WALDEN, Robert (d.c.1402), of Warwick.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. bef. 1398, Alice, s.p.
Tax collector, Warws. Dec. 1384.
Walden acquired property in St. Nicholas Street in the suburbs of Warwick at some date before 1369, and he soon became a prominent figure in the town. In 1374, 1377 and 1380 he was one of a group of five burgesses who obtained royal grants of portage, in each case for a period of three years, in order that the bridge over the Avon might be repaired, and in 1383 he was among the leading townsmen who, with the aid of the lord of the borough, Thomas, earl of Warwick, secured a royal licence to found a guild in honour of the Holy Trinity and St. Mary in St. Mary’s church. He frequently witnessed local deeds, and when John Russell I was elected to the Parliament of 1388 (Sept.) he acted as his surety.1
Walden’s occupation remains undiscovered, although from his possession of livestock it may be presumed that he derived at least part of his income from farming, and it is clear that he was a man of some substance, for he owned several properties and dealt in large sums of money. He was connected with several of the gentry of Warwickshire: thus in 1377, during his first Parliament, he provided undertakings that Sir John Peyto* and other members of that important local family would keep the peace, and six years later he was associated with such notable figures as Sir John Beauchamp† of Holt, Sir Thomas Butler*. of Sudeley and Sir William Bagot* of Baginton, in transactions concerning land belonging to Stoneleigh abbey. In 1393 he was appointed by the Crown as joint custodian of the holdings of another Warwickshire landowner, during the minority of the heir, after he had revealed to the Exchequer the concealment of the wardship.2
Walden may well have owed his standing in the community to his connexion with the earl of Warwick. This was well established by December 1394, when he was associated with the earl’s most trusted councillor, Sir Nicholas Lilling*, and with his chamberlain, John Daniel, in making arrangements for a loan of 100 marks to be made to the earl from certain men of Balsall. Indeed, his proximity to the earl made him a target for the wrath of Sir William Bagot after the latter fell out with their lord. When Bagot and his household men rode fully armed into Warwick on 23 Feb. 1396 to face charges at the assizes, one of his followers physically assaulted Walden in the very presence of the royal justices. At the time of Walden’s last return to Parliament in January 1397 he is known to have been actively engaged in Warwick’s affairs as a leading member of his council. Later that year he advanced a personal loan of £20 to the use of the earl’s son and heir, Richard, and in June he not only attended an important meeting of the earl’s council at Henley-in-Arden (along with Sir Alfred Trussell* and William Spernore*), but also received on Warwick’s behalf a loan of 500 marks made by the mayor of Coventry. Indeed, Walden was so close to Earl Thomas as nearly to share his downfall: a month after Warwick’s arrest in July a commission of inquiry was set up to discover the whereabouts of his personal property along with that of certain of his supporters—including Lilling, Spernore and Walden—and to seize these chattels for the Crown. However, in October, following the judgement against Warwick in Parliament and the confiscation of his estates, it was ordered that Walden’s goods be returned to him, he having agreed to answer for their value should they later be adjudged forfeit. In December, during the earl’s imprisonment, he and another of Warwick’s retainers, Guy Spyne*, assisted the duke of Surrey (who had been granted most of the Beauchamp estates) in a vain attempt to settle disputes over the tenure of one of those properties—the manor of Ladbroke. In view of the troubled political situation, Walden was sensible enough to purchase a royal pardon six months later. Good relations with Earl Thomas were resumed after the latter’s release in 1399, and within two years Walden was accorded the lease of certain of the Beauchamp holdings in Warwick.3
The later years of Walden’s life were increasingly devoted to pious works. In February 1397, while his last Parliament was in progress, he had obtained a royal licence to found a chantry at Treadington (Worcestershire), and in the following year permission was given for him to endow this chantry with the local manor of Longdon. In September 1398 he was licensed to grant premises in Warwick and Radway, along with annual rents of as much as £10, to Stoneleigh abbey, to provide for a taper to burn perpetually in the abbey church; and, again in 1398, he and his wife procured a papal indult for a portable altar. Finally, in 1401 Walden founded a chantry dedicated to St. Anne in St. Mary’s church, Warwick, donating rents of £5 4s. p.a. from several properties (including 19 messuages and 16 shops) in Warwick, Myton, Longbridge, Barford, Preston Bagot and elsewhere