RUYHALE, Richard (d.1408), of Birtsmorton and Ryall in Ripple, Worcs. and Dymock, Glos.
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Family and Education
s. of Richard Ruyhale of Ryall ?by his w. Margaret. m. (1) bef. Apr. 1381, Katherine (d. 20 May 1382), wid. of Hugh Pauncefoot of Crickhowell castle, Brec. and Hasfield, Glos.; (2) bef. Nov. 1383, Elizabeth (d. 3 Oct. 1428), 1s.
Commr. of inquiry, Worcs. June 1378, Glos. July 1379 (trespasses), Norf. May 1383 (misappropriation of fees pertaining to Norwich castle), Glos. Mar. 1384 (administration of St. Bartholomew’s hospital, Gloucester), Feb. 1385 (insurrection), Mar. 1388 (assault), Herefs. Feb. 1391 (illegal alienation), Glos. June 1399, July, Aug. 1401, May 1404 (misdemeanours of James Clifford*), Worcs. July 1401 (trespasses), Glos., Herefs., Wilts. Feb. 1405 (confiscated goods); to put down rebellion, Worcs. Mar., Dec. 1382; of oyer and terminer, Norf. June 1383 (q.), Worcs. May 1384, Feb. 1404, July 1406; arrest, Surr. Mar. 1384; sewers, river Thames, Essex June 1384; gaol delivery, Gloucester castle July 1390.
J.p. Worcs. 20 Dec. 1382-Feb. 1386, 27 July-Nov. 1397, Glos. 26 Jan. 1384-c. Nov. 1385.
Steward of crown estates and warden of the stannaries, Devon 15 Aug. 1384-23 Nov. 1385.
The Ruyhale family took its name from a hamlet in Worcestershire which it held, along with the manor of Birtsmorton in the woodlands of Malvern Chase, from the mid 13th century. The date of death of Richard’s father and namesake (the Worcestershire escheator of 1375-6 and 1379-80) is not known, but he probably did not die before 1395, for until that year our MP was usually described as ‘the younger’. Nevertheless, long before the latter inherited the family lands he had dealings in property on his own account, making substantial purchases with an income derived from a successful legal practice. Thus, in 1380 he bought property in Worcester, in 1383 the reversion of a moiety of the manor of Queenhill in Ripple (which came into his possession 12 years later), in 1385 the manor of Cowleigh which straddled the Herefordshire border near Malvern, in 1389 land at Lye, in 1394 an interest in premises in Berrow, and in later years the manor of Gannow in Bromsgrove. All these purchases, save Gannow, were in the same area of south-west Worcestershire. Ruyhale was therefore to die in possession of sizeable holdings in the county, including salt workings at Droitwich and six messuages and ten shops in Worcester, where he was accepted as a citizen.1 However, the most important of his acquisitions, the manor of Dymock, was situated just over the border with Gloucestershire. This purchase involved a complicated series of transactions with the six coheirs of Thomas, Lord Grandison, beginning in 1377 when Ruyhale procured an Exchequer lease of a small part of the estate, and not reaching completion until just before his death. By 1402 his holdings at Dymock were worth at least £20 a year.2
That Ruyhale was able to increase the family lands in this way was undoutedly due to his ability as a lawyer. He began his career in the service of Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, acting in 1370 as an attorney for the delivery of seisin to Warwick’s feoffees of certain of his estates, and by March 1383 he had been formally made one of the earl’s councillors. At this time he was closely associated with such members of Warwick’s household as William Spernore*.3 But the earl was by no means his only client: in the 1370s and 1380s he made frequent appearances in the Exchequer, and, to a lesser extent, in Chancery, as surety for local dignitaries like the prior of Astley, the farmer of the lands of the priory of St. Pierre sur Dive, and (on several occasions) Bishop Wakefield of Worcester. Nor did Ruyhale lack influence when it came to procuring concessions at the Exchequer for himself; in 1377 he obtained, as well as the Dymock grant, a lease of land in Worcestershire, and in 1381 he secured the keeping of a fourth part of the manor of Cowarne in Herefordshire. This last property belonged to the Pauncefoots, a prominent marcher family, and it was then that through marriage to Hugh Pauncefoot’s widow he took possession of her dower estates, consisting of a third part of Crickhowell castle and two-thirds of Cowarne, as well as land in Bentley (Worcestershire). Furthermore, in the summer of 1382, after his wife’s death, he secured at the Exchequer leases of these same estates for the duration of the minority of his stepson, John Pauncefoot*. In the following year he procured custody of property in Gloucestershire, and the wardship and marriage of Walter Corbet* of Impney. Ruyhale may have owed these perquisites to his connexion with Sir John Beauchamp† of Holt, a favoured knight of the King’s chamber, and with Sir John Montagu, the steward of the Household. In association with the latter, in 1383, he was appointed to two commissions far away in Norfolk concerning fees due to the constable of Norwich castle. He may have had Montagu to thank, too, for his appointment in the following year as steward of crown estates in Devon and warden of the stannaries there; but although the appointment was made for life, it was discovered in November 1385 that John Cary (afterwards chief baron of the Exchequer) had a prior claim to the offices, and Ruyhale was removed, apparently without receiving any compensation.4
