TILLIOL, Sir Peter (1356-1435), of Scaleby, Cumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1380
Sept. 1397
May 1413
Dec. 1421

Family and Education

b. 29 June 1356, s. and h. of Sir Robert Tilliol (d. 6 Apr. 1367) of Scaleby by his w. Felicity (d. Aug. 1369); bro. of Geoffrey*. m. bef. Dec. 1389, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Wiliam Leyton (d.1380) of Leyton and Hetton, co. Dur. by his w. Isabel Menvill (d. by May 1421) of Horden, co. Dur., 1s. 2da. Kntd. by Oct. 1385.1

Offices Held

Chief forester of Ingelwood forest, Cumb. 10 Mar.-22 Apr. 1377.

Keeper of the west march towards Scotland and conservator of the truce by 5 Apr. 1380.2

J.P. Cumb. 26 May 1380-Mar. 1382, 20 Dec. 1382-5, 15 July 1389-May 1395, 12 Nov. 1397-July 1401, 7 July 1423-d.

Commr. of inquiry Cumb. May 1382 (damage to a watercourse at Carlisle), May 1387 (illicit export of grain to Scotland), Northumb. July 1387 (claims to the manor of Eslington), Cumb. Nov. 1390 (retention of a tax rebate), Cumb., Westmld., Furness Dec. 1390 (illicit wool exports), Cumb. Feb. 1427 (damage to a watercourse at Carlisle), Apr. 1431 (persons liable to contribute to a subsidy); array Dec. 1383, Aug. 1384.3 Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sep. 1403; to rescue Sir Alan Heton from captivity at Chillingham castle, Northumb. Feb., May 1387; levy money to reimburse the earl of Northumberland, warden of the march, for compensating the Scots, Cumb. Mar. 1388;4 of gaol delivery, Carlisle castle, bef. Jan. 1390; oyer and terminer, Cumb. Apr. 1397 (disorder at Stanwix), Nov. 1398 (disorder at Millom); to survey the lands of the Lords Appellant of 1388, Cumb., Northumb., Westmld., Yorks. Oct. 1397; prevent the spread of treasonous rumours, Cumb. May 1402.

Escheator, Cumb., Northumb., Westmld. 3 Nov. 1386-30 Nov. 1387, 2 Jan.-24 Oct. 1392.

Sheriff, Cumb. 18 Nov. 1387-1 Dec. 1388, 1 Nov. 1394-9 Nov. 1395, 5 Nov. 1403-22 Oct. 1404.

Controller of money for the repair of the fortifications at Carlisle 12 June 1388.


Sir Peter’s ancestors traced their descent from Richard Tilliol ‘the rider’, who received the manor of Scaleby from Henry I at some point before 1130, and subsequently acquired the manors of Etterby and Rickerby as well. By the mid 14th century the Tilliols also owned the manors of Ireby, Kirklinton, ‘Scotlittilgarth’, Bothland, ‘Le Blamyre’, Blennerhasset, Hayton, Torpenhow and Solport, together with tenements and rents in Carlisle and other holdings in Croglin, Houghton, Stapleton, Hetherford, Eskin and Newbiggin, so they were landowners of some consequence in the north-west. Sir Robert Tilliol represented Cumberland in six Parliaments between 1352 and 1365, and won for himself a degree of local celebrity by leading a highly successful raiding party, in 1357, against the Scots. At some point he actually took possession of certain unspecified estates over the border near Berwick-upon-Tweed, which he was able to pass on to his eldest son, Peter, the subject of this biography. Sir Robert died on 6 Apr. 1367, just two days after settling the manor of Ireby upon his widow, Felicity, for life, and making suitable provision for his two younger boys, Geoffrey and Roger. The task of executing his will, which was also drawn up on his deathbed, fell to Felicity, the sole beneficiary; and dower was assigned to her shortly afterwards.5 Since Peter was then only 11 years old, the Crown promptly intervened to assert rights of wardship. Sir Robert had died while in office as sheriff of Cumberland, his successor being Sir William Windsor (cr. Lord Windsor in 1381), a local landowner of note, who soon afterwards married Alice Perrers, sometime mistress of Edward III. Alice was thus well placed to gain control first of the property leased by Sir Robert from the King, then of his own estates during Peter’s minority, and lastly of the dower lands and jointure left by Felicity on her death two years later. Peter came of age in June 1377 and was granted livery of his inheritance in the following October. He had already by then received his first royal appointment, as chief forester of Inglewood forest in Cumberland, a post which he occupied briefly in the spring of that year. Within a matter of months he took on the tenancy of pasture land near Rickerby, and from this point onwards he played an active part in the affairs of the community.6

