STANHOPE, Sir Richard (c.1374-1436), of Rampton, Notts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. by 1374, 2nd s. and h. of John Stanhope (d. by 1383) of Haughton by his w. Elizabeth, da. of Stephen Malovell of Rampton. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Robert Staveley, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da.; (2) by 1412, Maud (d. Dec. 1454), da. of Ralph, 2nd Lord Cromwell (1368-1417) by his w. Joan (d.1434), and in her issue h. of Ralph, 3rd Lord Cromwell (1403-55), 1s. 3da. Kntd. by 18 Mar. 1400.1
Commr. of array, Notts. Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403, Oct. 1417, Apr. 1418, Mar. 1427; inquiry Mar. 1406 (desertions to the northern rebels), Leics., Lincs., Derbys., Northants., Notts., Rutland, Warws. July 1434 (concealments); oyer and terminer, Derbys. July 1406 (disorder on Lord Darcy’s estates at Eckington); to raise royal loans, Notts. Nov. 1419, Mar. 1422, July 1426, May 1428, Notts., Derbys. Mar. 1431, Leics., Lincs., Notts. Feb. 1434; of gaol delivery, Nottingham castle June 1421, Nov. 1433; to make arrests June 1428; survey rivers and waterways, Notts. May 1433; of kiddles, Notts., Lincs., Yorks. July 1433; to distribute a tax rebate, Notts. Dec. 1433. Feb. 1434.
Sheriff, Notts. and Derbys. 22 Oct. 1404-22 Nov. 1405.
J.p. Notts. 12 Nov. 1404-Feb. 1407, 28 Nov. 1417-July 1423, 20 July 1424-32, 24 Nov. 1432-5.
Collector of a tax, Notts. July 1413, of royal loans Jan. 1420.
Verderer of Sherwood forest, Notts. to 3 Dec. 1421.
As a moderately affluent family of burgesses from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Stanhopes were particularly fortunate to secure, through marriage, the two manors of Rampton and Haughton, which constituted the inheritance of Elizabeth Malovell. Thanks to the territorial influence which she brought him, her husband, John Stanhope, was able to play a leading part in the Nottinghamshire community, serving as escheator there and in Derbyshire, and also sitting for some time on the local bench. That he continued to pursue a variety of mercantile interests is evident from the substantial debts which he owed at the time of his death. His widow and her second husband, Roger Ardern, were, indeed, outlawed for their refusal to appear in court when being sued by the aggrieved creditors, and although they obtained royal letters of pardon in 1383, Stanhope’s son, Richard, the subject of this biography, was still being called to account for part of the money 16 years later.2 The death without issue of his elder brother, John, whose wife, Elizabeth Cully, was a notable heiress in her own right, had by then left Richard successor to both his parents; and it was fortunate for him in view of the demands on his late father’s estate that, in August 1398, Ralph Everingham, the long-lived husband of Agnes Longvilliers, a distant and very wealthy kinswoman of his mother, also died childless, in possession of the manors of Skegby and South Marnham, together with extensive property in and around the Nottinghamshire villages of Egmanton, Tuxford and Laxton. Even after some of these holdings had been shared, as local custom demanded, between him and his three younger brothers, Richard, as next heir, was assured of additional revenues worth at least £30 a year. When his own eldest son and namesake married in 1403, he was consequently in a position to settle upon him and his wife (Elizabeth, the daughter of John Markham, j.c.p., and sister of Sir John Markham, the future c.j.KB) the sub-manor of ‘Longvilliers’ in Tuxford; and he likewise provided for his second son, Thomas, out of the same inheritance. He contrived, moreover, to exchange the more outlying farmland for property conveniently situated next to his demesnes at Rampton; and thus he successfully consolidated his original holdings as well.3
By the time of the Lancastrian usurpation in 1399, Richard Stanhope was, therefore, a landowner of some consequence in Nottinghamshire, where he enjoyed an income in the order of £60 p.a.; and he used his influence to assemble an armed force in support of the exiled Henry of Bolingbroke. Whether or not his course of action was in any way dictated by the fact that Richard II had imposed a fine of 50 marks upon him because of his failure to perform homage for the Longvilliers estates we shall never know, but he and his men were certainly present at Ravenspur when Bolingbroke landed in July 1399, and also provided a royal bodyguard at the Westminster Parliament two months later. Stanhope subsequently received an allowance of £30 to cover all these expenses; and at some point before March 1400 his services were accorded more lasting recognition in the form of an annuity of 40 marks a year, assigned upon the fee farm of Nottinghamshire, and promotion to the rank of knight of the royal body. His decision to surrender