CALCHE, Robert (c.1354-1422), of Wareham, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b.c.1354, prob. s. of Henry Calche (d.1396). m. by 1403, Avice.
Dep. butler all ports Som. and Dorset 10 Nov. 1385-c.1391, Weymouth 7 Oct. 1395-9, Weymouth and Lyme Regis 6 Jan. 1401-2, Weymouth 11 Nov. 1402-4, Melcombe Regis 21 Oct. 1420-d.
Collector of customs and subsidies, Melcombe Regis and adjacent ports 8 July 1412-May 1413.
In 1384, when Calche gave evidence at Wareham regarding a dispute between the rector of Church Knowle and the abbot of Tewkesbury (Gloucestershire), he was said to be aged 30 and living in St. Mary’s parish. A year later he took up office as deputy to the chief butler of England, John Slegh, in all the ports of Dorset and Somerset and on 8 Oct. 1388, during the last week of the Cambridge Parliament to which he had been returned for Wareham, he secured royal confirmation of his post. That Calche was a competent official is clear from his re-appointments by successive chief butlers: by Thomas Brounflete for the last four years of Richard II’s reign; by John Payn II* and then Thomas Chaucer* under Henry IV; and, lastly, by Nicholas Merbury* in 1420. In all, he spent 16 years in royal service. It may well have been his influential position in the ports that led to his return to three Parliaments by one of the busiest of them, Melcombe Regis; and he was deputy butler at Weymouth, just across the estuary of the Wey, at the time of his election to the first Parliament of 1397. In May 1396, perhaps as a reward for his service, royal letters close were sent to the Cistercian abbey of Bindon (Lulworth) asking the abbot to grant him a corrody for life. Whether Calche took part in trading ventures before his appointment as deputy butler is not known, but he certainly did so later, for in December 1404 there was unloaded at Melcombe a mixed cargo of wood, wine, madder, garlic and tar that had been shipped in his name.1
When Henry Calche, probably Robert’s father, had made his will in January 1396, he had left to his widow, Margery, an annual rent from a house in Dorchester which, soon after Henry’s death, she transferred to Robert, at the same time confirming his right to the property when she too should die. From 1396 to 1399 Calche was a feoffee of buildings in the High Street of the same town and he later held a house in East Street. His occupation of the latter, however, may well have been illegal, for at the assizes held at Dorchester in February 1402 he, along with Henry Ford* of Melcombe, was found guilty of disseising Thomas Russell I* of two messuages and a tort there. By marriage Calche acquired an interest in lands in eastern Dorset (in Worgret and Westport, near Wareham, and in ‘Wodekesworth’ and ‘Up Wimbourne Abbatis’), which, through settlements in 1403 and 1404, were divided between himself and his wife, Avice, and Peter Hering and his wife, Maud (probably Avice’s sister), it being agreed that when either couple died their share should remain to the other. Calche also owned a house in Melcombe. His chief place of residence, however, continued to be in Wareham.2 He was among the delegates sent by that borough to report in the shire court at Dorchester the results of its elections to the Parliaments of 1407, 1413 (May), 1414 (Apr.), 1419, 1420 and 1421 (May), and when last recorded, on 10 Nov. 1421, it was as performing the same service. He died, presumably in his late sixties, shortly before 18 Dec. 1422.3