VEEL, Robert (d.c.1432), of Shepton Beauchamp, Som. and Mappowder and Frome Whitfield, Dorset.
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Family and Education
m. by 1396, Alice (d.c.1432), da. of Gerard Muskett by Joan, da. and h. of Robert Basset and wid. of Thomas Sexpenne, 1da.
Clerk of the peace, Dorset 1390-5, Som. 1405-28.1
Keeper of the rolls of the King’s bench by 18 May 1392-1393.2
Commr. of arrest, Wilts., Dorset June 1402; to survey Lyme Regis Jan. 1405; of inquiry, Som. Dec. 1406 (estates of Thomas Engleby† of Bridgwater), Nov. 1419 (illegal entry into property by Sir Thomas Beauchamp*).
Escheator, Som. and Dorset 10 Dec. 1411-3 Nov. 1412.
Veel became a substantial landowner in Somerset and Dorset through a highly successful legal practice and a profitable marriage. In 1389 he was leased part of the manor of Shepton Beauchamp by Cecily Turberville (sister and heir of John, 3rd Lord Beauchamp of Hatch), Robert Seymour, her son, and Sir Walter Clopton c.j.KB, for the lives of the grantors. He acquired more land in the same place in 1400, and from 1402 held a knight’s fee at nearby Stocklinch from the honour of Dunster. In 1412 his holdings in Somerset were estimated to be worth £10 15s.4d. a year, those in Broadway, Nottington, Radipole, Dorchester, Frome Whitfield and Mappowder (Dorset) worth £8, and those in Winterbourne Ford (Wiltshire), and Christchurch (Hampshire) worth £9 6s.8d.3 The settlement on him and his wife by his mother-in-law in 1399, of lands in Frome Whitfield and property in Dorchester, caused him some difficulties: in 1422 Emmota Sexpenne and Joan Comelond (stepsisters to Veel’s wife) and the latter’s husband John* petitioned the chancellor claiming that the Veels, assisted by their son-in-law, John Coker, had forcibly evicted them from a messuage and 350 acres of land and had stolen goods worth £20. When the case was brought, first before the assize judges at Dorchester and then on appeal before the court of common pleas, Veel won on a technicality, and his daughter, Eleanor Coker, was to be similarly successful in a later action (1433) regarding the same property. Veel’s status as a landowner and his influential associates among the gentry led him to be described in a petition to Bishop Beaufort of Winchester when chancellor as an ‘home de poair et de grand maintenance’.4
By the time of his earliest return to Parliament for Melcombe Regis in 1393, Veel had been serving for at least three years as clerk to the j.p.s in Dorset. As we have seen, he was already well acquainted with Chief Justice Clopton, and in 1391 had joined with him in testifying in Chancery that John Beauchamp of Lillesdon had not received a commission of the peace addressed to him. In the same year Veel appeared in Clopton’s court, the King’s bench, as attorney for the burgesses of Bridport, and it seems likely that he was already occupying the post of keeper of the rolls, by the judge’s nomination. The responsibility for the King’s bench records in transit rested with the keeper, who had power to arrest and imprison those who refused to obey his orders in the course of this duty, so it was Veel who was commanded by the judges on Saturday 23 Nov. 1392 to convey the records from York to Nottingham and to have them there by the next Tuesday. But it was winter, there had been an abnormal rainfall, and the carts stuck in the mud. In urgent need of extra horses, Veel commandeered some at Norton near Welbeck, only to be confronted by the villagers who, resenting this action and armed with swords, sticks and bows, chased him and his men through the night to Warsop, shot arrows which penetrated the records in the carts, and otherwise sought to regain possession of their beasts.5 It was only a few weeks after this episode, which he escaped unscathed, that Veel entered the House of Commons for the first time.