this annuity, in November 1406, in favour of Roger Deyncourt the stepson of his widowed sister-in-law, coincided with a release of the manor of Ansty in Warwickshire made to him by Deyncourt, and almost certainly constituting the purchase price of the manor, which his late brother had briefly occupied through his marriage to Elizabeth Cully. Stanhope was clearly anxious to extend his interests in this county, as in May 1402 he had offered to pay £40 for the marriage of the next heir of Sir Thomas Boyville, together with the custody of the latter’s estates in Packington. Sir Thomas’s trustees advanced a superior title to the land three years later, and the royal grant was rescinded, but some new arrangement must have been made, for, as we shall see, Stanhope later became embroiled in a dispute with William, Lord Clinton, over the very same property. Meanwhile, as a committed adherent of the new regime, Sir Richard was returned to each of the four Parliaments which met between 1402 and 1406. He fought under Henry IV’s banner at the battle of Shrewsbury in July 1403, and was duly rewarded ‘in recompense for the great losses sustained by him’, with the wardship of the person and estates of Sir Nicholas Goushill’s* son, Nicholas*, together with the latter’s marriage, which alone was valued at over £66. His part in the struggle against the Welsh and the northern rebels which marked the early years of Henry IV’s reign was sufficiently distinguished for him to be accorded another gift (of £40) in December 1405, partly in consideration of his ‘great labours’ while in office as sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. (It is worth noting that he actually began his term while sitting in the second Parliament of 1404).4
As might be expected, Sir Richard maintained close links with other leading members of the local gentry, being fortunate in the number of sons and daughters whom he was able to marry into suitable families. His eldest son’s alliance with the Markhams has already been noted; and it was no doubt because of this that he was called upon, in 1408, to act as an arbitrator in their dispute with Ralph Mackerell* over the partition of the Cressy inheritance. Shortly afterwards, he was able to consolidate his position by arranging a match between his daughter, Agnes (already the widow of her kinsman, Henry Trafford), and Sir Robert*, the son of (Sir) Nicholas Strelley*. Prominent among his circle were such other notable figures as Sir Thomas Chaworth (his colleague in the Parliament of 1406), Sir John Zouche* (his colleague later in 1422), Sir John Leek* and (Sir) Roger Leche*; and they, indeed, all belonged to the small group of hitherto favoured crown servants who, in October 1411, were consigned to the Tower of London. It has been argued that their temporary disgrace followed directly upon their support of a highly contentious proposal that Henry IV ought to consider abdication in favour of the prince of Wales, although unlike the rest of his fellow prisoners, Sir Richard obtained neither promotion nor preferment once the latter did actually mount the throne. Other factors may, indeed, have driven the Crown to take action against him and at least two of his associates, since they had but recently posed a serious threat to law and order in the Midlands. Stanhope’s decision to lend active support to his neighbour, John Tuxford, in the course of a particularly bitter feud over property, had led to a general escalation of violence; and in order to protect themselves, the rival claimants, Alexander Meryng and his son, (Sir) William*, had enlisted the help of Sir John Zouche and Sir John Leek. Both sides mobilized their forces in preparation for a so-called ‘love-day’, in August 1411, when an armed confrontation was narrowly averted thanks to the efforts of William, Lord Roos. Both Zouche and Stanhope were subsequently indicted as ‘common maintainers and sustainers of quarrels’; and it was almost certainly as a result of his conduct on this occasion rather than any sinister political activities that Sir Richard was interrogated before the court of Chancery while still in detention. Nothing daunted by his spell in prison, he continued defiantly to assist Tuxford, albeit in more peaceful ways. In December 1411, for example, he and his son-in-law, Sir Robert Strelley, joined with him in pledging securities of £200 to the Yorkshire landowner, Robert Morton*, who had probably been called in as an arbitrator. Just a few weeks later, Strelley and his maternal uncle, the redoubtable Sir Henry Pierrepont*, became trustees of the disputed manor of Little Markham for Tuxford, who was marshalling his forces ready for the first round of negotiations, during which Sir Richard once again offered substantial guarantees on his behalf. In order, meanwhile, to safeguard his own position, the latter sued out royal