CHELMSWICK, Richard (d.1398), of Tasley, Salop.

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



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

prob. s. of Alan Chelmswick of Chelmick, Salop by his w. Janet. m. Margaret (?Yate), 1s. 2da.

Offices Held

Constable of Kilgerran castle, Pemb. and forester of Kilgerran forest 12 Feb. 1390-d.

Commr. of inquiry, Salop Mar. 1396 (mismanagement of St. John’s hospital, Bridgnorth).

Keeper of the forests of Morfe and Shirlet, Salop 13 Mar. 1396-d.

Steward of the estates of the duchy of Cornw. in Cornw. 26 Feb. 1397-d.

J.p. Salop 12 Nov. 1397-d.

Parliamentary cttee. to complete unfinished business 31 Jan. 1398.


This MP was probably the Richard Chelmswick who in 1384 gave to his elder daughter, Agnes, two acres of land in Hope Bowdler, Shropshire, the parish in which his putative father resided.1In 1386 he was sued by two other Shropshire men who alleged that he had menaced them, and he was obliged to offer sureties to keep the peace. His mainpernors included Robert Thornes* of Shrewsbury and Roger Trewythenick* of Helston, although how he had made the acquaintance of the latter, a Cornish lawyer, remains a mystery. Through marriage he acquired the manor of ‘Seyntewey’ and property in Arlingham and Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, only to dispose of these holdings in the same year.

From such inconsequential beginnings Chelmswick was within four years to be raised to the rank of ‘King’s esquire’. That he found favour with Richard II is clear from the number and type of the grants made to him in the 1390s, the earliest being in February 1390 when he was appointed for life as constable of Kilgerran castle. But he was also retained by the King’s cousin, Henry, earl of Derby, and, indeed, took part in both of the earl’s expeditions to Prussia, receiving wages as a member of his entourage from December 1390 to April 1391 and for a year from July 1392. The second journey took him in the earl’s train to Italy, the Holy Land and France. Following his return, Chelmswick was awarded by Derby’s father, John of Gaunt, an annual fee of £10 charged on the issues of the duchy of Lancaster. This by no means affected his promotion as a retainer of the King, who on 15 Aug. 1394 granted him a life annuity of 40 marks, made initially payable by the exchequer at Chester and later from the alnage collected at Coventry. Chelmswick, as a member of the King’s household, naturally accompanied him on his first expedition to Ireland, serving there from September 1394 until April 1395, for which he received wages of 6d. a day. In September following he was allotted, for past and future good service, a yearly rent of £12 issuing from property lately belonging to Thomas Legge in the parish of St. Christopher in London, but he was to have difficulty securing payment, for Legge had apparently bequeathed the rent to the parish church. It was at Chelmswick’s supplication that, also in 1395, the King pardoned a Shropshire man for causing the death of his wife and stepdaughters. In March 1396 he was granted custody, again for life, of the forests of Morfe and Shirlet, and a year later he was appointed to the influential office of steward of the duchy of Cornwall estates in Cornwall.2

Chelmswick, who was not a substantial landowner in Shropshire and had little contact with the more important gentry of the shire, clearly owed his election to the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.), which met in order to condemn Richard II’s opponents, to his position as a favoured retainer of the King. Significantly, it was during the prorogation of the Parliament that he was appointed as a j.p., and he clearly remained close to the King’s person, for when Parliament re-assembled at Shrewsbury in January 1398 he was received into the fraternity of Lilleshall abbey, where Richard was lodging. On 31 Jan., at the dissolution, and despite his lack of experience in parliamentary affairs, Chelmswick was named on the important committee of 18 persons (12 lords and six commoners) who were not only to ‘terminate and finally discuss’ the charges of treason brought by his former lord Henry of Bolingbroke against the duke of Norfolk, but also to deal with certain petitions left unanswered by Parliament owing to lack of time. He was not, however, one of those who met to discuss these matters either at Bristol on 19 Mar., or at Windsor in the following month, and in May he procured a royal pardon relating specifically to anything he had done in support of the Lords Appellant of 1387-8 (of whom Bolingbroke had been one). However, it may have been simply poor health that prevented him from serving on the committee, for he died that same year, shortly before 31 Aug.3

Chelmswick’s property, which by then included the manors of Tasley, near Bridgnorth, ‘Lynches’ by Myddle, and, possibly also ‘Haye’ in Shropshire and Staverton in Gloucestershire, passed eventually to his young son John (d.1418), who claimed that one of his father’s feoffees, Roger Hay, clerk, had wasted his goods and embezzled ‘great sums’ of money from his inheritance during his minority.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Chelmondewyk, Chelmeswyk.

  • 1. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 110-11.
  • 2. CCR, 1385-9, p. 131; 1392-6, p. 429; CPR, 1385-9, p. 189; 1391-6, pp. 472, 498, 625, 684; 1396-9, pp. 83, 331; DKR, xxxvi. 89; E101/402/20, f. 37d; CIMisc. vi. 145; Derby’s Expeds. (Cam. Soc. n.s. lii), 134, 138, 266; CP25(1)78/80/62; S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 270.
  • 3. RP, iii. 360, 368-9, 383; VCH Salop, ii. 76; C67/30 m. 3.
  • 4. CFR, xi. 272; CCR, 1392-6, p. 291; 1396-9, p. 216; CIMisc. vi. 236; C1/3/70; Fifty Earliest Eng. Wills (EETS lxxviii), 30-35; CP25(1)79/83/145; VCH Glos. viii. 91.