WYCH, John, of Hereford.
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Family and Education
s. of John Wych of Hereford. m. 2s.1
Prob. bailiff of the abbot of Reading’s liberty, Leominster by Oct. 1378.2
Commr of arrest, Hereford July 1387; inquiry, Glos., Herefs., Worcs., Salop Mar. 1393.
It was very likely this John Wych who was responsible for holding the parliamentary elections at Leominster in October 1378 as the bailiff of the abbot of Reading’s liberty there, and who in 1380 was living in the Herefordshire hundred of Stretford, between Leominster and Hereford, for it was as ‘of Leominster’ that he took out a royal pardon on 20 May 1382, but as ‘of Hereford’ that he procured another ten days later. His activities suggest that he was a lawyer. That he stood bail in Hereford in 1382 for a defendant indicted before the j.p.s is not in itself of particular significance, but his appearance in the following year as proctor for Joan Fauconer of Leominster in a matrimonial suit points to his having had legal training. In May 1387 he not only provided securities in Chancery for the future good behaviour of the vicar of Clifton, but also found mainprise in the Exchequer for the newly appointed royal alnager for Herefordshire. Only two months later, Wych was one of the royal commissioners instructed to arrest anyone challenging the King’s title to present to the prebend of Morton Parva in the cathedral of Hereford, which Richard II had recently recovered against Bishop Trefnant in the court of common pleas. In July 1388 he was acting for a chaplain in litigation against a Westminster jury which had brought in a hostile verdict in a trial for trespass, and during the Michaelmas term of 1389 he did likewise for the procurator-general of the abbey of Lire in Normandy when he was sued for debt in his capacity as prior of Livers Ocle, a small cell near Hereford. In June 1390 Wych again stood surety, this time for the prior of Llanthony by Gloucester, who was then granted an Exchequer lease. That, shortly after sitting in the Commons for the last of five occasions, Wych was the recipient of a life annuity of £5, payable at the Exchequer, suggests that he had already done some useful service to the Crown. At the same time he was commissioned to make inquiries in the four counties bordering Wales into breaches of the statute made in the Parliament of January 1390, which he had also attended, with regard to shoemakers trading as tanners; he and his fellows being granted one-third of any fines collected, as recompense for their efforts. This possibly profitable occupation ceased the following year (1394), however, when the Exchequer was instructed to discharge the commissioners, who had not completed their task as required.3
In 1393 Wych had been a co-founder of a chantry dedicated to the Virgin Mary in St. Owen’s church, Hereford, providing five cottages and a garden for its upkeep. The necessary inquiry ad quod damnum revealed that he remained possessed of property in the city worth 40s. annually, this probably including his shops and other buildings in ‘Oldcolestrete’. In April 1395, however, his feoffees, who included Thomas Chippenham I*, apparently sold some of his holdings. It seems likely that he was already a retainer of Richard, Lord Talbot, for in November 1396 he took out a royal pardon for having acquired without licence views of frankpledge in Arlesey and Padworth, Bedfordshire, and in Linford, Lillingstone Dayrell and Pitstone, Buckinghamshire, by Talbot’s grant and for term of his, Wych’s, life. Even so, he did not surrender his royal annuity until 1401. Having made bequests towards the building of the bishop’s cloister in Hereford cathedral, Wych died at an unknown