WALDEN, Sir Alexander (d.1401), of Matching and Rickling, Essex.
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Family and Education
s. of Alexander Walden and nephew of Sir Humphrey Walden† (d.1374) of Matching and Rickling. m. (1) by 1379, Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Somery of Bygrave, Herts. by Margery, wid. of William Elington; (2) Juliana, ?kinswoman of Bishop Metford of Salisbury,1 s.p. Kntd. by 1372.
Tax assessor, Essex May 1379.
Commr. to put down rebellion, Essex Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of arrest Sept. 1388, Jan. 1391; oyer and terminer June 1390, June 1394; inquiry, Essex, Cambs. Nov. 1397 (disputes).
J.p. Essex 10 Nov. 1389-July 1397.
Alexander was the grandson of Sir Humphrey Walden, the substantial Essex landowner who served as a baron of the Exchequer under Edward I and Edward II. When Sir Humphrey died in 1331 his right heir was found to be his nephew, Andrew, who accordingly inherited the manors of Ongar Park and Magdalen Laver; but he had left four sons (presumably all illegitimate) on whom he had already settled his property in the London parish of St. Peter the Less and his Essex manors of Rickling, Matching, Little Parndon, Dunton, Elsenham and Barstable Hall in Basildon. Not all of these holdings (which were to be valued in 1418 at nearly £100 a year) fell to Alexander, the subject of this biography, for apparently after the death without issue of Sir Humphrey’s eldest son and namesake in 1374, they were divided between that younger Sir Humphrey’s nephews—Alexander himself and his brother John. Alexander’s share did, however, include Rickling and Matching as well as lands in Ugley, Bollington and Berden. Through his first marriage he acquired Bygrave in Hertfordshire, which he and his wife sold to the mercenary captain, Sir John Thornbury*, in 1383, shortly after a member of his family had been murdered there.2
Walden’s career as a soldier began in the early 1370s when, already a knight, he was a member of the company of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, serving in France under John of Gaunt. After Hereford’s death he entered the service of Walter, 3rd Lord Fitzwalter (d.1386), enlisting with that lord in the force engaged to follow Gaunt in 1378, their immediate commander being the latter’s younger brother, Thomas of Woodstock, earl of Buckingham. During this campaign Sir Alexander was captured by the enemy, only to be quickly ransomed and released, no doubt with Fitzwalter’s help. His attachment to Fitzwalter and to his son Walter, the 4th Lord, was an important factor in his career. The year before that second, disastrous expedition to France he had been party to a settlement of estates in Essex and Lincolnshire on the younger man; and in 1383 and 1385 he was involved in transactions concerning the Fitzwalter properties elsewhere. Such was their mutual regard that the 3rd Lord acted as a feoffee of Sir Alexander’s own estates. Early in 1384 Walden served in his lord’s retinue in the west march towards Scotland, and on 22 June 1385 by a formal indenture of retainer he received from him a life annuity of £10 charged on the manor of Ashdon (Essex), on the understanding that whenever Fitzwalter was required for military service he would accompany him as a knight in his retinue. Walden’s retaining fee was confirmed by Richard II in 1387 after Fitzwalter’s death. He remained close to the new lord, becoming a feoffee not only of the estates he had inherited but also of those held in dower by his stepmother, Philippa. Since Fitzwalter was an adherent of Thomas of Woodstock, now duke of Gloucester, it may well have been in the duke’s interest that Walden was returned to the Cambridge Parliament of 1388, which continued the programme begun by Woodstock and his fellow Lords Appellant in the previous assembly. Indeed, some significance may be attached to Walden’s removal from the Essex bench in July 1397, at the time of Gloucester’s arrest, and to the fact that in June 1398 he purchased a royal pardon. He did not accompany Fitzwalter to Ireland that summer, agreeing instead to look after his affairs at home.3 There is no evidence whatsoever that Sir Alexander was related to Roger Walden, whom Richard II had recently elevated to archbishop of Canterbury.
Apart from his service to the Fitzwalters, Walden was rarely asked by fellow members of the Essex gentry to assist them in their private business, although he was on good terms with Thomas Bataill, a neighbour and kinsman by marriage, with whom he was returned to Parliament in 1390, and he acted as a feoffee of the inheritance of Bataill’s son, John.4 In the 1390s Walden completed several legal transactions concerning his own landed holdings, and it would appear that he was in some financial difficulty (perhaps as a delayed consequence of having to raise a ransom). In 1394 he mortgaged his property in London on the security of certain holdings in Essex, and two years later he granted away Matching on a seven-year lease, which had not expired at the time of his death.