STOKES, Sir Robert, of Little Gidding and Coppingford, Hunts.
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Family and Education
m. by 1378, Amy (d. by 1408), da. of Richard Eye and — Dengaine of Little Gidding and Copingford, wid. of Adam Morewyk (d. bef. 1361) and Gilbert Haysard, s.p. Kntd. by 26 June 1376.1
Assessor of a tax, Hunts. May 1379; collector Dec. 1385.
Commr. to enforce labour services, Cambs., Hunts. July 1381 (estates of Thorney abbey and Ramsey abbey); of oyer and terminer, Hunts. Nov. 1381 (robbery of the prior of St. Mary’s Huntingdon), Nov. 1385 (withdrawal of labour services at Leighton); to suppress the insurgents of 1381, Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of array Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392.
There is a strong possibility that Stokes saw active service overseas as a young man, since, in July 1376, he was pardoned an outlawry resulting from his refusal to appear in court when being sued by one Roger Lansant for the recovery of 436 ‘frankes’ or florins worth 109 marks.2 He had then just been knighted, but nothing else is known about him until, two years later, he presented to the living at Coppingford, exercising the right of advowson which belonged to his wife, Amy. She was the grand daughter and sole surviving heiress of William Dengaine (d.c.1298), lord of the manors of Coppingford and Little Gidding, and there can be little doubt that Stokes had her to thank for his influential position in county society. His return to Parliament at this time was certainly due to his marriage into one of Huntingdonshire’s more distinguished landowning families: indeed, no evidence now survives of his own title to any property there. Amy had already been married twice, and had settled her inheritance in reversion upon William, the child of her first husband, Adam Morewyk. The young man’s decision to sell his interest in the estate did not materially affect Stokes’s position, although it brought him into contact with the purchaser, Nicholas Styuecle the elder, and his sons, Sir Nicholas and John*. The Styuecle brothers were confirmed in possession of the reversion in both 1381 (by William Morewyk) and 1389 (by Stokes and his wife), and John Styuecle himself conveyed it to trustees between these two dates.3 If the appearance of our Member’s name on the witness lists to Styuecle family charters can be taken as an indication of friendly relations between neighbours, it seems that the parties to this particular transaction got on together very well and were quite closely involved in each other’s affairs. Sir Robert also established a connexion with Sir William Moigne*, who was related by marriage to the Styuecles.4
Although Stokes sat in no less than five Parliaments, served on a number of royal commissions (most notably for the suppression of the Peasants’ Revolt in Huntingdonshire) and also helped to collect local taxes, he remains an obscure figure, about whose personal life hardly any information survives. He was, naturally enough, a party to minor transfers of land in Coppingford, but his interest did not often extend further afield. He did, however, establish a fairly close relationship with Peter Dalton, alias Newbold, sometime canon and treasurer of Lincoln cathedral, who chose him, in November 1401, to be one of his executors. We do not know if Stokes outlived his friend, who died within the year, but nothing else is heard of him after this date. His wife, Amy, may well have predeceased him, and was undoubtedly dead by 1408, when John Styuecle sold Little Gidding outright to John Knyvet*.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 80, 93, 94; VCH Hunts. iii. 37, 54 (where it is mistakenly stated that Amy Stokes died in 1390); CPR, 1374-7, p. 281.
- 2. CPR, 1374-7, p. 281.
- 3. VCH Hunts. iii. 37, 54; Hunts. Feet of Fines, 80, 90, 93, 94.
- 4. CCR, 1377-81, p. 480 (bis ); 1385-9, p. 444; 1392-6, p. 256; CAD, ii. B3195.
- 5. CCR, 1381-5, p. 398; 1389-92 pp. 162-3; Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. ed. Emden, ii. 1352-3; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 98; VCH Hunts. iii. 54.