with Sir Thomas Swinburne* and others, including John Urban*, to renew the treaty with Flanders. Six letters have survived connected with this assignment, comprising both complaints to the Flemish deputies and the magistrates of Bruges and reports to the King, the latter generally taking the gloomy view that the Flemings were not to be trusted. Soon after the dispatch of the last letter, ambassadors from Bordeaux petitioned the Council in April 1404 for provisions, money and ‘aide dun chevytein et de gens darmes’. Luttrell was regarded as a suitable person to organize relief, and in the following month he was accordingly made mayor of Bordeaux, with orders to depart for Aquitaine soon after midsummer. Accounts survive for the expenses of his voyage from Minehead to Bordeaux, but he cannot have been mayor for long for he was back in England in October, being then elected to Parliament for the first time.12
Two days after the opening of Parliament on 6 Oct., Luttrell found himself in a difficult position, when Lady Mohun, who had sold the reversion of her inheritance to his late mother, died at Canterbury. The substantial estate to which he now laid claim, comprising Dunster, Minehead, Kilton and Carhampton, Somerset, was important not so much in territorial extent as because Dunster was at the head of an honour to which feudal rights over a large part of the West Country were attached. Furthermore, the effect of this addition of property on Luttrell’s income would have been considerable. The estate he had inherited after the deaths of his father and paternal grandmother in 1378 was small, though he had added to it his wife’s dower in the Stretch manors of Sampford Arundel, Somerset, and Woolston and Otterton, Devon. His mother’s death in 1395 had brought him a notable accession of property including lands at Feltwell, Norfolk, and the manors of Moulton, Debenham and Waldingfield, Suffolk; while the death of his cousin, Sir John Luttrell, in 1403 had brought him East Quantockshead, Alfoxton and Watchet in Somerset. But the Dunster property, for the reversion of which his mother had paid 5,000 marks, exceeded the rest in financial value. Lady Mohun had obviously anticipated trouble over the transaction and, shortly before her death, had entrusted to two monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, a sealed box containing the licence dated 1369 allowing her to dispose of her property, and other documents concerning the sale. She bound the prior to ‘deliver it to her heirs or to Hugh Luttrell if either they or he got possession without opposition, or else to the successful party at law’. The actual transfer of the estate went smoothly: the Crown put in temporary tenants and then, in February 1405, granted Luttrell full seisin. He took up residence at Dunster immediately, but he must have expected difficulties for in March he obtained exemplification of the documents issued in 1369 to Lady Mohun, in response to the refusal of the monks at Canterbury to hand over the originals in the sealed chest. He was now faced with a formidable combination of opponents as the heirs of Lady Mohun, namely, Philippa, wife of Edward, duke of York, Elizabeth, countess of Oxford, and Richard, Lord Strange of Knockin. Yet, despite their strength, in Easter term 1406 he recovered the deeds of sale against them by a judgement delivered in the court of common pleas.13
The main controversy had still to be settled, and in view of the prominent positions of the parties, special measures had to be devised. In May 1405 nine commissioners, including the two chief justices and the chief baron, had been appointed to take an assize of novel disseisin. However, in June 1406 the House of Commons intervened on Luttrell’s behalf, proposing that the matter should be referred to four peers and to all the judges. The first of November was fixed as the latest date for a decision, but the day passed without a settlement, and again the Commons took up the matter for one of their number. They now petitioned that the special assize should be summoned and that, if it failed to make a judgement, it should be replaced and other steps taken, ‘considerant le povre estate du dit Hugh, et les graundes estates queux sont encountre luy en ceste partie’. The heavy expenses which Luttrell had to support are not likely to have crippled him, but the Commons, encouraged by the Speaker, Sir John Tiptoft, were clearly determined that their fellow Member should have justice. As a result of the petition a fresh method was tried: a jury of substantial landowners was empanelled in Somerset, and what appears to have been the whole bench of judges sat at Ilchester late in the Michaelmas term, two prominent lawyers, themselves later judges, representing the respective parties. The lengthy report of the case includes many technicalities and ends abruptly with an adjournment, but Luttrell remained at Dunster. This may be seen as something of a triumph for the Commons, whose intervention had proved decisive. In July 1408 Luttrell paid 100 marks by way of relief on succession to a whole barony.14
