WALDEGRAVE, Sir Richard (c.1338-1410), of Walgrave, Northants. and Smallbridge in Bures St. Mary, Suff.
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Family and Education
b.c.1338, s. and h. of Sir Richard Waldegrave† (d.c.1339), of Brant Broughton, Lincs. by Agnes Daubeney. m. c.1363, Joan (d. 10 June 1406), prob. da. of Sir Richard Sutton of Navestock, Essex,1 wid. of Sir Robert Bures (d.1361), of Bures St. Mary, 1s. Kntd. by June 1365.
Commr. of inquiry, Lincs. May 1371 (value of property of Sempringham priory), Suff. Aug. 1379 (evasion of poll tax), Sept. 1379 (liberties of the burgesses of Ipswich),2 Essex Apr. 1380 (extortions), Mar. 1381 (evasion of poll tax), Sept. 1381 (damage on estates of Princess Joan), Apr., July 1382 (disseisin of manor of Bradwell), Oct. 1382 (homicide), Suff. Mar. 1383 (assaults), Mar. 1383 (concealments), Sept. 1384 (attacks on royal officials), Essex Feb. 1385 (royal rights on Mersea Island), Norf. Jan. 1387 (forfeited goods), east coast ports May 1387 (smuggling), Norf. June 1389 (treasons and felonies), Suff. Feb. 1391 (close-breaking), July 1392 (export of gold coins), Essex Jan. 1393 (entail of de Vere estates), Aug. 1395 (concealments), Oct. 1395 (discovery of hidden bullion), May 1398 (lands of a tenant-in-chief), Norf., Suff. June 1406 (concealments); oyer and terminer, Suff. Mar. 1375, Norf. June 1377, Suff. Nov. 1385, Norf. Dec. 1386, Essex Oct. 1390, Nov. 1400; array, Suff. Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Apr. 1385, June 1386, Mar. 1392, July 1402; arrest Oct. 1379, June 1386, Nov. 1391, May 1403; to restore goods seized by insurgents, Norf. June 1381; put down rebellion, Suff. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; hold special assizes July 1382, Apr. 1384, Oct. 1385, Dec. 1397; hear appeals in the constable’s ct. Apr. 1385, Dec. 1396, Mar., July 1397, in the admiral’s ct. Aug. 1396; take musters Apr. 1385;3 of gaol delivery, Eye castle, Suff. Nov. 1385; to fortify Orwell Sept. 1386; raise royal loans, Norf., Suff. June 1406.
Keeper of Moresende castle, Northants. 6 Dec. 1377-c. May 1382.
Steward of the estates of Queen Anne in Norf. and Suff. by Nov. 1382-c. May 1387.4
J.p. Suff. 20 Dec. 1382-July 1389, 10 Nov. 1389-97, Essex 15 July-Nov. 1389.
Member of Richard II’s Council 2 Nov. 1393-14 Nov. 1397.
Envoy to treat with the Scots 20 June 1396.5
Tax collector, Suff. Mar. 1404.
Waldegrave’s family took its name from Walgrave in Northamptonshire and John Waldegrave†, who may have been Sir Richard’s uncle, was shire knight for that county in six Parliaments between 1327 and 1341. Sir Richard’s father, who held the manor of Brant Broughton in Lincolnshire, represented his home county in Parliament in 1335, travelled abroad in the retinue of the bishop of Lincoln in 1337 and died shortly before January 1340.6 The future Speaker, then a minor, eventually succeeded to his father’s Lincolnshire lands, and at some unknown date he also inherited the family estates in Northamptonshire: by 1376 he had possession of property at Walgrave, and he later added to it the nearby manors of Hannington (in 1381) and Twyell (before 1384). But although throughout his career he always maintained his connexions with Northamptonshire, from early on he made his home in the valley of the Stour at Bures St. Mary, and it was there that he established his main territorial interests. Waldegrave’s entry into the community of Suffolk came about through his marriage, which took place in about 1363, to Sir Robert Bures’s widow, Joan. She held for her lifetime the Bures manors of Overhall and Netherhall at Bures, Wickhambrook and Great Waldingfield elsewhere in Suffolk, and Borley and Foxearth in Essex, as well as other substantial properties. Together, the couple set up residence at Smallbridge, and they also held land and an advowson at Copdock. Waldegrave purchased the Suffolk manor of Ousden in 1377, and by 1384 he had also acquired that of Wormingford on the Essex side of the Stour. Certain of the Bures estates were occupied by Joan’s former mother-in-law, Alice, widow of Sir Andrew Bures and wife of Sir John Sutton† of Wivenhoe, and when she died in 1392 the manor of ‘Merkys’ in Raydon passed to Waldegrave and his heirs.7