Aged just 22 when he first entered the House of Commons in 1378, Peter may already have been acting as one of the wardens of the west march. Certainly, by April 1380, he found himself in ‘grave financial danger’ because of the heavy demands being made of him and his colleagues by the Scots for compensation for breaches of the truce by English freebooters. He was, even so, quite prepared to stand surety, in May 1383, for a group of local men accused of leading illicit raiding parties across the border; and there is good reason to believe that he himself went in pursuit of booty when the occasion offered. By March 1385 he had fallen into the hands of the Scots and was being ransomed for ‘a great sum of money’. No doubt in recognition of his past services, Richard II granted him a licence to ship grain to Scotland in part payment of his ransom, while also promising him £100 out of the next subsidy to be levied in Cumberland. But others took a less charitable view of his activities, and at the same time John, Lord Neville, had confiscated all of his goods as security for the payment of £113 6s.8d., which he claimed to have handed over as compensation for Peter’s ‘many robberies against the men of Scotland’. In the event, Peter secured a writ of supersedeas pending his appearance in Chancery, where he evidently cleared himself of Neville’s charges. The 1380s were a busy time in Peter’s career, for besides attending the two Parliaments of 1380 (Nov.) and 1385, sitting on the bench in Cumberland and executing a variety of royal commissions, he also held office as both escheator of the three northern counties and as sheriff of Cumberland. He encountered serious problems in both capacities, his escheatorship being marked by the difficulty of raising money for the Crown from land which had repeatedly been devastated by the Scots. The government had no alternative but to write off this deficit, especially as Tilliol (who had now been knighted) was captured for a second time, in 1388, while defending Carlisle against the Scots. He was, at least, regarded with favour at Court, and thus managed to secure for himself the farm of royal estates in Blaburthwaite and Blencogo, as well as the lease of part of the manor of Egremont during the minority of Walter, Lord Fitzwalter’s young son, for which he agreed to pay a rent of 50 marks a year. One of his mainpernors at the Exchequer was David Holgrave, who in turn named him as a surety when he, too, became a tenant of the Crown. Moreover, in July 1388, Sir Peter was able to use his influence to obtain a royal pardon for a local man charged with theft, so he clearly stood well with the government.7

Sir Peter’s influence in the north grew all the stronger as a result of his marriage, in or before December 1389, to Elizabeth, the daughter and sole heir of William Leyton. It was then, upon payment of a fine of 20 marks, that they were licensed to enter the manor of Leyton, which along with the manors of Hetton, East Hall and West Hall in Great Lumley, and Witton Gilbert, formed the bulk of her inheritance in the palatinate of Durham. Her half-brother, Sir William Claxton, eventually succeeded to all her mother’s property in and around Horden, but she was still an heiress of note, who greatly augmented the wealth and influence of the Tilliols. In order to consolidate his position in the palatinate, Sir Peter later purchased the manor of Fallonsley from William, Lord Hilton. He had been involved in Hilton’s financial dealings from 1381 onwards, if not earlier, and even ran the risk of forfeiture when his friend failed to pay off a debt to Sir Roger Fulthorpe for which he had agreed to stand surety.8

Meanwhile, in December 1390, Sir Peter obtained confirmation of a charter whereby Henry III had granted his ancestors a weekly market and annual fair at their manor of Ireby. He was evidently on fairly close terms with William, Lord Aideburgh, who died in the autumn of 1391, having just made him a trustee of his extensive estates in and around Harewood in Yorkshire. This arrangement was later formally sanctioned by Aldeburgh’s two sisters and coheirs, one of whom was married to Sir Richard Redmayne*. Sir Peter’s circle also included William, Lord Dacre, with whom he joined in December 1391 (just a few days after the close of his fifth Parliament) in offering bonds worth £80 to John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. He also acted at this time as a mainpernor for Sir James Pickering*, when the latter became custodian of Christopher Moresby’s* estates in Cumberland, and for Sir Ralph Pigot, who was bound over in 1394, to keep the peace towards William Haryngton. He himself had need of sureties as a result of a lawsuit begun against him by Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, for debt, although despite Kent’s close relationship with King Richard, who was his half-brother, Sir Peter had little trouble in bringing a halt to the proceedings. Not surprisingly, he was returned to the second Parliament of 1397, during which Richard II revenged himself against his old enemies, the Lords Appellant of 1388; and after the first session came to an end he served on a royal commission for the evaluation of the estates which had been confiscated from them. Perhaps because of his various malpractices in office, Sir Peter deemed it expedient to sue out a royal pardon in May 1398, along with his brother, Geoffrey, who had himself represented Cumberland in Parliament some five years earlier. There can be little doubt that Sir Peter’s re-appointment as escheator of the three northern counties in 1392 and as sheriff of Cumberland in 1394 had been marked by a series of abuses and extortions, leading eventually to the setting up of a special commission of inquiry at some point before 1403. While King Richard remained on the throne there was, however, no real likelihood that he would be brought to book. On the contrary, in September 1398, he was retained by John Holand, duke of Exeter, Richard II’s other half-brother, at a fee of £20 p.a. payable to him for life with reversion to his next heirs; and a few weeks later he appeared on the list of prominent northern landowners who offered securities for the observance of a new truce between England and Scotland. His attachment to Richard II led him to volunteer for service in the army which the King led to Ireland in the spring of 1399, the direction of his affairs being entrusted while he was away to his brother, Geoffrey, and his friends, Robert Lowther* and Sir William Curwen*.9

