SACHEVERELL, Sir Richard (by 1469-1534), of Newarke College, Leicester, Leics. and Ratcliffe-upon-Soar, Notts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Family and Education

b. by 1469, 2nd s. of Ralph Sacheverell (d. 28 Aug. 1488) of Morley, Derbys. by Joan, da. of John Curzon of Kedleston, Derbys. m. 1 May 1509, Mary, suo jure Baroness Botreaux, Hungerford and Molyns, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Hungerford, wid. of Edward Hastings, 2nd Lord Hastings (d. Nov. 1506), s.p. Kntd. 25 Sept. 1513.3

Offices Held

Receiver-gen. to Edward, Lord Hastings by 1498; j.p. Leics. 1509-d., Bucks. 1514, Oxon. 1515; commr. subsidy, Leics. 1512, 1514, 1515, 1523, 1524, Leicester 1523; other commissions 1507-31; jt. surveyor, King’s woods 1521-30; steward, master forester, feodary, duchy of Lancaster, honor of Leicester 29 June 1529-d.; jt. c.j. in eyre, royal forests, south of Trent 1530-d.4

Biography

Richard Sacheverell was born in Derbyshire and migrated to Leicestershire at about the time of his father’s death. He is thought to have had some legal training: in 1502 he shared with several midland lawyers a grant of the wardship of Walter, son of Thomas Kebell, serjeant-at-law, and a little later he acted as trustee for a small Leicestershire landowner at Barrow, where the Hastings family held a manor.5

From 1498, and probably earlier, Sacheverell had been receiver-general to Lord Hastings, who died in November 1506: less than three years later Sacheverell married his widow. As stepfather to George, 3rd Lord Hastings and later 1st Earl of Huntingdon, he thus became the senior representative of the most powerful family in Leicestershire. His wife, a considerable heiress in her own right, held the baronies of Hungerford and Molyns through her father and that of Botreaux through her great-grandmother: a woman of aristocratic bearing, she aroused unfavourable comment by using her own title in preference to her late husband’s, and she was generally to be found at Sacheverell’s side, sharing alike in his sports and his quarrels.6

The quarrels were chiefly with the Greys, marquesses of Dorset, who had risen, as had the Hastings, in the service of the House of York. Both factions retained more men in arms than the law permitted and in 1516 Wolsey himself intervened by summoning the principals to appear in the Star Chamber to give bonds for good behaviour. Early in 1519 he ordered the parties to discharge their forces and to avoid the county courts and quarter sessions which were occasions for lawlessness: although this did not prevent an action for murder against Sacheverell’s servants, for two years neither party attended the courts, to the great amelioration of justice. The lull was ended, according to the Greys, when Sacheverell resumed his attendance, or sent his servants in his absence, and in 1524 a riot at Leicester, a town traditionally loyal to Hastings, forcibly ejected several of the 2nd Marquess of Dorset’s men. There followed a series of clashes over forest and hunting rights, and accusations of embracery, so that in 1526 the whole business reappeared in the Star Chamber. Trouble had also arisen between the Sacheverells and Lord George Grey, dean of Newarke College, which Sacheverell and his wife had made their home from well before 1525. Grey accused Sacheverell of profiting from the sale to the college of the manor of Ashley in Wiltshire and of obtaining leases without fine in the dean’s absence. The matter was taken to the Council but its settlement was remitted to Bishop Longland of Lincoln: the judgement is lost but Sacheverell and his wife appear to have gone on living there until their deaths.7

One of the witnesses at Longland’s inquiry said that Sacheverell and his friends in the last Parliament had been responsible for the college’s exemption from the provisions of the Subsidy Act of 1523 (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, c.16) and another added that Roger Wigston disclaimed credit for it with the words, ‘Give thanks to Master Sacheverell, for albeit I and Master [Ralph] Swillington did as much as we might therein, it had not been gotten but by Master Sacheverell’. Swillington and Wigston had sat for Leicester; Sacheverell’s own constituency is unknown but he was almost certainly a knight of the shire for Leicestershire. During the Parliament he also obtained the passage of an Act (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, c.26) to ensure his possession of Ratcliffe-upon-Soar, which he had purchased from the 3rd Duke of Buckingham in 1520 but which had come into the hands of the crown following an inquest of office after the duke’s attainder. Sacheverell seems to have been on good terms with Buckingham as it was through him that the duke had transmitted a proposal for a double marriage alliance with the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury in 1516.8

Sacheverell may have sat in earlier Parliaments, especially those of 1512 and 1515 when he was a subsidy commissioner. His return in 1529 with Sir William Skeffington, an adherent of the Greys, may have resulted from an agreement to share the representation, but it may also have been approved by the King. In the summer of 1529 Sacheverell had given evidence in favour of the divorce before the legatine court and during the Parliament he was one of five Members who signed the petition to Pope Clement in its support.9

Sacheverell’s career had also taken him into the field. He was treasurer of the war in 1513, when he went to France with the Earl of Shrewsbury, and in 1521, and he commanded a considerable body of horse in the north in 1522. Both he and his wife were prominent at court, and he was present at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 and at the Emperor’s reception in England in 1522. By that time he had also been appointed with Sir William Fitzwilliam of Milton, Northamptonshire, to the new office of surveyor of woods. His most important local appointment, to the stewardship of the honor of Leicester, came to him shortly before his election to Parliament in 1529 and must have strengthened his claim to represent the shire.10

Sacheverell took advantage of his ascendancy to obtain various profitable leases and tenancies from both monastic and lay landlords, to some of which his title was disputed. By his will dated 29 Mar. 1534 (the last day but one of the sixth session of Parliament) he left his lands to his kinsfolk, and in particular his sisters’ children, for whom he seems to have been solicitous, arranging a marriage for one of them with the wealthy Christopher Nele of Barrow and bestowing the two others on his own leading supporters John Turvile and George Vincent. To these nieces and to a nephew he left equal shares in his property in tail male, with reversion first to the heirs of two of the nieces, Elizabeth Nele and Jane Vincent, and then to Mary Turvile’s brothers, George and William Fyndern, and to another nephew, Ralph Sacheverell. Sacheverell died on 14 Apr. 1534, and was buried beside his wife, who had predeceased him by little more than a year, in Newarke College. It is not known by whom the vacancy left in the Commons was filled unless it was by William Ashby.