MONCEAUX, Amand (c.1328-1399), of Whinfell, Cumb.
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Family and Education
b.c.1328, prob. yr. s. of Sir John Monceaux† (d. Easter 1363) of Barmston, Yorks. m. (1) — (d. Aug. 1345); (2) bef. Mar. 1366, Margaret, cousin and coh. of William Aikhead (d. 16 Mar. 1366) of Aikhead, Cumb., at least 1s. John*.1
Jt. keeper of the west march towards Scotland 7 Dec. 1371-aft. 5 Apr. 1380.2
Commr. of array, Cumb. Dec. 1371,3 Mar. 1392; to raise money to re-imburse Henry, earl of Northumberland, for compensation paid to the Scots May 1381;4 of inquiry May 1382 (damage to watercourses at Carlisle), Northumb., Cumb., Westmld. Feb. 1383 (thefts of salmon), Cumb. Mar. 1383 (escape of a prisoner), June 1383 (illicit fishery on river Eden), Nov. 1383 (threats to collectors of a clerical subsidy), Nov. 1390 (retention of a tax rebate); to make arrests, Northumb. Apr. 1388.
Coroner, Cumb. bef. 12 Nov. 1375-aft. 24 Oct. 1376.
Constable and chamberlain of Lochmaben castle, and justice, keeper and steward of the lordship of Annandale, Dumfries 2 Apr. 1378-1 May 1380.5
Assessor of taxes, Cumb. May 1379.
Sheriff, Cumb. 1 Nov 1381-24 Nov. 1382, 1 Nov. 1383-11 Dec. 1384, 20 Oct. 1385-18 Nov. 1386.
J.p. Cumb. 20 Dec. 1382-5, 15 July 1389-Dec. 1390, 24 May 1394-Nov. 1397.
Jt. keeper of Carlisle castle, Cumb. 1 Jan.-2 Feb. 1384, 28 July 1385.6
Escheator, Cumb., Northumb. and Westmld. 30 Nov. 1387-14 Feb. 1390.
Mayor, Carlisle c. Oct. 1390-1391.7
Alnager, Cumb. 20 July 1394-17 Oct. 1399.
Collector of customs, Cumb., Westmld. 18 Dec. 1394-4 Oct. 1397.
Monceaux himself seems to have been unsure as to his precise date of birth, giving it at different times as ‘about 1335’ or ‘about 1328’, although the latter date appears rather more likely. He was probably a younger son of Sir John Monceaux of Barmston in Humberside, one of the representatives for Yorkshire in the Parliament of 1352 (Jan.), so he had few, if any, prospects in the way of inheritance. Sir John died in 1363, leaving all his estates to his eldest son, John, but by then Amand had established himself in the northwest. His success was partly due to his military expertise, for he had taken up the profession of arms while still a young man, and at the age of about 18, in 1346, he was a member of the English army which confronted the Scots outside Durham. Already by then a widower, he spent the next 20 years campaigning against the Scots and the French.8 At some point he remarried, choosing as his second wife Margaret, the cousin and coheir of William Aikhead, whose death without issue in 1366 brought her a third share of the hamlet of Aikhead as well as land in Highmoor, Crofton, Rosewain, Waverton and the city of Carlisle. Margaret also owned land in Hayton, where she was a feudal tenant of the Lucys; and it is quite likely that Amand’s two manors of Whinfell and Broughton, his half-manor of Dundraw and his land at Hesket and Low Lorton (which were likewise held of the Lucys) came to him through his second marriage too. His other holdings included a fishery and land at Bankhead, a ‘place’ called Greenrigg, a vaccary at ‘Clethowe’ and farmland in Bromfield.9
Not surprisingly, in view of his long experience of warfare on the border, Amand was made one of the keepers of the west march towards Scotland, in 1371, at which time he began serving on a variety of royal commissions in the region. His military duties evidently interfered with his work as coroner of Cumberland, because in 1375 and again in the following year orders were given for his removal from the post, on the ground that he was ‘abiding continually in the uttermost borders, so that he may not have leisure to exercise (his) office’. He did, even so, travel to Westminster in January 1377 to represent Cumberland for the first time in Parliament. Harassment by Scottish raiding parties led by the earls of March and Douglas became so bad over the next two years that Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, decided to recall the warden of Lochmaben castle in Dumfries for active service on the border, replacing him with Amand Monceaux, whose skills clearly stood him in good stead. It looks, however, as if he spent little, if any, time in residence. A writ of supersedeas, issued in 1389, halted any Exchequer process against him as warden because he had ‘meddled not’ with the appointment; so there is a possibility that he, too, was preoccupied with defensive measures nearer home.10