Waldegrave’s early career was made in the service of the noble family of de Bohun. When a young man he joined the household of William de Bohun, earl of Northampton (whose wife, Countess Elizabeth, left him a gift in her will in 1356), and it was doubtless as one of the earl’s followers that he saw military action in 1360 as a member of Edward III’s army camped outside Paris. After Earl William’s death that same year, he was retained by his son, Humphrey, earl of Northampton, who in 1361 succeeded also to the earldoms of Hereford and Essex. In January 1363 Waldegrave was with his lord at Thorn on the Vistula, making preparations to assist the Teutonic Knights in their fight against the heathen. Then, proceeding to the eastern end of the Mediterranean, they entered the struggle against the Turks on behalf of the king of Cyprus; Waldegrave was not only present at Attalia when the treaty was signed in 1364, but was also party to the taking of Alexandria in the following year. It was during this eventful campaign that he won his spurs. His career as a soldier took him to Italy in 1366 and to France on the expedition led by the duke of Lancaster in 1369. In 1371 he enlisted once more under the banner of Earl Humphrey of Hereford,8 and at the jousts held at Plymouth while the fleet was awaiting departure he was granted by a noble companion-in-arms, Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, leave to bear Kent’s helm: ‘party per pale argent et gules, crowned or’. A year later Waldegrave was one of the knights of Earl Humphrey’s retinue who put to sea in an attempt to relieve La Rochelle; and at some unknown date before the earl’s death in 1373 he was granted by him the manor of Brundon (Suffolk). However, although the grant was intended to last for Sir Richard’s lifetime, he transferred Brundon to the earl’s feoffees just a year later, in order that the property might be used to endow a chantry at Sudbury in his dead lord’s memory.9
De Bohun’s death must have been a blow to Waldegrave, and he evidently long remembered him with affection. For the rest of his life he remained in close contact with the earl’s widow, Joan, countess of Hereford, and many of his friendships of the 1380s and 1390s were with former members of the earl’s affinity. One such friend was Sir Richard’s kinsman, Sir John Burgh of Burrough Green (Cambridgeshire), who in 1377 made him a grantee of annual rents amounting to £300, and in 1380 involved him in the arrangements for the marriage of one of his daughters to John Ingoldisthorpe*.10 Another of that circle of former de Bohun retainers was Guy, Lord Bryan, the late Earl Humphrey’s feoffee and executor. Waldegrave established amicable relations with Bryan in the early 1370s, and it was probably in 1375 that they cemented their alliance with the marriage of Bryan’s eldest son, Sir Guy, to Waldegrave’s stepdaughter, Alice, the heiress of the valuable Bures estates, which were said to be worth 700 marks a year or more. Subsequently, Waldegrave was party to settlements of this inheritance made on the couple’s behalf in 1382 and 1383; and, following Sir Guy’s death in 1386, he secured custody for a year (1387-8) of Elizabeth, the younger of his daughters and coheirs, pending her removal to the household of John, Lord Lovell, for marriage to Lovell’s son, Robert*.11 In 1387 Lord Bryan, as the sole surviving feoffee of certain of the de Bohun estates, selected a new group of trustees, among whom were several former de Bohun retainers, including Waldegrave, as well as Countess Joan’s brother, Thomas Arundel, bishop of Ely. Waldegrave had been associated with Bishop Arundel two years earlier, when they, along with the countess herself, had taken on the feoffeeship of the lands of Sir Thomas Mandeville†, yet another of that circle. Waldegrave also formed a close association with Sir John Gildesburgh*, former executor of Earl Humphrey, from 1388 serving as a trustee of his estates and later assisting his widow in certain property transactions. Yet another member of their group was Thomas Coggeshall*, who, like Gildesburgh and many other former de Bohun retainers, attached himself to Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, after the latter’s marriage to Eleanor de Bohun, Earl Humphrey’s elder daughter and coheir. Waldegrave’s ties of friendship with Gildesburgh and Coggeshall and his links with Gloucester’s chancellor, Thomas Feriby, remained unbroken throughout the 1380s and 1390s.12
