STRODE, Richard I.
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Family and Education
Subsidy collector, Devon 1512; commr. subsidy 1512, 1514, 1515, ?1523, ?1524; ?j.p. 1512-15 or later; ?escheator, Devon and Cornw. 1520-1.2
Richard Strode’s Membership of the Parliament of 1512 is known from, and commemorated by, the Act which that Parliament passed in his favour (4 Hen. VIII, c.8). The genesis of the Act, as recited in its ‘preamble’, was Strode’s co-operation with other, unnamed, Members in putting forward bills against the damage being done by tinworks to ports and estuaries in Devon, as well as other bills ‘for the common weal’ of that county. This initiative he and his associates must have taken in the first session of the Parliament, held in February and March, since it was during the ensuing prorogation that he was punished by his fellow-tinners for breach of a stannary ordinance of September 1510 by fines amounting to £160 at the four stannary courts of Devon. This was followed by his imprisonment in Lydford castle, a punitive measure which Strode himself blamed on one John a Gwyllam, to whom £20 of the fine had been assigned by the duchy of Cornwall, but which the duchy records explain as a necessary consequence of his not possessing lands or goods in Devon of sufficient value to meet the fine. Of the nature of the imprisonment there is only Strode’s version, which describes his incarceration in a loathsome dungeon, at first in irons before he paid his gaoler to take them off, and on a diet of bread and water.3
Strode was still a prisoner, or had only just been released, when Parliament reassembled on 4 Nov. 1512, so that on the strength of his own statement that he was detained for more than three weeks his imprisonment must have begun early in October. It produced two lines of action, each of which was to leave its mark on the statute book. The first was taken by Thomas Denys, the deputy warden of the stannaries, on whose responsibility Strode had been taken into custody; Denys now referred the matter to the King’s Council, the supreme authority in stannary jurisdiction, which responded by ordering an inquiry to determine whether Strode was guilty and if so to award a fieri facias against him for the amount of the fine. Although this process was in due course to be recorded as a schedule to Strode’s Act, it was evidently overtaken by the proceedings set in motion by Strode himself. Unable to seek redress in Parliament while it stood prorogued, he took advantage of his status as a subsidy collector to sue out a writ of privilege from the Exchequer (which was in session from 30 Sept.), and it was that court which effected his release, although only after Denys had extracted from him a bond for £100 designed to limit his freedom of action. However, before his release—or at least before news of it reached Westminster—the reassembly of Parliament swung that body into action. On 4 Nov., the opening day of the session, two writs were issued to Sir Henry Marney, the lord warden of the stannaries, and to his deputy or deputies, ‘by petition in Parliament’: the first, a writ of habeas corpus, ordered Marney to deliver Strode ‘safe and sound’ to Parliament in the octave of St. Martin, that is, by 18 Nov., under a penalty of £1,000, while the second, a writ of supersedeas, removed the case to the jurisdiction of Parliament, thus eliminating all other jurisdictions, whether the stannary courts, the Exchequer or even the Council. Since Marney was in all probability a Member of this Parliament the two writs should have been easy to deliver, but the first was to prove unnecessary: it is not known when Strode reappeared in the House but he had certainly done so before the habeas corpus expired.4
Strode now elaborated the petition which had moved Parliament to intervene into a ‘bill containing within itself the form of an act’; it is this bill, accompanied by the schedule recording the Council’s proposed action, which constitutes the Act bearing his name. The Act thus consists, in effect, of a preamble, three clauses and the schedule. The preamble recounts Strode’s ordeal and the first clause seeks the annulment of the judgment against him as well as of the bond for his release. The second and third clauses apply both to Strode and to those who had acted with him: if any of them is to be proceeded against for their speeches or actions in this or any future Parliament such proceedings are to be null and void, while they themselves are given the right to sue anyone who vexes or troubles them on this account. The apparent contradiction between these safeguards and the promise of the schedule that Strode’s conviction is to be inquired into, and if upheld put into execution, is explained by the place of the Council’s action in the story. That the Act did annul the conviction is shown by the terse marginal against it in the duchy records: Exoneratur per actum parliamenti pro eodem Ricardo in causa edicta.5
In framing the bill which the Act reproduced, neither Strodenor—if he had their assistance—his friends had any other known purpose than his own exoneration and the protection of them all. (Thus the Act, and hence doubtless the bill, did not seek to punish Strode’s judges or captors, or any future imitators, this being left to the person wronged to procure by civil suit.) If, therefore, the Act gave its authors what they wanted, there is nothing to show what use they made of it. In accordance with the King’s request to that effect, Strode was presumably re-elected to the succeeding Parliament, with some at least of his associates, but there is no indication that the matter of the tinworks was raised there again, although the Act concerning cloth-making in Devon passed in 1515 (6 Hen. VIII, c.8) would have fallen within the definition of measures ‘for the common weal’ of the county.
Of Strode himself nothing has been established beyond what is revealed by the documents in his case, that he was a tinner who lived in Devon where if the official reason for his imprisonment is to be accepted he possessed little property, although of sufficient standing to be a subsidy collector. Styling himself ‘gentleman’, he must have belonged to the well known family of Ermington and Newnham in Plympton St. Mary, but he cannot be confidently identified with either the younger son of the Richard Strode who had sat for Plympton in 1437 and 1447 or with a grandson of the same name, for the elder of these (who was dead by 1518) is likely to have been a man of some property and the younger was to inherit the estate at Newnham. As a member of a younger branch of the family he could have been one of the two Richard Strodes named in the Devon subsidy commissions of 1523 and 1524, the other being Richard Strode of Newnham, and as such he had perhaps been again re-elected to the Parliament of 1523, for which the names are lost. The younger namesake who was to sit for Plympton in March 1553 and 1559 was the grandson of Richard Strode of Newnham.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Statutes, iii. 53-54.
- 2. Ibid., iii. 53, 80, 117, 174; LP Hen. VIII, i-iv.
- 3. Statutes, iii. 53; Duchy Cornw. RO, 215, ff. 19, 26v.
- 4. Harl. 6849, ff. 48-49, inadequately calendared in LP Hen. VIII, i. 1474; G. R. Lewis, Stannaries, 87, 159.
- 5. Duchy Cornw. RO, 215, f. 26v.
- 6. Vis. Eng. and Wales, Notes, xii. 121; St.Ch.2/8/276-8, 15/77-80, 30/156; Req. 2/3/313, 10/5; C1/443/19, 570/1-16, 1063/78-79, 1136/32-34, 1158/36-38; 142/33/6, 95/20; E179/98, 271, 100/328; LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv, xviii, xx; CPR, 1549-51, p. 107.