SHARESHULL, Sir William (d.1400), of Patshull, Staffs.
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Family and Education
e. s. of Sir William Shareshull (d. by 1367) of Patshull by Joan, da. of Henry Power of Som. m. (1) by Dec. 1367, Katherine; (2) by Easter 1386, Margaret, s.p. Kntd. by Mich. 1385.1
Tax collector, Staffs. Mar. 1380.
Sheriff, Staffs. 18 Oct. 1392-7 Nov. 1393, 3 Nov. 1399-d.
Commr. of inquiry, Salop, Staffs. July 1393, Mar. 1395 (fraudulent use of weights by merchants); oyer and terminer, Staffs. Apr. 1398 (withdrawal of labour services).
J.p. Staffs. 18 June 1394-Nov. 1399.
Shareshull’s father was the only son and heir of the eminent, if not notorious, lawyer, Sir William Shareshull, whose many offices included those of chief baron of the Exchequer, j.c.p. and c.j.KB. The judge outlived his son, and by two deeds of November 1367 settled the extensive estates which he had built up (sometimes by dubious means) in Staffordshire and Oxfordshire upon his second wife, Denise, with a reversion on her death to his grandson, the subject of this biography. The young Shareshull obtained a confirmation of both settlements in February 1369, shortly before his grandfather’s entry into the Franciscan friary at Oxford, but he none the less experienced considerable problems in obtaining possession of his inheritance. Indeed, most of the evidence which has survived about him concerns litigation over these estates, which were centred upon the manors of Shareshull, Coven, Brunsford, Patshull, Great and Little Sardon and Overton in Staffordshire, Boninghall in Shropshire and Barton Odonis, Rousham and Dernford in Oxfordshire.2 Justice Shareshull had hardly disposed of his property before the prior of Kenilworth began a lawsuit against William and Denise over the ownership of Patshull (which his predecessors had sold to the judge in 1332). Soon afterwards, in the Michaelmas term of 1370, their title to Great Sardon was challenged in a case which dragged on for the next 18 years at least. Meanwhile, in the Trinity term of 1372, Shareshull himself sued Richard Everdon for possession of Overton; but no sooner had he recovered the manor than Denise arraigned an assize of novel disseisin against him, claiming that she had been wrongfully evicted from the bulk of her late husband’s Staffordshire estates.3 Her death in 1376 brought an end to the dispute, which was the last serious challenge to Shareshull’s position as a landowner, although he was from time to time involved in litigation over property. Sir Roger Hillary and Hugh, Lord Burnell, both contested his title to land and tenements in Staffordshire, and he brought occasional suits for trespass against local men, including, in 1388, a miller who had failed to fulfil his obligations.4
Comparatively little else is known about Shareshull’s life, which, lacking the distinction of his celebrated grandfather’s, seems to have passed without any other major incidents. In June 1384, he bound himself in £20 to Robert Russell I* of Dudley, but the reason for this is not recorded. One year later, Alice, the widow of William Colesdon, sued him for a render of £6; and he was subsequently pardoned two sentences of outlawry for not appearing in court to answer other actions for debt. The first of these was brought against him in, or before, 1386 by his distant kinsman, Sir Ralph Ferrers, and the second by the Crown for revenues charged to his account as sheriff of Staffordshire for the year ending November 1393.5 Although he went on to serve as a j.p. from 1394 to 1399, and must, therefore, have been acceptable to Richard II, Shareshull was certainly not one of the King’s more committed supporters: his appointment as sheriff of Staffordshire for a second term in November 1399 suggests rather that he may have played some part in the Lancastrian usurpation, although this cannot now be proved.
Shareshull died without issue on 17 May 1400, having apparently entailed his estates upon his great-nieces, Isabel and Joyce, the daughters of Richard Harcourt, to the exclusion of their aunt, Katherine Willey, and their cousin Joan, the wife of William Lee I*. This arrangement inevitably caused a bitter dispute between the rival claimants, during which Harcourt and his father, Sir Thomas, stubbornly resisted several attempts to deprive them of what they considered to be their property. The division of the Shareshull inheritance also carried with it the seeds of a more protracted feud between the Harcourts and the Astleys, into whose family Richard’s daughter married.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Schardeshull, Sharghull, Sharshull.
- 1. B.H. Putnam, Sir Wm. Shareshull, 3-7 and app. 1; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 191, 197.
- 2. C137/4/19; Putnam, 8 and app. 2.
- 3. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 71, 79, 90-91, 119, 127, 164, 176, 189, 203-4; xiv. 132; xv. 14; CCR, 1374-7, p. 209.
- 4. CIPM, ii. 354; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 145-6, 197; xv. 11, 12, 17, 61, 64.
- 5. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 191; CCR, 1381-5, p. 449; 1385-9, p. 184; 1396-9, p. 391.
- 6. C137/4/19; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 208; xv. 30; CFR, xii. 76-77; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 175-6, 268; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 417; Putnam, 8, 12-13.