CHALONS, Sir Robert (d.1445), of Challonsleigh in Plympton, Devon.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Robert Chalons of Challonsleigh by Joan, da. of John Beauchamp. m. 1393, Blanche (c.1380-3 Sept. 1437, da. and coh. of Sir Hugh Waterton of Eaton Tregoes, Herefs., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. Kntd. 11 Oct. 1399.1
J.p. Devon 16 Feb. 1400-7.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Devon Aug. 1401, Sept. 1412, July 1422; inquiry Mar. 1410 (estates of William Beaumont), Feb. 1429 (murder); array, Mdx. May 1418, Devon Apr. 1426, May 1427; to raise royal loans, Mdx. Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420.
Sheriff, Devon 4 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410, 16 Nov. 1420-1 May 1422.
Robert belonged to an old Devon family and, as ‘le fitz Chalons’, first appears along with his father as an esquire of Edward, earl of Devon, in 1384-5. In March 1387 he was in the earl’s retinue serving at sea under Richard, earl of Arundel, the admiral. However, later in the same year he entered the service of Henry of Bolingbroke, earl of Derby, from whom he received a fee of £4 as one of his henchmen. Three years later he was actively engaged in the preparations for Derby’s expedition to Prussia, he himself being one of the chosen company. On his return he married the elder daughter of one of Bolingbroke’s more important retainers. Henry granted the couple an annuity of 20 marks assigned to the duchy of Lancaster manor of Brecon, and on his accession to the throne he selected Chalons with other of his staunchest supporters to receive the honour of knighthood on the eve of his coronation.2
Chalons continued in Henry’s immediate employment. In the autumn of 1401 he was active overseas as his emissary, and by September 1402 had been made a knight of the King’s chamber. In June 1406 he was owed £21 6s.8d. ‘by reason of the wages of the Household’. Two grants of land he received during this period were made without his being charged fees for the great seal. In April 1415 he contracted to go to France with Henry V and, as providing a contingent of three men-at-arms and nine archers, was granted provisional licence to dispose of a gold cup and two bowls and a basin of silver gilt delivered to him as security for payment of £45 6s.10d., the wages of his small force for the second quarter of the year. After the successful siege of Harfleur he stayed on as a member of the castle garrison, under the command of Thomas, earl of Dorset. Chalons was again with the royal entourage in Normandy early in 1421.3
By his marriage Chalons was united with the influential family of Waterton: Blanche was the daughter of Henry IV’s chamberlain and her mother was ‘governess’ to Henry’s daughter Philippa. Other members of her family also held office in the royal household, and it seems likely that Blanche herself occupied a position there, for not only was she given the wardship and marriage of a duchy of Lancaster tenant (in 1407) but she was also, in 1410, allowed an annuity of £20 payable from the cloth subsidies collected in Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Essex. This second grant was renewed in 1413, and two years later the farmers of the subsidy were instructed to pay her annuity ‘notwithstanding the preference ... given to the King in Parliament’. Indeed, Blanche continued to benefit from it for the rest of her life.4
Chalons’s devotion to the house of Lancaster also brought him rewards in the form of grants of land. He had inherited from his father small properties in Devon including Challonsleigh in Plympton and the manors of Buckerell and Awliscombe, but these were worth in all, according to estimates made at his death, little more than £5 a year. However, on 18 Oct. 1399, specifically ‘for the increase of his estate’, the new King granted him the forfeited estates of Sir John Cary†, the chief baron of the Exchequer who had suffered banishment to Ireland in 1388. These included the castle and manor of Great Torrington, four and a half manors and over 1,000 acres of land in Devon, and other property in Somerset and Cornwall, their total estimated value being about £230. Early in 1400 raiders, no doubt incited by Cary’s heir, Robert*, broke into the property at Torrington and Cockington and carried