Nevertheless, there is no direct evidence of a personal connexion between Waldegrave and the duke of Gloucester himself. This may be because after the earl of Hereford’s death in 1373 Sir Richard had strengthened his ties with the Holands and with other members of the family of Princess Joan of Wales. In 1374, for example, he had witnessed a deed for Joan’s aunt Blanche, Lady Wake of Liddell,13 and a few years later his kinsman (perhaps even his son), Warin Waldegrave, became an indentured retainer of Joan’s son, Sir John Holand, later earl of Huntingdon. Very soon after the beginning of the reign of Holand’s half-brother, Richard II, he became attached to the royal court, where his friend Lord Bryan was the newly appointed chamberlain. Indeed, before the end of Richard’s first Parliament (in which he represented Suffolk for the second time), he was retained as a ‘King’s knight’, and on 6 Dec. 1377, the day after the Commons were dismissed, he was granted for life custody of the castle of Moresende. This custody was confirmed two months later but then only for nine years and in return for an annual rent of 40 marks, and it is unclear whether he remained in the keepership after Queen Anne was given the castle as part of her dower in 1382.
In the meantime, the Peasants’ Revolt of June 1381 had resulted in personal threats to Waldegrave in life and property at Bures, perhaps because of the part he had played in searching out evaders of the hated poll tax. This experience may well have influenced his views on matters of law enforcement when, in the first Parliament to meet after the suppression of the Revolt, he was elected Speaker. On 18 Nov., more than two weeks after the beginning of the session, he asked to be excused from the Speakership, possibly because the Commons were divided over the issue of the rescinding of concessions Richard II had made at the height of the crisis to pacify the rebels. When ordered to continue in office, he demanded a repetition of the Commons’ ‘charge’ for the session, and then, in a perceptive analysis of the causes of the rising, he spoke of defects in the government of the realm, which lay not only in the royal household and courts but also in the countryside, where maintainers and embracers of quarrels ruled ‘like kings’ so that justice could not be done. Perhaps he had sought exoneration from the Speakership so that he need not himself voice the Commons’ criticisms of the administration.14 For the subsequent Parliament, that of 1382 (May), he and his fellow shire knight, Sir William Wingfield* (a friend and feoffee of his estates), lodged together at the Swerd of the Hoope in Fleet Street. There, on 8 May, two ‘trussyng cofres’ of Waldegrave’s containing jewels worth 40 marks and his seal were stolen, a matter about which he hastened to inform the chancellor so that the theft might be recorded in Chancery, in case the seal should be misused. It may well have been this incident which prompted him to purchase his own house in London: in the following year he bought premises in Staining Lane which had belonged to a goldsmith; and he also acquired a dwelling in the parish of St. Michael Hoggenlane.15
Waldegrave drew ever closer to the developing Ricardian court party: at an unknown date before the end of 1382 he was appointed steward of certain estates assigned to Queen Anne in dower, and in May 1384 he was awarded, of the King’s special grace, a charter of free warren in his manors in Northamptonshire, Essex and Suffolk, as well as a licence to crenellate his mansion at Smallbridge. In February 1385 he shared in a grant of the temporalities of the bishopric of Norwich (sequestrated as a penalty laid upon Bishop Henry Despenser), for which he and his fellow custodians were to pay at the rate of 500 marks a year. That summer he accompanied Richard II on his diastrous campaign into Scotland, leading a personal retinue of seven men-at-arms and 18 archers. Yet another sign of royal favour was the grant in 1387 of the valuable Bryan wardship. Waldegrave was on friendly terms with Sir Nicholas Brembre†, the sometime mayor of London, whom he occasionally entertained for dinner at his house in the City, and for whom he acted as a trustee of estates in Kent. Brembre, who identified with the court party, became one of the King’s closest personal advisors, and as a consequence was to be condemned for treason by the Merciless Parliament of 1388 and immediately executed. Waldegrave thus had close associations with individuals in favour at Court: he had provided services for the queen, and he was on good terms with Richard’s kinsmen, the Holands. But at the same time he had many links with the King’s most powerful opponents—notably Bishop Arundel of Ely and Richard, earl of Arundel, the brothers of Countess Joan of Hereford; and his friendship with certain of the duke of Gloucester’s retainers ensured that the duke and his fellow Lords Appellant would regard him as safe to appoint to commissions when they took control of the government. Indeed, while sitting in the Merciless Parliament, in