REYNELL (REYNALD), Walter, of Malston, Devon and Badlingham, Cambs.
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Family and Education
?s. of John Reynell of Trumpington, Cambs. by Maud, da. of Giles Fulborne of Cambs. m. (1) bef. 1376, Agnes; (2) bef. 1383, Margaret, da. of William Styl or Stigill by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Robert Malston of Malston, 1s. Walter†; (3) bef. 1400, Joan, da. and h. of John Bassingbourne of Badlingham, 3s. 4da.1
Controller of the stannaries, duchy of Cornw. by Mich. 1382-12 Mar. 1386.2
Commr. of arrest, Devon July 1393; array July 1402; inquiry May 1403 (piracy), Apr. 1410 (maritime plea).
Escheator, Devon and Cornw. 8 Nov. 1401-29 Nov. 1402.
The family of Reynell was established in Devon no later than the end of the 12th century, a Richard Reinell having been sheriff there from 1191 to 1194. His descendants were less prominent figures, and a paucity of information for the 14th century has confused their pedigree. Yet although Walter Reynell inherited interests in Cambridgeshire from his mother and married, as his third wife, a Cambridgeshire heiress, the family remained essentially of the West Country, where his first two wives lived. By his earliest marriage he acquired lands in ‘Lamsyde’, Devon, to hold for his wife’s lifetime, and through his second he obtained the Devonshire manors of Malston and East Ogwell. However, from 1387 to 1390 his title to the latter was disputed by David Servyngton who, in a lawsuit, not only claimed both manors, but also rights to the wardship of the heir of Robert Styl, half-brother of Reynell’s wife. It was alleged that Reynell had forced Robert’s sister Clarissa, said to be a child of eight, into a nunnery, so that his wife might inherit the family property. Nevertheless, a certificate from Bishop Erghum of Bath and Wells showed that Clarissa, having entered Buckland priory voluntarily, still wished to remain there, and so Reynell won his case.3 He also owned other land in Devon, presumably inherited from his father. This included property at Butterleigh for which in 1388 he was charged with providing various services to Edward Courtenay, earl of Devon. The latter claimed homage, fealty, the repair of a battlement in Plympton castle and 10s. for an aid, and, moreover, he ‘distrained the said Walter by the cattle of his carts [draught oxen], so that he cannot cultivate his land’. In the course of the suit, Reynell was imprisoned by the sheriff for attempting to influence the jury and was fined 13s. in the King’s bench for this offence; all the same, he succeeded in his plea that he did not hold the property directly of the earl. He had not always been on bad terms with the Courtenays: in 1375 he had served at sea in the retinue of Sir Philip Courtenay*, admiral of the west.4
By Michaelmas 1382 Reynell was acting as controller of the stannaries in Devon and Cornwall which came under the administration of, and were a source of revenue to, the duchy of Cornwall. However, during his term of office, in February 1384, he undertook to act as attorney in Ireland for two years for the prior of St. Nicholas, Exeter. If he was in fact absent overseas and exercised his duchy office by deputies, this cannot have been found completely unsatisfactory, for two more years were to elapse before he was dismissed from the post. For some time after this little is known about him. In 1388 he took on the feoffeeship of estates in Somerset. Then, five years later, he served on a jury at Exeter. On 5 May 1404, having recently been appointed to two royal commissions and served a term as escheator in Devon, he was granted formal exemption from discharging any such public services in future against his will.5
Meanwhile, by Ascension 1400, Reynell had married again. This third marriage was to a Cambridgeshire heiress, Joan Bassingbourne, who brought him moieties of the manors of Badlingham, Fordham and Wicken. She was also a descendant and heir of Alan le Fraunceys, whose charter from Henry III was inspected and confirmed to her by Henry V. This had originally conveyed rights of free warren in Kirkeby Fleetham and Fencotes, Yorkshire, as well as in the Cambridgeshire holdings, but it is unlikely that these properties were still in the family. By a settlement made soon after their nuptuals the lands in Badlingham, Fordham and Wicken were to descend to the heirs of the bodies of Walter and Joan, but if they had no issue Reynell’s son by a former marriage, another Walter, was to inherit. However, early in 1413, Thomas Hethe of Mildenhall, Suffolk, a man of ‘graundes affinite et alliance’ entered Badlingham by force and so threatened Reynell’s servants that they left his employment. Being ‘estraunge et de loynge pays come del counte de Devenshire’, and having few connexions in Cambridgeshire, Reynell was driven to seek redress in Chancery. Nevertheless, in 1415 he acquired, on a lease and for 23 marks a year, the other half of the manor, and it was specifically as ‘of Badlingham’, that three years later, his son joined the company of Sir Hugh Luttrell*, the lieutenant of Harfleur. It seems likely that Reynell himself preferred to continue living in Devon, and in 1413, 1423 and 1424 (on the last two occasions in association with Walter junior) he obtained episcopal licences to have an oratory at Malston. There he evidently had extensive building works in hand, for he employed a mason for several years. In 1423, indeed, he sold all of his Cambridgeshire properties to Sir John Tiptoft* for £1,000, the appropriate quitclaim being enrolled in Chancery following acknowledgement by the abbot of Buckfast. Reynell probably died before the end of the decade, though the date of his death is not known. His son was to represent Totnes in Parliament in 1447, and Devon in 1453.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 643; CP25(1)30/96/2, 44/61/424; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 410-11.
- 2. CPR, 1385-9, pp. 107, 248; SC6/813/2, 5, 7, 8.
- 3. Vivian, 643; Yr. Bk. 1388-9 ed. Deiser, 75-78; E135/6/73; CP25(1)44/61/424.
- 4. Feudal Aids, i. 444, 476; Yr. Bk. 1388-9, pp. 182-7; E101/34/1.
- 5. CPR, 1381-5, p. 372; 1401-5, p. 390; Sel. Cases in Chancery (Selden Soc. x), 12; CFR, x. 243.
- 6. E13/126 m. 17; E28/12; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 321-2; CChR, ii. 135; CPR, 1413-16, p. 336; CCR, 1422-9, p. 71; CP25(1)30/92/10, 95/4, 96/2; C1/6/325; DKR, xliv. 609; Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 279 Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lx), 90, 99. HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 713 incorrectly dates Thomas Hethe’s assaults on Badlingham as 1435-6.