WARCOP, Robert (d.c.1439), of Warcop, Westmld.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

May 1421

Family and Education

m. 1s.1

Offices Held

Commr. of oyer and terminer June 1408 (appeal against a judgement over the ownership of land in Calais); array, Westmld. Mar. 1427, Oct. 1429, Mar. 1430, July 1434, Cumb., Westmld. July 1437; inquiry, Cumb. Apr. 1431 (persons liable to contribute to a royal loan); to make an arrest May 1434.

J.p. Westmld. 26 Mar. 1411-July 1412, Cumb. 20 July 1424-Nov. 1439.

Escheator, Cumb. and Westmld. 16 Nov. 1420-13 Nov. 1423.

Biography

Robert’s precise relationship with the three other members of the Warcop family who represented Westmorland during our period is now hard to determine, although his ownership of the manor of Warcop from at least 1435 onwards suggests that he was the eventual heir, and thus perhaps a younger son or nephew, of Thomas Warcop I*. The latter was certainly present, along with his kinsman, Thomas Warcop II*, when Robert was returned to the House of Commons for the first time in 1415. His colleague on this occasion was none other than Thomas Warcop II’s son and namesake, Thomas III, so a strong feeling of solidarity (engendered no doubt by the most recent of their many brushes with the law) clearly bound the family together. Roger may even have undertaken to defend Thomas II against the serious charges which he then faced in the court of Chancery as one of the ‘graundez meyntenours et maleffesours’ of Westmorland, but details of the actual proceedings are now hard to find. Thomas I and Thomas II were again present at the time of Robert’s election to the May Parliament of 1421, when the choice of representatives was influenced at a wider level by the need for suitable representatives to present the grievances of the northern counties in the Lower House. Robert’s principal task was to join with the other Members from Cumberland and Westmorland in explaining how badly the border area had been affected by disease, depopulation and war, while pressing at the same time for urgent improvements in law enforcement and defence.2

Warcop was by then a well-known member of county society, having come to notice first, in 1402, as a mainpernor at the Exchequer. His membership of a royal commission of oyer and terminer set up in 1408 to examine a verdict in a property dispute at Calais, no less than his frequent appearances in court as a surety, point to the fact that he may well have been a lawyer. Certainly, in 1410, he went bail for a group of local men who had been excommunicated for contumacy and were being examined in the court of Chancery; and five years later he offered pledges on behalf of William Blenkinsop*, who also had business there. He was similarly approached by William Lowther (the courtier) and Geoffrey Salkeld to guarantee their suitability as farmers of certain royal property near Carlisle. The year 1412, meanwhile, saw his nomination as an attorney to deliver land to Ralph, earl of Westmorland, although most of his clients came from the upper ranks of the gentry rather than the baronage. In November 1417, for example, he entered into a recognizance for £100 with John Lancaster I*, Sir Peter Tilliol* and (Sir) Robert Lowther*, who, like him, were local landowners with an interest in administration.3

Robert attended the elections for Westmorland to the Parliaments of 1419 and 1425, and was himself again returned by the county for the third time in 1431. He had by then been granted a ten-year lease of three fisheries and pasture land in the royal forest of Inglewood in Cumberland, but in 1434 his old friend, William Lowther, presented a superior title and the grant was rescinded. Even without these properties, his finances remained quite buoyant, for his landed income alone was assessed at £26 p.a. in 1436, over and above whatever fees or profits he might have gained through the law.