MARCHAUNT, William II (d.1423/4), of Iden, Suss.
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Family and Education
Commr. of inquiry, Suss. Feb. 1401 (former Bealknap estates), Kent June 1414 (Boxley abbey estates); sewers, Romney Marsh July 1401, June 1407, Feb. 1409, July 1414, Oct. 1415, Feb. 1418.
Marchaunt witnessed deeds at Rye in 1399 and 1411, and in the meantime, in May 1408, he took on a lease for ten years from St. Mary’s chantry there of all its property in the neighbouring village of Iden.2 He himself had apparently inherited the 200 or more acres of land in Iden once held by his ancestors and by his presumed father, John (the same as had sat for Rye in 1382 and 1383); and quite early in his career he withdrew from any close involvement in the affairs of the town, preferring to live as a landowner on this estate. Elsewhere he had holdings at Peasmarsh, which he put in the hands of trustees in 1402, and at Udimore, Knelle and Hope, on which as a Portsman he claimed tax exemptions totalling 30s. His rural interests included keeping sheep, some of which he sold in 1417-18 to Robertsbridge abbey for £6 6s.8d., and over the years he was involved in a number of lawsuits with other Sussex farmers, whom he prosecuted for debt. In 1422 Marchaunt was accused of conniving with wool-smugglers. Stephen Glover, a servant of William Catton*, the customer for the area, informed the Exchequer that in July 1421 he had sold 400 woolfells and some cheese to John Ryde of Faversham, who, at dead of night in a waterway near Iden, loaded the goods into a ship from Zeeland which carried them away without paying customs dues. Marchaunt’s story was that Glover himself had bought the wool, that Ryde had come as his agent, with waggons belonging to Catton himself, and carried it to the creek where it was put in a boat to be taken to Winchelsea; what became of it afterwards he did not know. Nevertheless, the eventual outcome was that he was fined five marks.3
Besides his farming concerns, Marchaunt established a reputation for himself among the gentry of Sussex and Kent as a competent and trustworthy feoffee-to-uses. Thus, in 1392 he acted for John Leigh of Kenardington as trustee of lands in Kent, and in 1401 Paul Marchaunt (probably a kinsman of his) enfeoffed him of property at Playden. More important, also in 1401, Sir William Brenchesle, j.c.p., entrusted him with his estates in both counties; and later on, in November 1405, he was made a feoffee of the manors in Warwickshire and elsewhere which the influential King’s knight Sir John Dallingridge* of Bodiam castle had acquired by marriage. Marchaunt’s connexion with Dallingridge was particularly close, for in 1407 Sir John named him as one of his executors. As such, he became involved in settling Dallingridge’s accounts with the Exchequer for custodianship of the Despenser and Mowbray estates in Sussex, granted to the deceased by Henry IV, and in November 1421 he paid over a ‘great and notable’ sum of money to Robertsbridge abbey for masses for Dallingridge’s soul.4 At Iden Marchaunt was a neighbour of William Swinburne* esquire, who through marriage had come to hold part of the manor of La Mote; and in 1412 he and Swinburne’s brother-in-law, Sir William Marney*, were recorded as holding a third part of the same manor, valued at £40 a year. They may have been acting as Swinburne’s feoffees, although as Marchaunt was entitled to present to the free chapel at La Mote (which he did five years later), it may be that his personal interests as a tenant were also concerned here.5
Marchaunt made his will on 10 Mar. 1423. His legacies to churches included not only one to Iden church, where he was to be buried, but also to those of Hawkhurst, Playden, Stone and Rye, and to the friaries of Rye and Winchelsea. He also left the church at Iden 50s. towards having it paved, and for building a new pulpit and Easter sepulchre. Masses were to be said for his soul and the souls of his first wife and her father. Besides bequeathing gowns, sheep and money to his servants and friends, he left five marks to William Bernes ‘the man whom he trusted most’. Bernes had been a fellow executor to Sir John Dallingridge, and Marchaunt now made him his own executor too, in association with his wife, Alice, and son, John. He died before 3 Mar. 1424, when the will was proved.6 Marchaunt’s descendants long continued to possess land at Iden.