WHAPLODE, William (d.1447), of Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of William Whaplode (d.1398) of Chalfont St. Peter by Elizabeth, wid. of William Restwold (d.1374) of High Head castle, Cumb. m. (1) Margaret; (2) bef. 1432, Joan (?d.1447), sis. of Robert Forster of Westminster, s.p..1
Feodary of the duchy of Lancaster, Beds. and Bucks. 12 Feb. 1408-8 Oct. 1440.2
Escheator, Beds. and Bucks. 16 Nov. 1420-20 May 1422, 12 May Feb.-5 Nov. 1430, 23 Nov. 1437-6 Nov. 1438, 1445-6.
J.p. Bucks. 20 July 1424-d.
Commr. to assess a parliamentary grant, Bucks. Apr. 1431; of kiddles, Bucks., Mdx. Aug. 1433; to distribute tax rebate, Bucks. Dec. 1433; administer to local notables oaths against maintenance May 1434; raise royal loans Feb. 1436, Nov. 1440, Mar. 1442; of inquiry Dec. 1438 (forestalling and regrating of corn).
Bailiff of Wargrave, Berks. by appointment of Henry Beaulort, bp. of Winchester, 31 Jan. 1431-d.3; steward of the episcopal estates ?1431-d.
Whaplode’s surname suggests a Lincolnshire origin for his family. His father, William, had made his way through royal service, initially as a yeoman of Edward III’s chamber, and then, from 1373 to 1376, as constable of Oakham castle in Rutland. As ‘King’s serjeant’, he obtained in 1376 a grant of the marriage of his stepson, the crown ward, Richard Restwold I*, to which was subsequently added the sum of £20 a year which the boy’s grandfather was bound to pay at the Exchequer for the farm of two-thirds of his inheritance. Later, Restwold confirmed his stepfather and mother in the latter’s life tenure of his manor of Oakington in Cambridgeshire. However, it was in Buckinghamshire that Whaplode had chosen to settle: a tenant of the duchy of Lancaster at Chalfont St. Peter by June 1380, he held office as one of the coroners of the shire until April 1392, when he was ordered to be replaced as not being a knight, his election having been in breach of the Statute of Westminster (1275). (In this respect he was unfortunate, for although the statutory provision regarding the status of coroners had for long been generally ignored, on this particular occasion writs had been issued to all sheriffs enjoining them to elect only knights.)4
Following the death of William Whaplode senior in 1398, his son and namesake systematically set about building up the family holdings in Buckinghamshire. He began in 1410 by acquiring, from trustees appointed by the late Sir Philip de la Vache* (d.1408), the manors of ‘The Vache’ and Bury in Chalfont St. Giles, together with some 600 acres of land and rents of £10 p.a. in the vicinity, to which he later added piecemeal yet more property in Chalfont St. Peter. In the 1420s he made purchases of land at Wycombe, Wendover and Halton and, together with his second wife, he acquired more at Ivinghoe, Pitstone and elsewhere. By unrecorded means he also came into possession of a fourth part of the manor of Weston Turville.5
Whaplode’s career had begun, as it was to end more than 45 years later, in the service of Henry Beaufort, half-brother to Henry IV. He spent from 6 Nov.1402 to 8 Feb. 1403 as a member of Beaufort’s entourage on his voyage to Brittany to escort Henry’s consort, Joan of Navarre, over to England; and it was perhaps to this patron that he owed his employment for over 30 years as feodary of the local estates of the duchy of Lancaster. His improved standing as a landowner may also have been due to a flourishing career in the law. His practice was evidently well established by 1415, for he was then invited to join a syndicate, composed mainly of lawyers, which offered Richard de Vere, earl of Oxford, a loan of £400 on the security of de Vere’s manor of Chesham Higham. Together with a regular colleague, Richard Wyot*, and others, he had a reversionary interest in property at Buscot, Berkshire, which in 1418 they conveyed to Robert Hallum, bishop of Salisbury, Thomas Chaucer* and their co-feoffees of the estates of Thomas Stonor*. So, clearly, he did not lack influential contacts. Whaplode’s first election to Parliament for Buckinghamshire on 6 Nov. 1420 was followed only ten days later by appointment as escheator of the shire and its neighbour, Bedfordshire, an