letters of pardon which, interestingly enough, were awarded to him in May 1412 in his capacity as a King’s knight. Couched in the widest and most comprehensive terms, they exonerated him from all ‘insurrections, conventicles, riots, rebellions, felonies and misprisions’ committed by him up to the beginning of the year, although in the event they did not save him from three weeks’ imprisonment in Kenilworth castle in the early summer of 1414, when Henry V was taking a firm stand against the more disruptive elements of midland society. Stanhope’s obduracy in supporting through thick and thin those who appealed to him for protection worked to the advantage of his old friend, the lawyer, Henry Booth*, who actually came near to death in 1414 because of his involvement in Sir John Oldcastle’s* rebellion. In October of that year, Sir Richard stood bail for him, too, presumably on the condition that he should purge himself of the lollard heresy.5
Despite all his recent vicissitudes, Stanhope enjoyed an increasingly dominant position in the north Midlands, not least because of his second marriage, in, or just before, 1412, to Maud, the daughter of Ralph, Lord Cromwell, whose brother, Ralph, had also given Tuxford the rather dubious benefit of his ‘good lordship’. The match, which clearly reflects Sir Richard’s success in establishing his family as a force to be reckoned with in county society, coincided, moreover, with his acquisition from Thomas Bassett of an interest in the manor and advowson of Fledborough, together with extensive appurtenances in Nottinghamshire and land in New Hall, Barnacle and Wilnecote, Warwickshire. This transaction was not effected as smoothly as Stanhope might have wished: as a consequence of charges levelled against him in the Leicester Parliament of 1414 by Margaret Bassett, who claimed that she had been forcibly disinherited, he was in fact arrested and consigned to Kenilworth castle, pending the outcome of a royal commission of oyer and terminer set up to examine a whole catalogue of his misdeeds. Yet once again the law proved ineffective in curbing such an unruly and truculent character: despite the evidence against him, he was released in June, and after a brief appearance before the King’s bench in Shrewsbury he secured another royal pardon. Deciding that attack was the best form of defence, he himself submitted an appeal to the House of Commons in the following November, although his claim to have suffered ‘slander, harassment and impoverishment’ at the hands of his adversaries met a somewhat sceptical response. Even so, he still managed to retain all the Bassett properties, which were confirmed in his possession in December 1428 by the next claimant in return for a yearly rent of £10. Four years later Stanhope actually devised the estate upon his daughter, Katherine, for life, promising the reversion to another member of the Bassett family, and thereby achieving a mutually acceptable compromise.6
The year 1412 also marked Sir Richard’s decision to dispose of his title to the holdings in Newcastle which he had inherited from his kinsman, Richard Stanhope, a former mayor and collector of taxes in the town, and which were then occupied by the purchaser, William Johnson*. Geographical factors no doubt prompted this course of action, which released further capital for investment in land near home. A man of Stanhope’s driving, indeed, often ruthless ambition inevitably made enemies; and Margaret Bassett was not alone in her appeal to the Leicester Parliament of 1414. Other complaints about his rapacious behaviour were then voiced by the tenants of Darlton and Ragnall in Nottinghamshire, who accused him of depriving them of common grazing land by enclosure; and by Agnes, the widow and executrix of John Sewale of Coventry, whom he had allegedly defrauded of goods and cash worth £80 from her late husband’s estate. Nor were these the only controversies and disputes to trouble him at this time: besides one lawsuit in the court of common pleas over trespasses on his Nottinghamshire property, and another for the recovery of rents worth over £10 from his land in Egmanton, he was embroiled in a quarrel with John Hertishire, who, in 1420, obtained forceful letters from Henry V instructing Stanhope to cease ‘letting and disturbing’ him while he was fighting overseas in the royal army. Sir Richard may even have antagonized the King himself, as in the following year one of the legal staff of the duchy of Lancaster received orders to examine certain muniments concerning the duchy which were in his hands. His claim to the land in Packington originally awarded to him by Henry IV certainly proved contentious; and it seems likely that he put himself forward for election to the December Parliament of 1421 in order to present personally a petition against William, Lord Clinton, whom he accused of wrongfully evicting him from the manor and then preventing him from defending his title at law. Having previously headed the list of Nottinghamshire electors for the Parliament of 1420, Stanhope was clearly in a strong position to secure his own return on this occasion, and he may also have had a hand in the election of his former ward, Nicholas Goushill, as Member for Derbyshire, this being the only occasion on which the young man served in the Commons.7