Even during so-called periods of truce, Amand found his task as one of the keepers of the march constantly hindered by the refusal of local landowners to compensate the Scots for overt acts of aggression, such as the illicit forays which were regularly launched by the English, regardless of diplomatic considerations. In April 1380, for example, a special commission had to be set up to help him and his colleagues to make good the losses of certain Scots before they embarked upon reprisals of their own. Similar problems with regard to the collection of money probably beset his first term as sheriff of Cumberland, as in May 1382, while he was still in office, he received a formal royal pardon. By and large, the gentry of Cumberland were reluctant to serve as sheriff because the poverty of the county (made worse by endemic warfare and several serious outbreaks of plague) rendered it virtually impossible to raise the necessary farm. Yet during his second Parliament, which met in October 1383, Amand agreed, perhaps under pressure, to take up the post again. His term of office coincided with another serious outbreak of hostilities on the border; and in January 1384 he and (Sir) Thomas Blenkinsop (who had been returned with him to Westminster) took command of the royal castle at Carlisle with a retinue of 50 men-at-arms and 100 mounted archers. By the following June, he had spent £200 on repairs to the fortifications, and in December he supervised the introduction of artillery to the castle in the shape of three brass cannon. He was also responsible for conveying a prisoner from Carlisle for interrogation at Windsor, taking with him an armed escort of 20 men in case of an attempted rescue, and submitting a claim for £13 in expenses sustained on the journey. Amand again assumed command at Carlisle (with an even larger garrison) in the summer of 1385, while John, Lord Neville, the constable, was serving with the royal army on Richard II’s less than successful expedition to Scotland. It looks very much as if he discharged a later spell of duty there as well, because money was still owing to him as late as 1397, when he petitioned the King for redress. In view of all these extraordinary expenses, the government had no alternative but to write off a substantial part of his farm as sheriff, since the combination of emergency defensive works at Carlisle and devastation by the Scots had left him with almost nothing in hand. He thus completed his third and last period of office, in November 1386, in a rather more secure position than most of his predecessors, who were often made personally liable for any shortfall in their accounts. (Indeed, a belated attempt by the Exchequer to charge him with certain unpaid arrears some three years later was promptly terminated by the issue of yet another royal pardon.) As sheriff of Cumberland, Amand was responsible for holding the county elections to Parliament, and thus had no trouble in returning himself to Westminster, in 1386, for the third time. He was, of course, acting in breach of the statute which forbade the return of sheriffs to the House of Commons, but it seems unlikely that any of the local gentry would have opposed his election, especially as he was trying to recover money spent on their behalf. On the way south, in mid September, he stopped at York to give evidence in support of Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton, in his celebrated dispute with Sir Robert Grosvenor over the right to bear the same coat of arms.11
Besides serving on the Cumberland bench for some seven years in all, Amand also held office from 1387 to 1390 as escheator of Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmorland. During this period he sat in two more Parliaments, the first of which met at Cambridge in September 1388, shortly after he had been ordered under pain of 100 marks to restore all goods confiscated by him from the King’s clerk, Richard Clifford. The latter had been imprisoned by the Merciless Parliament at the beginning of the year as part of a sustained attack by the Lords Appellant on Richard II’s unpopular advisors, but the process of rehabilitation was already under way, and Clifford eventually became bishop of Worcester and then of London. Besides contending with the rather volatile political situation, Amand also had to face the all too familiar problems of revenue collection. His return to the January Parliament of 1390, along with his son, John, who sat as one of the burgesses for Carlisle, was clearly connected with the presentation of a petition by the people of the three northern counties begging for a reduction in their customary farms and taxes because of the combined effects of poverty, warfare and depopulation. Richard II did, indeed, agree to make the necessary concessions; and two years later yet another royal command was issued to the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer ordering them to excuse Amand himself from rendering a full account for his escheatorship because of the effect of devastation by the Scots. A lawsuit brought against him by the Northumbrian knight, Sir John Manners, in 1394, over his failure to account for certain money, may also have had something to do with his term of office, but he had little trouble in obtaining a writ of supersedeas, naming his son, John, as one of his mainpernors in Chancery. The latter’s second election to Parliament, in 1391, also owed a good deal to his father’s influence, since Amand was almost certainly serving as mayor of Carlisle when the choice of representatives was being made for the city, and was thus in a strong position to advance the young man’s candidacy.12
Although he was now well advance