WALTON, Ralph, of Sharnbrook, Beds.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by Apr. 1372, Katherine.1
Commr. of array, Beds. Mar. 1380, Apr. 1385, Apr. 1386, Mar. 1392; to suppress the insurgents of 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382.
Collector of a tax, Beds. Feb. 1381.
Nothing is now known about Walton’s early life, although his connexion with Bedfordshire was already established when, in October 1363, he and a kinsman named Adam Walton pledged their estates in the county as security for a debt of £10 which they then owed Edward III’s queen, Philippa. In May 1366, Sir Robert Rous chose Walton to supervise his affairs in England for a year while he was abroad. The latter clearly performed his duties well, since the appointment was renewed in June 1367 for another term. Walton himself saw active service overseas at about this time in the retinue of Humphrey, earl of Hereford, who retained him again in the summer of 1371 for a naval expedition against the French. His companion on both occasions was his neighbour and close friend, William Terrington, who later sat with him in each of the three Parliaments to which he was returned. Back in England by the autumn of 1371, Walton witnessed a conveyance of the Huntingdonshire manor of Conington. He may already have married by this date, but the first reference to his wife, Katherine, occurs in a deed of the following April, whereby Roger Elys, waxchandler of London, and his first wife, Alice, confirmed them both in possession of a tenement and buildings in the city parish of St. Andrew Holborn. It seems likely that Katherine and Alice were sisters and that Walton acquired his interests in London through marriage. Six years later he decided to sell the property to another member of the Elys family, who agreed to pay him £33 6s.8d. spread over four instalments. Meanwhile, in August 1377, he took part in another naval expedition, this time under the banner of Thomas, earl of Buckingham (later duke of Gloucester), whose task was to prevent a combined Spanish and French fleet from plundering the south coast.2 His association with the earl may well have continued after this date, and it looks very much as if he actively supported him and the other Lords Appellant when they launched their attack upon the court party in 1387-8. He certainly deemed it expedient to sue out a royal pardon because of this potentially dangerous connexion in the spring of 1398, by which date Richard II had already revenged himself upon the leading Appellants, including Gloucester, and was ready to deal with their adherents.3
A few months after being appointed to his first royal commission, Walton took his seat in the November Parliament of 1380. Besides the important connexions which he had already established through military service, he could also rely upon the support of leading members of the Bedfordshire community. He and the two Sir Gerard Braybrookes* (the younger of whom was one of Gloucester’s retainers) witnessed deeds together during the early 1380s and he subsequently attested their property transactions. Walton also maintained close links with Bushmead priory, a house of Augustinian canons which, in the summer of 1389, he and others endowed with property in the Bedfordshire villages of Little Staughton and Keysoe. It seems likely that he was here acting as a trustee rather than the actual owner of the land in question; and the same may be said of a similar arrangement completed not long afterwards on behalf of Newnham priory. After the necessary inquiries had been held, Walton and five co-feoffees obtained a royal licence in June 1390 to alienate land and rents worth over £5 a year to the priory which, like Bushmead, was an Augustinian foundation.4 Throughout this period Walton was continuously involved in the affairs of Sir John Sutton†, whose manor o