MORRIS, Edmund, of Kingsland, Herefs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Alnager, Herefs. Apr. 1408-Feb. 1417, Salop Sept. 1422-43.
Commr. of inquiry, Herefs. May 1414 (breach of the 1390 statute relating to leather workers and tanners), Herefs. and the adjacent march of Wales June 1426 (q. estates late of Edmund, earl of March), July 1426 (q. treasons and felonies), July 1428 (concealed crown income), Dec. 1435 (q.), Sept. 1448 (breach of the statute of labourers); oyer and terminer, Caen Jan. 14181 (q.), Card. Feb. 1431; to assess a royal aid, Herefs. Apr 1431; of gaol delivery, Hereford castle Apr. 1444, Nov. 1446; to take into royal possession the estates of Henry, late duke of Warwick, Herefs. and the marches of Wales July 1445.
J.p. Herefs. 20 July 1424-Dec. 1427, 12 Feb. 1443-c.1453.
Escheator, Herefs. and the march 17 Dec. 1426-12 Nov. 1427.
Supervisor of a royal grant of murage, Hereford 8 July 1429-32.
Edmund may have been related to Roger Morris and his wife Isabel, who were living in the High Street, Leominster, in the mid 14th century,2 but he himself resided at Kingsland, three miles from the town, and his main connexion with Leominster, although he did have property there, appears to have arisen from his close friendship with Richard Winnesley† of Winslow, by 1407 attorney for the abbot of Reading and from 1420 the bailiff of the abbatial liberty of Leominster. It may have been through Winnesley that he himself came to the abbot’s attention. Certainly, in the Easter term of 1413 he acted as the latter’s attorney in a plaint brought against Leominster men in the court of King’s bench. In 1406 Morris and Winnesley had both been legal advisors to Thomas Holgot*. Two years later Morris secured royal appointment as one of the Herefordshire alnagers of cloth, and in May 1409, while holding this office, he was granted at the Exchequer a lease of the alien priory of Craswall for the duration of the war with France, relinquishing custody, however, four years later. While at Westminster attending the Parliament of 1410, he obtained on 27 Feb. a seven-year extension of his alnagership; in March, along with Thomas Holgot (then representing Herefordshire in the Commons), he found mainprise at the Exchequer for John Merbury*, the chamberlain of South Wales; and the following month he acted similarly on behalf of his co-alnager, Thomas Everard. He was again associated with Merbury in the spring of 1412 when they entered into bonds under recognizances for £40 with the parson of Sacombe, Hertfordshire. Later that year, Morris, together with Winnesley and Maud, widow of Robert Scot, a shoemaker who had been murdered in 1390, was indicted at Ludlow for having illegally conspired to bring a writ of appeal in connexion with the death against five local men. However, in the Hilary term of 1416, when, after several summonses, he appeared in the King’s bench to answer these charges, the indictment was declared insufficient. In the meantime, in February 1413 he and Winnesley had provided securities in Chancery for Roger Bodenham, and by November 1414 he had become a feoffee for Agnes, widow of Sir Walter Devereux* and later the wife of John Merbury, in the Herefordshire manor of Whitechurch Maund.3
Soon after this Morris took part in the invasion of Normandy, it was there that, in January 1418, he was appointed, as a member of the quorum of a commission of oyer and terminer, to deal with rebellions in Caen against Henry V’s rule. He had returned to England by September 1419, when he accused a pedlar of stealing three of his horses at Leominster the previous spring. In July 1420, he and Winnesley stood bail for the Herefordshire lollard and later martyr, Richard Wych, obtaining his temporary release from the Fleet prison, and they probably acted as Wych’s legal advisors during the following law term when his case came before the royal council. In May 1421 and July 1423 Morris provided securities in the Exchequer for Richard Hore, when the latter was granted leases of Alberbury abbey, and St. Clears priory, respectively. In the meantime he had acted in Chancery on behalf of Sir Edward Perrers in securing an exemplification of certain letters patent, and in June 1423 had found mainprise for one of the earl of Warwick’s most prominent retainers, John Throckmorton*. About this time, too, but on his own behalf, he was suing Griffin ap Harry of Ewyas Harold on a plea of debt in the court of common pleas. In February 1424 he obtained the lucrative office of alnager of Shropshire (the grant for 20 years being backdated to the beginning of the reign), and a few months afterwards he was appointed to the Herefordshire bench. From then on he was regularly placed on royal commissions, often as a member of the quorum. One such commission, of June 1426, requiring him to make extensive inquiries into the value of the estates of Edmund, late earl of March, may have been the one, involving much ‘bysynesse’, about which he later petitioned the chancellor, John Stafford, bishop of Bath and Wells. Morris claimed that when Stafford was treasurer (1422-6), he had ordered him and the Herefordshire escheator to be paid £70 by assignments on the issues of the Mortimer estates rendered to the royal receiver there (Morris’s friend Richard Hore), in aid of their expenses when working ‘for the Kynges a vaile’, but this sum was collected by the parson of Croft without Morris’s authorization. During his own term of office as escheator, Morris was responsible for holding an inquiry about certain property in Leominster which was then the subject of litigation in Chancery between the abbot of Reading and the Crown, even though he had for some time been conducting cases on his own behalf in the court of King’s bench and in Chancery against Richard Wigmore, the abbot’s bailiff at Leominster, and the prior there. On 12 July 1428 he stood surety at the Exchequer for John Harper*, one of the earl of Stafford’s retainers, who, along with his colleague, Robert Whitgreve*, himself performed a like service for Morris that same day when the latter was granted custody of two-thirds of the manor of Sufton during the minority of the heir of Roger Hereford, together with the boy’s marriage.4
During the following decade Morris was frequently called upon to act as mainpernor in both the Exchequer and Chancery. He was also in demand as a feoffee-to-uses, being so nominated by John Roppeley in respect of the manor of Coggeshales in Exning, Suffolk, and by William Burley touching the manor of Birley, Herefordshire. He encountered difficulties as a result of both commitments, however, the parties being fined the large sum of £100 for failing to obtain the necessary royal licence for the first enfeoffment, and a Chancery suit resulting from the second, although this was apparently settled by 1437 (when Morris stood surety for Sir John Fastolf and other Exchequer lessees of Birley). Morris was more directly associated with Bishop Stafford when, in February 1439, they were joint recipients of a grant by William Jardyn of Herefordshire of all his moveable goods. Before the end of the year he was acting as a co-feoffee with Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, regarding property in Surrey. In the meantime in 1436 Morris’s appointment as alnager in Shropshire had been confirmed for the next seven years, only for the office to be granted to another man in February 1438; four years elapsed before Morris was able to recover it. Evidently he had failed to account at the Exchequer for the issues of the manor of Sufton, for part of his own property, a messuage in Kingsland worth 20s. a year, was seized by the sheriff and kept in royal custody from Easter to September 1439. Morris had regained governmental favour by 1443, however, for it was then that he obtained re-appointment as a j.p. and he remained on the bench for about ten years more. On 28 Nov. 1452 he took out a royal pardon for failing to appear in the court of co