Veel was kept busy in the local courts of Somerset and Dorset, acting as an attorney for the abbot of Abbotsbury and Athelney, among others, and thus made many important contacts. In May 1397 he was appointed by Roger Seymour (Cecily Turberville’s grandson) to look after his affairs while he was abroad in Ireland, and he later served as a feoffee of the family manor of Hatch Beauchamp.6 He was much in demand when it came to property transactions. As a trustee for John Syward of property in Dorchester and Melcombe, in 1401 he became responsible for providing for religious services in Holy Trinity church, Dorchester; and he took on the feoffeeship of the widespread estates of Thomas Gorges, alias Russell (d.1404). Among his closest associates was William Ekerdon, clerk (his precedessor as keeper of the rolls in the King’s bench), who was himself closely connected with Sir Humphrey Stafford I* of Hooke. In 1403 they were together put in possession of the property of Thomas Cole II* of Melcombe; in 1406 they applied for a royal licence to grant lands in mortmain to Abbotsbury abbey for the foundation of a chantry for the soul of their late superior, Sir Walter Clopton, they themselves drawing up ordinances for the conduct of the chaplains; and in 1421 they sought another licence to give property in Tintinhull (Somerset), of which they held the reversion after the death of Clopton’s widow, to the chapel in Stoke sub Hamdon.7 Veel’s clients included Sir William Bonville I* and John Newburgh of East Lulworth; and in 1411 he was named as an executor of the will of Margaret Courtenay, widow of Sir John St. Loe† and mother-in-law of the 3rd Lord Botreaux. In 1415 he conveyed lands in Taunton, Sherford and Ilchester to White Hall priory (Ilchester) for the provision of masses for the soul of the first wife of John Stourton I* of Preston Plucknett. The following year he not only provided securities at the Exchequer for the widow of a Dorset landowner, William Filoll*, when she took on the lease of lands in Baggeridge, but also subsequently paid the rent on her behalf. It was probably his interest in Filloll’s estates which laid him open to accusations made in Chancery by one Richard Petteworth, regarding the latter’s eviction from the chantry of Wilcheswood, of which Filloll had been the patron.8 Veel came into contact with more than one royal judge: in 1424, after the death of Sir William Hankford c.j.KB, it was found that he and Veel had been jointly seised of the manor of East Cranmore. Although never officially described as an ‘esquire’, Veel possessed his own heraldic arms, and in 1412, when he obtained a papal indult to have a portable altar, he was described as ‘donzel and nobleman’.9
Veel was referred to as ‘the elder’ in 1416, but there is no reason to date his death before 1432. From 1407 onwards he had been a regular participant at the shire elections, whether in Somerset (in 1407, 1421 (May) and 1427) or Dorset (in 1410, 1421 (Dec.), 1425, 1426, 1429 and 1431). In 1424 he had settled some lands on his daughter, and two years later he and his wife acquired more property in Dorchester. For 20 years he had an interest in the manor of Stocklinch Magdalen, which had previously belonged to his earliest patron, Sir Walter Clopton. This he now, in 1426, conveyed, along with premises in Ilchester, Sook and elsewhere in Somerset, to trustees, stipulating that for 50 years they should use half the profits to support seven poor, infirm or old men, who were to be housed in a building opposite the Preaching Friars’ house at Ilchester, retaining the remaining profits to meet the cost of amortizement of the property. (The necessary licence was to be eventually acquired in Edward IV’s reign, in accordance with his wishes.)10
Veel was still living in May 1432, but probably died soon after, for he was not mentioned in the roll of a court leet held at Frome Whitfield later that year or in that compiled in 1433, by which time his daughter, Eleanor Coker, had inherited her deceased mother’s holdings there.11
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. E. Stephens, Clerks of Counties, 80, 155.
- 2. Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxviii), p. xviii; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 65, 218.
- 3. CIMisc. v. 344; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 2; Honour of Dunster (ibid. xxxiii), 114, 198, 202, 208, 271; Feudal Aids, vi. 431; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 509-10.
- 4. Dorchester Recs. ed. Mayo, 135; J. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 413; C1/5/94, 6/268; Yr. Bk. 1 Hen. VI (Selden Soc. 1), 86-90; JUST 1/1531 m. 10.
- 5. CCR, 1389-92, p. 358; Dorset RO, B3/X7; CPR, 1391-6, p. 218.
- 6. JUST 1/1502 m. 219d, 1513 mm. 59, 61, 1518 m. 8, 1519 mm. 113, 118; CPR, 1396-9, p. 146;