We do not know why, in 1419, Sir Richard and his son, Thomas, exchanged mutual recognizances worth £200 with Joan, the widow of the judge, Sir William Thirning, but it is interesting to note that Goushill joined with them in the transaction. Stanhope likewise maintained friendly relations with his brother-in-law, now Lord Cromwell, being a party with him, in 1423, to a bond in £400 offered to Henry, Lord Fitzhugh. Among his other associates were Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, for whom he witnessed an important enfeoffment in 1424, and William Gray, bishop of London, who, in common with the Lincolnshire landowner, Walter Tailboys, engaged his services as a mainpernor. The 1420s were, in view of the many disagreements which had gone before, a comparatively quiet period in Stanhope’s life, and we even find him helping as an arbitrator to end a dispute between the prior of Blyth and his tenants. The death of his eldest son, Richard, must, however, have proved a bitter blow, although he was at least able to negotiate a suitable marriage for the latter’s young son (now his own heir) with Sir Thomas Talbot’s daughter, Elizabeth, thereby extending the family influence into Yorkshire.8 Yet his interest in local government continued unabated, and he remained active as a j.p. and royal commissioner. He attended the Nottinghamshire parliamentary elections again in 1432 and was himself returned for the ninth and last time to the Lower House in the following year. In May 1434 he was, understandably, named high on the list of local notables who were to take the general oath that they would not support anyone who disturbed the peace. The death of his mother-in-law, Joan, Lady Cromwell, at this time left him in possession of a quantity of valuable plate; and he was also remembered in the will of the rector of Kneesall, who made generous bequests to five of his children as well as their priest, Richard Reydon. Some idea of Sir Richard’s wealth may be gained from the demand made upon him in February 1436 for a loan of 100 marks towards the cost of the duke of York’s expedition to France, although in the event he did not live to advance the money.9
Sir Richard died shortly before 20 Apr. 1436. He was succeeded by his grandson, John Stanhope†, who became an esquire of the body to Henry VI and represented Nottinghamshire in at least six Parliaments. The task of executing his will fell to his younger sons, Thomas and James, and their boyhood friend, Nicholas Goushill. Their duties proved onerous, for they were still trying to collect debts owed to the deceased 13 years later. Stanhope’s widow, Maud, by whom he had four children, lived on until 1454, when her two daughters, Maud (widow of Robert, Lord Willoughby of Eresby) and Joan (wife of Sir Humphrey Bourgchier†, later Lord Cromwell), were found to be her next of kin. The death of their childless uncle, Ralph, Lord Cromwell, in the following year left them coheirs to his extensive estates; and when Maud Willoughby drew up her will, in 1497, she set aside part of the revenues to support a family chantry at Tattershall where prayers were to be said for her father, the late Sir Richard Stanhope.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. C139/157/26; R. Thoroton, Notts. ed. Throsby, iii. 243-5; Test Ebor. ii. 40-41, 51-52; CPR, 1381-5, p. 295; 1399-1401, p. 240; CP, iii. 552-4; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, i. 176-7; Thoroton Soc. iv. 136.
- 2. Thoroton, iii. 243; CCR, 1377-81, p. 389; CPR, 1377-81, p. 44; 1381-5, p. 295; 1396-9, p. 392; Feudal Aids, iv. 138.
- 3. Thoroton, iii. 243-4; Feudal Aids, iv. 124, 126; Thoroton Soc. iv. 135-6; v. 1; CFR, xi. 286-7; xvii. 23; CPR, 1401-5, p. 306; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 108-9; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Mellish of Hodsock mss, bdle. D4; JUST 1/1524 rot. 14, 14v.
- 4. DL29/728/11987; DL42/15, f. 70v; E179/159/48; CPR, 1396-9, p. 492; 1399-1401, p. 240; 1401-5, pp. 92, 499-500; 1405-8, pp. 53, 84, 102, 277; 1405-9, p. 231; CIPM, xvi. no. 109; RP, iii. 590.
- 5. CPR, 1408-13, p. 398; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 243-4, 261, 310, 397; 1413-19, p. 51; CPL, v. 529; KB9/204/2 mm. 6-7; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Ce D674; E. Powell, Kingship, Law and Society, 226-7.
- 6. Thoroton, iii. 244-5; Add. Chs. 15740-1; RP, iv. 55;