SCARLE, Walter (d.c.1401), of Uppingham, Rutland.
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Family and Education
Commr. of inquiry, Rutland Sept. 1375 (withdrawal of labour services by tenants of Edith Weston priory), Rutland, Northants. Aug. 1388 (value of estates of Robert de Vere, duke of Ireland), Rutland June 1391 (wastes and concealments), July 1393 (breaches of the statutes of weights and measures); to suppress the rebels of 1381, Dec. 1382; administer the oath in support of the Lords Appellant, Mar. 1388; of array Mar. 1392.
J.p. Rutland 6 Dec. 1375-Mar. 1382, 21 Dec. 1382-Nov. 1397.
Sheriff, Rutland 18 Oct. 1380 (did not account), 1 Nov. 1383-11 Nov. 1384, 1 Dec. 1388-15 Nov. 1389.
Escheator, Rutland and Northants. 3 Dec. 1386-30 Nov. 1388.
Verderer of the royal forest of Rutland to 19 Aug. 1401.
Although no direct evidence has survived about this Member’s ancestry, it seems likely that he was related to John Scarle, whose long and distinguished career culminated in his appointment, in 1399, as chancellor of England. Like many professional administrators in holy orders, John Scarle benefited considerably over the years from ecclesiastical patronage, eventually rising to become archdeacon of Lincoln. One of his first clerical appointments was to the rectory of Pulham in the diocese of Norwich, which he exchanged in 1379 for a more convenient living at South Kelsey in his native Lincolnshire. Walter Scarle’s appearance in December 1361 among the witnesses to a property transaction involving William Kelsey, the late rector of Pulham, certainly lends weight to the idea of some family connexion between him and the future chancellor, as indeed does his general willingness to stand surety in Chancery and at the Exchequer on what appears to have been a regular basis. There is, moreover, a striking similarity between the careers of John and Walter Scarle, in so far that both men seem to have suffered something of an eclipse after the triumph of the court party in 1397. Walter, who had been an active supporter of the Lords Appellant, was promptly removed from the Rutland bench and never again held any major administrative post, while John only resumed his former office as a Chancery clerk after surrendering both the clerkship of Parliament and the keepership of the rolls. As we have seen, his fortunes changed dramatically with the Lancastrian usurpation, although his kinsman, the MP, who probably shared his political sympathies, was by then too old to return to public life.2
Walter first comes to notice in June 1360, when he obtained a lease for 20 years of the royal honour of Peverel in Leicestershire for which he agreed to pay a basic annual rent of 33s.4d. He had certainly settled in Rutland by 1364, since he then pledged his lands and chattels in that county as security for the payment of £20 to Queen Philippa. The bulk of his estates lay in Uppingham on the border between Rutland and Leicestershire which explains why he is described as a resident of both counties, although his activities in local government were confined to Rutland. He was first returned to Parliament by the electors there in 1368, and went on to represent them on six other occasions over the next 17 years, during which time he also sat on many royal commissions as well as discharging the duties of a j.p., sheriff and escheator. Perhaps because of John Scarle’s initial success at Westminster, Walter received occasional marks of favour from Edward III. In February 1370, for instance, he was granted the farm of the manor of Hallaton in Leicestershire to hold at a rent of £10 p.a. during the minority of Sir John Botolph’s next heir; and six years later he became tenant of certain property called ‘Les Holmes’ in Rutland which had been confiscated by the King.3 Between November 1375 and July 1386, Scarle acted as a mainpernor on at least 15 distinct occasions for persons with business in either Chancery or at the Exchequer. Some of these men were royal officials (such as the King’s serjeants, William Gambon and Thomas Seyvyll) and clerks, which suggests that he was often called upon to assist John Scarle’s friends and colleagues. One such was the Chancery clerk, Robert Muskham, for whom he offered guarantees in both 1375 and 1377 as joint keeper of the priory of Edith Weston—a house whose affairs he had himself but recently been commissioned to examine.4 Scarle was also on friendly terms with John Asplion, another Chancery official, who acted with him in the summer of 1383 as a witness to the conveyance of the advowson of Manton church near his home in Rutland. On the other hand, hardly anything is known about our Member’s dealings with the local gentry, although he appears to have had a violent disagreement with Sir John Neville* of Wymeswold in Leicestershire at about this time. In May 1386, Sir John and his mainpernors bound themselves in sureties of £300 that they would do no harm to either Scarle or one William Doxter, but no more is heard of the case, which was presumably settled out of court.5
Although he did not sit in the Merciless Parliament, Scarle was prepared to offer his practical assistance to the Lords Appellant, to whom he may perhaps have owed his second appointment as sheriff of Rutland in December 1388. He had previously helped to administer the oath in support of their cause to leading figures in the county, and had also served on a commission of inquiry into the value of the estates of their most prominent victim, Robert de Vere, duke of Ireland. Circumstantial evidence, in the form of his replacement as a j.p. in September 1397 after 22 years of virtually unbroken service, suggests that he was regarded with some suspicion by Richard II. In common with several other persons whose past history made them politically suspect, Scarle considered it expedient to sue out formal letters of pardon which were awarded to him in May 1398. His decision to settle part of his property in the Rutland villages of Barrowden and South Luffenham upon his near neighbour, John Durant*, in the previous autumn could also have been prompted by fear of reprisals on the King’s part, although Scarle was clearly well advanced in years by this date, and may simply have wished to make some final provision of his estates. We do not know exactly when he died, although he had become so ‘sick and aged’ by August 1401 that the sheriff of Rutland as ordered to elect a new verderer for the county to take his place. During the mid 15th century,