MOLEYNS, Sir William (1378-1425), of Stoke Poges, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. London 7 Jan. 1378, s. and h. of Sir Richard Moleyns of Stoke Poges. m. by Mich. 1401, Margery (d. 26 Mar. 1439), 1s. 1da.1 Kntd. 8 Apr. 1413.
Commr. of array, Bucks. Dec. 1399, Oct. 1403; to restore order at Horton Mar. 1403; raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420, Apr. 1421.
J.p. Bucks. 18 Feb. 1419-July 1423.
In 1384 after the death of Moleyns’s father (who was posthumously styled Lord Moleyns, although he had never been summoned to Parliament), William’s wardship and marriage were granted to Thomas of Woodstock, the King’s uncle, for £700. Ten years later Woodstock, now duke of Gloucester, transferred the wardship to a number of trustees, headed by the bishop of London, but in December 1398, after Gloucester’s murder, William’s grandmother, Margery, bought his marriage from the treasurer, the earl of Wiltshire, for 700 marks. William proved his age on 6 Feb. 1399, and after obtaining seisin of his inheritance he was granted licence to sell 80 acres of his Buckinghamshire timber to help pay off his grandmother’s debt. Shortly afterwards, on her death, he inherited the lands of his grandfather, Sir William†, which she had long held in dower.2
Moleyns’s patrimony was extensive (no fewer than three manors in Oxfordshire, six in Wiltshire and ten in Buckinghamshire), and his steward’s accounts for 1400-1 show him in receipt of over £356 for that year, of which about £338 came from land. Not surprisingly, he was required to contribute to the subsidy imposed by the Coventry Parliament of 1404 (Oct.) on those with annual incomes exceeding 500 marks (£333 6s.8d.), but he claimed exoneration on the ground that his estates gave him no more than £230 a year. The Exchequer ceased proceedings against him in 1412, when local inquiries supported his contention.3 Moleyns leased a substantial part of his lands to his steward, William Wyot, who had previously been in his grandmother’s service and, in 1405, acted as godfather at the baptism of his son. Thus, in 1406 he leased to Wyot and his wife Elizabeth, the manor of Henley-on-Thames for £8 a year, in 1407 they obtained all his property in Dachet and Ditton, Buckinghamshire, for the render of one rose every Midsummer, and in 1417 he granted them Aston Bampton in Oxfordshire, for term of their lives at £20 a year.4
Save for a few royal commissions, Moleyns’s career was uneventful. He was knighted on the eve of Henry V’s coronation, and in January 1414 he obtained a royal pardon for all his debts (probably in connexion with the Exchequer demands for his contribution to the subsidy). That March he was elected to his only Parliament. One of his mainpernors at the elections at Wilton, and a colleague in the Commons as a representative for Buckinghamshire, was Richard Wyot (probably the brother of Moleyns’s favoured retainer), who was himself then acting as steward of the estates of Bishop Beaufort of Winchester. Wyot was an associate of the bishop’s cousin, Thomas Chaucer*, with whom Moleyns, too, was also connected, for Chaucer’s wife, Maud, was a kinswoman of his. Indeed, the families drew closer in time, for Moleyns’s only son, William, was later to be married at Ewelme, Chaucer’s seat, to one of the daughters of Maud’s half-sister, Joan, daughter of Sir John Raleigh† of Nettlecombe, and wife of John Whalesborough*. Furthermore, his grand daughter was to have as one of her godmothers Chaucer’s daughter, Alice, countess of Salisbury. Another of Moleyns’s associates was Richard, Lord Strange of Knockin, for whom, in May 1417, he stood bail for his release from the Tower. Moleyns attended the Buckinghamshire elections to Parliament in 1419 and 1422.