It was at this stage of his promising career, in the winter of 1385, that Ruyhale ceased to receive favour at Court, and although he had once been described as ‘King’s serjeant’, there are no further signs of his employment by the Crown as a lawyer. That he was removed from the commissions of the peace for Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and was appointed to no other royal commissions until the Appellants came to power in 1388 may have been due to his continuing links with the earl of Warwick, one of their number; and he stood surety for the earl’s councillor, Sir Nicholas Lilling, and legal advisor, Alexander Besford, on the occasion of their election to the September Parliament of that year. Yet his ties with Warwick were becoming comparatively weak, and a few years later he was concerning himself more with the affairs of Thomas, Lord Berkeley. Thus, in 1392, he became a feoffee of his manor of Charfield, and along with Sir John Berkeley I* of Beverstone he presented to the living there a priest in Lord Berkeley’s service. Furthermore, that same year he was brought to Chancery, along with Thomas Cole (the former clerk to the j.p.s in Gloucestershire), on the serious charge of falsification of a record of proceedings at the local sessions between the Crown and Lord Berkeley, and was required to pay a stringent fine of 100 marks in order to obtain a pardon. Other dubious practices came to light in November 1397, when collusion was discovered in a case before the King’s Council in which Ruyhale had been acting as counsel for the abbot of St. Peter’s, Gloucester. However, there are signs that before his elections to the two Parliaments of 1397 Ruyhale had ingratiated himself with Richard II’s new circle of supporters. He was closely associated with John Browning*, a retainer of Thomas, Lord Despenser; and his feoffeeship of the manor of Birmingham (Warwickshire), which was held for life by Elizabeth, Lady Clinton, may well have brought him into contact with her fourth husband, Sir John Russell* of Strensham, master of the King’s horse and prominent member of the Council in the last two years of the reign. Despenser was created earl of Gloucester as a reward for his services as an appellant in the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.), and in April 1399 he appointed Ruyhale as one of his attorneys during his absence in Ireland with the King.5
For two years after the accession of Henry IV, Ruyhale, perhaps because of his connexion with Despenser, who rose in rebellion against the new King, was completely excluded from royal commissions. He then resumed his practice as a lawyer at the Exchequer, and in the Parliament of 1404 (Jan.) he acted as proxy for the abbot of St. Peter’s, Gloucester, a client of long standing. There continued to be doubts about his integrity, however, as a consequence of further attempts on his part to influence the course of justice: in 1406 it was alleged that the judges at an assize of novel disseisin relating to property in Droitwich, were liable to show him favour, being nearly all ‘of his kinship or affinity’. Among those whose impartiality was in doubt were Sir John Beauchamp* of Holt, Sir Thomas Burdet* and Thomas Throckmorton*. Nevertheless, Ruyhale was still placed in positions of trust; his last years saw him not only serving as a feoffee of the manor of Painswick, Gloucestershire, in association with Hugh Mortimer*, chamberlain to the prince of Wales, but also of the extensive Cokesey estates in Worcestershire.6
Ruyhale died on 29 Jan. 1408, just a few weeks after returning home from Gloucester, where he had attended Parliament for the third time. On 1 Feb. Hugh Mortimer obtained the wardship of his estates during the minority of his son Richard (then aged two); and three weeks later administration of his will (which has not survived) was committed to the prior of Malvern.7 Ruyhale’s widow, Elizabeth, who occupied most of his estates as her jointure, survived him by 20 years. Within a year of his death she married John Philipot (by whom she had three sons), and later, after Philipot’s death, she took as her third husband Richard, son of Thomas Oldcastle* of Eyton and cousin of Sir John Oldcastle* the lollard. There is a strong local tradition that the latter, when a fugitive, used Ruyhale’s house at Birtsmorton as a hiding place and headquarters. After the death of young Richard Ruyhale in 1415, Dymock was entailed on Elizabeth and Richard Oldcastle and their issue, but they both died chil