office for which his 12 years as feodary of the duchy estates in the same counties doubtless well qualified him. His subsequent involvement in local royal administration was to include three more terms as escheator and uninterrupted employment on the Buckinghamshire bench from 1424 until his death. When Whaplode was elected to Parliament for the borough of Chipping Wycombe in 1425, it was doubtless primarily for the useful services he might perform as an experienced advocate, but he was not strictly speaking an ‘outsider’, for his ownership of property in the town both qualified him for election and made him conversant with the townspeoples’ concerns. In 1426 he acted as a feoffee of ‘Raans’ in Amersham for its conveyance to Edmund Brudenell’s* nephew and heir, and a few years later he took on a similar role, along with Reynold Kentwood, the dean of St. Paul’s, regarding the manor of Horsenden, which had been left under their control by Sir Gerard Braybrooke II* (d.1429).6
Whaplode’s second marriage brought him into close association with his wife’s family, the Forsters, who held land in Essex; and in particular with his brother-in-law, Robert Forster, a ‘gentleman’ (probably lawyer) from Westminster. The two men supported one another in their various business and personal transactions from 1432 onwards: so, for example, Forster appeared as Whaplode’s mainpernor at the Exchequer in 1437, when the former obtained custody of certain lands in Chalfont inherited by an idiot; and in June 1440 they together stood surety for the prior of Westminster abbey on his receipt of guardianship of the abbey’s temporalities. Two months later, as trustees of property pertaining to the Lovell family, Whaplode and Nicholas Clopton† conveyed to Henry VI an acre of land and the advowson of the church at Eton (Berkshire) in aid of his foundation of Eton college, the King granting them in exchange the advowson of Great Billing, Northamptonshire.7
The precise date of Whaplode’s appointment as steward of the episcopal estates of Cardinal Beaufort has not been ascertained, although he probably succeeded Richard Wyot in the office immediately after the latter’s death in 1431. Of course, he had long been known to Beaufort as a one-time member of his retinue and through his duchy office; and in May 1429 he had been named as one of the distinguished group of trustees, headed by the earls of Northumberland and Salisbury and including Wyot, to whom the cardinal had granted annual revenues of 1,000 marks from certain of his episcopal manors. The purposes of this transaction are not explained, but it may have had something to do with the imminent dispatch of fresh forces to France and Bohemia, a matter which deeply concerned Beaufort. It was quite likely during Wyot’s stewardship that Whaplode acquired the manor of Newenham in Warfield, Berkshire, as the bishop’s tenant. However, there is nothing to suggest that his connexion with Beaufort otherwise affected the course of his career to any marked degree, or that he was ever drawn into the political conflicts which so troubled the cardinal during Henry VI’s reign. Even so, he did accompany his lord to the Congress of Arras, in the summer of 1435. It was only to be expected that, as the steward of the episcopal estates, he would be named in the will which Beaufort made at Wolvesey palace on 20 Jan. 1447 among the executors led by Cardinal Kemp, archbishop of York, and Beaufort’s nephew, the marquess of Dorset. Whaplode was thus kept busily engaged for several months after Beaufort’s death in April that year.8 But his own health was failing, and he was not to survive his master for very long.
Whaplode had already made settlements of the manor of Bury, apparently in favour of Richard Restwold II* (the son of his half-brother) and, in a will drawn up on 12 June 1447, he disposed of his other properties. For the good of his soul he ordered the sale of Newenham and of land in Wycombe, Penn and Wooburn, and gave instructions also for the sale to Restwold, at a preferential price, of the bulk of his landed holdings. Whaplode then named among his executors his wife, Joan, but when, lying on his deathbed on 14 Nov., he made a last tes