OUDEBY, Sir Thomas, of Stoke Dry, Rutland and Hathern, Leics.
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Family and Education
Commr. of gaol delivery, Oakham castle, Rutland Apr. 1393;2 array, Rutland Dec. 1399, Aug. 1402, Sept. 1403; to prevent the spread of treasonous rumours May 1402.
Sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 7 Nov. 1393-11 Nov. 1394, Rutland 3 Nov. 1397-9, 15 Nov. 1408-4 Nov. 1409, 6 Nov. 1413-10 Nov. 1414.
J.p. Rutland 12 Nov. 1397-Jan. 1406.
Escheator, Warws. and Leics. 7 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410.
From the 12th century onwards, if not before, the Oudeby family enjoyed considerable influence in both Rutland and Leicestershire, and Thomas himself was the son and namesake of one of the shire knights who represented the latter county in the Parliament of 1369. Thomas Oudeby the elder owned an extensive estate, centred on the villages of Stoke Dry and Saddington, which on his death (after July 1393) passed to the subject of this biography. By then the young man had already acquired land of his own in the same area and at Hathern, where he eventually made his home.3 He is first mentioned in June 1380, when he received a bond worth £1,000 from Thomas Walden of Essex. No further evidence about this transaction has survived, but it may well have concerned his interest in the Essex manors of Ongar Park and Magdalen Laver which many years later, in 1404, were settled by Walden and his wife in reversion upon Oudeby’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband, Thomas Bataill. Our Member’s wife could well have been related to Walden, for she herself possessed a title to other property in Essex. During the Easter term of 1408, for example, a group of feoffees were entrusted with the rent of five marks p.a. from the manor of Beaumont Berners which she, her husband and her heirs appear to have settled upon his sister, Agnes Oudeby, a nun at Barking abbey; and in 1413 the couple conveyed their joint estate in land at Canewdon and Shopland to a group of trustees, including Geoffrey Paynell*, another Rutland MP.4
For most of his life, however, Oudeby was preoccupied with his own territorial interests in the Midlands, largely because of the amount of litigation to which they gave rise. Between 1384 and 1409 he was involved in a series of lawsuits over property in Derbyshire and Leicestershire, most notably as a result of a protracted dispute with John Wittlebury* and other members of his prolific family. He also began an action against one Thomas Petymore of Leicestershire for detinue of a box of muniments, lthough the defendant managed to avoid legal proceedings by obtaining a writ of supersedeas.5
Throughout his career, Oudeby was helped by a number of valuable connexions, not least of these being his own younger brother, John, the rector of Flamstead in Hertfordshire, whose administrative and financial ability led to his appointment, in 1397, as chamberlain of the Receipt of the Exchequer, a post he was still holding when, early in 1404, he was chosen by Parliament as one of the treasurers of war who were to oversee Henry IV’s expenditure of the subsidies for defence. John and Thomas remained close to each other: in September 1403, for example, they both acted as feoffees for a third brother, Ralph, who had just acquired the manor of Hacconby in Lincolnshire; and it was to Thomas that the rich and successful cleric turned when, in March 1413, he selected the executors of his last will.6 John Oudeby’s influence at Court may in part account for his brother’s first return to Parliament (as a recently created knight) in September 1397, since the electors of Rutland were no doubt anxious to choose a candidate acceptable to the King. Oudeby’s early association with the Zouche family must also have proved useful, although the death of William, 3rd Lord Zouche of Harringworth, in 1396, left him with a far less influential patron in the shape of his 23-year-old son and successor, whose estates he held in trust. Oudeby was a beneficiary of Lord Zouche’s will, and by virtue of his position as a feoffee he exercised the right to present to the livings of Bulwick, Welson and Bray in Northamptonshire.7 That he himself was regarded as a loyal and committed supporter of the Crown is clear from his appointment as sheriff of Rutland shortly after the prorogation of Parliament, and his continuance in office during the troubled period which preceded the Lancastrian usurpation. His conduct at the time of Bolingbroke’s landing in England was consistent and predictable: on 12 July 1399 he received a payment of £48 from the Exchequer as wages for the ten men-at-arms and 49 archers whom he was then leading under the command of King Richard’s lieutenant, Edmund, duke of York. His attachment to York probably owed something to old ties of personal loyalty, since on going to Ireland in 1394 the duke had given him powers of attorney over his English affairs; and the two men had kept up their association as co-feoffees of the Zouche estates. The usurper’s adherents certainly numbered Oudeby among their enemies, yet he, like York, was ready enough to compromise once all hope of resistance had gone.8
Although he was promptly replaced as sheriff, Oudeby retained his seat on the Rutland bench, and soon began to serve again on royal commissions. His former attachment to Richard II was, indeed, quickly forgotten by the ever-pragmatic Bolingbroke, and in July 1401 he received a writ of summons to attend a great council at Westminster as one of the three representatives chosen from Rutland. In the following year he and Roger Flore* were approached jointly, again as leading residents of the county, for possible loans to the Crown, and it appears that his local standing had never been higher. His friendship with Flore, a leading official of the duchy of Lancaster, and retainer of York’s son, Edward, earl of Rutland, probably began at about this time: they sat together in the Parliaments of 1402 and October 1404, and we know from Flore’s will that Oudeby gave him a splendid coffer in which to store his silver plate. After more than 20 years’ involvement in local government, Oudeby finally retired from public life in the autumn of 1414, having obtained a licence from the bishop of Lincoln for the private celebration of mass in his own home, and having also attended at least one of the parliamentary elections for Leicestershire (in May 1413).9 He seems to have fallen into debt, as he had but recently been pardoned a sentence of outlawry incurred for his failure to appear in court when being sued by a Northampton draper for an outstanding bill of £40. His date of death is not known, but it seems unlikely that he lived to see the return of his son and heir, John, as Member for Rutland to the Parliament of 1423.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Andeby, Oudeby, Outby, Outheby, Owdeby.
- 1. JUST 1/1496 rot. 29v; J. Nichols, Leics. ii. 1147; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 241, 249, 260; OR, i. 256.
- 2. C66/337 m. 15d.
- 3. Nichols, ii. 1147; CP25(1)192/7/6; JUST 1/1501 rot. 72v.
- 4. CCR, 1377-81, p. 382; CPR, 1401-5, p. 354; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 241, 249, 260.
- 5. JUST 1/1488 rot. 58, 1496, rot. 29v. 30v, 1501 rot. 68, 69, 72v, 75, 1508 rot. 6, 1514 rot. 63v; CCR, 1389-92, p. 51.
- 6. J.H. Wylie, Hen. IV, i. 413; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 260, 262; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 131.
- 7. Early Lincoln Wills, 93; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 66, 120, 404; J. Bridges, Northants. i. 25; ii. 289, 356.
- 8. E403/562 m. 14; E364/39 m. D; CPR, 1391-6, p. 477.
- 9. PPC, i 160; ii. 74, 76; Fifty Early Eng. Wills (EETS, lxxviii), 62; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lvii), 72; C219/11/2.
- 10. CPR, 1408-13, p. 444; Nichols, ii. 1147; PRO List ‘Sheriffs’, 112.