WROTH, William (d.1408), of Enfield, Mdx. and Newton Plecy, Som.
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Family and Education
Sheriff, Som. and Dorset’s Nov. 1403-22 Nov. 1404.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, London Nov. 1403; to distribute the profits of ransoms, Dorset May 1404.
William Wroth was still a minor when his father died, and, in accordance with the latter’s wishes, he spent the rest of his youth in the joint custody of his grandfather, John Wroth†, the wealthy London alderman and Middlesex landowner, and John Ockingdon, vicar of Enfield. William’s mother remarried almost immediately, with the result that the estates which she had inherited in Middlesex and Somerset remained in the hands of her second husband, Sir Baldwin Raddington†, for over 20 years. It was not until Raddington’s death, shortly before December 1401, that Wroth took possession of the manors of ‘Durants’ in Enfield and Newton Plecy, and thus became a figure of some consequence in both Middlesex and Somerset. Hardly anything is known of his earlier career although he was clearly of age by October 1382, when he stood surety for his half-brother, John Wroth, on his election to Parliament as a knight of the shire for Middlesex. William appears to have settled in London in (or before) 1389, for it was there that his only son was born and, in October of that year, christened in the church of All Hallows, Honey Lane. He may already have acquired the neighbouring inn and shops which are described in his inquisition post mortem, and which brought him an estimated £5 in annual rents. There can, however, be no doubt that his landed income rose considerably after 1401, since the manor of Durants with its corn and fulling mills was said to be worth £23 a year, while his Somerset estates may well have produced over twice this sum. (In May 1410, some two years after William’s death, this part of his inheritance was leased by the Crown to William Troubeck at a farm of £40 a year, in addition to the 80 marks due for the wardship and marriage of the young heir.)2
Wroth was chosen to represent Middlesex in Parliament during his term as sheriff of Somerset and Dorset. Within a few weeks of his election the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer were instructed to drop any legal process being brought against him for the homage due for his late mother’s estates, since this had already been respited upon payment of a fine. Nine months later, in October 1404, Sir William Palton†, who subsequently married Wroth’s great-niece, Elizabeth, made him a feoffee of his estates in the south-west, although it would seem that he was generally reluctant to act in such a capacity for others. The fine of £10 imposed upon him for failing to return a writ while sheriff of Somerset was pardoned in January 1405 and again—on the discovery of further evidence—in the following November, when Wroth is described for the first and last time as a King’s esquire.3
After this brief sortie into public life, Wroth again returned to virtual obscurity. He died on 9 Sept. 1408, having evidently survived his wife, whose name remains unknown. His executor, the London vintner, Alexander Sprot, remained as tenant of his property in the City, but the rest of his estates were farmed out by the Crown until the young William Wroth came of age. The latter played a significant part in local government and, like his father before him, was returned as a shire knight for Middlesex.4
Guildhall Lib. 9171/1, f. 27d; CPR, 1377-81, p. 57; CFR, xii. 147; CIPM, ix. 311; x. 111-13; J. Collinson,