In spite of these preoccupations, Luttrell had not been permitted to neglect his duties elsewhere. In August 1405 he had been summoned to Wales, and victuals and six standards of his arms were sent there from Dunster in the following month. He visited the King at Leicester, but was back in the Welsh marches again at the beginning of October, only to ride home to Dunster before the 23rd of that month. Three days later he went on a pilgrimage to a local shrine, presumably to give thanks for his safe return. In the following year, on his second appearance in Parliament, he was made a member of a Commons’ committee nominated to treat with the King’s Council over the terms on which merchants should be made responsible for keeping the seas, and shortly afterwards, in a related matter, he acted as an auditor for the discharge of the treasurers of war. In the same eventful Parliament he stood in as proxy for his blind cousin, the earl of Devon.15
From 1406 to 1414 comparatively little is known of Luttrell’s activities. His appearance in land transactions, notably on behalf of Sir Thomas Brooke*, Sir John Oldcastle* and William, Lord Botreaux, and his duties as executor of Sir Peter Courtenay suggest that he was spending more time at home. He was one of the ‘noble and powerful’ men who were present at Glastonbury abbey during Archbishop Arundel’s stormy visitation in 1408, then, along with Brooke and others, being called in after the formalities to hear Arundel when he ‘expounded to them all the proceedings of the visitation, requesting them to assist in securing the execution of all that had been done, which they all with one voice promised to do’. Meanwhile Luttrell had retained the keepership of Gillingham forest (which had supplied venison for the Christmas festivities at Dunster in 1405), and found favour with the new holder of the estate, Queen Joan. In March 1410 the queen referred to him as her steward when she granted him the constableship of Bristol castle, together with the keepership of Filwood and Kingswood forests, posts which he was to retain for the rest of her life. No other traces of Luttrell’s stewardship have been found, although he must have come into contact with the queen several years earlier as farmer of the lands of the alien priories she held in dower. Two other transactions in these years are of interest: in February 1410 Luttrell gave a yearly rent of £20 from his manor of Feltwell to Agnes, widow of John Gower, the poet; and in 1414 he acted on behalf of his kinswoman Anne, dowager countess of Stafford, and her husband, Sir William Bourgchier*, in effecting a conveyance of the lordship of Oakham, Rutland, to the duke of York.16
The first year of Henry V’s reign brought Luttrell back into prominence, largely, it must be assumed, because of the impending renewal of war with France. His experience was of considerable value to the new King, though, curiously, it was not until 1417 that he entered fully into his service. Before that time he had been placed in an awkward position. His appointment on the commissions of inquiry into lollardy in Hertfordshire, Somerset and Dorset must have put unwarranted strains on his personal relationships in view of his close connexions with several prominent figures in the movement. Indeed, the appointment may be seen as an astute step by the government, for as far as can be judged Luttrell, himself a religious man, was extremely orthodox. It is interesting to note that the King sent a special messenger to Sir Hugh to inform him of Oldcastle’s escape from the Tower.17
Two indentures for the supply of troops, the first in February and the other in April 1417, brought Luttrell into the centre of affairs. In February and May his name occurred in council minutes as a ‘miles constabularius’ whose service might be required, and when the time came he embarked in the retinue of Thomas, earl of Salisbury, with a following of his own numbering 20 men-at-arms and 60 archers. In June at Southampton before they set sail he had been appointed lieutenant of Harfleur, which perhaps was then intended as the future base of English operations. There he remained throughout the ensuing period of conquest, and in the autumn of 1418 he received special instructions to enforce discipline in the garrison and to hang all deserters. In September that year he treated with the captains of Montivilliers and Fécamp for their surrender, and in January 1419 (after spending Christmas at home) he was empowered to receive the capitulation of the town of Montreuil and other places. Meanwhile, he had been in charge of supervising the