CARMINOWE, Sir Ralph (bef.1339-1386), of Carminowe and Boconnoc, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1383
Nov. 1384

Family and Education

b. bef. 1339, s. and h. of Sir Walter Carminowe of Carminowe by Alice, da. and coh. of Sir Stephen Tintern. m. (1) by 1371, Katherine, da. and coh. of Sir William Champernowne† of Tywardreath, Cornw. and Ilfracombe, Devon, wid. of Sir Walter Wodeland of Cockington, Devon, s.p.; (2) by 1383, Alice (d. 27 Mar. 1426), wid. of John Fitzroger and of Sir Edmund Clevedon† of Clevedon, Som., 1da. d.v.p.1 Kntd. by 1371.

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. 26 June-Nov. 1373, 4 July 1376-Aug. 1378, 26 May 1380-Feb. 1381, 8 Feb. 1385-d.

Commr. of array, Cornw. Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Feb. 1385; inquiry, Cornw., Som., Devon, Glos., Bristol Jan 1379 (theft), Cornw. Sept. 1380 (crimes of John Trevarthian* and others), Jan. 1386 (concealments); oyer and terminer Oct. 1379, Feb. 1380, Feb. 1381; to put down rebellions June, Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of arrest July 1383, July 1384.

Sheriff, Cornw. 25 Nov. 1378-5 Nov. 1379.

Surveyor of a tax, Cornw. Aug. 1379, Devon, Cornw. Mar. 1381.

Tax collector, Cornw. Dec. 1384.


The family of Carminowe had settled in Cornwall at least by the 12th century, attaining prominence in the second decade of the 14th in the person of Oliver†, Ralph’s great-uncle. Ralph’s father died before he reached full age; in 1349 the ‘heir of Carmynau’ was holding property in Cornwall of Hugh, Lord Despenser, following the latter’s death; and in 1351 the keeper of the Black Prince’s fees in Cornwall and Devon was ordered to certify the value of such of his lands as were in the prince’s hands by virtue of his nonage. Ralph came of age before February 1360 when he granted away the manor of Lower Caldecote (Bedfordshire), probably because it was too far from the centre of his estates in Cornwall. These were substantial: at the time of his death 26 years later he held ten manors and the advowsons of Ladock, Boconnoc and Menheniot in Cornwall, as well as receiving annual rents of £11 from other properties there, and besides these he owned three-quarters of the manor of Ashwater and lands in Chittlehamholt in Devon, and the manor of Colway in Dorset. To his patrimony he had added estates obtained through marriage. His first wife shared, though not without challenge, the Champernowne inheritance. In the 1370s Carminowe, along with his brother, petitioned the Black Prince and the King against John Cergeaux, husband of his wife’s sister, who had sent men to Boconnoc, viciously assaulted him and his wife, stolen £200 worth of goods, and left him for dead. In a second attempt to gain the property, Cergeaux, under colour of his office as sheriff of Cornwall, attached Carminowe and took more of his possessions, this time to the alleged value of £1,000. Carminowe’s second marriage involved him in further disputes. In his wife’s right he claimed half of the manor of West Kington (Wiltshire), and the two of them, along with Walter ’Raufsservant Carminowe’, succeeded in ousting her daughter, the Fitzroger heiress, Elizabeth, wife of John Bonville, only to be evicted themselves later. Indeed, Carminowe seems to have gone to some trouble to substantiate his claims to the Fitzroger properties, securing exemplification of five relevant deeds in 1383. At his death he was in possession of a third part of the manor of Clevedon, Somerset, his wife’s dower from another marriage. Carminowe was certainly a considerable landowner in Cornwall; indeed he was one of the 18 ordered in 1383 to reside near the sea (probably at Boconnoc at the head of the Fowey estuary) to provide prompt defence in case of invasion.2

Carminowe’s whole career, as well in the domestic as in the business sphere, hardly ran smooth. On a visitation of his diocese in 1371, Bishop Brantingham of Exeter found that he and his first wife Katherine were living as man and wife illegally, their marriage being invalid as they were related in the third and fourth degrees of consanguinity. Summoned before the bishop in July 1372, however, Carminowe presented letters obtained from the nuncio, Cardinal Langham, granting papal dispensation for the marriage. In July 1381 a royal commission found that William, Lord Botreaux, hearing of the Great Revolt in London, had gathered 80 men and broken into Carminowe’s park at Boconnoc, hunted his deer, killing 20 of them, and generally damaged his property. Botreaux’s wife appealed against the charge, saying that her husband was then on service in Portugal, and that he had been falsely accused.3

Carminowe was supposed to be at Westminster in time for the opening of the Parliament on 1 Oct. 1386, but he evidently delayed his departure to go hunting: on the 9th he was ‘by a brase of Greyhounds pulled over a cliff and died’. Bishop Brantingham heard of his death three days later, ‘non absque gravi cordis dolore’, although his apparent grief did not prevent him from sequestrating the victim’s property, allowing payment only for funeral expenses. The rector of Menheniot (in whose church Carminowe was buried), refused to accept the sequestration and was cited to appear before the bishop for his disobedience. It is only here, in the citation, that the closeness and ambiguity of Carminowe’s connexion with Brantingham is revealed: not only had he been the bishop’s tenant, he had also worn his livery. Carminowe’s will, undated, was proved at Lambeth on 30 Jan. 1387. His bequests amounted to some £109 in money and an annuity of two marks for one Walter Sely. Sir John Kentwood*, steward of the duchy of Cornwall, was one of the executors. Carminowe’s only child, Alice, whom he mentioned in his will, had predeceased him and, accordingly, his heir was his brother, William. His widow married Sir John Rodney* and then Sir William Bonville I* (her daughter’s father-in-law), and, having outlived five husbands, died in 1426.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


  • 1. CPL, iv. 166; CCR, 1385-9, p. 179; J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, iii. 152-4, 160; Trans. Devon Assoc. lxxiii. 139.
  • 2. Maclean, iii. 147, 154, 158-61; Reg. Black Prince, ii. 18; CIPM, ix. 336; xiv. 217; xvi. 360-3; Reg. Grandisson ed. Hingeston-Randolph, iii. 1485; CCR, 1360-4, p. 95; 1364-8, p. 386; 1377-81, p. 110; 1381-5, p. 270; 1385-9, pp. 179, 186; CFR, x. 164; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 330-1; SC8/38/1867, 333/1068, 1083.
  • 3. Reg. Brantingham, 270-1; CIMisc. iv. 176; Maclean, iii. 154, 161.
  • 4. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 34; Reg. Brantingham, 210, 627-8, 634; Maclean, 154; CIPM, xvi. 360-3; Mon. Brasses Cornw. ed. Dunkin, pl. 60; C139/23/28; RP, iii. 520; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Courtenay, f. 221.