WHITCOMBE, Robert, of Shrewsbury, Salop.
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Family and Education
m. (1) Benedicta; (2) Mabel; 1s. 1da.1
Bailiff, Shrewsbury Sept. 1420-1, 1426-7, 1432-3, 1437-8, 1441-2; coroner 1443-4.2
Escheator, Salop and the adjacent march 4 Nov. 1440-1.
The admission of Robert Whitcombe does not figure in any of the existing rolls of burgesses of Shrewsbury, although some are missing.3 However, he clearly made his mark as a member of the local community, for his fellow townsmen elected him bailiff five times and MP eight in the course of just over 20 years. It was while bailiff that he was chosen to represent Shrewsbury in Parliament on four occasions (in 1420, May 1421,1433 and 1442), and his record of service in the Commons was otherwise noteworthy as comprising four consecutive Parliaments from 1420 to 1422. In April 1427 the steward of Shrewsbury, William Burley* of Broncroft, who was then in town holding the assizes, was entertained in Whitcombe’s house, and his concerns as a merchant appear to have prospered. But not everything recorded about Whitcombe was to his credit, for when, in November 1434, a royal commission was authorized to audit the accounts for murage levied in Shrewsbury and question the abbot of Shrewsbury, as overseer of the subsidy, this was to investigate complaints that the money raised had been misappropriated by the bailiffs of the previous few years, who included Whitcombe. In the course of his fourth term of office, in 1437-8, Whitcombe travelled to Ludlow for the sessions of the peace (later receiving expenses of 25s.1½d.), and in June and again in August 1438 he rode to Maxstoke, Warwickshire, a seat of Humphrey, earl of Stafford, to conduct other business concerning the town. That same summer he and his fellow bailiff obtained royal letters patent confirming the Shrewsbury weavers’ ordinances of 1435. Meanwhile, in 1435-6 and probably in other years too, he had sat as a member of the local council of 12.4
Whitcombe died before the end of 1450, for this was when his widow, Mabel, and his executors filed a petition in Chancery alleging that one of his Toffees, Thomas Don, the parson of Smethcote near Shrewsbury, had refused to convey to the purchasers a messuage in Shrewsbury and other properties including a water-mill at Hanwood, altogether worth £10, when required to do so in pursuance of his will. But on being examined at Shrewsbury by the chancellor’s delegates (the abbot of Shrewsbury and William Burley), Don swore that he had been entrusted with the property by Whitcombe and his first wife, Benedicta, to the sole intent that he would settle it on them or their lawfully begotten heirs. What then happened to the disputed estate is not known, but the MP’s lands in Rodington passed to his daughter, Joan, who married the King’s bench lawyer, Thomas Lloyd†.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Widcombe, Whittecombe, Wyhtcoom, Wytcombe.
- 1. Add. 30318, ff. 47-49; C1/18/140-3.
- 2. Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 18; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), iii. 243-4.
- 3. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), iii. 373. After his death he was described as ‘of Newark’ (C1/18/140), but no place of this name in Salop has been traced, and there is no evidence to associate him with the Nottinghamshire town.
- 4. CPR, 1429-36, p. 470; 1436-41, p. 233; Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 16d; box VIII, 363, 370.
- 5. C1/18/140-3; Shrewsbury Lib. deed 4450. Robert Whitcombe’s son, Thomas, acquired through marriage the manor of Berwick Maviston, Salop.