The Lancastrian coup d’état of late summer 1399 naturally placed Sir Peter in a vulnerable position, although his experience of local administration was such as to ensure his continued employment, albeit on a less regular basis. Henry of Bolingbroke was, indeed, prepared to entrust him with the custody of the temporalities of the see of Carlisle, pending the replacement of Richard II’s friend and supporter, Bishop Merke, who had been implicated in the proceedings against Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, two years before. The stern letter of 16 Sept. 1399 ordering Sir Peter to cease paying any of the revenues to the bishop upon pain of forfeiture, suggests, however, that he may have been regarded as a less than enthusiastic supporter of the new regime. He was removed from the county bench in 1401 and did not hold office again until the autumn of 1403, his refusal to take part in any of the northern uprisings of that year having, no doubt, convinced the government that he could safely be re-appointed as sheriff of Cumberland. In the following year he and William Aglionby* were arraigned on an assize of novel disseisin at Penrith by the abbot of St. Mary’s, York, who continued with his suit until 1406, if not later. Sir Peter had, meanwhile, been made guardian of the estates of the late Richard Kirkbride by Sir Richard Redmayne, the feudal overlord; and at some point before 1412 he acquired land worth £22 p.a. in the Buckrose area of Yorkshire. The bond in 200 marks which he received from Sir Henry Percy of Atholl, in February 1410, may, perhaps have concerned this transaction, as Sir Henry owned extensive estates in the area. After a period spent in virtual retirement, Sir Peter returned to the House of Commons in 1410, and again represented Cumberland three years later in the first Parliament of Henry V’s reign. His fortunes now began to improve, as in June 1413 he obtained custody of the lands of the young John Levington, a royal ward with property in the north-west. This grant was revoked in 1420 as a result of an administrative blunder whereby the land in question had been farmed out to another tenant, but before long Sir Peter had negotiated another lease of land in the Northumbrian vills of Heugh and Stamfordham, which he retained, uninterrupted, for the next 12 years. His tenancy probably resulted from an earlier arrangement with Sir William Swinburne*, a local landowner who had evidently mortgaged some of his estates in the area to Sir Peter as security for a debt of £40, which may have fallen into arrears.10

Such was Sir Peter’s stature in Cumberland that he consistently headed the list of witnesses to the returns for the county to the Parliaments of 1414 (Nov.), 1416 (Mar.), 1419, 1422, 1423, 1425 and 1426, being thus on hand to attest his own election as a shire knight in 1422, 1425 and 1426.11 He was sitting in the Parliament of 1417 when he and his colleague, (Sir) Robert Lowther, joined with Robert Warcop* in taking securities of £100 from John Lancaster I*, but otherwise his main preoccupation during this period was an incessant round of litigation, which no doubt helps to explain why he was prepared to make the arduous trip to Westminster so often at a relatively advanced age. Between 1405 and 1427 he brought at least nine lawsuits for the recovery of debts ranging from 40s. to 50 marks, all of which resulted in the issue of pardons to the defendants for sentences of outlawry incurred for failing to appear in court when summoned. Furthermore, in 1423, he began an action against the earl of Northumberland for possession of the manor of Torpenhow. The case was transferred from the county court at Carlisle to the court of common pleas, arrangements eventually being made for a trial by combat between two ‘champions’. By this point, however, the earl had apparently abandoned his claim, and Sir Peter’s champion went unchallenged.12 Sir Peter had additional reasons for attending his last Parliament, at Leicester in 1426, as it was then that he and the other executors of Ralph, earl of Westmorland (d.1425), petitioned for the correction of an error in an Exchequer process of 1421, whereby the Crown had been able to claim £100 a year from the deceased’s estates. Although their complaint was favourably received, the proposed remedy proved ineffective at law; and it was not until 1433 that the problem was finally rectified. By then Sir Peter, who was nearing 80, had completely retired from public life, so the last round of negotiations with the royal council was undertaken by his younger colleagues. His name was, however, included in May 1434 on the list of Cumbrian gentry who were to take the general oath that they would not support anyone disturbing the peace.13