unloading of provisions at Harfleur and responsible for the appointment of a victualler for the town itself; and in March he was authorized to grant houses and vacant lands to such of the King’s subjects as intended to live there. By July he had been promoted as seneschal of Normandy, an appointment associated with changes not only in the financial administration of the duchy but also in the military sphere. As such he had powers (conferred in April 1420) to superintend the bailiffs, vicomtes, receivers and all other officers subject to Henry V in the region. Luttrell could grandly describe himself as ‘Gret Seneschall of Normendie’, although his authority was not so extensive as the title suggests. He was still at Harfleur in June 1420 when he wrote to the King apologizing for not exercising his office ‘as my will were’ on account of illness, and congratulating him on his marriage to Katherine de Valois, an event which caused, he said, ‘the gretest gladnesse and consolation that ever came unto my herte’. He went on to report on the state of the country, claiming that ‘ther ys no steryng of none evyl doers’ in the bailliage of Caux and the marches of Picardy; and he mentioned that when the duke of Bedford had landed in Normandy he had ridden to meet him and ‘told hym the poverte of this countre’, advising him as to the best ways of governing it. Whether Luttrell’s advice was well received is not clear, but it is notable that despite his important offices and long service he was not given a territorial stake in the duchy: indeed, only one insignificant grant, that of two houses in Harfleur, has been traced. He was replaced as seneschal in January 1421 and probably ceased to act as lieutenant of Harfleur at about the same time.18
On his return to England and until his death, Luttrell was frequently engaged on all types of royal commissions in the south-west and also as a feoffee for relatives and neighbours, including Sir William Sturmy*, who had married his mother-in-law. His strongest association, however, continued to be with the Courtenays. In 1421 his kinsman, Hugh, earl of Devon, permitted him to use his own heraldic arms, and Luttrell accordingly adopted the Courtenay crest and supporters. He was a trustee of the earl’s estates, and after his kinsman’s death he was appointed by the Crown as joint keeper of the warrens, chases and parks of the earldom during the heir’s minority.
The accounts of Luttrell’s household expenditure make fascinating reading. In particular the inventory of his possessions at Harfleur and Dunster reveals a man of considerable taste for fine living, which evidently he indulged even while engaged on an essentially military enterprise. Part of his superb collection of plate had come to him from his grandmother, the countess of Devon, and part probably from his uncle, the archbishop of Canterbury, but in 1416 he had himself paid £54 to the executors of Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn* for various silver vases. Luttrell was also prepared to authorize substantial payments for repairs and alterations to the fabric of Dunster castle, in the years between 1420 and 1425 paying out £252 for the erection of a gate house and other improvements. Another concern was with the priory of Bruton, Somerset, which was in his patronage. Injunctions issued by Bishop Stafford four days before Luttrell’s death enjoined the prior to do nothing of importance ‘without the consent and assent of the saner part of the convent and his council, namely Sir Hugh Luttrell, founder and patron’ and others.19
Luttrell died on 24 Mar. 1428, apparently while on a visit to one of his daughters, a nun at Shaftesbury, Dorset. Spices worth 44s. were purchased at Shaftesbury, presumably to embalm his body, which was then carried to Dunster. The cortege passed through Bridgwater, where the churchwardens spent 12d. on torches. A further sum of nearly £10 went to the provision of white and black cloth to make gowns and capes for 16 poor people who attended the funeral. Luttrell’s obit was celebrated at Bruton, and a monument was erected to his memory in Dunster church. Thus died one of the most outstanding west country figures of the period. His career had spanned three reigns, in all of which he was prominent in different spheres.20
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. H.C. Maxwell Lyte, Hist. Dunster and Fams. Mohun and Luttrell, i. 75-106; J. Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 197; CIPM, xvi. 126; C139/75/30.
- 2. PPC, i. 343.
- 3. Foedera ed. Rymer (Orig. edn.), viii. 300; CCR, 1402-5, p. 223; SC1/57/11; E28/9, 26.
- 4. Foedera, viii. 300, 324, 344.
- 5. PPC, i. 223; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, i. 189.
- 6. DKR, xliv. 597, 613; Orig. Letters ed. Ellis, i. 84-86.
- 7. R.A. Newhall, Eng. Conquest Normandy, 244-6; DKR, xlii. 398.