URRY, Walter (d.1446/7), of Horsham and Rusper, Suss.
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Family and Education
Commr. of inquiry, Suss. Feb. 1422 (counterfeiting), Surr., Suss. Nov. 1427, Aug. 1431 (concealments); to assess taxes, Suss. Apr. 1431; distribute a tax allowance Jan. 1436.
Prob. steward of the castles and lordships of Lewes and Reigate for Thomas, earl of Arundel, and his widow, Beatrice, by Whitsuntide 1415-Oct. 1439;2 steward of the same for the Crown 14 Nov. 1439.
Urry, whose family had probably been living in Horsham for some years, first appears in 1410 when he was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to establish a superior title to certain property there by questioning the legitimacy of the owner. It was at this time that he acquired ‘Roseplace’ in Horsham, and over the next 30 years he built up an estate of more than 1,400 acres and 22 messuages extending from Rusper in the east to Warnham in the west. Had his wife’s expectations as an heiress been realized, his annual rental would have been considerable. In October 1412 she was confirmed in the reversion of the manor of Burwash and all the other land which her father, Sir William Burcester, owned in Sussex, but only after her brother’s heirs by entail became extinct. This arrangement was confirmed in April 1423, perhaps on, or immediately after, her marriage to Urry, when the rest of Burcester’s manors and possessions in Kent, Surrey, Essex, Middlesex, Bedfordshire and London were entailed upon her under similar conditions.3
Although undeniably a man of influence in his own right, Urry owed much to an early connexion with the Fitzalans. In February 1415 he acted as an attorney for the delivery of property in Surrey to Thomas Fitzalan, earl of Arundel; and exactly one year later he performed a similar function for the latter’s male heir, Sir John Arundel of Lychett Mautravers. He seems to have become steward of the earl’s castles and lordships of Reigate and Lewes at about this time, because in the spring of 1416 a felon was arrested and imprisoned at Reigate castle on his orders. Although he is not actually described as steward until 1439, when the Crown confirmed him in office, it looks as if he had already held the post for many years. This is borne out by the wording of a royal commission of inquiry, issued in February 1421, to investigate a complaint about the seizure by Urry of a cargo of wine from two ships which had been driven ashore near Seaford during a storm. The owners demanded restitution on the ground that he had confiscated their goods while ‘pretending to be minister of the archbishop (of Canterbury) and of the countess (of Arundel) in the county’. We do not know if he was ever employed by the archbishop, but there can be little doubt that he was in the dowager’s service. His return as MP for Reigate in the following May, and again in 1425, was almost certainly brought about either on her direct recommendation or through his authority as her steward, since the borough belonged to the Fitzalans and lay many miles away from his own estates. Even after the countess’s death and the partition of her dower, he continued to act as a trustee of the property which he had previously helped to administer.4
From 1414 onwards, if not before, Urry appears regularly as a feoffee-to-uses, at first in the Horsham area (where he was involved in the property transactions of William Stoute, his colleague in the Parliament of 1419), and later on throughout the county and in Surrey as well.5 In May 1423 he and three other prominent local figures offered a bond in £100 to the clerk of the hanaper, possibly because they had some case pending in Chancery. A few months later Urry was named among the defendants in a property dispute at the Southwark assizes, but there is now no means of telling if these two events were connected in any way. In August 1426 he and his wife received papal indults permitting them to celebrate mass before day break and according plenary remission of sins at the hour of death. Two months later Urry was granted custody of the land of a royal ward at West Hoathly in Sussex, paying a rent of £2 a year at the Exchequer. He attended a number of parliamentary elections held in the county between 1426 and the time of his death, and was himself eventually returned as a shire knight. He had by then risen to the rank of esquire, being named among the leading residents of Sussex who, in May 1434, were ordered to take an oath against maintenance.6
Towards the end of his life Urry became increasingly preoccupied with the affairs of others. Thus, in July 1432, we find him among the executors of Sir Richard Poynings†, who were suing a Yorkshireman for debt. In November 1439 he went surety at the Exchequer for the three farmers of the manor of Wimering in Hampshire, but most of his duties were incurred as a feoffee-to-uses. Sir John Bohun made him a trustee of his lands in Midburst, and as such he was left in 1445 to arrange for an endowment upon Eastbourne priory.7 In accordance with the will of Thomas Salman (d.1430), during the early 1440s Urry helped to establish and administer a chantry at Arundel church. Both Salman and his wife had, like Urry, been servants of the earl and countess of Arundel, which no doubt explains the connexion between them. Urry also took over from the trustees of Henry Boteler II* the task of founding a chantry at Horsham.8
In February 1446 Urry was granted a royal par