POYNTZ, Robert (1359-1439), of Iron Acton, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. Dewchurch, Herefs. 15 June 1359, s. and h. of Sir John Poyntz† of Iron Acton by his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Philip Clanvowe† and ?coh. in her issue of Sir Thomas Clanvowe* of Yazor, Herefs. m. (1) Anne; (2) bef. Mar. 1389, Katherine (c.1373-c.1465), er. da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Fitznichol* of Hill, Glos., by his 1st w., 3s. inc. Nicholas Fitznichol†, 3da.
Escheator, Glos. and the adjacent marches 18 Nov. 1395-12 Feb. 1397, 28 Nov. 1399-24 Nov. 1400, 29 Nov. 1402-27 Nov. 1404.
Sheriff, Glos. 1 Dec. 1396-3 Nov. 1397.
Commr. of inquiry, Glos. Apr. 1399 (wastes), May 1400 (trespasses), Aug. 1401 (felonies), Glos., Herefs., Wilts. Feb. 1405 (forfeited goods), Glos. Nov. 1421 (disseisin), Oct. 1421 (piracy); array Dec. 1399, Sept., Nov. 1403, May 1415; oyer and terminer May 1400; to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well May 1402; of sewers, between Bristol and Gloucester Mar. 1410, Glos. Apr. 1412, May 1413; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420.
Steward of the estates of Anne, dowager countess of Stafford, in Glos., Hants and Wilts. by Mich. 1405-aft. Mich. 1416, of Humphrey, earl of Stafford’s manor of Thornbury, Glos. by Feb. 1439.
J.p. Glos. 12 Feb. 1422-June 1432.
Pons, the progenitor of the Poyntz family, came to England with the Conqueror. His descendants held the manors of Tockington (Gloucestershire) and Cory Malet (Somerset) and were summoned to Parliament as barons from 1295 until the direct male line failed in about 1359. Our MP was the grandson of Nicholas, 2nd Lord Poyntz, who by his second wife Maud, sister of Sir John Acton (d.c.1361) of Iron Acton, had had issue Sir John Poyntz. When the latter died on 24 Feb. 1376 he was still a minor, and part of his inheritance, which included besides Iron Acton the manors of Elkstone and Wynstone also in Gloucestershire, was leased to John Cousin of Cirencester. His wardship and marriage were granted by the Crown to Sir John Beauchamp† of Holt, only to be sold by him to Sir Robert Assheton, the treasurer of the Exchequer. Poyntz made proof of age on 8 Mar. 1381, and after receiving seisin of his estates he settled Elkstone on Cousin and his wife for the term of their lives.1 Poyntz’s second marriage, contracted about eight years later, brought him into close contact with his wife’s father, Sir Thomas Fitznichol, a prominent Gloucestershire knight. Fitznichol acted as a feoffee when Iron Acton was settled in tail-male on Poyntz and his wife, and Poyntz served his father-in-law in a similar capacity when, in 1397, Sir Thomas entailed his principal manor of Hill on himself and his second wife and their male issue. This latter transaction left our MP and his wife with no more than a reversionary interest in Hill, but in 1411 Fitznichol made other settlements stipulating that after his death the manor should pass to them and their six children, and only if their line failed altogether should it revert to the offspring of Katherine Poyntz’s younger sister, Eleanor, and her husband, John Browning*. Accordingly, on his father-in-law’s death eight years later Poyntz acquired Hill, along with a moiety of the other Fitznichol estates: the manor of Nymphsfield, the advowson of the chantry of Kynley and a rent of 18 marks from Filton and Harry Stoke, the second moiety falling to Browning’s heir. The size of Poyntz’s landed holdings fluctuated over the years owing to these and other transactions: thus, in 1411, on the occasion of the marriage of his eldest son, Nicholas, he conveyed Elkstone to him; while in 1433 he was to transfer much of the Fitznichol inheritance to his second son, Thomas, also as a marriage settlement.2 It is therefore difficult to reach a satisfactory estimate of the value of his holdings, especially as in 1393 his property at Iron Acton alone was said to be worth £30 a year, while in 1412 his Gloucestershire lands as a whole were officially assessed at no more than £20. At his death, when he had already disposed of much of his property, the annual value of the rest was given as nearly £40.3
In November 1394 Poyntz, then aged 35, had obtained letters patent exempting him from being compelled to take the order of knighthood against his will. He never did so. The first of his four terms as escheator began a year later, and as sheriff of the county he conducted the Gloucestershire elections to both Parliaments of 1397. Although he continued to serve on royal commissions right up to Richard II’s departure for Ireland in May 1399, there is nothing to suggest that he was ever a close supporter of Richard, and, indeed, in November Henry IV appointed him as escheator for the second time. After the rebellion of the Ricardian earls in the following January, the King’s commissioners, sent to Gloucestershire to conduct inquiries about the rebels’ possessions, made Poyntz custodian of a messuage in Cirencester and appointed him steward, auditor and receiver of the manor of Down Ampney while the activities of its lord, Sir Walter