WYOT, Richard (d.1431), of Wyrardisbury, Bucks. and Westminster and Stanwell, Mdx.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by Dec. 1401, Alice (d.1444), s.p.1
Commr. of array, Bucks. Oct. 1403, May 1418; to raise royal loans, Berks. Sept. 1405, Bucks. Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420, Apr. 1411, Mar. 1430, Bcks. Bucks. Mar. 1431; of inquiry, Southampton Oct. 1410 (construction of a wharf), Beds., Bucks. Jan. 1414 (lollards), Hants July 1416 (counterfeiting of coinage), general Aug. 1417 (estates of Walter, Lord Fitzwalter); oyer and terminer, Bucks., Mdx. Feb. 1415; to assess a grant, Bucks. Apr. 1431.
J.p. Bucks. 14 Feb. 1405-12, 16 Jan. 1414-d.
Steward of the estates of Henry Beaufort, bp. of Winchester Mar. 1405-d.2
Sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 29 Nov. 1410-10 Dec. 1411, 30 Nov. 1416-10 Nov. 1417, 6 Nov. 1424-15 Jan. 1426.
Steward of the cts. of St. George’s chapel, Windsor castle by 1415.3
Very little direct evidence has survived about Wyot’s early life, although he was probably related to John Wyot (fl. 1358) of Stanwell in Middlesex, part of whose property passed into his hands, and was quite likely the son of Thomas Wyot (fl. 1371) who held land nearby at Langley Marish and Horton, just across the county boundary with Buckinghamshire. His desire to be buried next to his father (unnamed) in Langley Marish church bears out this supposition, as do his other strong local connexions, particularly his acquisition of an episcopal licence to have mass celebrated privately at his house at Wyrardisbury.4 Wyot’s frequent appearances as a royal commissioner, his long, almost unbroken, service on the Buckinghamshire bench and his involvement in the legal affairs of many influential persons suggest that he trained as a lawyer.
By August 1396, Wyot had acquired a house next to the royal palace at Westminster. In the autumn of 1399 this property was demolished and much of the adjoining land was lost because of repairs to the King’s gateway, although after a somewhat belated inquiry his claim for damages and rents totalling over £105 was upheld.5 His other Middlesex estates comprised messuages and land in Ridsworth, Stanwell and Staines, which, together with his Buckinghamshire properties at Wyrardisbury and Horton he settled upon trustees, early in 1412. He was then also in possession of property worth £4 a year in the city of London; and from 1409 he had owned the manor of Heckfield and rents in Newnham, Hampshire, which he appears to have purchased from the estate of his earliest patron, Sir Philip de la Vache* (d.1408). Wyot’s London, Middlesex and Hampshire properties were alone estimated as worth over £40 a year in 1412. No contemporary valuation of his holdings in Buckinghamshire (which also included land in Iver leased from St. George’s chapel, Windsor castle) has survived, but he may well have already enjoyed an annual landed income in excess of £60, and later additions (for example part of a manor in Horton) must have increased it still further.6
Presumably because he was a lawyer, Wyot played a prominent part in the transactions of other leading landowners in southern England. In its early stages, his career can only have benefited from his connexion with Sir Philip de la Vache, who was so prominent a royal courtier in Richard II’s reign. In April 1399, de la Vache named him among the trustees who were to have possession of his manor of Bury in Chalfont St. Giles, should his line fail, and the reversion of Hook Norton (Oxfordshire) after the death of his wife. Eight months afterwards he stood surety for Sir Philip at the Exchequer, on his being given custody of the royal manor at Langley Marish, and in later years he came to hold, as a feoffee-to-uses, still more of the de la Vache estates (including those in Hampshire he was afterwards to acquire for himself). His diligence as an executor of de la Vache’s will led to his appointment by Archbishop Chichele in 1414 as administrator of the goods of Sir Philip’s widow, Elizabeth, who had died intestate.7
Whereas Wyot acquired de la Vache’s Hampshire properties, those in Oxfordshire were snapped up by Thomas Chaucer* of Ewelme. Chaucer acted as a trustee of Wyot’s own holdings (from 1412 onwards) and judging by the frequency with which they acted together as co-feoffees, the two men were evidently in close touch. It is, however, unlikely that their friendship predated Wyot’s appointment as steward of the estates of Chaucer’s cousin, Henry Beaufort, immediately following the latter’s consecration as bishop of Winchester in 1405. There can be little doubt that, like Chaucer, Wyot was one of Beaufort’s leading supporters in the House of Commons. The two men sat together in at least three Parliaments. Wyot first represented Buckinghamshire in 1407 when Chaucer held office as Speaker, and, in 1413, he was with him at Henry V’s first Parliament, in which the Beaufort interest was particularly strong. That Wyot’s name figured at the head of the list of electors who met to return the Hampshire representatives to this Parliament, suggests active partisanship, and he and his colleagues (none of whom belonged to the local gentry and would thus seem to have been ‘brought in’ for the occasion), chose two shire knights known for their attachment to Bishop Beaufort. The county election of November 1414, conducted by Thomas Chaucer as sheriff, was also attended by Wyot, whose name again appears first in the indenture of return. Wyot continued to be associated with both Beaufort (as his steward) and Chaucer until his death. He was among the trustees, headed by the bishop’s brother, Thomas Beaufort, earl of Dorset, whom Chaucer enfeoffed early in 1416 of the estates in Berkshire and Oxfordshire which he had purchased from Sir Richard Adderbury II*; and in the following year this same body was put into possession of land at Ewelme, Chaucer’s seat. Later on, the Speaker also used Wyot as a trustee of manors he had bought elsewhere. The two men were associated in property dealings in London, and in 1427 they granted Chaucer’s manor of Gresham in Norfolk to the duke of Bedford. Cardinal Beaufort relied heavily on Wyot’s assistance in the management of his episcopal estates, and in May 1429 named him as one of a distinguished group of men (headed by the earls of Northumberland and Salisbury) to whom he assigned annual revenues of 1,000 marks, the purpose of the transaction perhaps having something to do with Beaufort’s complicated financial dealings with the Crown.8
Over the years, Wyot built up an impressive circle of patrons and acquaintances. The prior and convent of St. Swithin’s priory, Winchester, granted him in 1409 an annuity of £2 in gratitude for the excellent counsel he had given them in the past, and in the expectation of his continued friendship. Little is known of his relationship with Thomas, Lord West (d.1416), although the latter evidently held him in high regard, not only choosing him as an executor, but also leaving him a personal legacy of as much as £40. William Wyot (probably Richard’s brother) was acting as steward of the extensive estates of Sir William Moleyns*, and not only did Richard witness grants made by Moleyns to his kinsman in 1406 and 1415, but also served, in 1417, as a trustee of a manor in Buckinghamshire which formed the basis of a settlement when Sir William’s son was married. Wyot was also on intimate terms with the young lawyer, Nicholas Clopton†, who was clerk to the manorial courts of St. George’s chapel during his own tenure of the office of steward of the same. As a local landowner with legal experience, Wyot was an ideal candidate for such a post, and clearly discharged his duties with great efficiency. In 1416, for example, he and his assistants compiled a formidable list of arrears of rents outstanding over the previous 20 years in an attempt to improve administrative efficiency. Finally, in 1430