May 1388, Waldegrave was given by Gloucester’s esquire, John Corbet, a wardship which the latter had recently obtained from the Appellants, and in the following year he derived direct profit from the forfeitures adjudged by the Parliament when he joined the syndicate which purchased Sacombe in Hertfordshire.16 But he still managed to remain on good terms with the King’s kinsmen: in 1391 he was associated with John, earl of Huntingdon, in the purchase of the manor of Milton-by-Gravesend, forfeited by Sir Simon Burley, another victim of the Appellants. More significantly, on 2 Nov. 1393 he was appointed to be of the King’s Council, receiving a fee of 100 marks a year, and that same day he was formally retained to stay about the King’s person, with a life annuity of £40. Waldegrave was, therefore, one of a small group of knights and esquires (including the infamous Bussy*, Bagot* and Green*) who, introduced into the Council in the mid 1390s, came to be much relied upon by the King in his later bid for autocratic power. During the four years which Waldegrave spent as a councillor, he became something of an expert in deciding appeals against judgements made in the courts of the constable and admiral, and he was among those who considered the charges of treason laid against John Cavendish, the London fishmonger. In 1396 he was appointed as one of the King’s envoys for diplomatic negotiations with the Scots. In the course of this same period of the late 1390s Waldegrave occasionally acted as a surety for his fellow councillors, such as Sir Henry Green, and he agreed to act as an attorney in England for the ‘King’s knight’, Sir John Howard*, and for the lieutenant of Ireland, Roger, earl of March, while they were absent overseas.
But Waldegrave, unlike Green and other, more notorious members of Richard II’s council, was evidently not prepared to continue in Richard’s employment after the events of the first session of the Parliament of 1397-8, which endorsed the King’s condemnation of the earl of Arundel, and the banishment of Archbishop Arundel, and heard the news of Gloucester’s murder. On 14 Nov. 1397 he obtained a general pardon for all treasons, insurrections and conspiracies committed in connexion with the Appellants’ domination of 1387-9, and that very same day he secured formal letters of exemption from further service in royal office. From that time onwards he ceased to act as a member of the King’s Council. His name, too, was omitted from the list of j.p.s for Suffolk appointed the same month. It must be deduced that the King’s despotic actions against Waldegrave’s friends had caused him to withdraw from Court, and evidently Richard could no longer be absolutely sure of his continuing loyalty: in April 1398 Sir Richard was among the 30 or so men ordered, each on pain of £200, to appear before the King and Council for examination.
Waldegrave had continued his association with Thomas Coggeshall and John Doreward* of Bocking, former retainers of the duke of Gloucester, both of whom were to be made members of the Council of Henry IV immediately after Richard’s deposition in 1399. Nor did he lack other friends at the new King’s court. But he was growing old and reluctant to participate further in the conduct of affairs at the centre. Although he received summonses to great councils in 1401 and 1403 and occasional appointments to royal commissions, in 1404 he obtained confirmation of his exemption from holding office. In 1403 he and Archbishop Arundel, acting as the sole surviving feoffees of the de Bohun estates of Earl Humphrey of Hereford, conveyed the manor of Margaret Roding (Essex) to Henry IV for the endowment of the great hall of Oxford university; and five years later he assisted the archbishop and Countess Joan of Hereford in the foundation of a chantry on Foulness. Sir Richard was gradually winding up his own affairs, too, one of his last transactions being the sale of Brant Broughton to Sir Thomas Rempston I* and a group of his friends and kinsmen, from whom he seems to have received in part-exchange the Suffolk manors of Polstead and Leavenheath. He made his will on 22 Apr. 1410, died on 2 May, and was buried next to his wife in the parish church of Bures St. Mary. His heir was his son, another Richard Waldegrave, who had been knighted at some point before 1391.17
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Unless otherwise indicated this biography is based on J.S. Roskell’s article ‘Sir Richard Waldegrave’, Procs. Suff. Inst. Arch. xxvii. 154-75.
- 1. This version of Joan’s parentage, taken from F. Blomefield