Hungerford* (suspected of collusion with the earls), were under investigation. Poyntz himself performed some services for Constance, the widow of Thomas, Lord Despenser, who had conspired to dethrone the King at that time. In March 1401 he was among those, including his wife’s brother-in-law, John Browning, who entered into recognizances for £1,000 n her behalf, in connexion with the payment of damages for wastes on the estates held as dower and jointure by Elizabeth, dowager Lady Despenser. Poyntz was one of the Gloucestershire landowners required in September 1403 to select the best of the fencibles of the region to go with all speed to join the royal army to fight against Owen Glendower. These and his other tasks in local administration met with no tangible reward, save for a lease at the Exchequer, granted him in 1406, of land at Hill forfeited by a traitor, and even then the grant was revoked after a few months in deference to the superior claim put forward by his father-in-law. Nevertheless, Poyntz’s relations with Fitznichol remained close: at the elections held in 1407 he was Sir Thomas’s mainpernor on this, his 12th return to Parliament; he was an elector in 1413 when Fitznichol was returned again; and he once more stood surety for him at the hustings of 1414 (Nov.). Meanwhile, since May 1414 he had shared with his father-in-law an Exchequer lease of the Gloucestershire manor of Elmore. When Poyntz himself entered the Commons for the first time a year later, it was in his company. Poyntz later attended the Gloucestershire elections to the Parliaments of 1422, 1423 and 1432.4
For the greater part of his career Poyntz was apparently employed by the earls of Stafford, from whom he held his principal manor of Iron Acton. In the year beginning Michaelmas 1398 he had been active on the business of Edmund, the 5th earl, and it seems quite likely that he was then holding office as steward of the estates of the earldom in Gloucestershire. Certainly, by 1405 he was steward of the dower estates there and also in Hampshire and Wiltshire belonging to Edmund’s widow, Anne, and he continued to serve her in this and other ways for the next 20 years or more. On 6 Nov. 1421, when the dowager was received into the fraternity of the priory of Llanthony by Gloucester, he and his wife Katherine were among the intimate members of her household admitted at the same time. It was probably the Countess Anne’s close association with the priory which had led earlier to the selection of Poyntz as one of four arbiters in the dispute between Llanthony and St. Peter’s abbey, Gloucester. In 1424 he and the prior were again associated, when the countess authorized them to take custody on her behalf of one of her wards. Poyntz relinquished his stewardship to John Greville* some time before Michaelmas 1433, but he was soon appointed by the countess’s son Humphrey, earl of Stafford, as steward of his valuable manor of Thornbury. Furthermore, this connexion with the house of Stafford was to be perpetuated by his eldest son, Nicholas, who by 1435 was in receipt of an annuity of ten marks granted him by Countess Anne, and in 1438 was to be made receiver of the earl’s estates in the south-west, remaining in office for the next 15 years, during which period he acted as a member of Stafford’s council.5
Nor were Lady Despenser and the Staffords the only members of the parliamentary peerage with whom Poyntz came into close contact. He had been a witness to the important enfeoffments made by Thomas, Lord Berkeley, shortly before his death in the summer of 1417, and six years later he was present when Berkeley’s son-in-law, Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, granted Poyntz’s own son-in-law, Robert Stanshawe†, an annuity of £10. Of rather less importance, he and his son, Nicholas, were both feoffees on behalf of Sir William Palton† of a moiety of the manor of Frampton Coterell, Gloucestershire, which property later came into the possession of another son, Thomas. Both Nicholas and Thomas took the oath against maintenance, administered by authority of Parliament in 1434, but their father did not. This was an oversight, for although he had served on the local bench for ten years, his behaviour was not always beyond reproach, allegations being occasionally made of his involvement in assaults, threats to life and limb and the leadership of unlawful assemblies. Along with such other prominent local figures as John Greville, Robert Greyndore* and Guy Whittington*, in February 1436 he was asked to make a loan of £40 to help finance the duke of York’s expedition to France.6
Poyntz died on his 80th birthday, 15 June 1439, and was buried in the church at Iron Acton. He is believed to have had constructed the memorial cross in the churchyard which bears shields of arms of Acton and Fitznichol, and possibly also the top part of the church tower, for the inscription on his tombstone states that he ‘thys stepyl here maked’. His widow is not recorded alive after 1448, although one account has it that her youngest son, Maurice, was sentenced to death in 1465 for her murder. She would then have been over 90.