off five horses worth 40 marks, cut down trees and took away goods worth £200 as well as £60 in money. The estate in question gradually dwindled away as Robert Cary and others claimed rights over various parts of it by virtue of earlier royal grants, so that by his death Chalons held none of the properties originally assigned to him by Henry IV. However, tenements in Charing (Middlesex) forfeited for treason by (Sir) Thomas Shelley*, which, along with the Cary estates, had been included in the grant of 1399, were still in his hands in 1405. He and others were then granted pavage to repair the road from St. Mary, Strand, to Charing Cross and from St. Giles’s hospital to Temple Bar; and it would seem, from the public service he was called upon to perform in Middlesex as late as 1420, that he retained the Shelley property, at least for several years.5 As well as the favour of Henry IV, Chalons enjoyed that of the King’s nephew, John Holand, earl of Huntingdon, who in February 1420 granted him and his wife and their male heirs the manor of Flete Damarle and a fourth part of that of Holbeton in Devon, which were to remain in the Chalons family accordingly until the death of Sir Robert’s grandson in 1447. Meanwhile, when his father-in-law had died, in 1410, Chalons and his wife had received 400 marks as their share of his goods and chattels, along with part of the manor of Eaton Tregoes (Herefordshire). In 1412-13 he had been involved in transactions regarding estates in Cornwall and Devon as part of the settlements made following the marriage of his daughter, Katherine, to John St. Aubyn*. Chalons also had a pension from Upavon (Wiltshire), worth £60, and property at Fonthill Gifford in the same county. In 1412 his estates in Devon were said to be worth £44 p.a. Not surprisingly, this well-to-do knight was able to make a loan to the Crown of as much as 100 marks when called on to do so later in his career.6
Four days after his election at Exeter on 12 Nov. 1420 as a knight of the shire for Devon, Chalons was appointed (for the second time) as sheriff of the county, and was, therefore, holding the office while Parliament was in session. By virtue of his appointment he held the county elections to both Parliaments of 1421. After Henry V’s death he apparently retired from royal service to live in Devon, where he served on commissions of array and, in 1434, took the oath designed to prevent maintenance of those who broke the peace. At the end of that year, however, a papal indult of plenary indulgence was addressed to him and his wife as being ‘of the diocese of Chichester’. Chalons’s wife died in 1437, but he himself survived until 6 Feb. 1445, then leaving as his heir his grandson John. When the latter died two years later, the Chalons lands passed to Sir Robert’s two grand daughters, the children of Katherine St. Aubyn.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Chalounez, Chalouns.
CFR, xvii. 300; Reg. Brantingham ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 321, 373.
- 1. Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 100; Derby’s Expeds. (Cam. Soc. n.s. lii), 294; CFR, xvii. 2; xviii. 86, 89; C138/51/93; C139/90/10; Gt. Chron. London ed. Thomas and Thornley, 73; Chrons. London ed. Kingsford, 48.
- 2. T. Westcote, View of Devon, 614; Add. Ch. 64320; DL28/1/2, f. 16d, 3/4, ff. 7, 14d, 27d; DL42/16 (pt. 3), f. 92d; E101/40/33 m. 2; Derby’s Expeds. 9, 29-30, 31, 106-7, 110, 112.
- 3. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 553; 1405-8, p. 333; 1413-16, p. 358; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 232, 480; 1402-5, p. 508; 1405-9, p. 172; CFR, xii. 131; DKR, xliv. 562, 635; E101/47/39, 69/4/383, 404/21; E358/6 m. 2.
- 4. CPR, 1408-13, p. 229; 1422-9, p. 88; CCR, 1413-19, p. 208; DL42/16 (pt. 3), f. 117d.
- 5. CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 153, 267, 395; 1401-5, pp. 41-42, 375; 1405-8, pp. 13, 30; CCR, 1385-9, p. 482; 1399-1402, p. 456; 1402-5, p. 452; CIPM, xiv. 319; C139/119/29.
- 6. CCR, 1409-13, p. 347; 1419-22, p. 23; 1429-35, p. 73; CPR, 1429-36, pp. 60, 85, 108; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 951; Feudal Aids, ii. 419; v. 255; vi. 417, 540; C139/131/22; C138/51/93.
- 7. C219/12/5, 6; CPR, 1429-36, p. 398; CFR, xvii. 300; CPL, viii. 516; C139/90/10, 119/29, 131/22.