Sir Peter died on 2 Jan. 1435, leaving a son named Robert, who had been certified insane some 20 years earlier. The Crown promptly laid claim to its rights of wardship, but Robert did not survive much longer, and by May 1436 arrangements were being made for the partition of the Tilliol estates between his two sisters, Isabel (d.1438), the wife of John Colville, and Margaret (d.1458), who was then married to (Sir) Christopher Moresby, and who later became the wife of Thomas Crackenthorpe. By 1481, Robert, the son of Isabel Colville, had advanced a claim to all his late grandfather’s property on the ground that Sir Peter had actually made a will entailing everything on the issue of his elder daughter. No copy of the will could be found, but a witness was produced to testify on Colville’s behalf.14

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Telyoll, Tiliolf, Tulleof, Tyliof, Tyroill.

  • 1. C139/69/24; CIPM, xii. nos. 170, 417; DKR, xlv. 178, 271; Ancestor, iv. 88-97; CAD, iii. D1167; R. Surtees, Durham, i. 28, 215; CPR, 1388-92, p. 163. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xiii. 236 and tract. ser. no. 2, pp. 152-5, are wrong in stating that Sir Peter married a daughter of Sir Robert Muncaster*. A marriage between the Tilliols and the Muncasters did, however, occur a couple of generations earlier (J. Nicolson and R. Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. ii. 121).
  • 2. Rot. Scot. ed. Macpherson etc. ii. 21.
  • 3. Ibid. 58, 67.
  • 4. Cal. Scots Docs. iv. no. 375.
  • 5. C139/69/24; Ancestor, iv. 88-97; CIPM, xii. no. 170; ibid. (Rec. Comm.) iii. 244; CAD, iii. D1167; Test. Karleolensia ed. Ferguson, 82; Rot. Scot. ii. 3; Nicolson and Burn, ii. 121; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. tract ser. no. 2, pp. 152-5; CCR, 1364-8, p. 354.
  • 6. CFR, vii. 347, 349, 359; ix. 29; CPR, 1367-70, pp. 183, 376; CCR, 1377-81, p. 19; CIPM, xii. no. 417; PRO List ‘Sheriffs’, 26.
  • 7. Rot. Scot. ii. 21, 52, 72; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 533, 551; 1389-92, p. 31; CFR, ix. 196, 197, 201; CPR, 1385-9, p. 477; H. Knighton, Chron. ed. Lumby, 297.
  • 8. DKR, xxxii. 315, 316; xxxiii. 71, 97, 102; xlv. 178, 271; CPR, 1388-92, p. 163; Surtees, i. 28, 215; Surtees Soc. lviii. 112.
  • 9. CPR, 1388-92, pp. 331, 405-6; 1391-6, p. 214; 1396-9, pp. 555, 573; CCR, 1389-92, p. 516; 1392-6, pp. 244, 252; 1402-5, p. 175; 1405-9, p. 487; CFR, xi. 21; C67/30 mm. 23, 30; CIMisc. vii. no. 56; Cal. Scots Docs. iv. no. 512.
  • 10. JUST 1/1517 rot. 61; CCR, 1396-9, p. 508; 1399-1402, p. 150; 1409-13, p. 75; CPR, 1416-22, p. 277; CFR, xiv. 23; xv. 34, 35; Feudal Aids, iv. 84; vi. 548; Northumb. RO, Swinburne (Clapheaton) ms, 5/65.
  • 11. C219/11/4, 8, 12/3, 13/1, 2, 3, 4.
  • 12. CPR, 1405-8, p. 125; 1413-16, pp. 81, 357; 1422-9, pp. 246, 247, 372, 440; 1429-36, pp. 8, 317; CCR, 1413-19, p. 449; Year Bk. 1 Hen. VI (Seldon Soc. l), 95-100.
  • 13. Surtees Soc. ii. 73; RP, iv. 469-70; CPR, 1429-36, p. 383.
  • 14. C139/69/24, 92/37; CFR, xvi. 23, 277; DKR, xlv. 271; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xi. 19; tract ser. no. 2, pp. 154-5. The belief that Isabel Tilliol married the John Colville who fell at Harfleur in 1418 is demonstrably untrue. She was certainly married to a John Colville by 1416, when the latter made Sir Peter Tilliol his trustee, but her husband lived on to enjoy her share of the Tilliol estates (Arch. Aeliana, 3rd ser. xiv. 158-62; CFR, xvi. 277).